Kitchen Designer - how much does it cost ?

TalkArtFunDayNovember 22, 2013

We are located in the SF Bay Area, CA. South Bay specifically.

Looking at redesigning our kitchen - about 30 linear feet in size, or approx 20'x20'.

We are trying to understand how much would hiring a professional designer cost - any estimates?

Also any recommendations for our geography?

We are very green to this process - the only place we thought of approaching thus far was HD and Lowes - but there's got to be other options out there.

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Ohhh, you have asked a loaded question here at GardenWeb! I believe most people would define a Kitchen Designer as someone who designs or helps design the layout of the kitchen and sells cabinetry. Their remuneration is often folded into the sale of the brands of cabinets they sell. They are not architects nor interior decorators, and in addition they don't usually sell appliances, granite/marble, or other kitchen accessories, though they sometimes do and they might have partnerships with businesses that do.

If you don't think you need an architect and you are mostly looking for ideas and help with the best layout within your existing space, then it's probably true you might only need a KD, as kitchen designers are referred to on here, rather than one of the other professionals. Others might correct me, but I have found from talking with several KDs that they all make a commission or percentage of the sale of cabinetry and none of the ones I've met with charges a separate fee.

As for where they are found--pretty much anyplace kitchen cabinets are sold. In fact even Home Depot has employees it calls Kitchen Designers--I've met with two, one was awful and the other was impressively thoughtful and knowledgeable and had some good ideas.

Please let us know more about your project--whether you are thinking of making any structural changes, moving any walls, have a good idea of what you want to do and just need help executing your plan or have no idea where to start.

Also, if you're still reading, I will say the fellow posters at GardenWeb are fantastic at coming up with ideas--it's sort of a collective Kitchen Design community here, and I'd bet if you uploaded a picture of your floorplan we could make suggestions that would rival those of the best KD out there!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 8:32AM
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I worked with an independent Interior Designer on our remodel. She charged $90 an hour. I live in Wisconsin, so you might pay more for somebody in the Bay Area.

She designed my cabinets and worked with the cabinet maker, and sourced the flooring, counters, etc. She could also work with any commercial line of cabinets if I wanted to go that route. My ID also sourced the GC for the install work.

It was a pretty smooth process since she had the relationships with the cabinet maker and contractors, and they were all used to working together.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 12:52PM
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It's like any other profession that charges fees - it runs the gamut from "free" (cough) to several thousands of dollars.

If you don't already know San Fran is a VERY expensive location for everything. Don't expect any bargains.

It just depends on how the project is structured, but a typical kitchen has around $500- $1250 in design work.

20' x 20' is not typical !!! It will really boil down to the amount of "help" and handholding you want. 500 bucks gets you a quick cabinetry layout and finish selection with a basic lighting plan.

Want a detailed reflected ceiling plan and 6 different types of fixtures specified along with grouping scenes for control by a Lutron system ? $$$. Want it to integrate with your home's whole house Crestron or Control4 system ? Even more $$$.

Want us to hand select your stone slabs ? $. Maybe you want your fridge and freezer to look like an armoire ? Design time = $$.

I think you get the picture. It's just too hard to off the cuff answer your question with out know some more specifics of your project. Initial consultations are no charge to determine the feasibility of your project and to see if the personality fit is good. Usually, but not always a few proposed sketches of a layout are no charge either, and will be shown to you in a followup meeting to solidify the relationship started in the initial consult. You won't be able to keep any of those drawings with out opening your checkbook though.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 5:23PM
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Thank you for your responses. They are all very helpful.

Yes, I have been meaning to post the layout, but have to get around to preparing a drawing to scan and post. But will definitely do it soon - I have seen the fantastic in-depth advise on the forums here.

Trying to avoid (minimize) structural changes to keep budget in check.

Btw, my mistake in posting kitchen size, it's more like 10' x 15' or so (that's what happens when I post late in the night just before going to sleep :().

