Design Services

    When shopping for kitchen cabinets or an entire remodeling project, the first step is to
    have a design.  Great care and thought should be put into this in order to make sure
    you get exactly what you want and to increase the chances of your project running
    smoothly.  Since most customers are not designers and are not that familiar with
    construction and remodeling, they will need to seek the help of a design professional to
    get the design developed.  One way to do this would be to seek out a designer or
    architect and have him or her develop plans and specifications that you could then take
    to any cabinet retailer for pricing.  You would pay the designer or architect a set fee or
    hourly rate and when you have the design then you are on your own to do with it as you
    please.  Another way is to go into the local big box, or kitchen and bath chain store, or
    local kitchen and bath specialty showroom and seek the services of one of their
    designers.  The big home centers and chain stores typically offer to design your kitchen
    for free in hopes that you will purchase their cabinets.  The specialty showrooms will
    likely require an up front fee for this service that can then be put towards the purchase
    of cabinets or remodeling project if you choose to go with them.  

    Now, I honestly love the big home improvement centers.  They have made my life so
    much easier.  I can go pick up some lumber, screws, a tool that I suddenly need, wood
    glue when I run out and any number of other construction and home improvement
    products.  I can even pick these items up at night and usually on holidays. But going to
    one of these places to design your kitchen is a bit like going to a family doctor when you
    need to see a heart specialist.  Sure, the service is free, but do you really want to put
    your new kitchen in the hands of someone who likely has no cabinet making or
    remodeling experience?  Do you want to be consulting with someone who has probably
    never worked on a job site let alone seen a renovation through from start to finish?  You
    may even end up working with someone who has little or no design training at all.  You
    only have one shot to get your renovation done right and the design phase is one of the
    most crucial stages in the process.  A two hour appointment at the big box, where the
    goal is to have a computer spit out a kitchen layout so they can sell you cabinets off of
    the shelf, is not adequate to produce a good design.  The old adage "you get what you
    pay for" turns out to be true more often than not and a free kitchen design is no
    exception.  But, if you are working on a very tight budget, and are looking to buy a
    more economical line of cabinets that these places typically offer, and you think you can
    contribute to the design by figuring out some or most of your needs ahead of time then
    this may be the way to go.  

    The kitchen and bath chain stores are similar in method to the big box stores but they
    have the advantage of specializing in kitchens and baths.  They don't do siding, roofing,
    lawn and garden etc., rather, they stick to one product and are therefore likely to be
    better at it.  But know this, their goal is not to design the kitchen of your dreams but to
    sell you their cabinets.  Before I started West River Cabinetry, I used to peruse online
    job postings to see what was out there.  One time I came across a listing from one of
    these chain stores that was looking to hire a designer.  In this listing they made it clear
    in no uncertain terms that they were not looking for someone that loved to design, but
    someone that could sell their cabinet lines.  In all fairness, whether it's a big box, chain
    store, specialty kitchen showroom, or West River Cabinetry, the goal is not the design
    but to sell the product.  Only when you hire a third party designer or architect is the sole
    goal to provide you with a design. The difference is that when the design is thrown in for
    free, the designer is under pressure to sell the job and cannot afford to spend much
    time with your design because you can easily walk out the door and move on to the next

    Specialty kitchen and bath showrooms usually have designers on staff that will require a
    retainer fee for their services.  The retainer fee is different from that of a third party
    designer or architect in that you are not purchasing a design.  You are retaining the
    designer's services to produce a design from which they can then produce contract
    specifications and a price for your cabinets or remodeling project.  You are typically not
    under any obligation to make the purchase once the design is done, but will not receive
    the retainer back should you choose not to.  You are also not purchasing the design and
    will likely not be able to walk away with a set of plans, like you would from a third party
    designer or architect.  So your next question is probably, "why would I retain a designer
    if I could possibly walk away with nothing?"  The answer to that is that they, like you,
    cannot afford to work for free.  While designers at specialty kitchen and bath
    showrooms typically don't have much, if any, real hands-on construction experience,
    they usually have design certifications and/or degrees and will want to spend more time
    coming up with a good design than places that offer these services for free.   Designers
    at these places will probably have access to people who do have real hands-on
    construction experience and can bounce ideas off of them as well.  Because there are so
    many variables to work with in the design that can affect the final price, a designer will
    need to spend a bit of time coming up with a solution that meets your needs within your
    budget just to get a contract price to you.  

    The retainer fees that are charged will vary from place to place and may vary from
    designer to designer within the same firm.  Some designers may be willing to develop  
    rough drawings and ball park figures prior to taking a retainer and others will not.  Some
    will charge a flat fee while others will charge a percentage of the proposed project
    budget.  If you were interested in working with me on your project and did not have a
    design I would come to your location and talk with you about your project.  At that
    point, if you decided you wanted to hire West River Cabinetry for your project, I would
    take a retainer of $500 - $1,000 based on the scope of the work proposed.  Once the
    plans and specifications were finalized, the retainer fee would be deducted from the
    purchase price.