Starting to think we are better off skipping the use of any so called "kitchen designers" and handling the work ourselves. Has anyone done this? What was your experience? How did it turn out?
A little confidence, a little style and this forum is all you really need.
I had a $25k budget and no room to pay a KD.
I rather spend that money on appliances or on the countertop.
I love my kitchen.(Like most people I went a little over budget)
If you have a $200k budget and no confidence in your personal style then it makes sense.
I know some very successful people who are extremely confident when they are at work but spend weeks looking at kitchen tables and can't make a decision.
These people "need" a KD.
It depends on the scope of your project. Are walls and appliances staying in the same place, etc.
I think a good KD can be worth their weight in gold, just for function alone. As with any professional trade, there are the good, the bad and the ugly.
We used an architect who had done many kitchens, but is not a KD. A KD employee of our contractor spent some hours going through final plans with an eye to function and mechanics and found several issues which would have been costly to fix and/or annoying to live with. I would hire one on a basis like this at the very LEAST, even if you don't think you need one for an uncomplicated project. Big project with many changes? I would hire one for sure. Get recs from people in your area. There are plenty of very talented "so-called" (?) KDs out there who can make your new space the best it can be.
I tend to agree, No KD.
First they have their own ideas of "What You want" or what's "Trendy".
Second, it's just another link in the communications chain, that "could" muddy up the waters a bit.
Third, Most KD's can't "Think out of the box", so you will get a kitchen very similar to ones they have done before.
Fifth. Many knowledgeable folks here in GW, more than willing to help,
I designed ours, We used a "Handiman who had built 3 kitchens that we visited, as well as using the cabinet maker to build the kitchen,
It came out great, and after 7 years, we love it. My "Theme" was curves, and everything was designed around a 48" built in and paneled fridge, a "must have" for me.
Spend some time here (GW) as well as Houzz looking at kitchens and pick up ideas there, as to what you want your kitchen to be.
Good luck with your project!
I think a great KD would be well worth the money, I don't have enough time left in life to gain all the expertise (function, aesthetics, product availability) that some of them have in their little pinkies.
OTOH, some would clearly be a waste of money. I am willing to spend WAY more time on my kitchen than I could pay someone else to spend - and I want to really understand some of this from inside out rather than simply trusting a pro. I liken it to eating: I like food I cook myself sometimes, even though a great chef could clearly do a better job.
At the beginning of this process I didn't even know enough to pre-qualify a KD - how can a newbie like me know they are hiring someone terrific?
I had a small budget and no clue. Rather, I kinda knew the look I wanted but absolutely no clue how it all came together or what options existed beyond my basic grasp.
I went to a local independent kitchen/bath shop and talked to a nice KD about what I could do with my budget (basically a refresh). She listened, came out and measured, presenting an estimate in pretty short order. It was something I could afford! Then I asked her what her charges would be. She said all she got was a percentage of what I bought through her (cab doors, counter, sink, faucet, pulls).
She suggested some contractors they worked with and I was on my own interviewing/selecting them. My GC later proved to be less than satisfactory, but I suffered no lasting damage. Because she had referred him, she was very upset and hired--at her own expense--someone who had to come in and redo all my hinges. Whenever there were glitches, e.g., delays, she ran interference for me.
She loved my cats and tolerated them rooting through her bags.
Now that my kitchen's done, I know a whole lot more than I did before, but not necessarily enough to design on my own, esp. if I were doing a complete gut.
I'm thinking it's time to update my bathrooms and will definitely give my KD an opportunity to work with me.
Hi deeageaux, it's great for you that you've successfully designed your own kitchen.
I don't agree that confidence is a substitute for skill & craftsmanship. People who do this work for a living and who are skilled with it can sometimes do things that less-skilled people can't do with all the confidence in the world and would never even think to envision. It's a matter of what you want to pay for - different people have different views on that.
If you do proceed with a Kitchen Designer, please spell out overall time frame & desired work product in a formal contract. Be very specific on what is included for the stated price and put a cap on hours so as not to run over.
Also, make sure your KD works in 2020 Kitchen design, so your purchase is translatable to most cabinet and appliance manufacturers.
