When it comes to renovations, the kitchen is one of the most popular areas of the house to redo. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), about one in 10 homeowners renovate their kitchen each year.

However, designing a kitchen isn’t a piece of cake. There are many things that you have to decide on, from the layout to the materials to the budget and so on. Getting one of these things wrong could spell disaster, and you might end up with a renovated kitchen that you don’t like. 

Because kitchen renovations are costly investments, you ideally would want the space to add value to your house, in addition to being able to enjoy it. Based on data from the National Association of Realtors, a kitchen upgrade will give homeowners a 67% return on investment (ROI), while a complete kitchen renovation will provide them with an ROI of 75%.

Renovating a kitchen is a major project, and most homeowners should go through it with the help of professionals. When it comes to designing the kitchen, you could hire an interior designer, ask your contractor for help, or do it yourself. However, the best way to handle a kitchen renovation is with the assistance of a certified kitchen designer. 

Take it from my aunt who made a huge kitchen adjustment in Charlotte and did not use a certified designer – it was a horrendous disaster with pink tile from floor to ceiling, tacky appliances, and poor plumbing. Be cautious and do your due diligence when seeking qualified contractors!

So, what is a certified kitchen designer anyway? A Certified Kitchen Designer is a designation from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). It is considered to be the gold standard for kitchen designers, so it isn’t issued to just anybody. A certified kitchen designer has to meet the NKBA’s rigorous requirements, such as years of hands-on experience and advanced knowledge in the niche. 

Simply put, a certified kitchen designer is an interior designer that specializes in designing kitchens. The certification is proof that they are an expert in the field. Their goal is to take your vision and translate that into a functional and beautiful kitchen design. 

A certified kitchen designer is required to know some technical stuff like building codes, mechanical systems, and popular flooring materials. However, they’re not a salesperson, so they won’t push any particular product or brand. 

They’re also not structural experts, although they have a solid understanding of the utilities systems in your house. So, you should still get a plumber and electrician to execute the plan in your water and electrical systems, for instance.  

What Does a Certified Kitchen Designer Do?

A certified kitchen designer is an expert in designing, planning and execution of residential kitchens. They will work closely with you and provide top-notch guidance throughout the kitchen renovation process. 

Their end goal is to make the new kitchen work for you and doing so within your budget. So, in addition to learning your design preferences, a certified kitchen designer will also determine how you and your family normally use your kitchen. They will also take into consideration how your new space will complement the rest of the house. 

Once the certified kitchen designer is clear on your needs, preferences and lifestyle, they’ll proceed to working on the perfect kitchen layout for you. They can do this manually through sketches or with the aid of CAD software. 

Once the layout and design has received your approval, the certified kitchen designer will help you place an order for the materials and get in contact with installers. They can even act as creative project managers who will oversee your kitchen renovation from start to finish. 

Why Hire a Certified Kitchen Designer?

You’re probably asking yourself why you should even bother getting a certified kitchen designer when you can tap into an interior designer or a trusted contractor or even DIY your kitchen renovation. Well, there are several reasons: 

First, they possess expert knowledge, skills and experience when it comes to kitchen design. They can address any questions you might have and can help you make decisions every step of the way. 

For instance, they have extensive knowledge of all the latest products, so they can give you tons of options that will help you stay on budget but without compromising quality. And, if you have any needs or problems, they can help customize solutions that will work for you. 

They can also connect you with installers that will do a good job so you don’t have to worry about poor installation. Helping you avoid rookie mistakes and costly oversights will save you both on time and money. 

In addition, they are well-versed with the technical side of a kitchen renovation. They can write up the specifications that installers, electricians, and plumbers can easily understand. As a result, your kitchen will not only be beautiful and easy to use but also comfortable and safe. 

In short, certified kitchen designers provide a kind of one-stop service. They’ll help you flesh out your vision of a dream kitchen, translate that into a layout and plan, help you pick out materials, and connect you with the right installers. A certified kitchen designer will be there with you from start to finish. 

“At the end of the day, remodeling is a messy process and no matter how well planned it is, not everything may go as anticipated,” Nick Vanderhovel, a certified designer and co-owner of Brighton, Mich.-based Dream Kitchens told This Old House. “There are a lot of unknowns to navigate, so find someone who you can trust to steer the ship.”

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Certified Kitchen Designer?

A certified kitchen designer’s rates will vary depending on the project, location, and other factors. On average, it costs about $17,500 to hire a certified kitchen designer, though this amount could go as low as around $5,000 to as much as about $32,000. 

Most certified kitchen designers charge by the hour. Rates start at $65 and can go up to $250, but on average, it’s $160 per hour. If they’re not charging hourly, they can ask for 10% to 20% of the total project cost. They also typically ask for a down payment or deposit, which will go toward ordering products. Deposits can go from 25% to 65% of total project cost, but 50% is most common. 

While you might be seeing dollar signs after reading those amounts, just remember that you’re getting value and connections in return. Because certified kitchen designers are specialists, they have more connections and relationships in the industry than other professionals. These connections can translate into better deals and discounts on quality products, which will help you save more.

What is a certified kitchen designer?

Hiring a certified kitchen designer ensures expert guidance, quality results, and industry connections for a successful and stress-free renovation experience.