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How Much Does A Kitchen Designer Cost?

Typical Range: $3,529 - $20,413

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On This Page:

  1. Working with a Kitchen Designer
  2. A Kitchen Designer's Process
  3. Questions to Ask Your Designer

Redesigning a kitchen is not as cut and dry a job as it seems. While you can certainly help get a cooking space looking new by switching out cabinets and countertops alone or use a simple architect's plan in a new build, both convenience and style go beyond the actual space and must fuse to deliver a truly usable and beautiful room. In fact, to many homeowners, the kitchen is one of the most critical areas of the house and is certainly a "selling point" for many real estate agents. In this regard, adding a functional, modern and stylish kitchen is one of the best investments you can make, no matter the age of your home.

The cost of a high-end professional kitchen designer can easily equal 8–10% of total kitchen remodeling costs — a figure that often ends up in the tens of thousands. In general, remodels that cost up to $100,000 have design fees of 10%, while those $100,000 and up have designer fees of 8%. Take a look at some of these examples to see fee amounts incurred at each level:

  • $10,000–$20,000 project cost: fees of $1,500–$3,000 on average
  • $30,000 project cost: 10%, or $3,000 fee
  • $76,000 project cost: 10%, or $7,600 fee
  • $127,000 project cost: 8%, or $10,160 fee

There are other options, however. In fact, whether or not you need to hire a kitchen designer and what level of designer your home needs are personal and very budget-based decisions with a variety of answers ranging from in-house, big-box design services to magazine-ready professional designers. Fortunately, finding the right kitchen design help for your budget and needs is easier (and maybe even cheaper) than you think.

Kitchen Designer Cost Calculator

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National Average
$11,917
Typical Range
$3,529 - $20,413
Low End - High End
$800 - $44,000

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Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 157 HomeAdvisor members in .

Working with a Kitchen Designer

The first step when you’re considering hiring a kitchen design professional is to research your alternatives in your local area, find a few whose design portfolios you love and prepare for your first meeting with them. Many designers, even high-end ones, offer a free mini consultation of about an hour with interested homeowners. During this session, both you and the designer get to see if you have similar visions and work well as a team while you get to know one another and the designer’s style. To prepare for this initial meeting, and therefore get the most out of the experience, be sure to do all of the following beforehand:

Schedule the Meeting Ahead of Time

Putting your design consultation on a schedule not only ensures that you have the time blocked out for the designer, but that he/she will be available to you when you need to ask questions. At this time, you may be able to get a list of specific information he/she wants you to have beforehand or design worksheets to fill out that you can bring to your initial appointment.

Get Inspired

Look online at sites and design centers such as DesignMine or even through older print magazines to find inspiration and ideas that match up with your taste. Choose a few key styles, color schemes and layouts that match your home and bring them to your meeting to show your designer what you may have trouble putting into words.

Fill Out Any Questionnaires

Most reputable designers and home centers usually have a pre-meeting questionnaire for you to fill out before your scheduled consultation. Make sure to take your time answering these questions thoughtfully and gathering any information they may ask for. This information may include, but is not limited to:

  • The current design of your kitchen and what you like/dislike about it.
  • Functional questions about storage, flooring, appliances and different needs for every member of the family.
  • Information about your particular cooking, cleaning and entertaining habits.
  • Any special features you consider a "must have."

Set a Budget

It’s really easy to take a $20,000 kitchen remodel into the territory of a $100,000 kitchen remodel through appliance upgrades and design features like wainscoting and premium floors, countertops and wood. Without a firm budget in place before you start, keeping these costs under control is nearly impossible, especially if you get swept up in the design process. While designers cannot perform miracles on a shoestring budget, they can use your limit as a guide when presenting you with ideas and samples that keep you from getting carried away and help you maintain a more realistic vision.

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Levels of Design Service

While high-end professional design services can cost thousands of dollars (8-10% of total remodel costs, on average) they are only representative of one level of kitchen design services. In fact, homeowners can take advantage of everything from in-store consultations for $100 to five-digit professional design services and plenty of other options in between. The main options for kitchen design, however, usually fall into one of three categories.

In-Store Consultation

Available at most national big-box retailers as well as some specialty stores like cabinet and countertop retailers, this is the least-expensive kitchen design option. With this option, you pay a nominal fee, usually of around $100–$200, for a design expert to come out to your home, take measurements and draw up a plan to replace main features such as cabinets, countertops and floors. The cost of this initial consultation is usually then deducted from the final cost of the materials and installation/labor once you decide on what your project will entail.