Of course, asking whether they are certified in kitchen design would be first, but not necessarily a game breaker.
One more thought on whether to use a KD. I finished my first remodel and used an architect / kitchen designer. I know that if I had not used one, I would have ended up with a design that would have been fine but not as good as what I have now. The KD made many decisions in his plan that I didn't fully appreciate until after the remodel was done. So if I had not used him, I may not have been aware of the things that he'd already accounted for, both aesthetically and functionally.
Having gone through this, if I were to do another kitchen remodel, I'd probably use a KD again but would be more ambitious in the things to try. If it were for a house to sell or rent (as opposed to live in myself), I might not bother because I think I've learned enough to know exactly what I want in a more basic kitchen design.
One other thing that a KD can really help with is basic things like measurements (e.g. measuring clearances, heights and widths for custom cabinetry, working through any electrical or HVAC issues that come up, etc.) Those things can definitely be learned through this forum -- but you need to be diligent if you don't have someone who's already gone through this. You could rely on the GC to bring all these issues up but you could end up with unpleasant surprises.
Even if you don't use a KD, I'd recommend hiring someone to take measurements of your space. It will be valuable in all of your work throughout the remodel.
Gold is trading at $1300 an ounce.
Not even the best size 0 KD is worth her weight in gold to me. Even if I won Powerball.
Kitchen design is not rocket science.
If you have more time than money and educate yourself you can acquire the skills and knowledge.
At least enough that you can bounce ideas off the good people here at GW and similar forums and get a great outcome.
You still need a good cabinet guy, plumber, electrician or GC because those skills and practical knowledge of working with people in a given area can't be easily obtained.
Obviously, different people have different views on just about everything. No one is claiming to speak with the authority of God when they post. All post are the poster's opinion.
I think good KD's are very valuable. Have you read the diy molding thread that has been running recently? Details like flushed finished ends, cabinet heights, and crown molding details that I would not have thought of even though I have been reading this board for years, The professional KD's on that thread are truly professional.
Agree with shanghaimom....depends on what you want to do. If you know you want to knock down walls, move appliances, etc....then you do need a CKD or architect. If you are using existing footprint, then you can probably get by without one and just get help from GW.
I did not find out about GW until after cabs were ordered so layout was set. My GC and cabinet guy were OK...but not much help in offering ideas for a different layout for better use of space. I wish I would have at least hired a CKD--or even gone to Lowes/HD---to explore different possibilties for getting more light, better functionality, etc..then again, I wasn't prepared to spend $75,000 + for a major reno...so I probably would have ended up with close to what I have anyway...but it would have been nice to at least see different options and prices on paper. I might have been persuaded to add to the budget a little if I fell in love with the new ideas.
The only reason I didn't have a kitchen designer is because I couldn't afford one. I did have the guy at the cabinet store helping me out, but he really didn't provide all the services of a designer. I am very indecisive and was overwhelmed by all the choices. Having a designer help me sort through everything would have been great. When I look at the finished kitchens of many on this forum, I can really see where having a designer can make a huge difference when it comes to the finished project, especially for those of us who don't have a knack for decorating. I have a new kitchen, but I could have had a new KITCHEN.
And now you about those flushed finished ends, cabinet heights and crown molding details because you read the thread not because you hired a KD.
Looking through high end Kitchen Magazines shows you all those things. Working with a good GC or cabinet guy along with forums like these you can get that result.
It all depends on how much time you want to spend. I work full time, I have a family, my kids have activities and I do want a couple hours to myself per week. All this equals no time for me to figure out how to design my own kitchen both for looks and functionality.
I went with an experienced KD, her DH is the GC and they make an amazing team. I got the kitchen of my dreams and yes I did pay but every penny was worth it and it wasn't outrageous, completely inline with the value of my house.
Complete kitchen gut, from start to finish 5 weeks including redoing the wood floors on our first floor.
Consumers may do 1-2 kitchen remodels in a lifetime. KD's do 1-2 a week. Or more. Consumers don't know what they don't know about designing kitchens. And thus many think that using a KD will increase the costs and they'll end up with a kitchen that isn't "them". Nothing could be further from the truth!
