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What does a kitchen planner do?

Like an interior designer, a kitchen planner works with a client to discuss all aspects of creating, remodelling, or updating an interior space to make it more functional and aesthetically pleasing – only a kitchen planner focuses on the kitchen instead of other areas of the house.

Working with a kitchen planner, you will discuss building materials, colours and patterns, themes, the location of kitchen appliances, and different design styles. The kitchen planner will produce sketches and 3D renderings of possible designs for you to approve.

1.  The job responsibilities of a kitchen planner

Although the list of responsibilities for a kitchen planner can vary depending on the nature (and budget) of the project, they usually focus on lighting, flooring, appliances, paint and/or wallpaper, walls, doorways, windows, kitchen décor, countertops, cabinets, and other furnishings. They might even suggest specifics such as dining tables, glassware, and serving pieces that can complement the look of the kitchen.

2. Key skills of a kitchen planner

  • A sharp eye for detail
  • Loads of creativity
  • Good listening- and design layout skills
  • Ability to effectively communicate with various people, from clients and vendors to suppliers and other professionals like floorers, electricians, etc.
  • Computer-aided design (CAD) skills
  • Knowledge of building codes and industry trends
  • Administrative skills.

The two types of kitchen planners / designers

Should you require kitchen items like cabinetry through a national chain or other retailer, chances are that they will have a designer on staff to help you out. The biggest advantage here is that, in most cases, there will be no additional expenses for the designer's services (even though some of them may charge a fee).

Other kitchen planners / designers work independently and bill per hour or per project. One of the greatest benefits of using them is that they are not affiliated with a certain brand or store, meaning they are more objective when it comes to finishes, materials, furniture, etc.  

Getting your kitchen planner

Should you be on the hunt for a kitchen planner, browse homify's ever-expanding range of professionals. Also be sure to ask for recommendations from friends and family. Always ask to see examples of the professional's previous work, especially projects related to yours (i.e. a modern kitchen that got treated to new wooden cabinetry). Client references are also important, as they give you a good indication of what others think about the kitchen planner's work quality.

Common kitchen layout mistakes that kitchen planners can avoid

Making use of a professional doesn't just mean enhanced quality for your project; it also means sidestepping some pretty serious errors, like the following:

1. Obstructing the work triangle

The sink, stove, and fridge make up the work triangle of the kitchen, which is the area where the most activities take place. This means careful planning is required, especially in terms of unobstructed access. Regardless of your kitchen's size or layout, kitchen planners know that the sum of the work triangle's legs should not be less than 3m (too small, and people will be bumping into each other) or exceed 7.6m (too large, and food prepping could become an exhausting task).

2. Wasting storage space

It's true that lots of items hidden behind kitchen cabinets can be oddly shaped (think of coffee makers and food processors). This means finding the right space for them while keeping them within easy reach can be difficult. For a small kitchen, a kitchen planner might consider installing extended cabinets with moulding for additional storage areas. They'll even be creative enough to consider placing lighting or greenery along the moulding to shift one's focus up. Plus, they'll definitely know that not utilising the area above the fridge is a waste of space.

3. Insufficient counter space

One of the things kitchen planners get asked about the most is to increase a kitchen's counter space. This makes sense, considering all the activities that require a countertop, plus all those appliances that are kept there. For your L-shaped kitchen, the professional might add an island or design a breakfast bar to increase your horizontal surface space. (Read more: 15 lovely L-shaped kitchens for your inspiration)

4. Poor lighting

Considering all the dangerous activities that take place in a kitchen (working with scorching surfaces, making use of sharp knives), the kitchen is the one room where excellent lighting is crucial. In addition, kitchen planners also know that the better your lighting, the better your chances of showing off those design elements. That's why they'll always commit to installing the three main types of lighting in your kitchen: general lighting for overall illumination; task lighting; and accent lighting.

5. Poor ventilation

The stench of the previous night's dinner can definitely put a damper on the most beautiful kitchen. Fortunately, kitchen planners always work great ventilation into their designs. Cost-friendly range hoods do no more than simply circulate dirty, stale air, but a great ventilation system will enhance a kitchen's air quality, which can also extend the life of your appliances. Ventilation might be a more costly feature for a kitchen, but consider how much easier and more pleasant it makes working (and socialising) in a kitchen, especially an open-plan one.

➣Read more: 25 kitchen decoration mistakes to avoid at all cost