The kitchen renovation industry is quirky. A lot of kitchen designers want significant retainers ($4000), are vague about concepts and details until you’ve retained them, and exploit asymmetrical information - they know what things cost, you don’t, they make the best profit they can. And in the end, most of their designs look remarkably similar to the next.
So after interviewing more than a dozen companies, we went with Tango. Dena’s process is very transparent and the client has room to get what he or she wants. My goal was to get very high quality cabinets at an acceptable price, installed without too much grief. I wanted quality, durability, a classic look that might not seem silly 10 years from now, and a designer who could work with a 15’ long galley kitchen. Dena understood that we wanted a kitchen that would fit in with the rest of the house (a traditional 1930s home). She didn’t insist we tear a wall down, like most other designers seemed intent on doing.
Working with Dena was productive. Her design was the best concept we saw. She worked quickly and efficiently, while not sacrificing the overall design or important finishing touches. She found a good balance between allowing our ideas in, but also provided advice and expertise when needed. The project was on time, it cost what she said it would, and we knew that cost before hiring her.
The cabinets: Tango uses Kitchen Craft, which is a smart way to do it. I know there are folks out there who prefer something radically custom, “made locally,” and I don’t quibble that such a design can be great. We had a few truly custom elements in this kitchen to make sure it maximized the space, but for the most part we all want drawers, cabinets, and boxes within a similar range of dimensions. As well, there is the issue of quality: the cabinets Dena supplied are better in construction than many more expensive, more custom, more local options we considered (we went with wood ply interiors for longevity, as an upgrade).
A good designer can make a Kitchen Craft product look very custom. That is where Dena’s strengths are. She can achieve a custom look while keeping costs low.
There is a gap in the market between Ikea (which has totally workable cabinets, of course, and excellent value), and the high-end-low-value designers. Tango fills that gap nicely; excellent quality, a high degree of customizability, and the possibility to get something way more elegant than any of the big box stores.
(The cost here includes only the cabinets, the Cambia countertop, and the installation. A lot of the cost in kitchen renovation is in the appliances and contractor. On the appliances, be vigilant (you can find value if you look). And we took on the contracting ourselves - hiring individual trades for the electrical, plumbing, tile, and gas. It was more work, but it saved us at least $5-6K. In the experience of my friends and colleagues, the contractor is often the frustrating part, so if you can control that on your own, all the better.)