For 90% of the KD's out there, it costs the consumer exactly nothing to use their services. They are compensated by their salary, plus a commission on the sale. That doesn't mean that they are out to pick your pocketbook. If you tell me that you have 12K to spend on cabinets, I will for sure give you the best kitchen that `12K can buy. But, I'm not going to come back with a 24K kitchen, or a 6K kitchen. I'm going to be very ballpark for your number. IF your number is realistic.
Most consumers have the ability to design a C level (talking complexity, not price) kitchen with maybe B to A level finishes if they have an eye for decor and can do at least a year of reading and learning. What most people can't do is design an A level kitchen with all of the details correct. They just don't have the time or interest to learn those details. They're more interested in the decor aspects rather than the nuts and bolts of clearances, code requirements, alignment issues, and a host of other things that don't get noticed by them---until it's not right. The details matter. And they are the hardest to get right because of what I said above: you don't know what you don't know.
As a peek into what people don't know they don't know, the "molding" thread.
Here is a link that might be useful: Options you didn't know existed.
Agree with a good designer and administrator being worth her weight in gold. She or he can get lower prices and top service from vendors, knows and can bring in the best craftsmen, knows about materials and possibilities most people never hear of, handles the details competently, and--above all--can put together ordinary elements in a way that produces an outstanding kitchen that's far above the ordinary. Sadly, gold's usually required, although I'm sure there is an unappreciated jewel of competence perched on a swivel chair at a Home Depot here and there.
As for doing it yourself, if you can also measure, add, and subtract accurately you can do it. I thought wistfully of the one really fine kitchen designer I've ever chatted with, never considered the sort I could afford, and designed my own kitchen 100%. I am very happy with it and get plenty of compliments, but to date no one's ever followed them up by begging me to design hers. A clue perhaps that my artistic talents are probably not going tragically to waste. Though it might also be because my big splurge was on windows and that the entire rest of the kitchen was paid for writing checks of about the size of a few average trips to the grocery store. I tend to enjoy the sunshine and watching butterflies flit by and forget that my amateur creation's lacking a lot of the marble and fabulous faucet-type touches we're fantasizing about these days. My design, though.
"And now you about those flushed finished ends, cabinet heights and crown molding details because you read the thread ..."
...thanks to the 5 pros who posted.
I agree that a KD can bring a lot of experience to the table that the typical consumer cannot. I have to disagree on the example GreenDesigns is using, however. The molding question is one that can trip you up if you are DIYing, but would not create an issue for someone having cabinets professionally installed.
In my case, I wanted to hire a KD, but had no idea how to find one that I would like. The first one I approached asked me hardly any questions and gave me very little. I then went to a design/build architect with kitchen experience because we had to decide whether to work within our existing footprint or do a major buildout. We ultimately decided to do the major build-out. But the design and layout were all mine. It took me a year and a half of research until I had a plan that I was happy with.
Would I have gotten a better result if I had gone to a KD? Maybe, but I wonder. I am extremely picky about all of the details, and about every inch of space I have, as are many of those who come to this forum. The feeling I had is that most KD's wouldn't have the patience to be as exacting and as perfectionist as I am, because it would take too much of their time, and at the end of the day, it's not their kitchen. This is not meant to denigrate KDs - I just really wish there was a way to match up customers and KDs by style and personality. I would need an ultra-anal KD who would be willing to consider the best use of every fractional inch of space that I have in my kitchen, tailored to my style and the restrictions of a kosher kitchen.
For us, between the design, the GC with lots of kitchen experience, and the cabinetmaker, we had no issues with anything. If I had found the right KD, maybe it could have been better. The only thing that ended up in the "you don't know what you don't know" category was the desk drawers - our architect specified pencil drawers, but the cabinetmaker made framed drawers, 6" high. The height of the drawers makes it difficult to sit comfortably at the desk with your hands at the correct height. Someone experienced would undoubtedly have caught that.
Sure. I did the research. Did I have time? Not really. Like most people, I have many challenges in life, many "irons in the fire". Dh and I are GCing this entire house ourselves...I think it's a mistake to assume that just because people do something that they must have nothing else to do.
