Q: What’s the most important thing that people need to know about designing a kitchen?
A: I find that people don’t rely enough on design professionals. There are so many incompetent
salespeople out there that call themselves designers, that folks get discouraged, and try to plan a kitchen
without professional help. People should seek out a professional that is familiar with the function and
aesthetic of kitchen design, and has a good ear for listening. Your professional should be a problem
solver. They should listen to what your daily life is like, and plan the space around your needs. A
kitchen project is too expensive to have 20/20 hindsight!
Q: Is it expensive to hire a kitchen designer?
A: Most kitchen design professionals do not charge a fee for their services. They make their money
on the sale of the cabinetry and other components of the kitchen. You may find that good designers
charge a fair premium for cabinetry, but it’s worth it in the end to have the right working environment.
Q: What’s the best approach to starting a kitchen renovation?
A: Most people start by looking at cabinetry layouts. This is the biggest mistake they can make
because it can limit the types of appliances they can use in the kitchen. I begin my consultations by
discussing their daily habits, which partner does the cooking, and what it’s like when they entertain large
parties. From there, we discuss the types of appliances that best suit their needs. The working layout of
the kitchen evolves naturally from there.
Q: How can I make decisions about cabinet quality?
A: There are many different kinds of cabinet manufacturers. They are generally known as stock,
semi-custom and custom. Stock of course is typically a lower price and limiting in color and
flexibility. Many semi-custom manufacturers are blurring the lines between themselves and custom
manufacturers. All three are offering more storage options, so there is less of a need to go with a more
expensive price-point. The educated design professional will be able to demonstrate the benefits of the
differing qualities and construction materials. Let your professional guide you. If they are truly
working in your best interest, they will not always sell you the most expensive option. Have them
explain the advantages and disadvantages of each option so you can decide what’s best for you!
Q: My architect laid out a kitchen plan in his drawing. Why can’t we just go with that?
A: The best architects are very good at what they do. However, they are interested in the
construction project as a whole, and not just the details of the kitchen layout. In addition, they may not
be as familiar with a cabinet manufacturer’s offerings as a dedicated kitchen designer. A professional
kitchen designer will know how to get the most out of a cabinet manufacturer without reinventing the
wheel. There’s also the issue of accountability. The person providing the cabinetry should be
responsible for the fit. This way if there are any issues that arise, you have eliminated the finger
pointing that can occur if the kitchen dealer just ordered what the architect specified. In addition, your
kitchen designer MUST field measure after construction. Many times, what the architect specifies won’
t always happen in reality. Your kitchen designer needs to plan for this so you don’t get any surprises.
Q: What about the plans that come with the kitchen?
A: This is the most crucial part of the design, and the point at which most designers drop the ball.
Be aware that you are buying a concept as well as boxes. A cabinet list and a sales order can’t convey all
of the details that go into your kitchen. A complete set of plans should have a detailed plan (top) view,
as well as elevations (looking straight ahead) of every wall getting cabinetry. Any details about
installation of accessories should be noted on the plan. If you are getting any special molding
treatments, a detail should be included in the plan set. It’s extra work for the designer, but it eliminates
questions and problems later on. The designer of your kitchen should also be available to visit the
jobsite to handle any installation issues. Think about the paperhanger who hung the wallpaper upside-
down because no one told him which way the pattern went!