Whether you are planning a complete kitchen remodel or just interested in minor changes to give new life to an older kitchen, the steps to get to your desired result is the same.
We all know the necessity of have an architect/designer plan your space when building a new house and indoor/outdoor kitchen. Their obvious experience with the mechanicals, materials, and necessary local board requirements is one that it is impossible to do without. The fact alone that they will know the quirks and idiosyncrasies of a local town building department is many times worth their fee alone. As an example of this I can relate a story that happened when I built a large house in suburban New York. I had the architect draw his plans from the rough layout I had given him and one of the features I specified was large skylights in the entrance way which consisted of two floors of open space. When going to the board for building approval they disliked the fact the skylights were visible from the street front. The logic of this escaped me, then and still does to this day; but apparently I learned afterwards this was a common complaint by this town board. Had my architect been knowledgeable of these preferences he could have advised me. As it was we had to redesign a cupola over the entrance; this also involved extra structural elements to support the roof and ended up costing an extra $35,000 which came out of my pocket. Had I been more conscientious in my choosing the designer I could have avoided this expense. See the work they have designed before, talk to the local board and see if they have any recommendations, even listen to the rumor mill for any information you can obtain.
After choosing the best designer you can find, hopefully at a reasonable price, your next step is to limit as much as possible the designer getting out of hand (and budget) with your project. You must realize that many designers specify certain fixtures, etc., because they have a relationship with the supplier, they have used them in the past and/or receive a commission for all projects they do. While this is the natural way for this industry to work watch that you’re not buying a “Rolls-Royce” when a “Chevy” may do the job just as well. What I finally did was have the architect supply the plans and then we did the picking of the vendors. This is especially true for your kitchen where the cabinets will be the largest single fixture expense. Getting a maintenance-free, quality made stainless cabinet is a prime example – unless you know and trust the vendor actually supplying the cabinets you will be making a serious mistake.
Essentially what I am saying is to question every aspect and fixture your designer is specifying; this is especially true if the designer has some non-purposeful element in the design such as custom lights or furniture. See if it makes sense for your budget, maintenance procedures, and long-term usability.
A great designer or architect will get you where you want to be without breaking your bankbook and realizing the long-term issues needed to complete the indoor or outdoor kitchen at your new home.