How a Kitchen Designer Can Keep Your Project On Schedule and On Budget
Sourcing, planning, project managing and budgeting… Here’s why a kitchen designer can be the key to a smooth renovation
Wondering whether it’s really worth the investment? Confused about the process? To help you make an informed decision, check out this guide to how a designer can help your renovation run seamlessly, as well as some tips on what it will all cost.
Professional advice from: Cathy Davis of Classic Interiors; Diane Berry of Diane Berry Kitchens; Lottie McCrostie of Naked Kitchens
When it comes to finding the right materials for your worktop, flooring, cabinets and walls, a kitchen designer is well-placed to source the most appropriate for your project.
“A good kitchen designer should be an expert in material selection and knowing which combinations are most effective,” Cathy Davis says.
“They have a huge library of materials and contacts to help source the best products from reliable companies,” Diane Berry adds.
This kind of knowledge is particularly useful if you’re looking for a specialist finish, as a kitchen designer should be able to find a tried-and-tested expert to do the job.
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If you’re going to invest in a new kitchen, it’s important to design a space you won’t want to change later on. You can do this by making the most of your kitchen designer’s planning skills.
“The design needs to work not only for the physical shape of the room, but also for how the kitchen will be used by the clients,” Lottie McCrostie says.
“If you work closely with an experienced designer, they will hold your hand through every aspect of the design, making sure nothing is missed and ensuring there’s a place for everything,” Diane says. “You don’t want to miss things and end up adapting your purchases to suit the forgotten items.”
Cathy explains the process: “We’ll chat about how the client likes to cook and how they intend to use the space. From there, I can ascertain the kind of appliances, type of worktop and storage requirements they need,” she says.
Lottie highlights the importance of continued discussion throughout the planning stage. “This enables changes to be made to evolve the design,” she says. “Once the plan is finalised, the client is fully connected with the design, ensuring no changes are required to simplify the process.”
“An experienced designer can ensure the planning and manufacturing stages are managed in conjunction with their client,” Lottie says. “And they should make them aware of lead times along the way.”
“It’s imperative timescales are discussed at the outset, so everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet,” Cathy says. “We work with the client’s builder and architect to ensure our lead times accord with the project timescale.”
“Building works have an order,” Diane explains. “Calling out a plasterer before the electrics are first fixed, for example, is a waste of time, energy and sometimes money. So we ensure each trade knows its dates and expectation of time needed.
“We run a job making sure a day without at least one tradesman [on site] is rare,” she says. “A tiler can be preparing and tiling the floor while the plaster dries, for example.
“We have warehousing,” she continues, “so we make sure the goods are all in stock before we start, so the fitters aren’t waiting for goods to arrive. I know some of these things sound little, but a happy tradesperson does better work and a fitter waiting for their materials is like a bear with a sore head.”
If you’re redesigning your kitchen as part of a larger project, it’s essential your kitchen designer works in line with any architect, builder or interior designer you’ve hired.
“I often meet with my clients over a coffee in one of our showrooms to discuss their architectural plans in detail before we consider the kitchen design,” Cathy says. “I need to understand the architect’s vision and style, so I can ensure the kitchen we create is appropriate for the space.”
The same goes for interior designers, she adds. “It’s important to make sure the interior designer has the same vision to ensure the finishing touches and soft furnishings in the living space complement the kitchen perfectly,” she says.
Diane also highlights the fact that a kitchen designer will have a list of tried and trusted tradesmen, so they can bring in the right people to do the job.
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“Sometimes, the simple details are expensive; at other times, a design change can save so much money,” Diane says. “Always be open and honest with your designer about money. We have the knowledge and tricks to create the wow without a wow price tag.”
“I always advise my clients to spend the majority of the kitchen budget on the cabinetry and doors, as these get the most use,” Cathy says. “The kitchen cabinets especially, although not necessarily seen, take the weight of the worktop and need to stay rigid for many years, so the doors stay aligned. I use the analogy of a car: you don’t see the chassis, but it needs to be high quality to ensure a great vehicle.”
“Where I often suggest clients can save money is on the appliances,” Cathy says. “We only sell quality brands, which means their entry-level products are still excellent quality, using the same components as the more expensive models. The difference is often in the features available, so I have a good chat with my clients to work out what features they can live without to help them choose the best value appliances for their budget.”
Lottie offers another tip: “Where a kitchen is totally bespoke, wider drawer stacks can be designed into the plan to reduce the overall number of cabinets, as drawers are more expensive than cupboards.”
It’s not just the initial outlay that you need to factor in when designing a kitchen – the cost of running appliances is also key. A kitchen designer will be able to advise on the most energy-efficient models for your budget.
“We have training throughout the year with Siemens, Neff and Miele to ensure we can manage our customers’ expectations and inform them on the best appliances to suit their needs,” Cathy says.
“We can offer lots of help on which appliances are most efficient and, importantly, which programmes are, too,” Diane adds. “For example, so many people with one and a half ovens use the small oven to save money, yet mostly the larger oven costs less to run. Large ovens usually work with a single heating element and a fan, while small ovens often run two elements. It goes against logic, but it’s a good to-know fact.
“With dishwashers,” she continues, “often the programmes that take longer are more cost-efficient. They’re often heating the same amount of water to do the wash and they then recycle the rinse water, too. So longer doesn’t mean more expensive and often means less water.”
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