A few weeks ago, a woman called to find out the closest dealer for Electrolux ranges. That's when I took the Electrolux Ultimate Virtual Kitchen Tour. You can select a kitchen appliance and see (Flash?) animations of their different features. I especially enjoyed the refrigerator door ice and water dispenser animations. The tour is accompanied by a voice-over narration. There is also a virtual laundry room tour, which is not as impressive. AND you can design and send virtual cupcakes!
But is it really the ultimate virtual kitchen tour? Branches and Rain undertook to find out.
It was not hard to find other "virtual" kitchen tours. They are inevitably 360° virtual panoramas using Java or QuickTime VR, when they are not simply before & after slide shows.
Some of them, like Kitchen & Bath Gallery and Klaff's, are really showroom tours. The "kitchens" are really groupings of samples. Klaff's is nice, but the panorama is static. They have many sample kitchens, but you can't navigate out of the one you're in.
I had fun with Gusteau's Kitchen, (7/11, link is dead), from the Disney film, Ratatouille.
There is also the Consumer Reports Greener Choices Virtual Kitchen tour, which focuses on the contents of your kitchen, helping you to choose products consonant with "sustainability".
I began to see that "virtual kitchen tour" can mean different things. After all, Electrolux is not selling kitchens. They are selling kitchen appliances. The "kitchen" in their tour is merely a vehicle to display the cooktop, the refrigerator, etc.
Similarly, Kitchen & Bath Gallery and Klaff's are not selling kitchens either, but only the elements: cabinets, sinks, mouldings, counter materials.
So who sells kitchens? Contractors, who help homeowners decide what they want in the way of cabinet, counter, back-splash, lighting, and floor treatments, and then build to suit. Here, for example, is a panorama of a real kitchen built by Tantillo Construction.
Kitchen & Bath Factory Incorporated blew me away with their portfolio of kitchen panoramas, some of them "works in progress" panoramas, where you click once to see the construction phase, and click again to see the finished kitchen.
Kitchen & Bath Factory gets the blue ribbon here, not only for displaying a broad selection of kitchens, but also for giving the customer an idea of what a kitchen renovation is like.
I know what I am talking about, because we went through a kitchen renovation last year. Here are the photos.