I just read a post of yours from 2007 about the difference between a kitchen designer and a kitchen (or residential) space planner. Boy, did that hit home! But how to find a really good space planner, and how to know you've found one before spending money on plans or schematics that don't get the job done? I desperately need a residential space planner, and I am struggling with how on earth I can really figure out who is qualified as such!
I have a tight space (kitchen dimensions are 12' x 12'10", with a skinny island and just 37" of clearance on each side), with one side completely open to the family living area/entrance, another door to the dining room and another door to the mudroom/garage, which is the main pathway in and out of our house.
Just by reading my dimensions, you'll know that my kitchen is at least a foot too narrow at the 12'10" dimension to have a truly workable island and adequate counter space and storage. I need a brilliant space planner (should I say, "magician"?) to help me rearrange and/or steal space, possibly from an office/library/den behind the kitchen, which is also beside the mudroom/laundry area.... but then I'll have a kitchen that is longer, but no wider, and it will also turn around a corner, so that I retain some counter space. Plus, I'd like to keep some of that office/library/den space, if possible. I have been stewing about this space for more than a decade, and have even had a couple of kitchen designers take a run at it, but no one can figure out what to do!
Almost all architects and kitchen designers will stand strong on their ability to do brilliant space planning, but I have concluded that excellent residential space planners are rare. So, how do I find one? How can I really know who among the so-called "experts" in my area (Denver, Colorado) really are good space planners, before I shell out more design fees? I don't think there's any designation for training in space planning, is there?
If you could provide any tips or guidance for me about how to hone in on someone who can really do the space planning job, I'd sure appreciate it. I hope you don't mind me reaching out through cyber-space to ask this question.
Thanks for your question Mary Anne.
I'm afraid I can't write anything that's going to release you from doing lots of due diligence to find a great space planner in your area.
You can find a general synopsis of the process on this page of my web site at kitchenartworks.com. It takes a lot less time and effort to type out the following:
than it does to do the work involved. It's a very difficult process, but you're halfway there! You already know the kind of designer you DON'T want.
Once you really get into the interviewing, calling references and reviewing past projects, you'll see, as you have with your past contacts with design pros, that you can tease out the information you're after without going so far as to have to shell out design fees.
After all, you're not asking them to do design work for you. You just want them to respond to questions in a phone interview and provide references. Every designer should be willing to do that without charging you.
You can ask for a particular kind of references. In this case clients who had difficult space planning challenges. Your target design pro should be delighted to show off such projects, and the references should also be willing to help you understand how unbelievably bad their kitchens were before.
If you ultimately can't find anyone good locally, you may have to range farther afield. I did a kitchen once in Guam. And, believe me, I didn't travel there. These days that shouldn't be a problem with email and the Internet to help.
As to your question about a designation or training for a specialty in residential space planning? Many years ago, fellow designer Mary Fisher Knott started an organization called Residential Space Planners International, RSPI. I think she's the only one left! So no. I don't believe there are any current organizations to help you.