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How to get the most from your kitchen Design Consultation

So you’ve decided to renovate your kitchen and you’ve been researching to gather plenty of inspiration… your Pinterest boards are filling with your dream kitchens, you’ve subscribed to interior magazines such as House & Garden, Living Etc. or Utopia Kitchens, and perhaps you’ve even followed kitchen related hashtags on Instagram. But how do you actually start the process and turn these ideas into reality?

We have put together this informative guide with checklists to help you through the first stages of your kitchen design journey.

Step 1. Finding the right company for you

Here’s our checklist to help you to find the right company for you:

  • Recommendations from friends, family or a trusted builder.
  • Visit the websites of companies whose pins you have saved on Pinterest.
  • Sometimes it can be hard to find local companies on Pinterest, so sites like Houzz can be great for this.
  • A simple internet search for ‘kitchen design companies’ in Google will bring up a list of local companies.

Once you have found some companies, below are some of the most important questions to ask to ensure that you find the right company for your project.

  • How long has the company been trading?
  • Who is the company owned by?
  • How many employees are there?
  • Do they have employed installers?
  • Will they carry out the installation?
  • What after-care service do they offer?
  • Which appliances do they offer? The appliance brands are an indicator of the level at which they work. Do you identify with this market?

 Our Designers also recommend the following:

  • Check for testimonials. In particular, check their publicly posted reviews.
  • Review their previous work either on their website or during your Design Consultation. It is common for companies to use manufacturer photography, however we recommend asking to also see photos of kitchens designed and installed by the company themselves so that you can see the style, quality and complexity of their work.

Step 2. Preparing for your Design Consultation

Now that you have found a company, or several companies, and you’ve booked your initial consultations, now it’s time to do a little homework

Your first Design Consultation is one of the most important meetings of your project as it is your Designer’s opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of your requirements. Your Designer will ask you lots of questions, some of which can be difficult to answer on the spot – especially if you are a couple with differing tastes!

Therefore, we recommend spending some time to think about the details of your dream kitchen before your consultation and we’ve put together a list of the main questions for you to answer. What these questions won’t do is tell you exactly how to design your kitchen, that’s your Designers job, however what they will do is give you a clearer understanding of your requirements so that your Designer can create a design that ticks all of these boxes.

We’ve found that this brain storming exercise can be a really fun family activity, so include your children, parents and anyone else who may be using the kitchen. Alternatively, you may prefer some quiet contemplation after the children have gone to bed, in which case we recommend enjoying with a cup of camomile tea or glass of wine. Either way, have fun with it, enjoy the process and most importantly give yourself time to consider each answer.

1. Start with the bigger picture

  • What’s your purpose for wanting a new kitchen? To renovate to sell, live for the next 10 years or is it your forever home?

Style

  • Do you like modern or traditional styles, or a combination of the two?
  • Looking beyond the kitchen, what does your current or proposed interior scheme look like?
  • What is the style of your property?
  • Which ‘buzz words’ would you use to describe your dream kitchen? E.g. homely, edgy, comfortable, calm, eclectic, moody. Make a note of these words to share with your designer.
  • Do you embrace a bold mix of colours? Or do you prefer a simpler palette? Are there any colours in particular that you would like to see?
  • As well as the combination of colours, also consider whether you prefer a light or dark colour scheme, or even a balance between the two.

Practicality

  • How are you going to use the kitchen? How many people use the space? And what for? Think about a normal day in your household, how do you imagine the space will be used at breakfast, lunch, dinner? Remember to think about weekdays and weekends, as well as entertaining.
  • Are there any elements of your current kitchen which don’t work for your lifestyle?
  • Which appliances do you require? As well as considering which appliances you will need, research the different brands available and identify brands that you like.
  • Think about the future and how you imagine that you will use the space in 5 or 10 years from now. This can help to future proof your design so that it evolves with your family life.

Budget (oh no, not the B word?)

Budget, price, cost, figure, amount… no matter which word is used, when it comes to money it can often be a sensitive topic. From speaking with some of our clients who were unsure about sharing their budget with us at first, we know that there are a number of reasons why you may not feel comfortable sharing your budget. However, without your budget it is almost impossible for a Designer to create a design that is going to be right for you. Kitchens are so individual and tailored and there are a number of ways to achieve the look or functionality that you require depending on the budget you wish to work to.

