Our Designers

Suzanne DeRusha:
Medallion Design & Trend Expert 

My first job as a kitchen and bath designer was a bit unplanned. I was in high school and needed to fund my teenage habits, like shopping and, well, more shopping.

Suzanne DeRusha_2016b
Suzanne DeRusha

Fortunately, just down the road was a new building materials home center that many of my friends were working for. My hope was to become a front line cashier – this sounded quite important to me at the time. But instead of becoming a cashier, I landed in a department…which was due to my ability to read a tape measure and a scale ruler. (Thanks to my carpenter step-father and my high school drafting teacher.)

All of this seemed unusual to me, but off I went to the scariest thing in the world: the Kitchen and Bath department. This is now the beginning of my funny story: How I became a kitchen designer. 

From there my interests deepened and my skills honed. As an artist, I found the world of organized composition, color and cabinet specifications completely fascinating! In my 30 years as a designer, I’ve experienced home center, dealer and luxury showroom clientele and each segment has deepened my knowledge with life-long value. While on this journey, I also obtained a degree in Visual Communication and Graphic Design. Unbeknownst to me, this education would help me later in life when I joined Medallion Cabinetry and became a part of the Marketing team. And as time went on, I found myself in roles where I began inspiring other designers by visualizing new ways to take cabinetry from basic boxes to dream kitchens and baths.

Now I’m here to share what I’ve learned in my decades of experience. Successes, ideas, unfortunate mistakes and everything in between. All with the intent to help hone your skills, and inspire your growth as a professional kitchen and bath designer.

I’d be the first to admit that I’ll never know it all, and instead, I see design as a journey that never ends, presenting new inspiration and challenges at each milestone. I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with you and encourage your participation and feedback in this blog. I believe that together, we can make each other better!

 

Gail Schwartz:
Medallion Design Expert 

Growing up, I was always surrounded with creativity—my mom is a florist-crafter-musician-home maker and my dad remodeled our family’s farmhouse throughout my childhood… it was like living in a design project! So from a young age, helping with all that creative work, I learned how to make things that are both beautiful and functional, developing an eye for balance and symmetry. I’ve also worked on a lot of home improvement projects with my sister, fixing up her rental properties. We joke that we should probably have a home improvement show (The Property Sisters anyone?)

My six year (and counting!) adventure with Elkay began as a Customer Care Representative; I got to learn Medallion product inside and out and really got to know our customers, understanding how our cabinetry was used in real life by real people. Four years ago, I jumped at an opportunity to join the marketing department’s Design Team, where I can really let my creativity flow, designing kitchens for displays, shows and photography efforts.

When designing, I like to take inspiration from the space itself, its architecture and environment. Personally, I prefer the challenge of taking a problem space and making it work compared to starting with a blank slate. To see what isn’t working, improving it and finding ways to beautify it is one of my favorite aspects of designing. While earning my degree in Interior Design, I took as many classes as I could in furniture and art history, and I love when I get opportunity to incorporate those timeless historic parts of design with today’s trends.

 

Annie Madden:
Medallion Design Expert 

Annie Madden, Medallion Design Expert

My design background began in fine furniture, selling and managing showrooms and design studios for the first two decades of my career. As a master planner in the furniture world, I was able to efficiently layout residential living spaces while creating visually interesting rooms for people’s homes.

My transition from furnishings to cabinetry was very natural…in both industries; you need to have a good understanding of veneers, wood species, and laminates while having the ability to coordinate all that goes into a room. I traded in what was once the bringing together of leathers, striped fabrics or florals for what is now countertops, backsplash tiles, and various stained or painted woods. The same spatial rules apply whether laying out a furniture floor plan or configuring cabinetry; they’re both about how to use the space the best, visual interest, and storage opportunities. I would say the single biggest reason I stayed in the interior design business for over thirty years is the relationships I have built with clients while helping them reinvent their living spaces. I’ve enjoyed sharing their excitement when I’ve been able to design an area for them that makes a difference in their daily lives, more than they imagined. It’s rewarding knowing that what you helped them to accomplish makes such a huge difference in a person’s or family’s day-to-day activities.

By the time a client’s kitchen design is completed, I know most things about how that family operates; who shares the cooking responsibilities, how they entertain, the amount of children in the home, and where the pets are fed. Relationship-building has always been an intricate part of the process when working in someone’s home. One thing I find a bit amusing – even though I’ve designed hundreds of kitchens over the years, I run into past clients and could practically sketch most of their basic floor plans and layouts for them from memory due to the amount of time and energy I put into their homes.

With Medallion, one of my favorite things is pulling together coordinating finishes and pairing door styles, figuring out what is going to work best using an artistic view and making the spaces I work with both visually appealing and efficient.