How to choose a good kitchen designer?

How to choose a good kitchen designer?


Design is not just what it looks like.  Design is how it works - Steve Jobs
designer
dɪˈzʌɪnə/
noun

a person who plans the look or workings of something prior to it being made, by preparing drawings or plans.

Let's face it, purchasing a kitchen is not the same as purchasing a TV or going to the store for groceries.  It is quite a long, complicated process involving substantial financial and time commitments.   Frankly, having been in the industry for a long time I believe the Client does not realise this either before they start searching for a new kitchen.

The German kitchen is engineered to last you on average 20 years, and needless to say it is a space where you will be spending a lot of your precious time.  In our day and age where we are bombarded with information every day and second of our lives you can find information and do your research on kitchens through many mediums such as online, trade magazines, friend's recommendations, etc, but how do you separate the irrelevant from the useful?  It only makes sense to trust someone honest, knowledgeable, and integrable with a project of such magnitude.  So, how does one choose a good reputable kitchen designer or kitchen company?

First of all I would recommend visiting the showroom, does the kitchen showroom live up to your expectations?  Does the designer show you around while explaining to you the different types of cabinets which are available?  Does he show you the different door fronts and materials used?  Can you feel the difference between a lacquer door and a foil door?  Does the showroom display the different types of worktops which are available?  Are you being educated on the advantages quartz has over granite, and vice versa?  Are you being demonstrated the difference of a Le Mans corner cabinet and a carousel corner cabinet to know which will work better in your small kitchen?  The list is  endless, my point is - you need to be able to feel the materials which you are being offered, the supreme engineering and quality testing which has gone into building these products, and you need to be educated as to why a certain cabinet is more suitable for you than another cabinet.

Let's assume you are satisfied with the quality of the kitchen cabinets, you have chosen your door fronts, but what good is it if you don't have chemistry and trust with your kitchen designer?  Remember, good designers will always:

  • Be able listen carefully and take notes.
  • Be knowledgeable in the product.
  • Take interest in you, your family, and your lifestyle enough to understand how the kitchen will be utilised.
  • Be able to create a functioning AND aesthetically outstanding kitchen specifically for YOUR requirements.
  • Be able to explain advantages and disadvantages of different ideas.

A good kitchen designer should always take time to sit down with you and ask you the relevant questions about your preferences, lifestyle, which foods do you cook most often, how many times a month you do your grocery shopping, how many people are in the family, will the kitchen be used for anything else other than cooking ie. dining, entertaining guest at parties, helping kids with homework, etc.  No small detail should go undiscovered, even things such as your hand orientation matter because depending on if you are right or left handed this will determine on which side to position the dishwasher in accordance to the sink and on which side the sink drainer should be.  Your height should be noted so the ideal working surface height can be planned and the correct cabinet size can be used to ensure everything is within safe and comfortable reach.  A good kitchen designer from a reputable kitchen company will never bullish*t you to say "this is a hot deal available only until mid-day tomorrow" or "place your deposit by 6pm tonight and I will give you a £500 discount" - if you hear anything along these lines, run far, run fast, and don't look back - I just saved you from Satan (no need to thank me)!

As you can now appreciate, a good kitchen designer is a lot more than just a guy in a shirt and a tie who opens the drawer and jumps on it trying to impress you how much weight it can take.  Once you have established that your kitchen designer is the right one for you, you should view him as a partner in your quest to get your dream kitchen.  If you choose wisely this quest will be burden free, painless, and smooth as you will have aid of a knowledgable professional, make a mistake and you risk going through hell while choosing your kitchen, and your kitchen purchasing process will be anything but pleasant.

In the last paragraph I used the word "knowledgeable" - that is because you don't really want an intern who hasn't finished his/her design degree designing your £20,000 kitchen.  A degree is not necessary to become a good designer, what is necessary is experience.  The kitchen designer has to know their product inside out, they would have to know how the kitchen will be fitted, how to overcome different obstacles and deliver your dream kitchen on time and on budget.  Your kitchen designer should also be able to advise you on other aspects of the kitchen such as appliances dependant on your cooking needs, which lighting to incorporate into your kitchen, what material to use for the flooring, and what colour splash back will compliment your cabinets.  The kitchen has to be function-able, there is no point having a beautiful kitchen design if the dishwasher door catches on the sink base cabinet or there is not enough walking space between the island and the straight run.

Finally, not to be missed from this article is the importance of the kitchen studio / kitchen company to which the designer has pledged their allegiance.  Has this business got good reviews from past clients?  Can they provide references on request and are they happy for you to visit past clients and talk to them about their experience?  Does the kitchen company have any accreditations or awards?  Have they been established for a long time?  These questions need to be asked to ensure there is transparency in the process and to ensure that you are working with a reputable kitchen designer and company.

Good luck with your choice!  If you have any other questions or I missed anything please feel free to give me a call on 0203 544 4281 or e-mail me illya@illyakitchens.com

Illya admin