The Big Box Kitchen Series: Meeting With the Kitchen Designer

Are you ready for the next installment of The Big Box Kitchen Series? The Big Box Kitchen Series shares every step of our experience using Home Depot semi-custom cabinetry in our 6th flip. Click here to check out the first installment.

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So by now you’ve had your kitchen measured, you’ve come up with possible cabinetry layouts and you’re ready to meet with the kitchen designer.  What now?

1. Think about timing. We were told that it would take 4-6 weeks for our cabinets to come in after they were ordered – so if timing is an issue in your renovation, be sure to keep that in mind.

Our cabinets actually arrived about 3-4 weeks after ordering – we weren’t ready for them yet so the delivery company held onto them for us for almost a month (since we didn’t want to store them on the job site), which was a huge help.

2.  Have your appliances selected. It will make things easier on everyone if you have already picked out your appliances when you meet with the kitchen designer – that way, the designer will know exactly what dimensions she has to work with and you won’t have to come back for a zillion rounds of revisions (like you would if you selected your appliances after your kitchen was designed).  We came armed with printouts of the specs of our appliances so that the measurements would be as precise as possible.

3. Choose a manufacturer. There are some options and features that will be available through some manufacturers but not others – you don’t want to fall in love with a certain kitchen design only to learn that the manufacturer you’ve selected doesn’t offer those options.

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4.  Walk the designer through your ideas. If you’ve come armed with floor plans and ideas, excellent!  The kitchen designer will create a floor plan of your kitchen on CAD, bringing your vision to life.  And the designer will also help with all of the pesky details, like whether you have room for  a 36 inch wide base cabinet or if you can only fit a 30 inch wide base cabinet.  If there are features that you have your heart set on (like a roll-out trash can) this is the time to speak up.  Oh, this is a nice perk that you don’t have to pay extra for – soft-close doors and drawers are standard on all of Martha’s cabinets.

If you want the designer to take the reigns and you don’t really have a vision for your space, no problem.  She will take a look at the dimensions of your kitchen, as well as the existing hookups for plumbing/appliances, and come up with a plan for you.  If you’re walking into the appointment without a layout in mind, I would at least come armed with photographs of some kitchens that you really like in terms of style and function to give the designer a little direction.

You will be asked to make decisions about things that have never even crossed your mind, so ask to see examples of what the designer is asking about – there are displays set up in the store so that you can decide whether you need to add an end panel to your cabinets, for example.

In our case, I drew a layout (actually, many layouts) of the kitchen that showed the location of appliances and fixtures, and then explained the rest of my ideas to the designer.

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5.  Choose a door style (and color). As I mentioned before, some door styles are a lot more expensive than others.  All of the available door styles are on display in the store and have pricing on them, so you will at least have an idea of where your kitchen will rank in terms of expense.  Once you’ve picked out your door (and color), the kitchen designer will provide you with a print-out that breaks down the cost of your kitchen.  Hopefully it will be in line with what you’re expecting and you won’t have a heart attack.  If you do have a heart attack, you can likely tweak the features of your kitchen or the style of door you’ve chosen to reach a more comfortable price point.

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* A note about Martha Stewart cabinets.  All of those gorgeous painted finishes are actually laminate (Martha calls them PureStyle, which is Martha-speak for laminate).  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and the finish is really beautiful and durable, but it bears mentioning just so you know what you’re getting.

6.  Consider pricing out counter tops at the same time. As I mentioned in the last post in this series, Home Depot prices their counter top material by the square foot (not the linear foot, so keep in mind that a linear foot of counter top is around 2 feet deep) depending upon how much material you need, that could be a savings versus buying a full slab and having it fabricated.

Counter Tops at Home Depot

In our case, we opted to buy 2 slabs from a stone yard instead of through Home Depot since we needed such a large amount of material.

7.  Tweak the plans until they’re just right. Once everything has been discussed, the designer will present you with an impressive set of plans that depict every possible cabinetry elevation – it will give you a great sense of how your finished kitchen will look.  Really think about everything that you see on the plans and consider whether it helps you achieve the look and function that you’re after.  Nothing is set in stone at this point, so tweak away!!

Here’s a look at how our kitchen plans turned out:

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(In case you’re wondering, the software automatically chose a Viking range as our stove – we definitely aren’t putting one of those babies in the flip!)

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And now the cool room views:

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8.  Finalize your plans and get the price. The goal here is to have your plans as set in stone as possible – but keep in mind that you can actually tweak the plans until you order them (for us, that was weeks later after framing was complete and we had a second measurement taken). We were pleasantly surprised by the final cost of our cabinets – they were definitely thousands cheaper than custom, and would arrive with a perfect factory finish that you just can’t achieve with an after-the-fact paint job.  If you aren’t happy with your price, tweak the plans until you are.

9.  Wait to order until they are having a sale. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!  Do NOT order your cabinets until Home Depot is having a sale.  I think they always have the “Buy More Save More” promotion which gives you tiered discounts depending upon how much you spend, like this…

Buy More Save More - Home Depot

…but they also have a 10% off sale pretty regularly.  Waiting for a sale before we purchased our cabinets so we could combine those two promotions saved us $2,169.25!!!  Totally worth the wait.

Stay tuned for the next installment, and fire away with any questions!

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  1. Tiffany says:

    Great job explaining the process! I used to be a kitchen designer for the HD, and I really loved my job. It was always nice to have a client that was prepared and knew what they wanted. I can’t wait to see it all installed and done!

  2. A great post–love that you included so many details. I’d love to hear a bit more about how you determined the layout for your kitchen and what advice the designer had about where to place everything.

  3. Tonya says:

    Great breakdown and explaination of the process! Can’t wait to see the finished project!!

  4. Jeff says:

    Great post. Good to see how it’s all done!

  5. Garret says:

    Awesome, you guys took some time to consider your budget, too often folks do not do this! Everyone wants nice cabinets, countertops, and flooring! You need to consider the cost of everything installed, and plan accordingly! I am sure your kitchen will turn out wonderfully!

  6. Sadie says:

    One of these days I’m going to remodel my kitchen. It’s an intimidating process, but you broke it down so it isn’t overwhelming. Flood Damage Carrollton TX

  7. Mark Davis says:

    Also think about how long you can live without your kitchen. Some kitchen installation projects might take a long time, so it might seem that you will have to wait forever until you can use your kitchen again.

  8. Great tip about waiting for the sale. The suspense will killing those who are really looking forward to seeing their new kitchen. For a $2K savings, I would wait for the sale!