I’m really glad you have taken the time to read the second part of our Kitchen guide. I’m sure by now you have a good idea about what you wish to create. So, in this next section, I will talk about how to get the most from a showroom visit and what to take with you in order to do so.
Every showroom worth your time will have Designers on-hand to talk about their services, their kitchen furniture, design process and recommended appliances. To ensure you visit the right place for your project, take time to research the companies you believe meet your wish-list.
A company’s website is very often the first port-of-call for clients exploring ideas, costs and styles. By spending time looking at previous project case studies, client testimonials, the history of the company and their recommended suppliers you should be able to gather a good understanding of their reputation, their typical costs (if it isn’t explicitly stated) and their client satisfaction.
Social media channels are also a great way of learning about a company, the staff and the projects they work on. If you are lucky you might even find a client that has documented a project in photos!
Before you step into a showroom here are a few items that would be great to have with you.
- A plan of the space – Measure the whole room including Windows, Doors and Waste pipe locations
- Your Scrapbook or Mood boards – A printed or electronic version of your research and preferences
- Photos of your current kitchen
- And, if possible, a plan of the whole property and its compass position. This doesn’t have to be accurately measured, just a sketch of the layout will help your designer understand the flow of the property and the direction of natural light
All of this information will enable you and your designer to have a meaningful conversation and begin to shape the brief he or she will need to do their job. Good designers will begin to build a picture of your requirements from the moment they meet you. Over a coffee I would expect you will be asked a number of questions like:
- How many people live at the property?
- What sort of food do you like to cook?
- Do you have any pets?
- What sort of lifestyle do you lead?
- Do you have any particular requirements I would need to consider?
My advice is to be as open and honest as you can. Your designer is doing exactly what they feel is required to understand you and your desires for the future space.
During your initial visit, these are the questions I would be asking and the observations I would be making, to help me decide which company I want to work with.
1. What services do you offer?
Design & Build – is it all done by the same company?
Supply Only – How does that work for a kitchen as an element of design is required beforehand?
Minor remedial works – What can be done?
Other Rooms – If your project includes another space like a Bathroom can this be designed at the same time?
2. Explain the customer journey to me?
Let the Designer walk you through every stage, from design, presentation and payment schedules to project planning, installation and sign off.
3. How long does an average design and build take (understanding every project is different)?
There are many deviating factors that can speed up or delay a project outside of the control of the designer. However, they should have an idea of how a ‘normal’ project would progress.
4. Who manages the installation phase, would I have a key-contact?
Different companies control their processes in different ways. At hobsons|choice a client has a single point of contact from the very start, their Design Consultant. We believe they become the best person to see the project management phase through, they have the greatest understanding of both project and client.
5. What after-care and warranties are provided?
Check the details of what is covered and for how long.
6. Do you work with other professionals such as Architects, Builders and Interior Designers?
If your project requires additional building work, or is a new build, it would be reassuring to know the company has experience of working alongside other trades and collaborating with other design professionals.
I believe a showroom should be the pinnacle of what a kitchen company can achieve, click on the image above to explore our flagship Swindon showroom. Everything should be perfect, from the display layouts to the quality of installation. Don’t be afraid to open cupboards, check drawer alignments or study grout lines and lighting arrangements. It is these details that a good design company will have considered long before fitting. There should be nothing that doesn’t have an explanation for being where it is.
By the time you have visited a number of kitchen companies and talked to their Designers your head will no doubt feel like it could burst! It will be information overload. Don’t fret, take time to digest the notes you have taken and talk about the feelings you took away from each visit.
It is quite normal that a designer will contact you a few days after a visit to enquire about your thoughts. Again, be honest, if their company wasn’t for you the most valuable thing you can say is why. If you would like to talk to them again, take the opportunity to arrange a second visit to talk in more depth and refresh your memory.
You will know if you have met the right designer from a company that you feel delivers what you want. Once you have found them, you can begin the next phase together, shaping your ideas into a real, amazing space that will make your life even better.
I wish you all the luck in the world as you begin this exciting, and sometimes challenging, journey. If you have found any of this guide helpful then please let us know through our social media channels (Facebook / Twitter) or via email or phone.
Our Design Consultants look forward to hearing from you, when we reopen on Friday 29 December at 10am.
Richard Carter – hobsons|choice MD