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The modern kitchen is much more than a place to prepare food. In many households, the kitchen is a multifunctional hub where, on any given day, not only cooking, but also socializing, studying, and unwinding after a long day takes place. The kitchen, then, needs to be beautiful as well as functional. Designing it accordingly, however, is easier said than done. If you're at a loss with the ins and outs of kitchen design, consider hiring a professional. Armed with industry experience and know how, a kitchen designer can help you get the kitchen of your dreams on a realistic budget.
What Does a Kitchen Designer Do?
In a nutshell, a kitchen designer takes the wants and needs of a client, comes up with a plan, and oversees the carrying out of that plan.
During an initial consultation you'll sit down with a designer and brainstorm on the general scope and aesthetics of the project. This session is useful for finding out if you and a designer are on the same page. If you are, the actual designing can begin.
At this point, a more detailed discussion of kitchen items and layout takes place. You might accompany the designer to showrooms to view appliances, countertop and flooring materials, cabinets, etc. Eventually, a plan will be drawn up, often with the help of a 3D computer design program. There may be some back and forth between you and the designer on products, finishes, colors, and other project details.
Once the plan is finalized, the designer puts the project out to bid among contractors. After a contractor is selected, the designer orders the materials needed to carry out construction and works with the contractor to ensure accurate completion of the project.
The description above assumes that you hire a kitchen designer to oversee the remodel from beginning to end. In some cases, however, that might be overkill. For example, if you're only adding new cabinets and counters, you may simply need a quick design consultation from somebody at a kitchen retailer or showroom. Even places like the Home Depot have designers on staff who can assist with basic kitchen layouts and material selection. You can also hire an independent kitchen designer to assist with design services to the extent needed, whether it's just the layout or more complex electrical and plumbing alterations.
Why Should I Hire a Designer?
Although not necessary for a kitchen remodel, a designer can be an invaluable resource for reasons that include the following:
- A designer will present you with all of the available options. As former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously said, "There are known knowns…known unknowns…and unknown unknowns." He was, of course, talking about foreign policy, but the concept could just as well apply to kitchen design. There are not only things about kitchen products and construction that you know you don't know, but also those that you don't know you don't know. Even if you regard yourself as quite knowledgeable about interior design and home improvement, nothing compares to the prospective of a professional who knows all the tricks of the trade.
- A designer will make sure that your kitchen is beautiful and functional. The second part of this equation can easily be forgotten as you pour over design magazines and websites looking for the latest and greatest kitchen trends. By understanding your wants as well as your needs, a kitchen designer is able to come up with an individualized, functional kitchen plan.
- A designer will help you stay within your budget. Kitchen materials and appliances vary widely in cost. Knowing what you can—and can't—afford is key to not overspending. And by avoiding silly mistakes or oversights that need to be fixed later, a kitchen designer can actually save you money.
Kitchen Designer Average Costs
- The industry standard for beginning-to-end kitchen design consultation is 10% of the total project cost. For example, if your new kitchen costs $30,000, the design fee would be $3,000.
- For redesigns costing more than $100,000, the rate might drop to 8 percent. For less-pricey redesigns ($10,000 to $20,000), a designer may charge a minimum fee of $1,500 to $3,000.
- Most designers will ask for a down payment/retainer fee before starting work.
- You could be charged by the hour at $100 to $200 per hour depending on the designer's experience, reputation, and the local market.
- Basic kitchen material and layout advice could cost as little as $100 to $750 at your local Home Depot or kitchen retailer/showroom.
- To find a local independent kitchen designer, visit the website of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the nation's top kitchen designer certifying agency.