Working with a professional cabinet designer can seem daunting if it's something you haven’t done before. First, what are your expectations for your designer? And then, what will they expect from you? 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.
Types of Designers & When to Use Them
Putting an emphasis on planning, functionality and effective use of the existing (or planned) space, Interior Designers take a holistic approach to any room in the house. Going beyond simple arranging, they will take the room's acoustics, lighting, even average temperature into consideration when developing a design and style. Once the owner approves the design, an architect is commissioned, and the Interior Designer will work with the architect to ensure the design is implemented properly.
Most often used for large-scale residential updates like gut-rehabs or new homes, corporate spaces and institutional facilities; Interior Designers are best used when meeting the needs of the individual are paramount. Whether it's a single room or a whole house, if you want your home to reflect your personal style you'll want to partner with an Interior Designer.
Kitchen & Bath Designer
Bath Designers focus on designing residential and commercial kitchen and bath facilities. Most designers will have a portfolio of completed kitchen or bathroom remodeling jobs, and experience as an Interior Designer. Their approach is not necessarily holistic to the rest of the building, instead they design based on the owner's specific goals for the project.
These designers are best used when undertaking a full, usually larger, kitchen or bathroom remodel without any special or unusual considerations.
Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD)
Much like a Kitchen & Bath Designer, CKD's are certified by the National Kitchen & Bath Association as experts in planning and implementing residential kitchens. To become certified, designers must have 7+ years of experience and pass a carefully designed academic and design practicum.
Perfect for any major kitchen overhaul, CKD's are best used when there are special design elements or personal needs that must be considered and designed for, including issues like small spaces, physical challenges and environmental concerns.
Dealers and Designers
Many of our cabinet dealers offer in-house design services, while others partner with interior designers. Either way, your local Homecrest dealership is a great place to start in finding a designer. If you engage your own designer, make sure that they are involved in the process from the beginning and that the Homecrest dealer you are purchasing from knows that you have forged that relationship. This will ensure a smooth transition between the design and cabinet order process.
What is the designer’s role in my project?
The designer is responsible for creating a design, including a floor plan based on a detailed understanding of your needs. They will have the cabinet knowledge to recommend door styles, wood selections, storage and organization components and decorative trims. Typically, a designer from a Homecrest dealership will be with you from the first conversation until the last piece of trim is installed. If you are working with an independent interior designer, their role may be more or less involved, depending on their knowledge of kitchen and bath design and cabinetry components. Either way, it is paramount that a relationship is established between the designer and the dealer representative who will ultimately be responsible for the cabinet order.
How should you prepare for the first meeting?
There are several things you can do to ensure the first design meeting is a productive one. Start a file folder filled with clippings from magazines of kitchens, organization solutions and other ideas that you like. Start looking at appliances, counters and other items in the project. Become more aware of how you live in your current space – assess the good AND the bad. This will help communicate your vision to the designer.
Visually communicate your 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 yourself
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, recycling, cooking habits, hobbies – is critical to helping them understand how you live in your kitchen.
Imagine yourself in the new space
How will you use your new kitchen? Is it a social gathering place for family and friends, or a place to prepare quick meals? Some folks consider themselves a gourmet in the kitchen, while others admit that takeout is more their style and they just need a good looking space to warm it up! Honest answers to these types of questions will suggest the functional capacities you require.
Select your appliances
Surprisingly, appliance selection is a critical first step. An extra large refrigerator, pro-style range or double ovens can dramatically impact space allocation throughout the room. Having this information at the start of the project ensures that all of your wants and needs are met, AND moves the design process along in a timely fashion.
Provide basic 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
It is important to establish a budget, taking into consideration all of the factors that will contribute to the project. Will you be moving walls and mechanical locations? Replacing the floor? Appliances and cabinetry will both impact the budget significantly, while countertops might not, depending on the surface selected. Installation fees can vary greatly. Your dealership may offer installation services and build them into the price, or they may have a list of suggested installers they contract with that can provide an estimate. Sharing an initial budget outline with your designer tells them a lot about your project and the parameters they will be working within.
Our Budget Calculator is a great guide that can help you transform your vision into tangible numbers.
Understanding timelines is a two-way street
Once your designer measures your space, design development can typically takes two to three weeks. While some dealerships offer complimentary design services, others may 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. Be sure to communicate any scheduling deadlines of your own – it's too late to start a kitchen remodel in October to be ready by Thanksgiving! Be sure to consider the schedule of the installers and other contractors. Wood floors, for example, must have an acclimation period of several days prior to cabinet installation. As a rule, plan the date to be finished, then add two weeks as a cushion... really.
How the first meeting ends
You've covered a lot of ground in your first meeting! Your hopes and desires have been noted, a timeline and budget have been discussed as has style and finishes. Depending on the complexity of your project, additional meetings may be required to get the design just right. If the designer requests additional information, make sure to get details together before a meeting to avoid any holdups. NEVER be afraid to ask questions or request that the designer change something you aren't comfortable with. To ensure all elements are coordinated, ask for door and finish samples (which may need to be ordered for a fee) before you place the cabinet order.