2020 Circle of Excellence: Kitchen Designer Elisabeth Aiello

Kitchen Distributors, Littleton
Chl 0120 9822

Portrait by Jennifer Olson

Elisabeth Aiello believes in finding what she likes and sticking with it. That includes a quarter century as a kitchen designer.

The fifth-generation Denver native—in the 1800s, her family had the first brickyard in Colorado—has spent her entire life in the state. She earned her interior-design degree at Arapahoe Community College, where she took a kitchen-design class and “immediately  knew I wanted to do this as a career.” After an internship at Kitchen Masters turned into a job, she got a chance to go to Kitchen Distributors in 1996. “I’ve been here ever since,” she says. “I love my job. I work for a great company. It’s a very close, family-oriented place, which is why it has been in business for 66 years. We’re honest, we provide the best service and the best products, and we really care about our clients.”

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Photo by Emily Minton Redfield

“So many people underestimate what their home can be, because they’re used to seeing it the way it is. When I start a project, I talk to clients about their lifestyle and how they use the kitchen. Aesthetics always has to be a part of a design, but a kitchen really has to function. We talk about some of the ways they cook, and I find that often they don’t really know what they need—that’s where the design comes in. We’re not just looking at a kitchen as ‘the range goes here, and the refrigerator goes there.’ We strive to be innovative and get clients excited. I love seeing the transformation of a kitchen and the overall impact it has on a home.”

As for her favorite kitchens, Aiello confesses to a weakness for older Denver homes. “I’m a Denver girl, so I like restoring these homes that have been here forever. I think they’re the bones of the city and should be restored, not torn down. And when we are done, the work turns out so beautiful.”

But it’s always very personal for Aiello, who became a certified kitchen design in 2008. “I remain friends with my clients after a project is done. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is such a major commitment and such an investment of time and energy and emotions for them. They need someone who invests as much as they have, which is what I do.”

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Photo by Emily Minton Redfield

TO THE MANNER BORN “As a kid, I always used to redo my room. My mom said I redid it every month. And for my birthday and Christmas, I’d always ask for new bedding and pictures. It wasn’t kitchens yet, just interiors.”

AHEAD OF THE GAME “For me, having a dream client really depends a lot on me. I have to be proactive so everything goes smoothly. Remodeling is a scary thing for a lot of people. It’s the unknown. You have to hold their hand, guide them in selecting materials and then pull it all together. You have to keep a step ahead and keep them from worrying while also keeping them in the loop, so if there’s a lull in the schedule, they know why. A happy customer means I’ve done a good job.”

CLASSICS ENDURE “In the 25 years I’ve been a kitchen designer, things have changed a lot. But your classic white kitchen is still in style, and it will always be in style. That’s what Esther Hartman, our founder, said, and she was absolutely right—a painted white kitchen has nice contrasts with the flooring, but it doesn’t fight with anything.”

EVERYTHING’S COMING UP SMARTER “Smart kitchens have been an amazing thing. It depends on the customer, of course, and how willing they are to get into that technology, but things like smart ovens take so much of the guesswork out of cooking. Take the Miele speed oven, for example. All you have to do is tell it what to cook, and it will literally do the rest for you. Appliances have become a lot more important to the client in the past 10 years, and they take up a huge portion of the budget. But clients love them—we’ve always sold Sub-Zero, for example, but it used to be a bit harder sell. Today, everyone’s ready for it.”

Categories: Stylemakers