The kitchen industry is a multi billion dollar industry with many players involved in the process. Consumers are often at a loss as to whom to hire to get the kitchen of their dreams.
Where does the consumer start when choosing their Dream Kitchen team?
The consumer is not alone in their confusion on choosing the ideal team. The design and construction industry often does not get it right. Missteps by Allied Professionals can easily be avoided if the right team is implemented at the beginning of a Dream Kitchen project.
I use the term Allied Professionals to describe the individuals that work on a new home build or renovation project, with the key players being the Kitchen Designer, the Architect, the Contractor/Builder and the Interior Designer/Decorator.
Gone are the days when a consumer was happy with a stock U-shaped layout with freestanding appliances and laminate countertops for their kitchen. With the unlimited choices before them, the consumer will require help.
Let’s look at a mid to upper end new home build project to see what typically happens.
- The homeowner employs an architect to design their dream home which is to include their dream kitchen.
- Once plans are complete they hire a builder to build their new home with their dream kitchen.
- At the framing stage a cabinet supplier is brought in to measure up and produce cabinets for the dream kitchen.
- At this stage the client is becoming overwhelmed with all of the “design” decisions they have had to make and brings in an Interior Designer or Decorator to “pull it all together”.
By now the home is way behind schedule, items are not fitting in the kitchen, costs overruns are getting out of hand, and the owner is feeling very frustrated and overwhelmed.
Their Dream Kitchen is not turning out to be what they had dreamed of!
The homeowner has hired most of the right people, just not at the right time, and has missed a key person for the team.
A better approach for the consumer would be this:
- Choose an Architect or Architectural Home Planner to develop the structural design of the new home.
- At the same time contract a Kitchen Designer to oversee the micro-planning of the Kitchen.
- Contract an Interior Designer or Interior Decorator to direct the overall look and feel of the new home.
- Once the plans are nearing completion hire a Contractor/Builder for the project build.
It is not the consumers fault that they often get it wrong. The design and building industry is not always forth coming with this approach. As an industry we need to examine the role of each Allied Professional and how they interact to produce the kitchen of the client’s dreams.
With this room being the most costly room in the home to produce, everything possible should be done to ensure the kitchen is functional, beautiful and what the clients have dreamed of. We need to advise the client on the best professional for each stage and should not take on aspects of the process that we are not truly qualified to do.
Allied Professionals need to Work Together as a Team, keeping the Client’s Best Interests top of mind.
If you are the first contact with a client building a new home that is focused on including a Dream Kitchen, you should advise them on how to best approach building their team.
Each Allied Professional contributes to the process and a team working together will produce the best results. This is not to say that the team must consist of multiple individuals since there are professionals who are qualified and have the skills to take on the roll of more than one task in the process.
Writing this article from the view point of a Kitchen Designer, I see the team working through a dream kitchen design this way:
- The Architect, Interior Designer and Kitchen Designer would meet with the client for a pre-design meeting to understand the clients needs and wants for the new home.
- The Architect or Architectural Home Designer would produce a scaled concept for the home for the team to work with.
- The Interior Designer or Decorator would produce a vision board for the project to direct the home’s style decor and finishes selections.
- The Kitchen Designer would develop a detailed plan for the overall look and function of the kitchen.
Each Allied Professional would be contributing to moving the project forward smoothly. There would be regular meetings to discuss the project, resulting in the kitchen design being refined with each interaction.
Each one of these specialists would also be working directly with the client. There are multiple decisions to be made when designing a new home and with each professional guiding the client, the process will be less overwhelming for the homeowner.
Some of the key responsibilities of the Kitchen Designer would be:
- Developing the final layout for the dream kitchen to ensure function, flow and safety.
- Choosing the appliance package based on the client’s needs, budget and available space.
- Ensuring storage requirements for the room are met.
- Specifying interior accessories for functionality of the cabinet interiors.
- Developing detailed drawings such as mechanical plans and elevations for the kitchen space.
- Highlighting for the architect specifications that impact their plans, such as the ventilation pipe size needed for a high preforming pro-styled hood that needs to be hidden in the structure.
- Consulting with the Interior Designer on material selection (Counter-tops, flooring, cabinet materials, lighting, backsplash etc.) for the kitchen based on specific needs of the client.
- Checking that specifications of other materials including door & window casings do not conflict with the final design.
- Overseeing the installation process for all kitchen elements.
As indicated above, the Architect and Interior Designer would be contributing to the design and specification of the new home through their area of expertise.
As the home design and specification portion of the project is nearing completion the contractor/builder should be chosen by the homeowner and added to the team.
A full team meeting to go over the design to date would be held with the client, to ensure everyone is on the same page and is ready to move forward. This is the time to tweak the dream kitchen design and get all the information on paper.
At this point it needs to be decided who the “quarterback” or team leader for the kitchen is going to be. Ideally this person would be the Kitchen Designer. It would be their responsibility to provide all the sub-trades with the written pertinent information needed to implement the kitchen design.
Do not rely on a site walk-through with sub-trades to implement a Dream Kitchen project.
The Kitchen Designer should provide documentation to the contractor and sub-trades, schedule regular site visits to check progress, and answer questions to keep the project on track and on budget.
There are several places that the design and implementation of a new kitchen can get derailed. For every derailment there is potential for cost overruns and an unhappy client. As Allied Professionals we want to avoid this.
Kitchen design has changed substantially over the years and as an industry we need to change how we provide the Dream Kitchen for our clients.
Cooperation between Allied Professionals is key to the successful Dream Kitchen for our clients
Do you have a dream kitchen team? Do you think there is a need for allied professionals to work together? I welcome your comments,
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Jan Rutgers is a professional Kitchen Designer with more than 25 years experience. She is the founder of VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN, where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design industry.