Professional Help

At This Old House we would not consider doing a renovation without an architect or design professional whose work we know and trust. We like the fact that architects work directly for the client, either for a flat fee or at an hourly rate, and earn no commissions by selling particular products. This gives architects the freedom to recommend whatever they think best suits the project's needs. You can bring them the design you've worked out yourself, or rely on them to come up with the ideas.

Finding the right architect or designer is a bit like finding the right barber or psychiatrist. The one that's right for you is the one that's right for you. Peruse books and periodicals for designs that catch your eye. Architects who are just beginning to win recognition are not necessarily more expensive than those who are little known. But the best method is word of mouth. Ask friends, business associates and neighbors who have recently undergone kitchen renovations.

Kitchen design stores, cabinet shops, contractors and carpenters can also be good people to talk to during the design phase of your project. But be sure to get only the information they're best able to provide. A carpenter is an excellent person to ask about construction possibilities such as removing bearing walls, but may not be the person to ask about the actual kitchen layout. A contractor can organize the job and quote a price, but for designing the room you are better off with an architect.

Successful renovations are inspired by limitations?of budget, space, design and construction timetables. These constraints inspire the architect, contractor and client to focus on the essentials and disregard the superfluous. Good design is also the best way to control renovation costs up front. I've seen basic, cost-effective materials turned into wonderful kitchens through elegant, inspired design.
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