Once you’ve made the big decision to re-do your kitchen, you have another big decision to make: How am I going to get this done? You see it on HGTV all the time—shows that make renovating a kitchen look so quick and easy. Obviously, there’s a ton of stuff behind the scenes that they are never going to show on television. The show is an hour long, but the reno actually took months.
And it’s a big investment. According to HomeAdvisor, you’re probably spending anywhere from $12,000 on a basic reno to over $50,000 on a luxury kitchen remodel. At those rates, you can’t afford to make a mistake. How can you make sure you’re making the right choices?
Enter the kitchen designer. We spoke with Dianne Aucello of Edesia Kitchen & Bath Studio in Burlington, MA. Our goal—to find the value-add that a kitchen designer can bring to your kitchen renovation project.
1. Designers spend time on-site
A design professional stays with you from before construction begins till project completion. You probably have a job to go to every day, and won’t be around to answer every one of the contractor’s questions. The designer will oversee the work, and coordinate with the contractor. “We make sure everything is proceeding in the right direction,” Aucello said.
2. Designers understand project management
A kitchen designer sees the big picture down to every little detail, and knows how to manage the project, so it’s done right and on schedule. The measurements will be taken correctly, and you'll see the plan well in advance of construction. The designer will create elevation drawings to give you a chance to see everything that will go into your kitchen. Plus, a kitchen designer will work within your budget to make the most out of every dollar you’re spending.
3. Designers guide style choices
The designer is aware of the popular kitchen styles, and can help you decide on the best one to fit your space and lifestyle. Aucello said she frequently does farmhouse and mid-century modern kitchens these days. “Homeowners want a simpler, cleaner look,“ she said. A designer knows how to achieve it.
4. Designers see your kitchen layout with fresh eyes
Many homeowners have trouble seeing beyond the kitchen’s current layout. The designer doesn’t have that issue and can configure the room with the best working layout to maximize the space.
5. Designers help with appliance selection
In addition to steering you toward the best appliances for the kitchen you want, a designer will help you choose the right finish. “Stainless steel isn’t going anywhere,” Aucello said.
6. Designers source better materials
There’s a huge range of products out there. A designer recommends high-quality kitchen products you won’t find in big box stores. That includes cabinets, countertops, appliances, hardware, plumbing fixtures, and more.
7. Designers can stave off wear and tear
Kitchens are not just a family meal spot. They are where guests hang out, kids do homework, and pets are fed. “Kids and pets are hard on a kitchen,” Aucello noted. A kitchen designer will guide you toward materials that look great and will stand up to the onslaught.
8. Designers will improve your lighting
Every kitchen needs task lighting (“So you can see what you’re chopping”), and ambient lighting. Under-cabinet lighting is important, to illuminate the counter. A kitchen designer will help select all the lighting. If you want pendant lighting over the island, the designer will work with the electrician to make sure it’s installed correctly.
9. Designers guide you to the right color choices
Black and white kitchens are still with us and will be for the foreseeable future. Wood is coming back. A designer will help you decide on which colors to use, and where they should go.
10. Designers help you avoid costly mistakes
Designing a kitchen is probably not your area of expertise. A designer’s experience can prevent problems that will affect how you use your kitchen in the future. Locating the work triangle (the sink, cooktop, and refrigerator), and factoring in how you use the kitchen is the kitchen designer’s skill. The designer can help you renovate a kitchen with fewer regrets. To that end, Aucello advises that you always hire a kitchen designer who cooks, “So you can actually cook there if you want to.”
The key to a successful kitchen makeover
A kitchen designer will help you accomplish your kitchen makeover, but some things are on you:
Build positive relationships with the people who are making your dream kitchen happen. Be flexible and open to their ideas.
Get ready to wait. It doesn’t work to rush construction, so manage your expectations.
Based on Aucello’s experience in kitchen design, we asked her to tell us the most important thing about any kitchen renovation. “Do it right the first time,” she said. “I’m doing 20-year kitchens, not five-year kitchens.”