Working with a professional can take a lot of the uncertainty and stress out of the process of planning and building a new kitchen. Consider your designer a partner who can envision (and prepare for) possibilities that won't occur to you and manage the technical details. If the countless door style, finish, and hardware choices seem overwhelming, imagine how the load increases when you add measurements, ordering and installation into the picture.
There are thousands of kitchen design specialists available to help direct your planning process, make stylish, cost-effective decisions, and avoid pricey mistakes. Kitchen designers may operate from a showroom with multiple products and vignettes or have an office with a few samples and lots of catalogs. Some have focused exclusively on kitchens (probably baths, too) throughout their careers, while others have been trained more broadly as interior designers or project managers.
Some have also received the designation of Certified Kitchen Designer from the National Kitchen and Bath Association. While it's not mandatory for designing kitchens, the CKD designation requires the passing of a certification exam and a minimum of seven years full-time professional experience designing kitchens or a combination of education and experience.
A designer takes the guesswork out of the design process without taking you out of the equation. The designer will keep you from getting bogged down in details that can throw your planning off track. You'll be free to dream, while the designer thinks through all the measurements, material coordination, and construction logistics.
When it comes to cabinetry, an incorrect measurement as nominal as 1/2" can cause major problems-and a major gap. A designer is not only trained to professionally execute the technical aspects, but has practical experience that may be outside your sphere-for instance, knowing that the walls in vintage homes are often slanted, a crucial detail if you want your cabinetry to lay flush to the wall.
You might want a food pantry, for example, but you can't quite figure out where it would fit so you decide to go without it. A designer, based on her experience with similar kitchens and her specialized training, might know exactly how to create a specialized cabinet, or might be aware of a manufacturer that fabricates extra narrow pullout models.
When you work with a kitchen designer, you don't have to give up control of your plans or turn all the remodeling work over to other craftsmen. Think of yourself as the movie producer and of the kitchen designer as the movie director. You can be intimately involved in every detail of the project and even do some of the hands-on work. But when you do need someone to handle logistics, whether it's ordering products or coordinating contractors' schedules, the designer can step in.
A designer will typically:
Visit your home to take measurements.
Create a design and draft perspectives, elevations, and a floor plan.
Develop a detailed budget and schedule.
Order products and materials.
Coordinate work with construction, painting, and other contractors.
Oversee the installation and placement of the cabinets and other design elements.
Be sure to clarify up front who will be responsible for the contractors. Some design firms will coordinate the contractors' work only after you have selected and come to separate agreements with each. The design firm may make recommendations for which contractors you should use, but it may not have its own employees who perform these jobs.