How Much Will a Kitchen Design Cost?

C.E. Larusso
Written by C.E. Larusso
Updated February 1, 2022
Mom cooks dinner with son in beautiful kitchen
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Most kitchen designers charge between $65 and $250 per hour, or 10% to 20% of your total project cost, for an average total between $4,310 and $25,160

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Whether you’re visiting your most stylish friend or rewatching your favorite Nancy Meyers rom-com, it’s not unusual to see a beautiful kitchen and think, why can’t that be mine? With a good sense of your budget (you’ll want to plan on spending between $4,310 and $25,160 on a full redesign) and some help from an interior designer who specializes in kitchens, it can be. 

This guide will tell you how much you can expect to pay to work with a pro who will help you plan the kitchen remodel of your dreams.

How Much Does It Cost To Get a Kitchen Design by Different Types of Pros?

Once you’ve decided to bring in a local kitchen renovation pro, you have a choice between three broad types of providers. All of these pros offer different levels and types of services:

  • In-store consultation: The least expensive option, an in-store consultation, will provide a general plan for your design and, in many cases, the opportunity to pay for more involved ongoing assistance should you want it. 

  • Professional design center: Professional design centers employ many different designers with whom you can work. It’s often the most expensive option but also the most thorough, providing you access to specialists in all aspects of the design. 

  • Certified independent kitchen designer: Instead of opting for a larger firm, you could also hire an individual designer accredited by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). Costs can be lower or higher than a design center, and there’s often more room for flexibility in the designer’s approach. 

How Much Does It Cost To Get an In-Store Consultation?

Some stores, including home goods retailers, high-end design firms, or those who sell cabinetry and countertops, will offer in-store kitchen design consultation services.

  • At larger national retail outlets, consultations are often provided for free, though the scope of the plans may be more limited—and catered to the products carried by the store—than what you’d get elsewhere. 

  • If it’s a specialty dealer that sells all or many of the pieces included in the design, the fee might be rendered as cost-plus or markup (more on that in a second).  

  • At a high-end storefront design studio, you will likely pay between $150 and $450 per meeting, which typically includes a home visit for measurements—and in most cases will be deducted from the final total if you proceed with their plan. 

How Much Does It Cost To Work With a Professional Design Center?

Two-toned cabinets in updated kitchen
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Another route would be to go straight to a design firm that will assign you to work with one of the many designers they employ or with whom they contract. At one of these companies, you can expect to pay between $100 and $750 per hour. In most cases, this will be the most expensive option, but the plans you end up with are typically very thorough, covering everything from materials to fittings to color schemes.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Certified Independent Kitchen Designer?

A professional studio is not the only place you can connect with a skilled designer who will take a complete approach to your kitchen plans. There are many great independent kitchen designers out there—many of them formally certified by the NKBA—giving you confidence that the person you’re hiring knows what they’re doing. 

In addition to making sure your kitchen layout meets your needs, these contractors will usually coordinate between architects, suppliers, and builders, saving you a lot of time and energy. 

Certified designers usually charge $65 to $250 per hour, or alternately, 10% to 20% of the total redesign cost. For a mid-range project, expect a final charge between $1,500 and $3,000.

How Do Kitchen Designers Structure Their Fees?

When you’re considering different kitchen designers in your area, you’ll need to consider their fee structure in addition to their aesthetic and their price. There are differences not only between what designers charge but how they charge. Options include:

  • Hourly rate: The most common approach, especially among independent kitchen designers, is to establish an hourly rate that will apply to everything from design time to site visits, meetings, and phone calls. 

  • Flat fee: Other designers or firms will establish a set charge from the beginning, whether for the whole job or for an initial proposal. This fee will likely be deducted from the final cost if you opt to work with the designer who made it. 

  • Cost-plus or markup: Many designers work for companies that sell the fixtures you’ll be including your redesign, and others will directly source materials on your behalf. In this arrangement, the design fee may be included as markup or in additional costs per item. 

  • Milestone fees: Another option is for the designer to spread out fees over the whole course of the project so that you pay some portion to start, another when the plan is delivered, another once permits are approved, and so on. 

No matter which model the designer chooses, you should also figure out what they should expect to be paid when. When starting a project, it’s common to request a deposit or retainer—typically between 25% and 65% of the total cost (50% is most common). Often an additional portion of the total sum (usually 30% to 50%) must be paid when cabinets are delivered to your home.

How Much Does It Cost To Design the Kitchen Yourself?

Of course, if you handle the design yourself, you’ll pay nothing at all in design fees. To perform a mid-range remodel (like a galley kitchen) on a 100-square-foot kitchen, you can expect to pay between $13,500 and $16,000 if you’re handling all aspects of design and installation yourself. This amount is compared to somewhere between $59,000 and $72,500 if you’re consulting with a professional design firm and hiring contractors to complete the remodel.

So why hire a designer at all? Even if you’re a confident DIYer with finely tuned aesthetic preferences, a kitchen involves a fairly complex set of considerations. Beyond the visual appeal, any kitchen design should take into account how you typically use your space. If you’re in your kitchen frequently or for particular tasks, the layout should cater to your specific needs. A good kitchen designer will bring extensive experience to help navigate these sometimes tricky issues. 

Additionally, a full kitchen remodel often entails changes to your plumbing, electrical, and gas systems, which you should never alter without professional advice and oversight.

If your redesign is simple and cosmetic, it might make sense to invest the money you would otherwise give to a designer elsewhere. If the job is more elaborate, however, hiring a designer might save you money in the long run. Not only is it more expensive to fix a mistake than to pay for a pro who will help you avoid it, but a design might keep your overall costs down by recommending and hiring trusted contractors, scoring deals on materials, and suggesting changes that will help you increase your home’s resale value.

What Factors Influence the Cost of a Kitchen Design?

The wide range of potential costs for a kitchen design reflects the wide range of options available from different designers and the different projects you can do. These include:

Level of Involvement

A kitchen design can cover everything from the overall plan to the last detail of every fitting—most designers will be flexible with different budgets, proposing options that involve more or fewer hours of work.

Scope of the Remodel

A design that just replaces appliances, countertops, and cabinetry will cost less than one that requires more extensive structural intervention, such as removing a wall or rerouting pipes. As with many other home projects, more square footage will also translate into a bigger price tag.

In-house vs. Collaborative

If your plan requires your designer to contract with architects, builders, or engineers, the cost will likely be higher than it would be from a design center that could handle these tasks in-house.

Deliverables

Part of your design fee will cover the physical plans presented by the designer, from sketches to blueprints to 3D renderings. The more elaborate or specialized the plan, the more it will add to your costs.

FAQs About Kitchen Designers

Do I need to hire a designer for my kitchen remodel?

It depends on the scope of the project and your confidence in your own design capabilities. If you’re simply replacing a few appliances or want to change the cabinetry, you most likely do not need a designer. If you’re doing a full reno, you should bring in a pro unless you have a very strong design sense and want to spend hours laboring over the various technical details.

Where can I find a certified independent kitchen designer?

Search online for a local kitchen designer to connect with certified pros in your area.

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