So, your cabinets were installed in the 1980s and were repainted in the early 2000s. And now, you are tired of looking at them or having them fall apart on you. You are most likely ready to start replacing everything or entertaining the idea of a complete remodel. You’ve started vetting contractors (we suggest a Certified NARI Professional) and are thinking about cabinets. Cabinetry is typically the largest chunk of change in a kitchen remodel, and still an important part of most bathrooms. So, where do you start? Contractors may have a source for you to work with, but are likely made by someone who will build – and finish – on site. Those people are often fabulous millwork professionals but do not specialize in design. Enter a cabinet designer! This specialized profession is what we are all about. Let’s see why it will only help you in the long run.
What IS a Cabinet Designer?
There are a lot of designer designations out in the world, so let’s first help you break it down:
Most people know what an interior designer is. Interior designers help make an indoor space safe, functional, and good-looking. However, it has unfortunately become a very broad term. Some interior designers focus solely on commercial spaces (think hospitals and hotels) while others work in both commercial and residential interiors. They can have a broader sense of function and design, especially with soft materials (fabrics and coverings) and may not always know the specifics of cabinetry.
Interior decorators are those that work more closely with soft finish materials and come in after the hard surfaces are installed to make everything look cohesive throughout the home. They can focus more on freestanding furniture and window treatments, for example.
Kitchen and Bath Designer
The Kitchen and Bath Design profession is a more niche area of design focusing more on – you guessed it – kitchens and bathrooms. Think of spaces that you install cabinets or other types of built-ins: bars, laundry rooms, home offices, etc. Kitchen and Bath Designers are very knowledgeable about hard materials (think cabinets, counters, flooring, and tile) and can receive designations from the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Kitchen and Bath Designers can also have knowledge in Interior Design and vice versa. Out of this list so far, anyone who can identify as this will likely know a lot about cabinetry design.
This takes Kitchen and Bath Design to the next level, with such a laser focus on cabinetry, that they will know the ins and outs of not only cabinets in general, but likely several different cabinet lines. They will be able to help you understand cabinet construction, materials, finishes, interior fittings – and much more. Most Kitchen and Bath Designers have a superb knowledge of cabinetry but always ask. Cabinet Designers should feel comfortable constructing designs in all construction types (framed overlay, framed inset, frameless, and channel cabinetry) and understand several manufacturer lines. We fall into this category!
Advantages of Hiring a Cabinet Designer
Now that you understand exactly what a cabinet design IS, we can dive into some of the main reasons why hiring one is important:
Cabinets are one of the most expensive items to purchase. Why? Because there are so many! When remodeling, you may have certain restrictions (windows, plumbing locations, etc.) that need to be worked around. A cabinet designer will be able to help identify these things and either work with or around them, instead of having to change them. For example, taking out a load-bearing wall and want to keep a header or post to save on cost? A cabinet designer can work that into the cabinetry by either hiding it behind panels or purposefully incorporating it into an island. Also, if you plan to resell in the near future, having a design eye help create the space can make it more universally appealing.
Did your builder or architect provide you with extremely generalized plans? A cabinet designer will be able to layout the specifics and easily communicate any needs or changes to the contractor. They can also provide dimensioned plans so that things can be moved, or installed in the right place the first time! Those who aren’t well versed in Kitchen and Bath design may simply try to create a perfect “working triangle” and miss the mark in your space. A sink too close to the cooking surface won’t give you ample prep and landing space. A two-door wall cabinet tucked in a corner will be impossible to get to without sitting on the counter. And a drawer that pulls out into the range or fridge? Everyone’s worst nightmare, and yet it happens all too often. A cabinet designer solves those problems before they even start.
Having someone who knows the ins and outs of their cabinet manufacturer lines is truly a blessing. They will be able to help you perfectly place cutlery dividers and spice pull-outs. You know – all of those little things on your wish list. They will also be able to explain the pros and cons of doors with roll-outs vs. drawers from both a functional and aesthetic standpoint. And speaking of aesthetics, they will know all the tips and tricks for creating something truly special.
Finally, money always matters. If you’ve seen some truly extravagant kitchen you want to emulate, an experienced cabinet designer will not just be able to replicate it – they will be able to show you options for how to recreate that same feel. There are so many intricate details, molding, and customizations that you can do in your cabinets, but what does all of that mean from a cost standpoint? For example, a lemans blind corner can be more expensive than a half-turn tray, but less expensive than a magic corner. Your cabinet designer is here to help guide you through those details to get the best bang for your buck.
Working With Your Designer
Once you’ve hopped on board and finally come round to seeing the potential in hiring a cabinet designer, where to start? Lucky for you, we’ve got some helpful tips on how to engage with us (or another designer) to get started! Right now everyone is working virtually, but soon we will be back to normal. Funny enough, our normal IS virtual! Learn how to work virtually with your designer because it’s easier than you think. We’ve also shared a sneak peek of our initial design meeting to see what it’s like working with a designer – either near or far!
Still on the fence for hiring vs taking on a DIY project? No worries – everyone is different. And if you get into a bind with cabinets, give us a call!