It’s generally understood (and expected) that older homes will have dark outdated kitchens with inefficient floor plans. The truth is, even new homes suffer from these ailments, which is why an award-winning kitchen and bath designer has established an affordable online studio that can help.

Launched by certified kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer, principal of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath based in Chevy Chase, Md., KitchenDesignOnLine, www.kitchendesignonline.net, is a Web-based design studio that specializes in a full range of kitchen planning and drawing services including floor plans and detailed elevations, 3-D perspective images, and interior design recommendations.

Gilmer says the site will be attractive to builders and consumers because it bridges the gap between the design services offered at high-end showrooms and those offered at big box retailers.

“Consumers could go into a big box store and pay a few hundred dollars [for a kitchen design], but it will not be very sophisticated because the people don’t have much experience,” says Gilmer. “But we are award-winning designers and produce creative designs that will look like you spent more money than you actually did.”

Gilmer, winner of the Pinnacle of Design award from the National Kitchen & Bath Association for the best kitchen design of 2009, says she launched the design studio because she meets people who are unhappy with the big box designs or who wanted a professional kitchen design to get quotes from different cabinet suppliers.

“They found it is difficult to get prices without a design and found that kitchen design is often too detailed for a do-it-yourself project,” Gilmer continues. “With plans from KitchenDesignOnLine.net, people can get a custom kitchen design for less than $1,000 and then have the choice to buy products locally, whether from a cabinet store, an interior designer, or a home improvement retailer.”

But the service also has benefits for builders and architects, Gilmer explains. Not only will they get custom kitchen design service, but they will get it without having to keep a kitchen designer on staff. Instead, they pay for each design.
 
The process is fairly straightforward. After users register on the site, they fill out a questionnaire that asks such things as the number of family members in the house, how many cooks, how often they cook, and architectural-style preference, among other questions. Users then measure their kitchens and do a simple sketch that takes into consideration the windows, doors, and attached rooms.

Once this information is uploaded on the site, the designers do a basic CAD drawing and have the user check to make sure the information is accurate. Gilmer says once the user approves this phase, designers work on creating an efficient floor plan that takes into consideration the basic functions for the space. Once the user approves and accepts the plan view, the designers work on the elevations and, after that, more detailed 3-D renderings of the kitchen.

“There is a lot of back forth and a lot of e-mailing to make sure the customer is happy,” Gilmer says. Still, a custom design from a certified kitchen designer can be available in as little as two weeks, she says.

The service offers three pricing levels: Basic service that includes a one-dimensional floor plan is $750 and is usually complete in 14 days; intermediate service that shows a one-dimensional floor plan plus detailed drawings of cabinet-door styles and knobs/pulls and more is $995 and is usually complete in 21 days; and luxury service that includes a 3-D perspective drawing, a color board, and more cost $1,750 and is complete in about 28 days.

The company is adding other services such as electrical plans and interior design boards showing materials suggestions.

Nigel F. Maynard is a senior editor with Builder magazine.