Q & A
Regional Award Winner
Janice Morse is the owner of Designs Unlimited, a premier kitchen and bath design firm headquartered in Birmingham, Mich. Her design experience spans 34 years and several industries, including fashion and interior design. During an early career as a fashion buyer, she quickly discovered her niche working closely with individuals to create innovative solutions to design challenges.
She founded her kitchen and bath design firm in 1986 as a way to combine her passion for cooking and entertaining with her love of interior design. She currently specializes in high-end custom cabinetry, working with luxury brands such as Poggenpohl and Wood-Mode. Morse is the mother of four children. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan and received formal training in interior design through Wayne State University.
Where do you find design inspiration?
Where do you find design inspiration? I find design inspiration through my clients. As a designer, I spend a lot of time “reading” my clients and interpreting what they are not saying. Every individual is unique, and my goal is to create designs that fit each client’s needs and wants. An individual’s home or personality is what inspires the design.
How do you approach the design process?
I approach design in a very practical sense. I want to ensure that what is designed will work perfectly. Through extensive discussions with my clients, I am able to determine how they work and live in the kitchen. If the layout is wrong, it does not matter how beautiful the space is; the client will never be comfortable, and they may not even know the source of the problem. If I personally would not enjoy cooking and spending time in the space, then the design is a failure. Once the basic layout is in place, then the design begins. I never let aesthetics take priority over functionality. The aesthetics will fall into place when the working design is done. Kitchens that don’t work are miserable, so function is number one.
What makes your aesthetic stand out amongst other designers?
My approach to aesthetics is that the kitchen is a backdrop to much of the activity that occurs in the home. The kitchen is a busy place, so the design must be relaxing and convenient. One “pop” detail is enough for most kitchens. Beautiful detailing is essential, but the design shouldn’t look “busy.” Attention to detail is imperative. Everything in the layout must work together seamlessly—from the cabinets and appliances to the countertops and backsplashes. A good kitchen stands the taste of time.
What is the greatest value you provide to your clients?
The greatest value I bring my client is my attention to detail. I care about every aspect of the project and how the design fits the personality of my client and the surrounding environment. For example, if a client is an art collector, I will seek to integrate ways to display their art into the design. My staff brings the same attention to detail along with the technical expertise to ensure that every piece comes together flawlessly. Each design is reviewed many times to make sure that it is perfect for the client and the environment. Our firm also works very closely with our design partners—interior designers, architects, builders, cabinetry and countertop suppliers, and others involved in the project—to ensure that we’re all on the same page and working toward the same vision. We take a very collaborative approach that streamlines the process and makes it enjoyable. The kitchen is a very important investment in the home; our goal is to make it beautiful and timeless. We put in as much time as required in the planning and design stages on every project so that the client is thrilled with the outcome. As a designer, I am my client’s advocate for perfection.