But the question was about if KDs are a waste of money. For us, it would've been a waste of money. Not to mention - we are doing unique things in our house that no professional would've ever thought of. We've found unique products - and had a blast doing it.
But that is secondary to the fact that we are going to have an outcome that is distinctly *us*, that no professional could've given us.
Doesn't this kind of relate to the issue of whether or not people need an architect or can do the design work themselves with little/no help from a professional? That was in the building homes forum, but it seems to be a related issue.
This post was edited by gladys1924 on Fri, Jul 12, 13 at 23:14
My KD has been worth it ten times over. Our deal with her is that her fee is applied 100% to the cabinet order. Even if we don't end up ordering from her, she is worth it.
My DH, our architects (husband-and-wife team) and I had hit the limits of our collective imaginations and expertise in our attempts to design a kitchen layout I loved. In addition, I knew some of the things the architects had drawn in weren't right - does a 36" built-in fridge really take up exactly 36", don't I need room for door swing/clearance? - but I didn't have the energy or patience to figure out that kind of detail for every single element in the kitchen (warming drawer? beverage fridge?). We put our whole-floor renovation plans aside for months because we were so stalled on one element, the kitchen layout, and I was so frustrated I was either in tears or in don't-talk-to-me-about-this-for-two-weeks mode. When we found our KD - a recommendation from this board - she modified one of our designs and all of a sudden it worked. She's also given guidance on those picky details, like accounting for a 24" microwave drawer actually taking up 25-1/2" of cab space. THAT is the kind of detail I knew I'd run into on-site with the architect's plans as drawn, the kind of detail that leads to two inches deducted here, another three there, and all of a sudden the sink doesn't fit. :(
I could almost cut and paste Linelle's response here. Our KD gave us a lot of bang for our buck. She did think outside the box and included several things I never would have come up with on my own. She patiently tolerated my anal/indecisive side with 11 revisions. (feel a little guilty about that!). Her fee came from the cabinets. They are nicer and were cheaper than comparable ones from a big box (my anal husband did lots of price comparisons because he couldn't believe she would give us that much time without gouging us. She did)
She gave me a list of 3 GC that she works with. It was up to me to interview and choose one if I wanted and I also had prices from 3 others not through her.
When a cabinet door came in funky, she got a new one delivered within 2 weeks.
She was worth it! A gem of a lady to work with. And I have the kitchen of my dreams.
My opinion is that great products start with great design.
I am fortunate to have a good friend who is a designer, and he totally gets me and my style. We worked together selecting finishes for the kitchen, and he managed the myriad of project details for me, using his network of subs and knowledge of the order in which to schedule them all. Despite an unexpected re-plumb of our whole house in the middle of the kitchen reno, we were operational in 36 days and completed in 40 days, primarily due to my friend/designer/project manager.
I am 100% thrilled with the end-product, and never could have pulled off our kitchen renovation without my designer.
Furthermore, I am hesitant to say it, but I think GW can be a bit militant about all of the "rules" for designing a kitchen. I did not post my kitchen until everything was chosen and demo had begun. I'm sure I would have been ripped to shreds for my choices had I not been finished with my decision-making before I began posting here...
So my point in posting that last paragraph is not to demean GW in any way, but if believe in yourself, and if you have a vision, then enlisting the help of a designer is not a waste of money AT ALL if they help to bring your vision to full fruition. Don't be afraid to think out of the GW box too.
I am working with an Interior Designer. I also interviewed a KD, but went with the ID because she had a deeper pool of material resources - like custom a cabinet maker. I liked her references (which were family and former co-workers).
I created an idea book on Houzz, for her to work from. On the third try she nailed exactly what I was looking for regarding the lay out, and came up with quite a few things I would have never thought of. My ID is also going to over see the ordering and installation of all materials.
My ID's fee is $90 an hour. For the knowledge that I would have to come up to speed on, and having her manage the relationship with the GC, who she regularly works with, it was worth it for me. This is the only time I expect to do this type of renovation, so I want to make sure it is done right.