After speaking with our clients, we discovered two key reasons why they were unsure whether to give their budget to a Designer. We’ve shared these with you below along with some advice from our Designers.

Reason 1 – “I’m not sure how much I should be allocating”

Our advice:  

As a general guideline, a kitchen budget is usually 3% – 10% of the property value. If you are looking to stay in your home for a number of years, or perhaps it is even your forever-home, then you may wish to spend toward the top end of this. However, if you are renovating the kitchen to rent out the property you may wish to spend less. Property Developers can sometimes look to spend towards the top end of this to achieve the quality and value that their prospective homeowners would expect.

Some clients are fearful of sharing a budget because they are genuinely unsure how much to spend and don’t wish to give a disproportionate figure. In these situations, don’t be afraid to simply tell your Designer that you are unsure of how much to allocate – after all you are not the expert, they are! We recommend that you ask your Designer to talk you through some examples of kitchens for a variety of budgets to help to educate you on the different options available so that you can build a better picture of what you may need to spend to achieve your requirements.

Reason 2 – “I’m worried I might be overcharged”

Our Advice:

No reputable kitchen company will do this. Many companies, particularly independent companies, rely on recommendations and word of mouth so being competitive and honest is incredibly important to them. To ensure that you are getting the best value, you can also compare like-for-like quotes from different companies. Sometimes this can be easier said than done as specification can vary so greatly between different companies, so here are some elements to check:

  • What is your furniture made from and how is it constructed? Naturally, the investment for higher quality materials and specialist workmanship will be higher than more off-the-shelf, manufactured options.
  • Which worktops have been specified? There are a number of different stones including quartz, marble and granite which will vary greatly due to their different attributes. Stone can also vary depending on the quality of the stone and fabrication.
  • Which type of installation has been quoted? The main types are dry fit, wet fit. Also check for delivery and rubbish removal to avoid charges later on.
  • Which warranty and guarantees are offered?

As specification can vary greatly, an easy way to check whether you are getting good value is to compare the quotation for your appliances with other companies online.

Talking figures can be daunting, however as long as you do your due diligence and compare your quotation, you should feel comfortable sharing your budget with your designer. After all, it really is the only way that they can achieve your dream kitchen.

Your must-haves and nice-to-haves

Naturally the goal for every kitchen design project is to strike a perfect balance between all of the elements required and it is your Designer’s role to achieve this for you. However, for most clients there are some elements which are more or less important than others; at KCA we put these into two lists which we call your ‘must-have list’ and your ‘nice-to-have’ list.

Your list might include specific items such as:

  • Additional appliances e.g. a coffee machine, a second oven, boiling water tap or warming drawer
  • A particular brand of appliances
  • A design feature e.g. ample storage or an unusual island
  • A certain worktop material
  • How the furniture is made e.g. handmade or manufactured
  • The furniture finish e.g. hand painted
  • Accessories e.g. handles, mood lighting

Your list may also include bigger-picture elements such as:

  • The aesthetic
  • The functionality
  • The budget

Some clients may be happier to compromise on functionality slightly, in return for keeping to their budget. Alternatively, others may be happier to spend a little more in order to achieve the functionality or aesthetic they desire.

Look back over your answers so far and identify your must-haves and your nice-to-haves. Sharing these with your Designer will help them to strike the perfect balance.

Lastly, be honest and keep an open mind

There isn’t a right or wrong way to design a kitchen as the design is based on the individual requirements of each client, and everyone is different. What makes a design right is how well suited it is to your family’s lifestyle and style.

This means that when your Designer is designing your kitchen, the design itself will evolve as they go through a series of decisions to work their way to your perfect design. So, part of a Designer’s role is to predict your preferred answer to each of these decisions based on their understanding of you. For this reason, it’s important to be open with your answers to each question to help your Designer to get to know you and your family. Sometimes the questions they ask may appear unrelated but rest assured, they are asking for a reason and the better they know you, the better placed they will be to create your dream design.

Be honest with your Designer about what you like and don’t like. You’re not going to hurt their feelings with your answers, after all they are here to work for you.

We hope that this guide has helped you through the first stages of your kitchen design project. If you have any questions or would like more advice from our expert Designers, please get in touch.

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