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Working with Kitchen Cabinet Designers

What do you expect from a designer

Working with a professional kitchen designer can seem daunting if it's something you haven't done before. How do you select a designer? What do they expect from you? How much should you be involved? The questions can be endless. And while each designer has their own style and process, there are a few basics we've outlined for you, including things you can prepare to ensure the first meeting is a productive one.

What kind of designer do you need?

Many of our cabinet dealers offer in-house design services, others partner with interior designers. Depending on a number of factors including the size of your project and your design needs, either scenario could work. If you chose to engage your own interior designer, make sure that they are involved in the process upfront.

What is the designer's role in my project?

Depending on what type of designer you select and their areas of expertise, the responsibilities can vary. Generally speaking, a designer will provide you a design layout based on a detailed understanding of your needs, cabinet knowledge and expertise, and recommendations on door styles, wood selections and finish treatments. Some designers will coordinate the entire project, while others will simply offer trouble-shooting strategies when and if problems arise.

How should you prepare for the first meeting?

Even if you are just beginning to think about renovating your kitchen, there are things you can do to ensure the first design meeting is productive. From clipping images you like and making lists, to measuring the space and outlining a budget, it's important to gather materials that will help communicate your vision to the designer.

Visually communicate your ideas

cabinet ideas

Even as you begin to dream about your new space, you can put together a file folder of images that reflect your lifestyle and your vision for the new space. Photos, magazine clippings, ads, articles and samples will help the designer to visually understand your tastes and preferences.

Do some homework about yourself

cabinet designer

Assessing your current kitchen over a period of time, both its positives and negatives, provides your designer with invaluable information. Likewise, making note of your habits — buying in bulk, number of weekly trips to the grocery store, recycling, avid cooking — is critical to helping them understand how you live in your kitchen.

Imagine yourself in the new space

cabinet designer

How will you use your new kitchen? Is it a social gathering place for family and friends, or an efficient cooking utility? Honest answers to these types of questions will suggest the functional capacities you require.

Select your appliances

kitchen appliances

Surprisingly, appliance selection is a critical first step. An extra-large refrigerator, freestanding freezer and double ovens can dramatically impact space allocation throughout the room and providing these preferences to your designer early is best.

Provide basic measurements

room measurements

While your kitchen designer will take thorough measurements before offering you a binding quote, you should note dimensions of the room, indicating any doors, windows or hallways that impact the space, to facilitate your initial discussions.

Outline your budget

remodeling budget

Kitchens come in many shapes and sizes, and range from simple to luxurious. Sharing an initial budget outline with your designer tells them a lot about your project and the parameters they will be working within. When you outline your budget, be sure to factor in installation costs.

Our Budget Calculator is a great guide that can help you transform your vision into tangible numbers.

Understanding timelines is a two-way street

remodeling timeline

Once your designer measures your space, design development typically takes two to three weeks. Some designers will request a retainer to initiate work, a fee that serves to confirm your place as a current client that is often applied to your order once it is placed. Any scheduling deadlines you may have – a wedding, graduation or holiday, for example – should be communicated at this first meeting so it can be considered as the project timeline is developed.

How the first meeting ends

cabinet designer

Your homework is done. Measurements have been taken and appliances selected – this is a lot to cover in a single consultation! Often, your designer will suggest meeting a number of times at the beginning of your relationship in order to thoroughly understand your vision, preferences and needs. Be prepared for each meeting and know that it is always appropriate to ask questions and request samples of door style, wood and finish details before you place a cabinet order.