How to Get the Most out of Working with an In-Store Kitchen Designer

Embarking on a kitchen remodel can feel overwhelming. It’s good to have a kitchen specialist to walk you through the process. But how do you get the most out of working with your kitchen specialist? We have a few tips.

How to connect with a kitchen specialist

Most large home improvement retailers have a process for helping homeowners design the kitchen of their dreams. The Shenandoah line is sold at Lowe’s, which offers the services of in-store kitchen specialists for free.

Making use of this resource is simple: Just schedule a remote or in-person one-on-one consultation. After you and your kitchen specialist discuss cabinet styles and finishes and make some decisions, Lowe’s will send a local, licensed and insured independent installer to measure for your cabinets. Your design specialist will work with you to finalize the design and provide you with a quote. Once you accept the quote, a professional independent installer will reach out to schedule your installation.

Be ready to share pictures and a wish list

“The biggest thing you can do is share images of spaces you like with the designer,” says Beth Chambers, a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer with American Woodmark. “And when you share, explain what is intriguing to you. Is it the color, the look, the style of door? Be specific, because that helps the designer understand more of what you want.” 

Also, Chambers, who was once an in-store designer herself, recommends that before your consultation, you make a list of what you like the most about your current space, and what you like the least. What is working in your kitchen and what isn’t working? Communicating that to the designer can help them know where to steer you. “They should be able to help you with finishes and countertops and backsplashes and the pros and cons of each brand, versus their price point comparison. But if they understand the functionality you need, or the storage you’re looking for, they’ll be able to guide you better,”

Lisa Hoffer, another Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer with American Woodmark, agrees that coming up with a list is crucial. “Have a clear list of things that are must haves in new kitchen,” she says. “Start collecting photos from sites like Houzz and Pinterest, and start pulling together your own look book,” she advises.

Have an honest conversation about budget

It seems quite basic, but many homeowners shy away from broaching the subject of budget when they first meet with a kitchen designer. “I find that most homeowners really don’t know what kitchens cost,” Hoffer says.

The benefit to talking about budget early on is that your designer can stick to showing you things that are in the ballpark of your budget. Otherwise, it’s too easy to fall in love with a style that you simply can’t afford. “Never be afraid to ask your designer detailed questions about what things cost,” Hoffer advises.

Be open to suggestions from your kitchen specialist

“You want to work with a kitchen designer who is a good listener and can help you define what you want to achieve,” Hoffer says. But that’s only one side of the equation. You need to be a good listener, too, and be willing to entertain new ideas from the designer.

“Sometimes we come across homeowners asking us to design a new kitchen that looks just like their old kitchen, and we wonder why they are spending the money to design something new if they want the same look and functionality as what they have,” Chambers says. Even if you have a pretty solid idea of what you want, it’s still a great strategy to ask your designer for input and ideas. “A space can look and function totally differently with just some small changes,” Chambers says.

Learn more about how you can plan and prepare for your kitchen remodel.