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Business: Showroom combines traditional, modern

By Jane Knoerle | ==I Almanac Lifestyles Editor

Keith Quiggins was destined to be a designer. At age 5, he was helping his mother pick out paint samples for their home, he says with a laugh.

With 25 years experience in construction and design, he is the owner and designer of Rococo & Taupe, which opened at 844 Santa Cruz Ave. in downtown Menlo Park last August. He has a degree in design from the College for Creative Studios in Detroit and most recently worked as a senior designer at Time Line Design in Saratoga.

As a California certified interior designer, he attends industry trade shows around the country, keeping up on new products and design trends. His co-worker is Melissa Nierman.

Rococo & Taupe specializes in cabinetry, counter tops, hardware and appliances in space formerly occupied by Preuss Drugs. The entire area has been remodeled. The front showroom displays a handsome classic kitchen with rustic beamed ceiling. Its country touch is designed to appeal to the Woodside or Portola Valley customer.

While Mr. Quiggins works with designers and builders, he has had "amazing" walk-in traffic. "To the builders," he says, "you're the 'cabinet guy,' but to a walk-in, you can be the whole kitchen."

"Today people want a more classic look. High quality. If you're paying 10 grand for a fridge you want it to last." Kitchens now mean more detail, more design, more texture, more money. A kitchen costing $250,000 is no longer considered over the top.

Most of Mr. Quiggins' clients opt for clean simplicity. Dramatic Tuscan or fussy French Provincial styles are no longer popular.

Bath and beyond

In home remodeling, most people do the kitchen and bath at the same time, says the designer.

In the master bath, nobody wants a big Jacuzzi tub anymore, he says, although the free-standing tub is still requested. Instead of a cramped little shower over the tub, people want a large free-standing shower with multiple shower heads.

The shower walls are usually large tiles, imported from Italy, or slabs of granite, marble or porcelain. The beauty and variety in the shower surrounds is astounding.

Potential home sellers are often told that a new kitchen or bath is a wise investment. That depends, says Mr. Quiggins. If your house is going to be a tear-down (as many are in this area), it doesn't make sense to invest a lot in a fancy new kitchen or bath. "If you're planning on living in a house for five years or less, do what's necessary for resale. If you're planning on living there for more than five years, do it for yourself," he says.

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