The Kitchen Specialist

Kitchen Design Services – Why a Kitchen Designer is Vital to Your Project

By Mac Junker

No matter the size of your house, most would agree the kitchen is the heart of your home. Because of this, it is very beneficial for homeowners who are planning a kitchen remodeling project to seek the guidance of a kitchen designer, rather than winging their way through the imminent myriad of decisions. As trained professionals, we excel at diagnosing exactly what you need and want in a kitchen, taking into account your unique lifestyle, personality, and taste.

At The Kitchen Specialist, for example, we begin with a complimentary initial consultation to determine the intended scope of work, discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by your existing space, and most importantly, to make sure we are a good fit for each other. If the client wants to proceed, we will sign a mutual retainer agreement for the design phase of their project. This phase starts by visiting their home to measure and photograph the space in great detail in order to get a complete picture of what could be affected in the adjoining areas. This step is absolutely imperative because, as professionals, we can solve issues that homeowners may not be aware of, such as the placement of utility connections, site accessibility and layout limitations.

During this visit we also conduct an extensive interview, starting with ergonomic questions such as whether you are left or right handed, to preferences such as whether you favor gas or electric cooking. From there, we address the lifestyle factors that make such an impactful difference such as: Who gets up first every day? Who prepares majority of the meals? How do you shop for, and store, your food items?  We get to know our clients as individuals, understanding what they need beforewe begin to actually design their custom space.

This discovery process allows us to eliminate the “magazine kitchen” trend. When homeowners attempt to remodel their kitchen with the goal of recreating a stunning kitchen in an advertisement, they are often left with an aesthetically pleasing yet very poorly functioning kitchen. A kitchen designer is knowledgeable about requested styles and materials and will apply that aesthetic desire to a functioning design. So, while some clients love the look of marble, it may not be the best choice when they are taking care of 4 small children and 2 large dogs. A kitchen designer will educate their clients about their selections and offer applicable substitutions to keep the design cohesive. Our goal is not just to have happy clients at the end of a project, but to also have happy clients 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years after the project has been completed.

Another wonderful benefit of working with a professional kitchen designer is the coveted access to visual design aids, such as 3D drafting software. These tools allow clients to envision their design more clearly, which in turn allows them to better understand the impact the renovation could have on the quality of their home. When our clients can see their kitchen come to life, it gives them the opportunity to more easily make decisions up front, before anything is ordered and sometimes before demolition begins, which reduces the likelihood of costly changes later.

Having a professional kitchen designer manage your project allows you to create and maintain realistic goals for both budget and timeframe. For example: if a potential client’s goal is to move 2 walls, rearrange and replace all the appliances, add custom cabinetry and use an exotic granite for their countertops, we have to help them understand that it can’t all be done within 6 weeks, using a $25,000 budget. A good designer will be able to explain why that isn’t practical and help their client decide which elements to focus on so their project stays on track.

Perhaps most importantly, a kitchen designer looks at your existing kitchen with a fresh set of eyes that are open to new possibilities fueled by past experience. Personally, I try to present my clients with layouts they have never imagined, in addition to what they described, and see how their tastes evolve from there. Ultimately, our goal as professionals is to create a kitchen that our clients love to see, but also love to use, every day for years to come.


Mac Junker has an interior design degree from the NKBA accredited program at East Carolina University, and has been deemed a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer by the NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association). She joined the The Kitchen Specialist team in 2011, starting as the most persistent intern, and fortunately for both TKS and our clients, she has never left. An expert with multiple CAD drafting programs and at analyzing spatial relations, Mac aims to create designs that fully encompass her clients’ kitchen goals.