With the economy looking rosier, the six years of pent-up, postponed projects homeowners have wanted for their kitchens are finally coming to fruition. But if you’re looking to hire a professional designer, there are a few questions you need to ask before letting someone into your home.

Lisa Tobias, who founded Tobias Design in Hopewell in 2005, says that the first question should be one for yourself ‒‒ What’s my budget for a renovation project? Just because the economy is better doesn’t imply frivolous spending. Homeowners still want good value for whatever they do, and they need to know what they can spend in order to get a kitchen they’ll love.

A good rule of thumb, Tobias says, is that spending 15 percent of your home’s value on a kitchen renovation could yield a 91 percent return on your investment when you go to sell the house. But that’s just a guide. Know how much you can afford to spend, and find a designer who, like Tobias, can work with a range of budgets.

When you start vetting designers, the first question is how much experience they have. “Experience in this field is critical,” Tobias says. “So is knowing a designer’s process and approach.”

In other words, do they provide design only or construction as well? Do they show a demonstrated flexibility in design style or are they known for one specialized style? Do they help in the selection of all components of a kitchen, like countertop, back splash, lighting, etc.? Or is their work done once design is done?

Also important, does the designer’s firm have enough infrastructure to support your project? Infrastructure will ensure the project is proactively managed and progressing even if the designer is out of the office and on site. Is there a warranty on the cabinet lines offered by the designer’s dealership? Manufacturers that will be there in five years if you need to replace a door or a hinge fails? Does your designer work well in a team environment? After all, in more cases than not, there are many professionals involved in a home project.

You also want a designer who is creative (that’s a biggie), who listens and reflects your desires in unique way, Tobias says.

Ultimately, Tobias says, you want accountability, integrity, and trust. The best way to get it? “Ask for referrals and take your time vetting.”

All these pieces, in the end, make up good customer service, for which Tobias Design has won the Best of Houzz Service Award for the three consecutive years it’s been offered. But then, that kind of thing happens a lot for Tobias. For a reason.

Call Tobias Designs, at 609-466-1445 to see how Lisa and her staff can make your dream kitchen and bathroom a reality.

Tobias Designs, 48 West Broad Street, Hopewell. 609-466-1445, TobiasDesignsLLC.com

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