I work in an IT related field, so the concept of paying a consultant to manage a large project was something that I totally understand the value of.
Our KD was worth every penny. His fee was also built into the cabinet order. It was not a matter of confidence, more time and interest. There is no way we have the time to learn all the technical aspects of laying out a kitchen, nor did we care to. We didn't use ours to select finishes- I had a vision, and had a talented friend help me choose materials to realize it. Our KD also recommended our GC, who we loved. All in all, a great experience. There are people here who have gotten great results on their own, but also plenty who have made costly mistakes despite months of careful planning.
I've talked to KDs as well as bathroom designers (we're building a house). They've given ideas that work for the general public, for most people. We are not "most people". We're not interested in current trends or anything else. We're interested in what works for us, and we know "us" better than anyone else.
With our kitchen (and our bathroom), I spent a fair amount of time checking out design books from our library. They gave me an idea of layout principles, etc. The cabinet people at the big box stores and at our custom cabinet shop gave me ideas that I'm incorporating into our kitchen...and I think it helps that I've had enough kitchens throughout my life that I know what works and what doesn't.
I don't think it's rocket science. I think KDs may be nice if you feel like you have the money for one. But many people have fantastic kitchens that they've put together without professional help.
Gladys - you did a lot of research that some of us don't have time for. If I had more time, I would do the same things you did.
If a person has to make many complex decisions in a short amount of time, you are better off having the services of an expert. Would you go to law school so you could write your own legal documents?
As GreenDesigns posted above, using a KD doesn't cost anything most of the time--most of the responses seem to have ignored what GD said. If you use a decent kitchen shop, they will sell several brands of cabinets at different price points and will have a showroom with various countertop and BS materials, fittings, etc. so there is little reason not to use a KD unless you want to go with custom cabinets. In that case, I think that a good KD is an insurance policy to reduce the likelihood of bad layout choices or missed details.
In my case, I did a lot of research, including hanging out here for a long time. I drew up a design and took it around to three kitchen shops in Manhattan. I found the shop I liked. The designer on my project was great. He was exceptionally detail-oriented. There is no way i would have ever thought to add the trim pieces where he did to give my cabinets a really finished look. it's just not what I do well. He listened to me but pushed back if I wanted to go in a direction that didn't make sense. I bought my cabinets through him and used his guys for the counter and BS, as well as for the UCL. I bought my sink, faucets and hardware on line. I went with a Julien sink and Waterstone faucets, which they had in the showroom but I had decided on them (as a result of GW) before I even noticed them in the showroom. I fell in love with the cabinet pulls and counter stools in their showroom too but I sourced them myself. My KD was totally fine with me buying those things on my own, even though I am sure he would have made money if I had gone through him.
So I think a good KD is a great value-add.
I used a custom cabinet shop. All they sell is custom cabinets. Nothing else. I've gone to a stone yard here in town for the granite countertops and Ebay for the drawer pulls. Appliances are from Lowes. Kitchen sink is from Costco, faucet from a wholesale plumbers supply that our plumber uses. No KD available from any of those places.
This post was edited by gladys1924 on Fri, Jul 12, 13 at 19:25
Waste of money for me for my first kitchen.
I used architect, KD, cabinet maker and contractor, and ended up making 90% of the design decisions on my own.
I am very picky and have a good eye, if I do say so myself.
All the professionals I hired made mistakes that I caught and corrected.
It took a lot of time and effort, but I enjoyed the process. The kitchen turned out great.
If you have no design sense, you need a KD. I have more design sense than most KD's, so I don't need one.
I did admire a friend's kitchen, so interviewed her KD just to see if I could get her to look over the plans I'd come up with for my kitchen. She turned up her nose at me because I said I was using Ikea boxes for my cabinets! She said working with me wouldn't be "a good fit" because Ikea is poor quality, and she has her reputation to uphold!! I was horrified. Good design is good design, whether you are using inexpensive or high quality materials.
My new kitchen is going to be great, and it's costing a fraction of Kitchen #1. I learned a lot by overspending on Kitchen #1, so I'm doing it better this time -- just me and my carpenter!
