Whether you’re tired of cramped cooking quarters or you just can’t stand your kitchen’s outdated 70s décor anymore, there comes a time when many homeowners throw up their hands in frustration and declare, “It’s time to renovate!” But after a quick search online that may result in thousands of remodeling choices, from tile to appliances to layout, that basic first statement is often soon followed by a simple plea: “We need help!” This is where a design professional enters the picture.
Selecting a kitchen design professional requires an organized process that will enable you to fairly and efficiently evaluate design professionals based on set criteria. The following tips will help make the process streamlined and smooth, paving the way (hopefully!) for an equally easy remodel.
Make a List and Check It Twice
Spend several days to one week seeking out kitchen professionals online who capture your interest. Doing preliminary research online will tell you volumes about individual kitchen designers and kitchen design firms as you look at photos of completed projects and read about their overall design approach. Become familiar with accreditation and understand what they represent in terms of knowledge and experience, particularly if they include National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) credentials such as Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). The NKBA.org website is a good starting point for your search and will describe the various credentials in detail. Ideally, come up with a total of five or six designers or design firms to contact.
Have you fallen in love with a kitchen designer that is located a few states away or even clear across the country? Don’t immediately cross that person off your list. Some designers are comfortable and have experience working around the U.S. Find out if this is the case for an out-of-state design firm you may wish to hire.
Calling All Designers
Pick up the phone and have a preliminary conversation with the design firms of your choice. This is a useful and important second step in the process, as this is a good way to make an initial judgment of a designer’s overall manner, level of enthusiasm, professionalism, and much more. Beware, however, that catching a designer at a bad time could negatively color your opinion of them, perhaps needlessly, so make sure to ask if it’s a good time to talk, and if not, set up another time to speak. An emailed inquiry works well to a point, but personal contact via the phone is preferable.
“What Do I Want To Know?”
Next, narrow down your list to your top two or three designers. Then schedule an interview with them, either in person or over the phone. Write down a list of questions before your meeting, then keep your questions in front of you during your interviews so that you don’t leave anything out. Jot down notes, impressions, and follow-up questions throughout the conversation. Don’t feel shy; the cost is too high and the longevity of a kitchen is too long to be uncomfortable with the process.
Here are some questions you might want to ask each designer:
- How long has the designer (and design firm) been in business?
- Is the designer and/or firm properly insured and licensed? (Check with your county clerk if you’re unsure.)
- Ask to see the designer’s previous kitchen projects, and make sure that images shown are not standard catalog images but that they instead reflect the designer’s professional work.
- Does the design work all look the same? Is that all right with you, particularly have a certain look in mind, or do you wish for design work that shows a comfort level with multiple styles and themes?
- What is the design process? How long does it take? How many design solutions will you be provided with? How are design revisions handled? If there’s more than one person in the firm, with whom will you be working, and how will communications be handled (phone calls, emails, in-person meetings)?
- Can you choose all of the products for your kitchen or does the design firm require the use of certain manufacturers? Typically, cabinetry options are confined to those the designer represents.
- What are the fees for the design process and material purchases, how are payments made, and when are they due?
- Is the designer able to attend on-site meetings with trade professionals? Will mechanical drawings be available and are they a separate cost?
- Does the design firm offer installation or other labor? Are you required to use their tradespeople?
- Will costs be itemized, and if so, which materials or labor services will be itemized?
Under-the-radar impressions to consider: Does the designer seem genuinely interested in your ideas and in your project? Is the designer a good listener? Does the designer say “yes” to everything you say, or alternatively, do they push too hard in favor of their favored way of designing a kitchen? Here is where it’s important to listen to your intuition.
With your questions answered, you should make your final decision through an analysis of factual information combined with a feeling of a “design connection” to one special kitchen designer. Happy hunting!
Kitchen Designed by: MK and Company Interior Design and Decoration – Please feel free to contact us anytime. We will gladly answer your questions. Thank You!