Helping With The Healing

by WOHe

You sit there sometimes numb, wounded, staggered by the enormity
of it all and you wonder what there is that’s really left to say.
Just about everything, after all, has been said over the past two
months.’

We’ve lived through the shock, the horror, the loss, the grief,
the confusion, the anger. We’ve heard about how the events of Sept.
11 have mobilized America, reshaped who we are, trivialized the
mundane tasks we often occupy ourselves with. We’ve talked about
how the most devastating tragedy in U.S. history has reminded us of
our fragility, taught us to appreciate the important things in our
lives, given us determination to carry on, move forward, celebrate
special moments, rebuild.’

So what is there left to say?
Perhaps simply that it’s heartwarming to see what the kitchen and
bath industry is doing on behalf of the victims and heroes of Sept.
11 the support by associations, corporations and individuals; the
fund-raising efforts; the acts of compassion and sympathy.

It’s gratifying, at the same time, to simply report that the
kitchen and bath industry is managing to move forward. Dealers,
designers and cabinet shops, for the most part, are reporting only
a minor, and temporary, impact on their businesses. Activity, which
slowed in the weeks following Sept. 11, is showing signs of coming
back. Companies that pulled back are now implementing strategies to
stimulate business. Job sites are moving ahead at their traditional
pre-holiday pace. Customers after an understandable period of
mourning, uncertainty and fear are proceeding with their big-ticket
plans as they regain their confidence and equilibrium.’

That aside, it’s probably also worth reminding ourselves, in
moments we fail to see it, how much a part of the nation’s
rebuilding process this industry, and all of us, can be.

It’s worth noting, for example, that the kitchen/bath industry,
if nothing else, has always been about helping to build and
rebuild; about allowing people to dream, and then see those dreams
come true; about allowing homeowners to envision a better tomorrow,
and then invest in that bold act of faith; about allowing designs
to improve people’s lives, bring them together, lift their
spirits.

That’s probably more true now than ever, of course, in the wake
of all that’s happened.

Even prior to the events of the past two months it was clear
that the American people had developed perhaps a stronger-than-ever
emotional attachment to their home. The American home alternately
viewed over the years as a pit stop, a castle, a showplace and a
status symbol had come to be seen in recent years, more than ever,
as a refuge, a haven, a sanctuary from the pressures, demands and
dangers of the outside world.

Now, the home will likely grow even more in importance to
Americans, and continue to be seen as a place to spend more time
in, to focus on, to target investments at.

At the same time, it was also clear prior to Sept. 11 that
kitchens and baths had attained an unmatched prominence in American
homes.

The kitchen, of course, had only recently returned to its roots
as the multi-purpose heart of the home, the one room that could
bond, heal, comfort, allow meaningful connections with loved ones.
It had already become the one room in the home that could give
people back what the outside world often managed to take away
stress-free family time, a personalized “feel-good” space, a room
that allowed people to share a multitude of simple pleasures.

Similarly, baths in the process of becoming stylish spaces that
enabled homeowners to express their sense of luxury, taste, style
and sophistication had clearly also become places to retreat to,
escape, relax, rejuvenate.

The Sept. 11 tragedy, in a sad, strange way, may serve to
strengthen the bond Americans have with their home, and the
importance of kitchens and baths within those homes.

By reminding ourselves of that every once in awhile, and simply
carrying on with our work, the kitchen and bath industry can emerge
as a prime agent in the much-needed process of recovery,
restoration and rebuilding.

The industry can help America heal, in other words, by doing
what it has always done: designing spaces that comfort and nourish
the soul; inspiring confidence and faith; helping people plan, and
allowing them, once again, to attain some semblance of normalcy by
focusing on their home, their dreams, their future.

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