Who better to answer the question “why you need a kitchen designer” than kitchen designers who are at the top of their game. What follows is a conversation with designers Sarah Kahn Turner, Ellen Witts and Leslie Roosevelt–all of Gilday Renovations.
What’s the first question a client asks you or that you ask the client?
Sarah Kahn Turner My stock question is: what about your kitchen doesn’t work for you anymore? The first thing they tell me is that they want more space, better function. Or, the say they hate how the kitchen looks, it’s not to their taste. Or it has a dysfunctional layout. They actually use that word dysfunctional to describe it.
In terms of space, what they usually say they want is more countertop and food prep area. They want seating and/or an island, and they want the kitchen to feel connected to the room where everyone else is.
In terms of function and layout, there isn’t enough storage for the way they cook, task areas are too far from each other, things are not within convenient reach. They want easy access to cooking utensils, spices, tray bases and small appliances. Their sutff if usually all in a jumble when I show up and they desperately need organization.
Ellen Witts A designer kitchen is fashioned entirely around the make up of the family. So I want to know are they cooks? One cook or two? Are there animals? How many and how big? Kids? Plans for kids? Do they entertain a lot? Are they bakers? The organization and storage capacity of the kitchen must be designed to meet these requirements.
Leslie Roosevelt Owners will often say “don’t let me make a mistake–tell me if I’m doing something wrong” They worry about making bad choices that would hurt resale value. The homeowners depend on the designer for guidance.
Ellen We listen to what they are afraid of but we also push them gently. We want them to have fun, too.
Leslie I ask owners to give their wish list without editing—even if they think their wishes are too grand or too expensive I want to see it. I know how to selectively go through that list to pack a lot of value into a project—much more than the owner thinks possible.
Sarah The designer prompts in depth thought about the project: how do you live in the house? how do you want to live? what are the shortcomings of the space? We help them plan for what they really want.
How is what you do different from a show room design associate?
Leslie A show room designer is not involved in the installation or knowledgeable about construction details like plumbing and electric. Oversights here can make or break a cabinet installation.
Ellen They also don’t have the ability to anticipate and make customizations to cabinet details. Even though you plan like crazy, the cabinets have to be fitted to the room. They just don’t have the knowledge base to fit all the pieces together to make a kitchen design that works as well as it looks.
Leslie You really can’t go back and fix a beautiful kitchen if it has fatal design flaws–not without considerable expense.
Can architects design kitchens?
Are they any good at it?
Ellen Most don’t have the knowledge of materials to design a working kitchen. A kitchen designer is a specialist.
Leslie Cabinet lines and accessories are changing every six months. The specifications change. There’s a lot to keep up with.
Sarah An architect looks at how the kitchen will lay out in a room but isn’t clued into the functionality. The kitchen designer knows how to select the right cabinet sizes and fill in the details so you have a kitchen design that is complete–it looks beautiful and it’s a dream to work in.
Thanks to our colleagues Leslie Roosevelt, Sarah Kahn Turner and Ellen Witts for sharing their expertise. If you found this post helpful, you might also enjoy reading a related post titled “What A Kitchen Designer Does“