It's exciting when you decide the time for that new kitchen has come, but from a designer’s view clients go about this all in the wrong way! Their approach should be quite different in order to make sure they squeeze every bit of value out of their budget as well as gaining the very best design for their needs. As a kitchen designer with years of experience, Simon of Inside Outside Kitchens & Bathrooms is happy to share his experience! "I want all my clients to have a beautiful kitchen and enjoy the process of having it done, that's why we put so much time and effort into the planning stages," says Simon. 
"The automatic reaction to sourcing a new kitchen is to hit the high street showrooms. Now I am not saying don’t do this, but you can quickly be taken down a path which may not be right for your needs. Remember these are kitchen sales companies and though their intention is to deliver a kitchen design for you, it maybe not the 'design process' you need." 
Here are Simon's top tips for planning and choosing your kitchen: Its important to research your kitchen from images in magazine. 
1. Do your research first  
At the very early stages before looking at kitchen designs, you might be thinking ‘How do I prepare for a first kitchen design consultation?’. Do a little research via magazines or the internet first. Print off some images of kitchens which look like your dream. They may not be in the space you have or your budget, but a good kitchen designer will be able to use these to deliver the style and create some kitchen magic. Get an idea of what type of kitchen cabinet colour and kitchen layout appeals to you to guide your designer from the outset. 
Key question: How can I prepare before a kitchen design consultation? 
2. Think about what you need 
Before you walk into your nearest kitchen showroom, consider what kind of service you require. Do you need someone to plan it, someone to change the size, space or layout, a simple replacement or full project management? Not all showrooms will deliver the service you're expecting. I see too many clients too late in the process where they find the glitz and glamour of the showroom was soon let down by the installation and aftercare. There is a sales process and it can be used to wow you with a 3D image, gain a deposit, sign off some plans even before someone has been out to measure your space. Then there are companies like Inside Outside Kitchens & Bathrooms who are the other way around - well-known for the quality and process of the installation but which perhaps don’t jump out as the first step to finding your kitchen. We provide kitchen layouts, kitchen design and a fully project managed kitchen installation. 
Key question: What kind of service does a kitchen designer provide? Do I want kitchen layout drawings or a fully project managed kitchen installation? 
3. Write up a list of questions 
Have a list of questions for kitchen suppliers before you start a design. For example, find out who carries out the installation, who takes responsibility for the whole job and does that include the installers work. How long is the warranty on the installation (and not just the kitchen cabinetry)? If there is an issue during the build of after the build who do you need to contact? During the kitchen installation will you still have a sink and oven? How long does the process normally take? How much money do you need as a deposit or before kitchen work commences? All those questions will be answered in different ways. The way I see it, the suppliers in the design stage need to build trust and appreciate that you as a client will be putting yourself in their hands. Any negative experience at this stage will mean you should be you walking away. Trust your instinct and make sure all of your questions about the kitchen installation been answered. 
Key question: What do I need to consider before I have a kitchen installed? 
4. Work out a budget 
If all your questions are answered to your satisfaction, you have found your supplier! They should be now creating you a design and you have a budget…or do you? Be upfront straight away with a budget. It's not so the supplier can book their holiday knowing if it will be in Benidorm or Barbados - it should be used to provide you with the very best product for the money you have available. If you are extending your home or have building works involved, make sure you ring-fence your kitchen budget. If the builder requires more budget they will know the kitchen budget can be taken from and your dream kitchen will soon be dropped. After all the work is done, you will feel the disappointment of what could have been. At Inside Outside, we work with top quality kitchen suppliers like Intuo (add link here) and Ewe (link). While the initial cost may be slightly more, you can get up to 25% more space inside the cupboards, the quality is fantastic and your kitchen will last longer. It's always worth investing your money in good quality kitchen units. You should also have a contingency of up to 20% more in your budget in case of issues that could arise. 
Key question: How much do I need to budget for a new kitchen? 
5. Survey your space 
I find it amazing that kitchen suppliers can design a space based on the client’s measurements without knowing how the environment will affect what they are doing. They have no idea of the client’s design style or lifestyle which is so obvious when you visit the property early on. When I go to a client's home, I ask lots of questions about how they use their kitchen - do they enjoy hosting dinner parties, will the kitchen serve as family chill-out space, do they need lots of worktop space for cooking and baking. If you do take measurements to a designer, make sure before you sign anything a site survey is done. It's at this point things like electrics and plumbing are seen and costs created to allow the design to work. Signing before this could mean your original budget gets blown out of the water. 
Key question: What type of kitchen will best suit my home and lifestyle? 
6. Don’t be scared to say “No” 
A good designer will take you through a design process where you must cover ground to know pre-installation that you have the very best design. This means giving you all the information even when something may not be suitable…then there are no 'what if's! Saying 'no' helps your designer get closer to what your perfect kitchen looks like by knowing both what you like and what you don't. Have a look at some of our kitchen projects here: 
Key question: What kitchen design, finish and layout do I like best? 
7. Concentrate on the layout and the practicality of the design first 
Think about the amount of space you need, how you move around the kitchen and which parts you use most. Will the design be practical for the way you use your kitchen? Drawings and plans are provided but not always understood, so make sure you ask questions. Once the plans are signed off, move onto the pretty bits, this way your mind is not overloaded with options. Kitchen lighting, unit finishes, door handles and accessories can make a big difference to the final look. 
Key question: Will my new kitchen design suit my lifestyle? 
8. Keep an eye on paperwork and deposit payments 
I am not sure about you, but handing over a deposit is always worrying when you feel you have nothing in return yet. Whatever you do, have a paper trail for every payment and what's expected when. This is where email is so much better than a phone call for keeping track of the money and when it has been paid. 
Key question: Will my kitchen designer create a payment schedule for my kitchen installation? 
9. Communication is key 
The supplier and you must have a good relationship, which should extend to anyone else working on the project. If your new kitchen is part of an extension or new build, make sure that there is no duplication of work. By that I mean that the kitchen supplier will not be redoing work done by a builder. Make sure the involved parties talk and can see what one another are doing so the process is swift and trouble free. At Inside Outside, we provide a fully project-managed service for the very best experience for our customers. We manage expectations between a client, interior designer or architect, builders, electricians and plumbers. With the amount of experience we have, we can spot potential issues and take care of them before they cause a problem. Responsibility is better taken by one person who you can call when needed and that's our role. We're happiest when our customers are happy! 
Key question: Who do I speak to if there's a problem with my kitchen installation? 
10. Don’t feel pressured 
Enjoy the experience as you are spending a vast amount of money and there is no reason it should be like others’ horror stories. You should be totally in love with your kitchen by the end of the process! See some of our in depth reviews to discover how our clients felt about our kitchen design and installation service: 
Key question: Did I have a good experience throughout the kitchen refurbishment? 
Our passion is kitchen design and delivering a dream kitchen for each of our clients. At Inside Outside Kitchens & Bathrooms we guide our clients through every step of the process from design and planning to the finished product. If you'd like to see what we can create for you, give us a call! 
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