Questions to Ask Your Kitchen Designer
A kitchen designer is a crucial part of planning and executing successful kitchen projects. But, what kind of kitchen designer is best for your project, you ask? Well, a lot of that has to do with personality, temperament, budget, and experience. Since you will spend a good deal of time with this person, you want a designer who you genuinely like, who you trust, and whose work you admire. Trust your gut on whether or not you will work well with this person, usually your gut instinct is right.
We’ve created a checklist for you of questions to ask your designer (see next page), and we’ve explained the importance of each below. We hope this helps you find a kitchen professional you are thrilled with!
Though there are fabulous designers out there that are less qualified than others, it would serve you well to know what’s available in the industry. The National Kitchen & Bath Association offers various level of education and testing to provide designers with certifications. These are Associate Kitchen & Bath Designer, Certified Kitchen & Bath Designer, and Master Certified Kitchen & Bath Designer. Each comes with progressive levels of experience, education, and testing. Other organizations provide more specialized certifications that you can look up if you’re interested (ie. CLIPP, CAPS, LEED AD, and more). Often, interior designers also have their own certifications as well (Ie .ASID, RIDQC, NCIDQ).
Experience is the best teacher, right? As important that a designer is certified is that they are experienced. They don’t need 10 or 20 years of experience, but they do need a couple years of specialized work in designing and executing kitchens .
Lastly, make sure they are actually a designer and not simply an order-taker. You want someone who will make design suggestions, push back on bad ideas, and be the professional guide you need to ensure your investment is well-spent.
There are dozens of cabinet manufacturers making great cabinets. Go see the cabinetry that the designer wants to sell you. Touch it, feel it, and make sure you approve of the quality. Ask questions about where it’s manufactured, about the warranty, about how long they’ve worked with the project. Gauge any hesitancy or awkwardness and get to the bottom of why they don’t fully trust the product. Ask them what they would put in their own house. Ask them what they sell most and why. Ask them what product will get you the greatest value for your investment.
You need to make sure that your designer responds to your emails and calls promptly and professionally. So, ask them, “Describe how you communicate with your clients during the kitchen remodel process?” “How quickly can I expect a returned call or email from you?” A bad communicator will make your experience very difficult, so judge their communication skills early and let that inform your decision.
Good designers and design firms have a process they walk each client through to ensure they execute consistently high quality projects. No firm executes consistently without a clear process. Period. If they give you a vague idea of how every project is different and a few unclear steps of how to move forward, you should probably steer clear! Expect to pay a bit more for this level of service, but it will be worth the extra investment.
No matter how creative the design and how excellent the quality of the product, someone has to make sure your kitchen is executed properly on-site. Many kitchen designers do not manage or oversee the on-site work, which is something you should know prior to choosing your designer. The kitchen designer does not have to oversee the project, but someone should. And the designer should be able to communicate to you exactly who will and how they will communicate with that person to ensure your design is installed and executed beautifully.
Expect an Investment
As you probably realize, these criteria may eliminate some potential kitchen designers for your project. That said, you should expect to pay a bit more to work with a true kitchen professional that meets this crucial criteria. So, don’t be afraid to invest in the design fees to hire this kind of professional rather than a less-qualified designer you can access for free. The extra money that you invest is actually insurance that your project investment is spent well toward the final product you want.
Here’s a checklist that you might find helpful: Click Here