6 Tips to Help You Select a Kitchen & Bath Designer

  • February 9, 2022

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

When starting a kitchen project, decisions are the name of the game. Between selecting a company to work with, finding a contractor you trust, establishing a budget, all while determining your personal style, you might feel like you’ve hit your decision-making capacity before the process even begins.

And while these choices are essential in kick-starting your remodel, choosing the person who is going to design your new kitchen might feel like the most overwhelming decision of all.

The designer you select is going to have a large presence in your home, learn about your life, your wants, goals, and needs, and essentially be part of your family for the better part of a year!

And despite all of this, you need to trust this person with your time, money, and your vision in hopes that they can work with you effectively and bring your dream kitchen into reality.

We want to help take the stress out of finding the perfect designer! That’s why in today’s blog we are going to share 6 tips that will help you select the best person to hire for your project. 

6 Tips to Help You Select a Kitchen & Bath Designer

1. Design Ability and Creativity

When selecting a designer, it’s easy to simply look for someone who specializes in the design style you are looking for. But with Studio M, we want you to look at things a little differently.                                      

In our hiring process we select designers that are exceptional at designing in every style. From Mid-Century Modern to Classic Farmhouse and everything in between! This means that instead of having one of our designers specialize in contemporary design and another specialize in traditional, all our designers have the breadth of knowledge and versatility to create spaces in every style. That said, given the same space and the same design criteria, each designer’s plan would be unique.

What differentiates each of our designers is their unique experiences and passions. While Designer Brynne Hempel creates beautiful transitional designs, she has a personal passion and interest in historical homes. And designer Danielle Lardani displays her wide range of work in the creation of this traditional white kitchen and this ultra-modern kitchen. You can see that while these designs fall on opposite ends of the style spectrum, Danielle’s passion for integrated storage and lighting shines through in both spaces.

  Modern Kitchen Island Design
The Bloom Project Kitchen (left), Medicine Lake Modern (right)

“As designers, we often get asked what our design style is when meeting with clients. But this is one of the many great things about being a designer – we get to work in different styles! We may have those projects that happen to be our personal style, but it is so fun to design something different. It allows the designer to go more out of the box with a design and develop true functionality and style unique to the home and the clients. Great designers appreciate all styles of design,” says designer Olivia Flicker.

In other words, our designers have a huge artistic capacity and genuinely love the challenge of creating designs that elevate their creative ceiling. So, when selecting the person who will design your space, we recommend looking for someone with interests and passions similar to your own and with whom you feel you can make a personal as well as professional connection.

2. Project Knowledge/Technical Design Education

What enables our designers to have such a range in their design capabilities is that many of our designers have attended an NKBA accredited certificate program or competed rigorous programs certified by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA).  To become certified by this association, a designer must have 5+ years of kitchen and bath design experience, complete 60 hours of NKBA education or have an approved college education, as well as pass numerous comprehensive examinations. In addition to these certifications, our designers also possess degrees in interior design.

The benefit of designers having this sort of education is that they are able to tackle the technicalities of a complex design project and are well versed in the specific characteristics of many design styles.

Product education is also key to a well-rounded understanding of design. Excellent designers are well versed in everything from different cabinet manufacturers to wood species, hardware, integrated lighting, and more. This kind of knowledge and skill allows your designer to select the right products and appliances for your specific project.


Rendering by Olivia Flicker

3. Design Experience

A designer can spend countless hours reading about cabinetry and studying design, but the real indicator of their talent and expertise comes from the work they’ve done in the field.

Make sure to check out designer’s previous work before deciding who to hire. Portfolios and galleries are a great way to get an idea of what each designer will bring to the table creatively. In these portfolios we recommend looking for a wide range of design styles and cabinetry features as these are great indicators of versatility.

Talking with a designer is also a great way to gauge their experience and see how those experiences might be applicable to your project. Ask them about past projects in which they have had problems to solve, or times they’ve had to come up with creative solutions to improve a space’s functionality without its sacrificing design. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from a simple conversation! Lastly, your initial meeting is a perfect opportunity to talk with a designer about their passions.

4. Designers’ Ability to Understand Client Needs

There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you aren’t being heard or understood. That no matter how you twist or rephrase your message, the person you’re talking to just doesn’t get it!

The ability to understand a client’s wants and needs is an essential quality in a good designer. When selecting the designer you want to work with, take the time to talk to different people, describe your vision, and hear what new ideas they bring to the table to elevate your project. Ultimately the designer that is the right fit for you will be on your same wavelength and understand your ideas loud and clear.

“Whenever I start a project, I always am looking for key words that help me understand my clients’ personality, character, and purpose for seeking help in their design. Of course it’s always easy to imagine what they are describing and map that into my own personal tastes, but designing to the function, characteristics, and uniqueness of the client is the reason I do what I do! There’s is nothing more satisfying when you see your client’s eyes light up, and say, “Yes! That is exactly what I was talking about!” A designer’s personal tastes are always in play, but being able to portray a space that defines your client is the best achievement,” says designer Bre Haefner.

Another excellent quality when looking for a designer is their desire to address the functional needs in your design. Your designer should ask you questions about your lifestyle, including how frequently you cook/bake, what appliances you use daily, if you like to entertain, and how busy foot traffic is in the space. All of these inquiries help the designer understand your needs and allow them to work with you to create a functional space that enhances your lifestyle.  

wet bar with reeded glass insertsDesigner Danielle Lardani

5. Designers’ Communication Skills

Communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity. Especially when it comes to home projects!

Strong communication skills are essential for any designer. They are a middleman in the constant stream of information between the homeowner, contractors, electricians, plumbers, and everyone else involved in the project to ensure that your remodel remains on schedule and within the budget.

There should never be a point in your project where you feel uninformed or out of the loop! So when you are determining which designer to hire for your project, it’s important to assess that person’s communication skills in your initial meetings. Make sure that you get along well with the designer you choose so that you feel comfortable bringing up ideas or concerns.

6. Overall Connection

They say hiring a designer is like speed dating. Well, no one really says that, but some of the same ideas ring true when selecting a designer and selecting a partner!

One of the biggest deciding factors when selecting a designer for your project is your overall connection. Connection is unquantifiable and more so a gut feeling you get when you get to know another person. Sometimes you meet with someone and it feels like you’ve known them your whole life. Or you sit down in your initial consult and the person just GETS you and your vision!

Other times after your initial consult, you may come to the realization that the meeting did not go as you had hoped, and you would like to pursue other options. While it might feel embarrassing to reach out to another designer for a meeting, we encourage you to talk to different people in order to be thoughtful in your selection. For some people it takes talking with a few different designers to find the perfect person to hire for their project!

Connection is one of (if not the most!) important considerations that clients use to select their designer. Like we said before, this person is essentially going to be part of your family for duration of your project, so it’s important to find someone who you genuinely enjoy spending time with and someone with whom you feel comfortable enough to share details of your life and ask questions.


Not Your Average Island Kitchen by Claire Teunissen 

These 6 simple tips should get you a few steps closer to finding the perfect designer for your project, and hopefully take one more decision off your plate. Regardless of your choice of Studio M Kitchen and Bath designers, we can assure you that you are going to end up with a beautiful, functional space that you will enjoy for years to come. 

To start a project with Studio M or to learn more about our design process, contact us!

 

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