I was speaking with a blogging buddy of mine, who mentioned that her parents are planning a kitchen renovation and are having trouble thinking about what to do first. They are at a total stalemate. There are so many issues, so many potential players in a kitchen renovation, I suppose it must be difficult for many to decide just that, what comes first. Well, The Kitchen Designer comes to the rescue! Here are my top five things to do BEFORE you hire a kitchen designer.
- Get some sort of organized system to make notes in. Whether good, old-fashioned pad and paper, a binder, a software or online program for kitchen organization, begin the process in an organized way. To go one step further, create different categories for your project....one section for cabinetry, one for countertops, one for the contractor, one for the designer, and so on.
- Do online research for kitchen designers in your area and beyond. This will, and should, take quality time. Don't be afraid to go outside of your area if you seem to connect with the information presented in a website for a particular designer. Many designers travel. Don't limit yourself searching via just one zip code. Take time and "travel" online beyond your town. A great source to begin with is to go to the nkba website. At the time of this writing, their site has been unavailable for some time. Keep trying! Also, speak to your friends and neighbors and check references.
- At the same time, you will need to begin the search, perhaps for a general contractor, and an architect, depending on if you have structural issues to address in your remodeling project. My personal opinion, is that it is never too early to find your kitchen designer. Who comes first often depends upon the project. In a recent case of mine, I worked with clients for months before the architect was called in. The architect dealt with some of our structural concerns, gave his blessing, and is now awaiting final dimensioning information from me, as the kitchen design is driving the home's extension. In other cases, due to roof lines or other issues, such as surrounding rooms being involved, the architect comes first. Find your professionals and begin the conversation with each of them. The answer what to do first will soon reveal itself to you. Remember, too, that, just as in doctors' practices, each professional has a specific area of expertise. A good professional is one who knows his/her boundaries. Do not ask me about detailed structural issues, that is an architect's domain. Do not ask a contractor about kitchen design. Put the weight of the advice in proportion to the professional's expertise, and to what one does every single day, not on occasion! And, be aware that the product you choose is only as good as your designer. Choose your designer first, and your products second.
- Begin an idea file. Collect pictures from magazines and bookmark websites where you have seen pictures that you like. Gradually, you will see if your aesthetic vision is focused or, well, all over the place! This will be helpful to communicate to a designer. Do you really want to go crazy? I apologize in advance for turning you on to all of these 1,762 kitchen images. It is well worth the price of a subscription.
- Work to define a general, not a specific, budget! Think about the quality level of products that you hope to put into your home. Begin some easy leg work, such as pricing out appliances. Write a list of everything you can think of that will have labor attached to it. Don't forget electrical, plumbing, hvac, audio management, general contracting categories. Understand that if you come up with a specific number you want to work with to cover your wish list, this number may or may not be realistic. Be flexible, be open to changing parts of your project, making substitutions, and setting the budget (range) will merely be on your to-do list, rather than be one of anxiety and angst.
- And, a bonus: Subscribe to this blog, come back, ask questions, start a discussion, and you will find assistance and a constant flow of new ideas and information!
Remember, too, that you do a kitchen once in your life. Put the time in on the front end! Do not get bogged down in any one area, balance all areas and you will come up with a focused direction to begin your project. You will have a budget that you feel comfortable with, and will be well on the way to finding the right people to help you achieve a great result to your project. One step at a time. Now, go, stop procrastinating!!
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