Professional Design Center

Professional design center services are often similar to basic big-box consultations at first, but then they branch off with additional services and features. They may be rolled into final costs or charged separately, depending on the level of services you receive. Regardless, this is a more expensive option, usually offered at an hourly rate between $100–$750 instead of a flat fee. Prices increase if design center experts are certified kitchen designers, interior designers or independent professionals contracted by that particular store/center.

These designers help you not only choose materials such as cabinets and countertops, but they can also advise on general design additions like window treatments and color schemes or do some basic layout rearrangement. Most require a retainer for their work but are flexible in their level of involvement. For example, they may work with contractors for a more complex remodel or simply draw up plans that you can then take to your own contractor for implementation.

Independent Design Services

The highest level of design service, an independent, certified kitchen designer sees the process of redesign from start to finish. He or she will work with architects, contractors and suppliers to completely design and outfit a kitchen from scratch, whether in a remodel or as part of an addition or newly built home. These designers generally cost thousands of dollars, charged as a percentage of the total remodel cost, which they work into their estimate. The average cost for this level of kitchen design is normally a $1,500–$3,000 minimum and will require you to make a down payment or pay a retainer before any work commences.

The table below provides an at-a-glance look at the lower-end and higher-end fees associated with the levels of service discussed above

In-store consultation

Professional design center

Independent design services

Low estimate

$100

$100

$1,500

High estimate

$200

$750

$3,000

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A Kitchen Designer's Process

The complex work of kitchen design is not as simple as swapping out cabinets and fixtures – most homeowners can take care of that on their own or utilize a lower-cost service center for those changes. Rather, a true designer looks at your space as both a whole and as parts, accounting for the needs and functions of the kitchen as well as its role and relationship to the rest of your home and its design. In this way, the kitchen design process is as much an art as it is a science.

Throughout their work, designers employ a number of techniques and use them to create a detailed plan specific to your space, taste and budget. This plan includes:

Finding Inspiration

From your own inspirational photos and answers to their questions to interviews, samples, showrooms and gleaning a general sense of your home, professional designers can learn a lot about your tastes. This inspiration is borne of experience and helps designers to tap into your aesthetic to design a kitchen specific to your needs and space.

Utilizing Complex Design Concepts

Professional designers have access to computer-aided design (CAD) products as well as a variety of catalogs and other design resources that they can use to draw up a specific plan for your home. These tools will help to make a more precise, personalized plan that’s easy for contractors to follow.

Considering Appliances and Fixtures

Practical considerations, such as the placement of the dishwasher in relation to the sink and the famous "triangle" of the countertop, fridge and stove, are important applications in a kitchen that designers understand and work around. Similarly, they understand that lighting fixtures need to not only look beautiful, but also provide the right amount of light for delicate kitchen work and that sink faucets need to do a very real and thorough cleaning job.

Looking at the Whole of the Home

Quality design doesn’t exist in a vacuum. A professional designer can take the concept of a home (19th-century farmhouse or mid-century modern, for example) and apply it to the design of your kitchen to create a more fluid, parallel space.

Writing Up Detailed Plans

Perhaps the most tangible part of the design process is the physical plan that a designer creates according to real world measurements that also incorporates an understanding of your needs and constraints. These plans are exact and take into account everything from the architecture of your home and which walls can come down or open up to the details of materials and appliances. This plan is the bulk of what you pay for, and it’s the property of the designer him or herself until you sign a contract or payment agreement for his or her services.

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Questions to Ask Your Designer

While the benefits of a true, professional designer are hard to deny, not everyone calling him or herself a kitchen designer actually deserves that title. As a homeowner, it’s your job to vet potential designers by understanding not only the experience they bring to your project but whether or not they’re willing and able to work within your space and budget while respecting your wishes in terms of design and style.

Here are a few questions to ask to determine if a particular kitchen designer is a good match for you and your home:

  • Are you certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association?
    This is the industry standard, and designers can only achieve this certification with experience, knowledge of codes and the proper completion of professional development education.

  • Have you done kitchen designs similar to the one I want?
    For example, have they worked in similarly-styled homes? Are they fluent in the design style you’re looking for? Some designers specialize in certain looks, have more familiarity with the materials that make up those looks and may be more adept at meeting your goals than others.

  • Can I see photos of your previous work?
    When you look at these photos, note if the end results align with the style that you want and that there’s a range of different styles presented. A monochromatic workbook is indicative of a designer who may be more concerned with his or her own vision than yours.

  • How many design plans will you develop?
    Industry standard is three separate designs. Each different design should show flexibility and a willingness to work with your desires, not just with the designer’s own pre-made plans.

  • Which cabinet/countertop/flooring manufacturers and installers do you work with?
    If applicable, also ask about contractors and architects. If your designer has built relationships with these professionals, it can help smooth over any snags you might run into during the course of the project.

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