I actually did hire an independent KD, after assiduously interviewing several. Who actually designed my final layout? Buehl.
I totally agree that good kitchen is based on good design. The question is where are these brilliant, patient, responsible, meticulous KD designers? Could anyone please recommend a good KD in great Phoenix, AZ area?
Could you please share what you learned from the first kitchen? Thank you.
I designed 98% of my own kitchen but I could not have done it without that 2% kitchen design help. It makes the purchase and installation a whole lot easier and there are things we tend to miss out that matter. However if it's a simple basic kitchen with flexible measurements give or take then someone can do it themselves with basic knowledge of cabinet dimensions and measuretape.
I am using an architectural designer and would not do this renovation without expert help. I want to ensure that my $40+ kitchen is well planned so will pay a few thousand to employ a professional. She has so far done 5 different plans in order to get everything right.
Wish I could upvote you, renov8r! ;-)
Oh yeah, the semi annual KD bash. I'll bet the same people go into the mechanics forums to find out how to rebuild their transmission and then bash the mechanics there as well---but only after benefitting from the free professional advice.
I'm taking my popcorn bucket back home with me, thank you very much.
I don't have a problem going to the mechanics forum (or wherever) and taking back the free advice - if the pros want to hang out there, that is their choice. Also in general I'm not going to rely on one source for advice - I've gone here for advice as well as to log home web sites (since I'm building a log house) and checked out a lot of books from our library. I've also done a lot of brainstorming with my dh and gone to a lot of web sites looking for unique products.
On a side note: I am not picky about things. My mother had a horrible kitchen (no joke - awful layout), but was very happy with it. As an adult, I lived many years in apartments - I kind of learned to make do and be flexible. This new house/new kitchen will be amazing, even if it isn't "perfectly designed". It will still be far better than anything I have ever known.
Frankly, we don't have a huge budget. I'd rather take the 2 thousand or so that a KD would have cost and use it toward an amazing walk in shower or something.
I don't see this as KD bashing; it's deciding if a KD is completely necessary. For some it is; that's terrific. For others, we'd rather use that money elsewhere. That's also terrific.
Agree with gladys. My DH hangs out on the Mustang forums and by definition they are populated with guys that love their cars. A mechanic trying to tell those guys not to work on their own cars without a professional would trigger a mutiny. :-) Similarly, I'd join a cooking forum to share ideas about cooking -- it doesn't mean I necessarily want to hire a professional chef.
I think that this forum is probably over-represented by do-it-yourselfers vs. the general population. It's self-selected by the very fact of being here. Certainly a lot of us can design our own kitchens with help from each other and without a professional KD. And some of us can't and/or don't want to. That's fine too.
That said, the initial post was clumsily worded and inflammatory, perhaps intentionally so. Not cool.
I would never have hired a KD -- I'm kind of in there with BravoDesign -- I had a very firm idea of what I wanted and knew I would not be swayed on many of the design points. But the contractor I chose keeps a KD staff, and I have to say, whatever premium I paid for her (and yeah, I'm sure I paid one) was, I think, totally worth it.
She brought a lot to the table in terms of just knowing what questions to ask, and she designed a couple of custom pieces I needed and loved. Most importantly, she had a good command of the software and was able to draw and redraw and move things around, showing me exactly what I would get. There were no surprises in the final design, and I got a great kitchen in a relatively small space, for which I credit her.
I was set to NOT use a KD. I was going HD with a design that was "GW approved". Then I stumbled upon a KD who sold a product very similar to what I was getting at HD (a notch better actually) and the intricacies and insight he has been able to provide have been invaluable. Yes, it was a basic layout I gave him, but he gave me about 10 different options for this and that and the other that I hadn't event thought about.
Could I have done it without him? Yes. Will I have a much better functioning kitchen because of him? Absolutely!
However, I'm not 'paying' anything extra. Yes, I paid a retainer but only after 2 design meetings with lots of work invested in my project. And the retainer comes off the price of the cabinets - so it wasn't above and beyond anyway. As GreenDesigns says, it generally doesn't cost extra to use one. Heck, the people at HD/Lowes are "KD", too, in name at least.