Kitchen designers generally offer three levels of service, depending on the amount of help you need:
Basic kitchen layout. Retailers such as lumberyards and home centers often offer computer-generated images of your new kitchen for free. You are responsible for providing accurate measurements, as well as for installation of cabinets, appliances, and countertops. You probably will not get much help with customization or problem-solving.
Kitchen design strategies. Many retailers have designers who can discuss your remodeling needs and offer suggestions. The designer will visit your home to take measurements and will draw up a floor plan. The designer may or may not handle installation.
Project management. At the highest level of service, a designer oversees a project from start to finish. The designer will analyze your space and create working drawings. Once the plans are finalized, the designer orders products and monitors the work. This level is more typical of kitchen dealers, design firms and remodelers.
Professional measurements. The designer will ensure that all products will fit your kitchen precisely.
Expertise. The designer's experience and creativity can help solve common problems.
Project management. Designers make sure everything is done correctly and on time.
Shopping services. Designers can save homeowners time and frustration by suggesting the right products and materials for their style, budget, and schedule.
In discussions with a designer, be prepared to answer or discuss these questions:
Are there other professionals involved? Homeowners often work with architects, interior designers, builders, and other professionals. The designer should contact them to open lines of communication and coordinate efforts.
What kind of kitchen do you envision? The designer needs to know how much work you have already done, as well as your preferences on style, color and equipment. The more information you can provide, the closer the designer can come to designing your dream kitchen.
What is your timeline? Subcontractors need to be scheduled. Some items may be ready for immediate delivery, while custom or semicustom cabinets may take months to arrive. The designer will help establish a schedule, then work to meet deadlines.
What is your budget? The designer needs to know your budget to help maximize your dollar, evaluate the cost-efficiency of products, and make effective trade-offs.