How to Choose
How Do I Find and Choose a Designer?
You can start with the Kitchens.com Professional Locator. It’s a state-by-state listing of independent kitchen and bath design firms. You can visit the Web sites of firms near you to find out more about their services. Other good options include contacting the National Kitchen and Bath Association for a list of designers in your area or asking friends for recommendations. It may seem like a lot of effort, but when you consider the investment you’re making, doing it right the first time is a priority.
To first meet with a designer, you can either schedule an appointment or just drop by a showroom. In your initial consultation, the designer will gauge how seriously you want a new kitchen and how interested you are in his or her firm. The designer will also want to get a sense of the scope of the project you have planned, what styles and products you prefer, and how much you want to spend.
Ultimately, it's a bit like dating: You and the designer must be a good fit. If you don't trust the person you would be working with or if you feel the designer is condescending or doesn't share your vision, look somewhere else. In addition, not every designer wants to take on every project—if you're just looking for a countertop or flooring, for example, the designer probably will refer you to a specialty showroom or contractor.
The designer will ask some or all of the following questions:
- Where did you hear about us? Have you looked anywhere else?
- Have you designed/built/remodeled a kitchen before?
- Is your new kitchen part of a new construction project or is it a remodeling job?
- What does your kitchen look like now? What do you like and dislike about it?
- Do you have a sketched layout with measurements or an architectural blueprint of your existing or planned kitchen?
- What space and amenities do you need/want that you don't currently have?
- What general style do you like—contemporary, traditional, or eclectic? What is the style of your home?
- What are some of the styles and products that you like, either in the showroom or that you’ve seen on the Internet, in publications, or elsewhere?
- Do you have an idea of how much you want to spend?
- When do you want the new kitchen to be ready?
You should ask:
- How long have you been in business?
- What kind of training do your designers have?
- What is your approach to the design process?
- Can I see pictures of kitchens you have designed? Better yet, actual kitchens?
- Can you provide me with references—names and contact information of prior clients?
- Which manufacturers do you represent?
- Can you do special orders? If you find a cabinet in a magazine or even another showroom that you have to have, would the firm be willing to work with you to coordinate that element with the others you select from its offerings?
- Do you specialize in any particular style, product, or material?
- How long is your project backlog—in other words, can we start working on my project now or will I have to get in line?
- What are your payment options? Do you offer financing? What is the payment schedule you expect?