You wouldn't pick a driveway contractor to fix your car. True, the driveway contractor knows the size of your auto and what surface works best with its weight, but you wouldn't want him to fix your transmission.
It's much the same as an architect designing your kitchen. His/her knowledge of layout and space planning comes in handy for the overall project, but you need a specialist to create the perfect kitchen for your home...you need a Kitchen Designer.
Here's some tips to help choose the designer who will meet all your needs:
Put in the time to research: Start with a long list of designers in your area. The internet makes this search much easier and the hours spent in front of your laptop will be payoff in the knowledge you gain. Visit designers' websites and view their online portfolios. Bookmark any whose designs you find attractive, then make a short list of which designers created them so can meet them in person. Make separate appointments for the designers to come to your home. If you are building a new home, ask if they would be willing to work with your architect to design the kitchen.
Spend some face-to-face time: You will be able to eliminate some designers on your short list right away. Were they hard to reach on the phone? Did they keep the appointment or change it several times? Were they late for no good reason? Were they rude or did their abrasive personality just rub you the wrong way? Remember, if you notice any of these traits now, while they are trying to win your business, things will only get worse as you get further into the project.
Check their credentials: Are they licensed and fully insured? Do they belong to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the ASID (American Society Of Interior Designers) or any other industry organization? Have they studied architectural principles? How long have they been in business? Check the Better Business Bureau for a history of complaints lodged against the company. Ask for references and call them.
Arrange some on-site visits to their customers: You'll get to see some of the designer's work up-close and personal and ask questions about their customers experience from the start to finish of a project. If a designer can't produce satisfied customers, take that as a warning flag.
Ask a million questions and take notes: Discuss your ideas for your project, including what you must have and what's on your wish list. Go over the designer's portfolio, pointing out what you like and dislike and why. Must you have a pull-out pantry or copper sinks? Do you hate large range hoods? Speak your mind and note if the designer is truly listening to you. Then it's your turn to listen. Does the designer incorporate what you've said into the ideas he/she presents? Are the ideas innovative and the design elements interesting?
Have a budget in mind: If you are only willing to spend enough money for new cabinetry and the designer discerns that your ideas will add up to a $250,000 kitchen design, you will have problems from the start. Have a figure you won't exceed and discuss it frankly with the designer. You will both save a lot of time and frustration.
Give the designer enough time to work up initial concept drawings: Though you may have thought about this project for months and now want to get going right away, any good designer needs a little time to incorporate your ideas (and theirs) into an interesting workable design—taking into account the measurements, space planning, flow of the room and many other factors. Give them time and don't accept a standard CAD design spit out from a software template. Though you can't ask the designer to create blueprints for you until they are actually hired for the job, you want to see if the designer heard you and addressed your needs in the initial—and original--drawings.
Meet the staff: Establish that you will be working with the principal designer, not just sold by that designer and passed off to some second-stringer for the actual work. Also, meet the office staff—the ones who will be taking your phone calls and handling your paperwork. Make sure they are efficient, reliable and pleasant. You are going to be “living” with these people for the duration and you want it to be a good experience.
In coming articles, we'll go in-depth on topics ranging from the latest in design, materials and appliance options to the newest in kitchen flooring and lighting, all with an eye to making your space planning or kitchen/bath project a truly pleasurable experience.
If you are looking for a professional team to work with you on such a project, you can do no better than Jason Landau (an award-winning kitchen designer with a Masters degree in Architecture) and his team at Amazing Spaces, LLC. Please visit our website at www.amazingspacesllc.com or give us a call at 914-239-3725.