    Bookmark   November 22, 2013 at 9:51PM
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I'm in the Bay Area too and tried to find information on independent kitchen designers (ones that are not tied to specific lines of cabinetry) and had a hard time. Everyone I know who has done a local kitchen remodel has gone with a "free" KD through a cabinet company.

Some of the companies specialize in one line (ALNO, Poggenpohl, Boffi) and others work with two or more cabinet lines. Artistic Kitchen Design in Mountain View works with Crystal and Pedini cabinets. Blue Plum in SF works with 6 or 7 lines of cabinets.

Most of them offered two levels of service. For a deposit that's applied against the cost of your cabinetry (so "free" if you buy cabinetry through them), they can spec out your kitchen and figure out what cabinets to order, check clearances, provide 3D visualization, etc. For more (I think Artistic quoted $1500, but I could be way off) they will spec it out more fully and maybe help you more with the planning stage.

I've had friends who recommended ALNO in SF and Artistic Kitchen Designs in Mountain View. I looked at Porcelanosa in SJ but didn't like that the display kitchens looked a bit scuffed, and I think they specialize more in tile and bathrooms. The KDs at Blue Plum in SF seemed very knowledgeable.

I've been looking at modern European cabinetry. You may have more / different options if you are going more traditional. Of the ones I mentioned, Artistic Kitchen Design and Blue Plum do a wide range from traditional to ultra-contemporary.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 2:26AM
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I asked my friend last night who she used - she used an architect who designed a fantastic kitchen --- she says it was almost perfect (alas, she doesn't live there anymore, but then again, maybe she'll have the opportunity to do another one). He's in the city. I don't remember his name, but I can get it if you're interested.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 12:43PM
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Can't help you with your question but do have a few suggestions:

-do a formal contract-others can help you with what that would include
-make sure your KD uses universal computer programs like 20/20 or other, so if you choose to use just the design you can pay (get receipt) and move on to cabinets etc
-If you make clear you're starting with true kitchen design first and only, set maximum hours and written hourly rate. Make sure the KD agrees that the design is yours after payment (release or receipt marked paid, whatever).
-I highly recommend using Garden Web for KD too. The key there is to get a workable dimension layout uploaded that is readable for all.

These few early steps may make the beginning process of your kitchen remodel more memorial, less stressful. It's always great to start off on good footing.

Good luck to you. It can be a fun, rewarding time.

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Sat, Nov 23, 13 at 13:44

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 1:41PM
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You don't need to scan a layout. You can just do it on graph paper and take a photo to upload.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 2:12PM
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I highly recommend using Garden Web for KD too

I so agree with this. When I remodeled the kitchen in my previous home, I did the entire design without a KD -- other than the brilliant "KDs" here on GW. I ended up with a great kitchen. This time around, I used a KD, but only to tweak what I already did - she did all the measurements, and had suggestions regarding certain cabinet types, etc., but the layout for functionality was all me and DH. I'm not at all saying that a great KD isn't worth it, just that you can get tons of ideas before you even start that process.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 2:13PM
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I would not consider 2020 a requirement.
A clear plan with accurate listings of mods and accessories is all that is needed.

In the middle of the road shops "pro kitchen" has gotten to be almost as prevalent.
Many of the better KDs I know don't have it, I do but rarely use it- mostly for simple quick pricing ballparks. Many of us prefer slightly more robust software (or pencils :) Chief Architect, Cabinet Vision, Envisioneer, Revit, Archicad, plain old CAD...

If you go with an independant it is still worth checking if they have a relationship with either a maker or a dealer. They may be able to get say 5% off to defray part of the expense of their fees. It also makes for more accurate ordering. May also help with staying on budget.

Note: KD shopping- is not cabinet shopping, nor is it "layout" shopping. Those are likely to lead to dissapointment or at best haphazard results.
It is more conducting a job interview (or a blind date)-requires a bit more thought.
Design- is not just about "ideas", we do not possess magic wands- it is work no more, no less.
A layout is not a design- it's a piece.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 2:43PM
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