Today’s kitchens are far more than places to cook and eat. A kitchen renovation must consider all the ways this important space is used. From meal prep to homework central and family meals to entertaining, a professional kitchen designer can guide you through all the steps of creating the kitchen that is right for your lifestyle. Kitchen design involves all the elements that are visible, such as the layout, appliances and finishes, as well as the behind-the-scenes plumbing and electrical configurations that make the kitchen work. Designers stay up-to-date with the latest trends in materials and appliances. Choosing the right kitchen designer is the first step in ensuring that you get a kitchen that is both beautiful and functional and makes the most of your budget.
Establish your kitchen renovation goals.
Think about what is driving your desire for a renovation and what you hope to accomplish. Is your goal to create better flow, to increase counter space, to change the eating area or to accommodate more or larger appliances? Even if you can’t fully picture the end result, being able to communicate what you want to your designer will improve the likelihood of a successful final product and will help you identify the designer who best understands and shares your vision. Establishing your priorities at the start will also help the designer determine how to use your money wisely.
Set your budget.
In the heat of the moment, getting excited about all the latest gadgets and high-end materials is natural, but the reality is you will enjoy your new kitchen far more if you invest thoughtfully in the items that you will use and don’t let costs get out of hand. Sticking to a budget will involve some compromises, but a good designer can help you decide where to splurge and where to cut back — and still end up with the kitchen you’ve dreamed of.
Research kitchen designers’ credentials.
As with hiring any contractor, researching several kitchen designers’ credentials, experience and references is good common sense. Make sure that whomever you choose is fully certified, that the business is registered and can provide independent reviews.
Examine the designers’ previous work.
Seeing previous work allows you to not only determine the quality of the work, but also to see the scope of each designer’s portfolio and determine if a particular designer is a good fit style wise.
Understand what those initials on a designer’s business card mean. NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) certification is based on experience, education, client references, rigorous exams and continuing education. NKBA-certified designers know every aspect of kitchens, from mechanical systems to space planning and color. A CMKBD (Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer) designation requires at least 17 years of kitchen design experience. Certified Kitchen Designers (CKDs) and Certified Bath Designers (CBDs) have at least seven years. Meet ing with designer can help you to determine if his or her communication style and personality is a good fit.
Review and establish services and terms.
A detailed contract determines what work the designer is responsible for as well as the homeowner’s responsibilities, establishes a timeline and payment schedule, and can include items such as how changes will be handled. The more that is spelled out in the contract, the less chance there is for misunderstandings. Make sure you understand and agree to what you are signing.