You have decided to remodel your kitchen, and you have a pretty clear vision of what you want. You’ve accumulated photos, swatches and magazine clippings. You’ve finished your wish list and even have a budget in mind.
So, what’s next?
It begins with a visit to a kitchen design firm’s showroom, said Kevin Briggs, a designer for Markraft Cabinets of Wilmington.
Bring your scrapbook or collection of samples and ideas. It will be helpful to come with a floor plan, accurate measurements and photos of the existing space. Those, along with your wish list, will be essential ingredients the designer as the basis for his or her work after your first meeting.
“That’s very important to us,” Briggs said.
During that first consultation, Markraft designers will give homeowners an “education about the remodeling process and the different options for cabinets,” Briggs said, as well as countertop options, hardware and fixtures. An essential early step is to make sure your wish list matches your spending plan. That may require eliminating ideas that don’t fit, such as selecting stock or semi-custom cabinets instead of a fully customized option, or perhaps increasing the budget to accommodate “must-have” features.
When you return, the designer will present a conceptual floor plan, along with elevations – views of walls, windows and cabinets as you would see them while standing in your kitchen – created with powerful computer assisted design, or CAD, software, which can generate three-dimensional perspective views. The software can even add in door styles for cabinets, Briggs said, making this first plan a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” experience.
It’s at this stage - when the conceptual plan is done but before anything has been ordered - that any final changes should be made. Different cabinet designs, countertop materials or hardware will all affect cost.
The designer will also advise the client if anything within the plan could require special attention. Taking out old cabinets and preparing walls for new ones is routine, but removing load-bearing walls or moving drain pipes are major tasks, adding to a job’s complexity and cost.
A kitchen design firm will install cabinets and countertops, but necessary preliminary work will require a general contractor and, likely, subcontractors - electricians, plumbers, flooring installers, drywall finishers and painters.
Scheduling those contractors can take time, so it’s smart to find them no later than when cabinets and countertops are ordered. That’s also a good time frame for ordering appliances.
“It’s very important to have appliance model numbers and specifications” before the final design is locked in, Briggs said.
Next is a site visit. Not all kitchen design firms do this, but Markraft always sends its designers to verify every dimension. It’s also important, Briggs noted, to be sure all components, such as large appliances or slabs of stone countertop, will fit through doors, around corners and up stairways. The extra time this requires is the company’s guarantee that everything will fit as planned.
“We then complete the final design to the point where it’s ready to be ordered,” Briggs said.
The whole process, from initial meeting to placing the order, can take three to six weeks, depending on how quickly the homeowner can make decisions about specifics.
Then comes the wait - from four to 10 weeks for the kitchen components to be built, with more customized cabinetry taking longer. But this isn’t idle time - it’s when the homeowner’s contractor will be preparing the space for installers.
A future article will address the details of what to expect during the preparation and installation phase.
Ready to start your remodeling job? Make a visit to Markraft’s Design Center. Markraft’s professional kitchen and bath designers consult by appointment, but drop-in visitors are always welcome to browse the showroom. The Design Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road.