When planning a kitchen, where do you go? And how does it actually work? Even as someone working on this very magazine, designing a kitchen has always been a bit of a mystery to me – mainly because I’ve never done it. But many of our readers are in the same position, so it’s time to shed some light.
There are plenty of options, of course, from creating your own scheme online or at independent and high street retailers, and visiting showrooms to hiring a joiner to make cabinets specifically for you. But they often all have one in common: a kitchen designer is either on hand or might be brought in from the outside to help you get the best solution.
What is a kitchen designer?
As the name suggests, they know everything about how to create the most efficient scheme that meets your needs and suits your lifestyle – whether you’re feeding a busy family, only cook for yourself, or like to play chef and frequently treat all your friends and family to elaborate dinners.
Although there are courses in kitchen design, you need no official qualifications or degrees to enter this line of work. Some creatives might also have a background in interior design or have gained experience by working as kitchen installers, but others might be self taught.
Always double check and make sure you’re comfortable with who you’re hiring – and remember, get three quotes before you say yes to anyone, lest someone try to overcharge you.
Starting your project? Read our feature on how to renovate a kitchen, bedroom or bathroom
What does a kitchen designer do?
In short, everything that is related to making your dream space a reality. They usually start with a conversation and rough sketch, which will help you identify what you like or don’t like – at this point, it’s worth pointing out any must-haves.
Also don’t forget to tell them your budget early on, before you fall in love with a plan only to realise you can’t afford it. Once this stage is done, they’ll draw up a full concept, with all cabinetry and (if applicable) appliances and fixtures included, for you. But nothing is set in stone yet, so you can still change your mind and ask for amendments.
Once you agree on a layout, your kitchen designer will create a timeline, plan what is needed – both material and workforce – and then switch into an administrative role. If they work for a company they’ll often have their own team to build and install the kitchen, but if they’re freelance they might have recommendations for trades or manufacturers.
Why do I need one?
Cabinetry, appliances, and fixtures such as the sink have to find a place, but you’ll also need to be able to comfortably move around. And, of course, you’d like it to look and feel good too – the best parties end in the kitchen for a reason.
Designers are experts in finding clever solutions and getting the most out of your budget. They often have great contacts to other trades too – never underestimate the value of a good plumber or electrician – and might hide a design trick you’d never have thought of up their sleeve.
Which leaves the question of cost. Some are free, while others, especially freelancers, might charge by the hour – in this case, ask for an estimate so you can budget. Others will set their fee for the whole job, which can be in relation to the overall cost. If they are part of your kitchen manufacturer’s design and installation service, it’s included in the final price.
Some designers might also charge you for an initial visit, where they survey your space – this usually costs from £50 and is included in the kitchen price.
Finding a kitchen designer
Kitchen designers have no compulsory trade association, so you’ll need to find other ways. Ask friends or family, check local forums and Facebook groups, and visit showrooms. If you don’t know where to start, there’s one tried-and-tested destination: the yellow pages (these days, they’re even online), while The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA) has a list of approved retailers plus a wealth of information about renovations.
Featured image: iStock/ mphillips007