Working with a Kitchen DesignerWhen beginning a kitchen remodeling project it can be extremely challenging to know where to begin. There are aesthetic considerations, such as the type and color of countertops and cabinets that will be used, but there are also technical considerations, like traffic patterns and layout, storage, and even considerations regarding plumbing and electrical components. Many people opt to use the services of a kitchen designer to take on kitchen remodeling projects, since it is such a daunting concept. A great kitchen designer can help homeowners tie all of their preferences together, and create a cohesive, functional, and timeless space. Beginning the Search It’s important for homeowners to realize that while an interior designer may be able to help in the design of a kitchen, there are also designers that specialize just in kitchen remodeling, or maybe a combination of kitchen and bathroom remodeling. The first step to hiring a designer for a kitchen remodeling process is of course to find a designer. One resource to utilize is The National Kitchen and Bath Association (nkba.org). This is a professional organization whose membership includes a plethora of professionals within the kitchen and bath industry, and their website provides resources to locate designers. Another great way to find a kitchen designer is by asking for recommendations, whether it’s from friends and family, or even from a supplier of building materials, such as a company that sells kitchen countertops. Often these retailers have connections to designers with established reputations in the industry. Homeowners may also be able to work with in-house designers at companies specializing in the sale of materials used in the remodeling process. Preparing for the Initial Meeting Many people fall onto extreme ends of the spectrum when it comes to working with a kitchen designer, or an interior designer of any type. There’s often homeowners that have no direction or idea of what they’re looking for, and on the opposite end of the spectrum are those people who want to micromanage each detail of a kitchen remodel. It’s best to meet somewhere in the middle. Kitchen designers often enjoy when clients have gathered clippings, images and inspiration for what they’d like to see, but they also like to include their own professional input in the process as well. A homeowner may have an idea for what type of kitchen countertop, flooring or cabinets they’d like to use, but it’s also good to remain open to ideas because kitchen designers often have access to materials and options a homeowner may not even be aware exist. At the initial meeting, along with some inspiration ideas, the homeowner should also be prepared with a budget of how much can be spent on the kitchen remodeling project. This serves as a guiding factor in all of the decisions made by the design professional. Also important at an initial meeting is to have some idea of how the space will be used. Functionality is extremely important in kitchen design, so homeowners may want to consider keeping notes on their habits and kitchen usage over a period of time. The layout, appliances, materials and overall design will be heavily dependent on how the space will be used—for example does the homeowner entertain frequently, or is the kitchen primarily used for cooking elaborate meals? Maybe the kitchen is only used minimally for cooking, but convenience is important. All of these are issues that will weigh into the design process. Be Comfortable with a Designer Above all else, it’s important to have an open and honest dialogue with a kitchen designer. This means it’s imperative to feel comfortable expressing not only preferences, but also dislikes. Homeowners should feel like their designer is open and willing to listen to any and everything they have to say throughout the design experience.