She was going out with a friend for a night of dancing but, when the band canceled, they decided to check out a nearby bar. It was a bit of a dive, but there was something about the bass player. They talked. They clicked.
Many years later, Edan and Kathleen Dayan have two grown daughters and a steadily growing business, Plymouth Rock Kitchens, which focuses on design services and custom cabinetry.
Just as it was with how they met, Edan said there was an element of chance to his entry into the design field. To supplement his income as a musician, he looked for a day job about 20 years ago and found one working in the warehouse and doing retail sales for Award Flooring in Buzzards Bay.
At the start, he knew nothing about design. “I was a creative guy in other ways,” he said. “I’d work with customers to understand the flow of the house.” Combining that with the knowledge of the different resiliency of flooring types, he’d figure out what worked and what didn’t work.
“That was my door into this thing called design,” he said.
Through his work at the flooring company, he met the owner of Cape and Island Kitchens in Sagamore Beach and, eventually, he took a job in their warehouse.
On his own, Edan continued to read design books but, in the meantime, the warehouse work supplied its own kind of education.
“You get to learn how to handle cabinets, how they get shipped, how to bring things into the house, how to measure to make sure things will fit in the house, what to do when they don’t fit. All of those things are important to me now,” he said.
When there was a chance to move over to the design side, he continued his training by taking courses to get certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
“It takes years to do all the coursework, but the fact that it takes time is good because every day there’s a new problem you didn’t know about and you become better. You can apply these things a little bit at a time, and it was a good way to be well-rounded and really apply what I was learning.”
After that, he took night classes, one class at a time for 10 years, to get a degree in interior design from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
“You learn about materials, you learn about drawing, commercial design, residential design, hospitality, kitchens. It’s a very broad classic education,” he said. “That’s what started to open my mind. I started to become aware of high-end design.”
In 2014, he decided it was time to launch his own business. Kathy, a writer (her novel “Before We Were Born” will be published in January) and former lawyer, pitched in as business manager.
“It was going to be called Dayan Designs,” she said, “but what we really do, beyond the designing of the kitchen, is providing cabinetry. So, we had to have that in the name. We’ve lived in Plymouth for a long time now, and we love Plymouth, so we decided that Plymouth Rock Kitchens would work.”
At first, Edan worked out of a van, toting around samples and using his technical skills to create virtual renditions of his designs before that became the norm. He’d go shopping with his clients at cabinet showrooms.
“That’s the traditional way interior designers and decorators work because they don’t necessarily have a showroom,” he said. “It’s not a new business model, but it’s not a common one for cabinets.”
He shifted out of the van when he found a small showroom within view of Plymouth Harbor. The business has grown, slowly but steadily, year by year.
When they started the business, most of their clients used pre-built cabinets, but now most of his clients are homeowners with higher-end construction or renovations that incorporate custom-built cabinets from the Dayans’ network of craftsmen.
“It’s very different from what we thought it was going to be,” said Kathy.
“As the company started to breathe on its own and stretch a little bit, we’d see what works and what doesn’t work, what’s interesting and what’s fun, and if you do that 10 times, you suddenly realize you are a different business than when you started,” said Edan.
His RISD training causes him to ponder how everything in a house is connected.
“It’s the idea of what needs to happen, what’s the balance, what’s the quality level, what are we looking for this whole place to look like, to feel like? And then you bring in the things that will do that. It’s not about selling a cabinet.”