Our cheat sheet to help select your kitchen designer
So many kitchen designers are less than competent that I thought I’d give customers a cheat sheet to help them evaluate the designer they might be working with. Here are my top ten warning signs. If several apply to your project, then you are almost certainly working with a less proficient kitchen designer.
1) Your designer is not a full-time kitchen designer. IE they are an architect, interior designer, contractor, family friend, or real estate agent. Kitchen design is a complicated profession and anyone not designing and selling cabinetry full time for a number of years could not have learned enough to be good at it. Would you pick nonprofessionals to replace your transmission or cut your hair? If that would worry you then why are you using a nonprofessional to be your primary adviser on a 20-to-200-thousand-dollar renovation?
2) You are planning on keeping the footprint of your kitchen the same just replacing the old cabinetry with new. Every kitchen we see can be improved. Since most customers mistakenly believe that they have limited design possibilities and that design changes have a large effect on costs, it is almost certain that if you are keeping the footprint of your kitchen, you are making a mistake. For the same money you could always get a better design because that’s what good kitchen designers do; show you better designs than you realize are possible.
3) You have serious design issues, and the designer can’t find a solution. Examples of serious design errors would be having a range or cooktop next to a doorway, having the primary sink without at least 18″ of countertop on one side and 24″ on the other, having a cooktop or range under or immediately next to a window, or having cabinetry or molding within a few inches of the ceiling without reaching it.
4) You are getting a side-by-side refrigerator and your refrigerator is within 12 inches of a side wall so that one of the doors can’t open completely. The smaller freezer side hitting the wall would be the worst-case scenario.
5) The designer has 24″ wide cabinets in your kitchen with single and not double doors. This is one of the first lessens kitchen designers should learn. 24″ wide doors sag over time and look out of proportion. NO good kitchen designer will EVER use a 24″ cabinet with a single door.
6) You have more than one or two types of unusual gimmicky cabinets in your kitchen. Examples would be corner drawers, tall pantry pull outs, magic corner or Leman’s corner cabinets, mixer lifts, chefs pantries, or more than a couple of lift doors. There are always design issues associated with these unusual conveniences, that’s why they are unusual. They are also expensive and are less efficient in using space. If your designer has added several of these items without letting you know about their limitations it means that they probably don’t know about them and that they are spending your money ineffectively.
7) You are getting frameless cabinetry and your designer hasn’t warned you about durability issues. Frameless cabinetry looks best when your kitchen is a contemporary or modern slab door style. However, because there is not a front face frame on the cabinets the hinges, doors, and drawers are all attached to often only particle board sides. IKEA cabinetry is the most common example. Kitchens using this less durable style of cabinet construction need to be designed to minimize stress to the cabinetry. If your designer hasn’t mentioned this, then it is unlikely that they understand the limitations of the cabinet line they are designing your kitchen in.
8) Wall cabinet doors are NOT the same width on either side of your sink or cooktop. Assuming that there are wall cabinets on both sides of your sink and cooktop it looks odd if the doors to the cabinets are different widths on each side. Good kitchen designers will be able to accomplish this when designing a kitchen.
9) All the wall cabinets align with the base cabinets in your kitchen. This is a novice kitchen design error. Good kitchen designers know where symmetry is important and where it is not. Aligning all the base and wall cabinets usually means that your designer has only designed a few kitchens in their lifetime.
10) Your designer is placing great importance on centering tables and islands with windows. This is another novice error. Since alignment can only be determined from a single perspective in a room, centering an island or a table with a window is usually less important that maintaining the correct travel space around it. Having light fixtures centered over the table and island will make them feel like they are in the correct position while leaving you the functional space you need for a well-designed kitchen. Many customers worry about this concept but when their kitchen is done, they are always grateful that the didn’t give in to their concerns and let space override alignment when designing their kitchen.
Kitchen design is a profession I love for many reasons including the creativity involved, the people you meet, and the sense of accomplishment when you do a good job. However, the biggest reason I love designing kitchens is that it is an incredible challenge.
Hoping your designer is one of the best …
And of course …