A kitchen designer is a design professional who works with homeowners to plan the layout and functionality of a new or remodeled kitchen. Kitchen designers might also oversee installation and construction, and they might assist with decorating. In the retail environment, a kitchen designer is usually a sales professional as well as a designer.
Most kitchen designers are skilled in both manual drawing and computer-aided design (CAD). They must know at least the basic principles of architecture and interior design; many kitchen design jobs require in-depth knowledge of one or the other of these, or both. Kitchen designers must also be familiar with local building codes and requirements. Many of them have worked on the construction side of kitchen design, and are well-versed in construction techniques and practices. Commercial kitchen designers, who work with restaurants and other large-scale food service facilities, might have even more specialized knowledge in areas such as health codes, industrial design, and ergonomics.
The ability to work well with clients and determine their needs is an important part of a kitchen designer's job. Residential kitchen designers help their clients choose cabinetry, flooring, appliances, countertops, and color palettes that fit the client's home, lifestyle, and budget. An initial consultation might take place in a showroom or home improvement center or in a client's home. After seeing the kitchen space, the kitchen designer offers suggestions about the type and placement of cabinets and appliances, as well as specific materials and products. The designer might prepare and present several designs to the client, or might work on just one design, making changes throughout the process.
Kitchen designers can find work in different environments. Most large home improvement stores have several kitchen designers who help customers with everything from choosing a new sink to designing an entire kitchen, complete with custom-ordered products and materials. Kitchen and bath showrooms also offer kitchen design services. Self-employed kitchen designers might work independently and be hired directly by clients. They might also subcontract their services to builders or to architecture or interior design firms.
Most kitchen designers have at least an associate's degree with a specialization in interior design or kitchen and bath design, and a bachelor's degree is often preferred. A kitchen designer is typically expected to have completed coursework in interior design, architectural drawing, CAD, space planning, and construction techniques. Some programs may also include sales and marketing. In some areas, full certification or licensing might require several years' experience and an exam.