Jun 13 2013

Why we hired a kitchen designer

After a few months of browsing Pinterest, Houzz and the internet at large looking for kitchen inspiration, we started investigating kitchen reno companies in our area.

I had two companies give me estimates. I was surprised at how high their quotes were, and realized that the best way for me to approach the project was to find individual sources for each element.

Using Angie’s List, I found a well-rated fabricator of solid surface countertops (which is the type of counter we wanted). Their price was more than $1k lower than the all-inclusive kitchen companies I had previously contacted. What. The price included delivery, installation, and an under-mount or integrated sink.

I asked someone at the countertop company if they knew of any good local cabinet companies, and they did. The company checked out on Angie’s List, so I paid them a visit.

I was impressed with their family-run business, and how they strive to get the demo and installation done in just one day. One company said I could be without a full-service kitchen for up to 4 weeks. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

The man who took the specs of my order in the showroom is also an installer, and he and another employee (his dad!) will be the ones in my house in a few weeks doing the demo and cabinet installation. We will be without countertops for a week or so, since they need a template before fabrication.

Their price for a high-quality all wood cabinet was far less than the other companies — and it was less or comparable to the big box stores and internet retailers. They offered free cabinet hardware (that can be a few hundred bucks) and a 5% Angie’s List discount. Their labor charges were also very reasonable. Sold.

So, I found sources for the two big, expensive components…but how do I make the room come together?

It was just too overwhelming.

We figured that we’re spending so much money on big permanent things that we did NOT have room to make a mistake. These choices will affect our house’s resale later.

So, we checked Angie’s List (love it, can you tell?) and found a design company in our area.

For a flat fee, our designer is working with us to select every choice we’ve had to make.

I know we would have made some wrong choices along the way without him. Sure, we might have made it look ok — but I don’t want ok; I want awesome!

Case in point: we made a horrible decision with the Giani Granite countertop paint. Nevermind the fact that it chipped beyond belief — the color I chose was far too dark. Aesthetically, it would have been better if we chose an entirely different, lighter shade.

I’m just not very good at looking at color swatches or even computer renderings (which we made!) and seeing an end result that looked good.

It’s not that big of a deal to make a $100 mistake on countertop paint, since we figured if it didn’t work out we’d replace the counters anyway. But I do not want to spend several thousand on cabinets and countertops and end up regretting the choices we made.

Our designer has been great. He met with us at our house, and then at each store to guide us in door styles, stain choices, door layout, glass door selection for two cabinets, how to arrange the undermount lights for the best effect (and the exact light fixture for that). Then he helped with the countertop style and edge finish, wall paint color, sink faucet, light fixtures…yeah. Every little thing. Last on the list is backsplash tile.

The kitchen isn’t finished yet — we’ve only primed the walls and installed one light fixture so far.

But at this stage, I’m confident that paying the fee that amounted to something like 3% of the total overall project’s cost was money well spent.

How about you? Have you worked with a designer? Or do you naturally have that designer’s eye?


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9 Responses to “Why we hired a kitchen designer”

  1. Congrats on getting the kitchen underway! I’m on month three of finishing up our kitchen renovation. We had a very, very tight budget. I checked out tons of local cabinet makers, but they were all more expensive than the box stores! Same with counter tops. For the same granite, a mom & pop shop quoted us $2850, but we got it at Lowes for $1900 installed with sink. Just have to shop around. I wanted to hire a kitchen designer, but they either didn’t service my area or never returned my calls, so I designed it entirely myself. I’m happy with it so far!

  2. Sounds good, Angella!

  3. I think you made a wise choice! So excited to see how it all turns out!! I hired a friend to help me pick paint colors for the main living area of our house. We have vaulted ceilings and I did not want an overpowering color!! So thankful we hired her. We have had the paint color for 6 years and still love it!

  4. Cheryl, I think if a color can last that long and STILL be a winner, you did the right thing!

    Glad to hear it worked out. Paint colors are so difficult for me to choose. I think it was 5-6 sample cans just for my laundry room before going ahead with one. I can’t imagine trying to do a big living space or my whole house without a lot of help!

  5. I am seriously considering bringing in a designer as a future splurge to pretty much design the whole house inside. I feel silly, but we have a Mcmansion that we love and no eye for design at all.

  6. I want to hire a designer for our living room/dining room and den some day, just to pick wall/ carpet colors and curtains. My friend did this a couple years ago and spent about $80. Since we’ll do the painting and curtain hanging ourselves, it would be well worth $80 to make sure we’re not repainting with a different color.

  7. I think designers can be a huge asset! If you have to paint a large space twice, there’s $80 right there…and that’s when and if you get to it. My parents have a room that has mismatched carpet and walls. One is warm, one is cool and it’s not the best.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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