Cabinet Designer Issues to Know

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Hiring a Cabinet Designer: 4 + 1 things to know


Life is unfair for cabinet designers like it is for politicians. Don't laugh! Their problems are very similar - both have issues with marketing, selling us their products or services, and being independent. We'll give you the facts and you can make your own comparison.

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The Definition of "Designer"

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,
the definition of "Designer" is: "a person who devises or executes plans, especially one who creates forms, structures, and patterns, as for works of art or machines."

Levels of cabinetry designers are matched to the types of cabinets they sell

The cabinetry industry produces four types of home cabinetry:

  • RTA (ready to assemble)
  • Stock Cabinets
  • Semi-Custom
  • Custom Cabinets
Any place you visit, including online places, will typically offer design services to support their products. And (no surprise), the design skills will match precisely to the professionalism of their salesman.

But here's the "+1" - an independent designer, who must be a real professional to make a living in this way. An independent designer can use any of the four types of cabinetry as a model, and help get your design to the final stage.

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Classifying your cabinet designer professionals

For most designers, their work is like a LEGO-type game; arranging cabinet boxes and parts from what is available at the time. At this level, it is work and even creation. This is why parents should encourage their children to play with toys like LEGO.

In the cabinetry industry designs are not free, someone will have to do it. The problem is, if you will buy that "free design" product with design you made yourself, you are still paying for those "free" services, displays, and the designer's work-spot. And legally nobody is lying to you - you are the one who wants to be cheated.

Sample door with real maple leaf

RTA (ready to assemble) Cabinet Design

RTA Cabinets usually include good instructions on how to assemble them, including detailed "how to" videos. This option has the largest savings. The offer is clear - almost no skills and minimum tooling - anyone can do it. However, your customization and design options are around zero - so make sure to measure and double check your dimensions and cabinet sizes so that everything matches.

Stock Cabinets

Like RTA, stock cabinets are mostly premade a long time ago, mass produced and most likely imported from countries with super cheap labor. This is the lowest quality level product, with minimum responsibility to you and to our environment. You will pay the highest profit margin for these two types of cabinets and sales services from "depots" or lumberyards competing to get you on the hook. Sizes and design options of these types of cabinets are usually very limited.

Semi-Custom Cabinets and design

At this level, you as a consumer can start feeling some "love" from the industry and designers. Lots of cabinet sizes and parts are customized. These firms usually hire cabinet designers capable of exploring your options and making them happen. However, extra charges apply - some of them very high in comparison to the cheaper options - and these may make you think twice. Still, cabinetry designers are operating from the catalogs and their ability to improvise is restricted - they operate like semi-salesmen with commissions from the manufacturer.

Kitchen cabinets hood stucco finish

Custom Cabinetry Designers

These are on the front line of sales, and are often very bossy - here your chances to get a "free design" are over for sure. From NKBA certified folks to real masters who can draw hand sketches and render 3D models to help you preview the design. And yes, they are the best sales people, knowing their own hourly rate as professionals (around $70 to $120); if you end up buying cabinets from such a source, the designer's payment will not disappear, only relocate into a margin, commission, or "mark-up" on the sales price - these can reach 20% to 50% of your cabinet's cost. The sad part is you will only get what they sell, not always the best solution for you or the best product for your money.

Independent Cabinetry Designers (the +1 option)

An independent cabinetry designer can assist clients not only with specifying cabinetry set but with all aspects of the total design including the choice of lighting, counter top materials, back splash varieties or cabinet accessories. An independent cabinet designer is here to help you first and foremost: with innovation, enthusiasm, and finding solutions to make your project shine (for the same $70-$120 per hour).Our cabinet designer packages

Kitchen cabinets hutch with old world finish

What to expect from a real cabinet designer

Count for over-delivery: a good cabinet designer will help you in pricing, planning, and structuring the project of your cabinet - sharing knowledge about the materials and technologies that are available.

Expect them to provide engineering and construction solutions to help you get the best for your investment.

The plans and drawing should be easy for you to understand and follow; the designer can also provide tips, advice, or suggestions to keep you within your budget and still allow you to achieve your goals.

Expect to get consulting, working plans, and even a parts list for a DIY (Do It Yourself) project.

Good cabinet designer have an understanding of what makes a successful project; not only in the best use of space but in the choice of construction details, colors and materials.




Design Cabinets,
More helpful and referral pages



Cabinets 3D Rendering

3D perspective renderings are very real, created from floor-plans and wall elevations. They are a helpful addition in the completion of any construction project.

Cabinet Designer 3D Rendering Page

Cabinets 3D Rendering ...very nice images of 3D drawings and colorful project perspectives you can find all over the Internet


Cabinets to Build Specifications
...online guide to build your own custom cabinets

Page Cabinetry Specification Link

The construction method you pick for custom cabinet projects will dictate how to set up specifications to build the parts and assembling components.



Making Cabinets and Parts

Building cabinetry parts to order... from plywood, ready to assemble

Making Cabinets and Parts Link

Custom made cabinet parts are numbered and labeled to match with the drawings, predrilled for hardware and shelving, ready to assemble.



Floor-plan and Elevations

Any construction projects usually start by creating floor-plans and wall elevations.

Floor-plan and Elevations Page Link

All items are numbered. The main benefit is easy communication from design and manufacturing, also for shipping, sorting, installation or even replacing items.



Cabinets by Design Complete Engineered Packages

Cabinets by Design Service allow you to envision your personal involvement in the custom cabinets project, or making cabinetry yourself.

Cabinets by Design Packages Page Link

Design plus Engineered Cabinet Parts List for making cabinets yourself, individual cabinet sssembly pages


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