The design firms listed specialize in kitchens, and many do bathrooms as well. Most will guide you through your entire project, whether a complete renovation or just a facelift. They'll draw up a plan and do the construction with either their own employees or contractors. Most firms also have showrooms where they display cabinets, countertops, and other features. Designers will help you choose appliances, sinks, lighting, flooring, and decorative hardware.
It's useful to look at a firm's Web site before making an appointment. You'll often find photos of its work and data on products it carries. Always check references before signing on the dotted line.
Not listed here are superstores such as Home Depot, Lowe's, Expo Design Center, and the Great Indoors--all of them sources for kitchen ideas, materials, appliances, and design help. Keep in mind that contractors at those chains are outsourced, not employed by the store, so ask how you would deal with problems that might arise.
There are also many good kitchen designers working for general home-remodeling companies. Ask friends and neighbors who have remodeled for recommendations.
AAI Poggenpohl, 3324 M St., NW, 202-342-9111; 6809 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-657-8618; aai-kitchens-inc.com. Installation of this high-end, European cabinetry line is done through AAI Kitchens, its partner design/build studio in Georgetown and Chevy Chase. AAI also carries other cabinetry lines, including Paris Kitchens, and offers its own custom cabinets.
Absolute Kitchens, 8353-B Greensboro Dr., McLean; 703-917-0744; absolute-kitchens.com. Owner and designer Richard Forbes's architectural training makes his firm a good choice for major remodeling and additions. The company is moving to a larger location near Tysons Corner this year.
Aidan Design, 4701 Sangamore Rd., Suite L3, Bethesda; 301-320-8735; aidandesign.com. This three-year-old firm emphasizes clean lines and contemporary features such as French lava stone and Italian lighting.
Anthony Wilder Design/Build, 7913 MacArthur Blvd., Bethesda; 301-907-0100; anthonywilder.com. With more than 25 years' experience, Wilder does high-end kitchens that a peer calls "super-creative, one-of-a-kind work."
Barrons Custom Kitchens, 23 W. Diamond Ave., Gaithersburg; 301-948-6600; barronslumber.com. In business since 1947, Barrons specializes in traditional styles and is a good source for semicustom cabinetry and other supplies. Free two-hour seminars on getting started are offered twice a month most months.
Bath & Kitchen Creations, 43671 Trade Center Pl., Suite 112, Sterling; 703-996-8600; bathandkitchencreations.com. This family-owned design/build firm handles lots of suburban kitchens in the $65,000-to-$85,000 range.
Bowers Design Build, 6715 Whittier Ave., Suite 200, McLean; 703-506-0845; bowersdesignbuild.com. This family-owned business does whole-house renovations and large additions.
Bulthaup, 3324 Cady's Alley, NW (Georgetown); 202-338-2220; bulthaup.com. Designers at this German firm emphasize functionality and ergonomics. The contemporary European cabinetry in stainless steel, the firm's signature material, has won international awards.
Cameo Kitchens, 7297-M Lee Hwy., Falls Church; 703-532-4545; cameokitchensonline.com. Cameo works only in Northern Virginia. It's recommended for big and small kitchens and has installation crews on staff.
Commonwealth Home Remodelers, 208-A Dominion Rd., Vienna; 703-255-9861; commonwealthhome.com. Owned by an architect/engineer couple, this design/build firm uses clean, simple lines.
Coyle & Associates, 7420 Fullerton Rd., Suite 102, Springfield; 703-644-9677; coyle-associates.com. Part of the team on many of Northern Virginia's custom homes, Coyle also has developed a specialty in "long distance" remodeling of vacation-home kitchens.
Cunningham + Quill Architects, 1054 31st St., NW, Suite 315; 202-337-0090; cunninghamquill.com. The team of more than 20 architects at this Georgetown firm does both new construction and renovations.
Creative Kitchens, 1776 E. Jefferson St., Rockville; 301-984-4477;creativekitchens.net. In business since 1958; high-end kitchens from traditional to contemporary.
Custom Crafters, 4000 Howard Ave., Kensington, 301-493-4000; and Kitchen Classics, 6023 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-532-7000; both customcraftersinc.com. These companies share ownership, and clients have access to resources at both. Many "green," or environmentally friendly, materials.
Dar International Furniture, 45929 Maries Rd., Sterling; 703-433-9401; darintlfurniture.com. This store, specializing in high-end European imports, also designs kitchens. It's one of only two US importers of Italy's Salvarani cabinet line and the only importer of Italian Gattoni faucets.
Dee David & Co., by appointment, Falls Church; 703-560-6601; deedavidandco.com. Dee David, the sole designer, has more than 30 years' experience and does lots of contemporary kitchens in Northern Virginia.
Design Solutions, 1598-D Whitehall Rd., Annapolis, 410-757-6100; 218 N. Washington St., Talbot Town Center, Suite 1, Easton, 410-820-6770; dsikitchens.com. Owner Joni Zimmerman's custom designs are popular with clients and peers. The year-old Annapolis showroom features a changing selection of working kitchen and bar displays.
Division One, 8040 Georgia Ave., Suite 170, Silver Spring; 301-424-1674; divisiononearchitects.com. This young firm specializes in high-end, contemporary designs around brands such as Studio Snaidero, Bulthaup, and Boffi.
F.A. McGonegal, 212 N. West St., Falls Church; 703-532-2284; 1800smworks.com. This design/build/supply firm opened in 1915. It has licensed plumbers, carpenters, and electricians plus "reference rooms" that teach about kitchen-design options.
Fisher Group, 4119 Chatelain Rd., Annandale; 703-750-1151; designbuildrenovate.com. A husband-and-wife design/build company working only in Northern Virginia.
Foxcraft Design Group, 1422 N. Garfield St., Arlington; 703-524-8128; foxcraft.com. A design/build firm specializing in whole-house renovations. Although busy with bigger tear-down and build-out projects, owner Chandler Fox tries to keep at least one crew, often two, available for kitchens.
Gilday Renovations, 9162 Brookville Rd., Silver Spring; 301-565-4600; gilday.com. Offers architecture, interior design, and construction in both contemporary and traditional styles.
Harvey's Kitchens & Baths, 22560 Glenn Dr., Suite 115, Sterling; 703-444-0871; harveys-kb.com. Known for high-end custom cabinetry work.
Ikea, 10100 Baltimore Ave., College Park, 301-345-6552; Potomac Mills Mall, 703-494-4532; ikea-usa.com. Good prices and ideal for small kitchens. Stores recommend installers experienced with Ikea cabinets.
Jack Rosen Custom Kitchens, 12223 Nebel St., Rockville; 301-984-9484; jackrosen.com. This highly regarded company offers custom cabinetry and the latest in materials and appliances. Hedy Shashaani gets lots of peer recommendations.
Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, 6935 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-657-2500; jennifergilmerkitchens.com. Recommended by peers and known for creativity, innovation, and keeping current.
Kitchen & Bath Factory, 4624 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-522-7337; kitchenandbathfactory.net. Owner/designer Bob Kay, in business 25 years, specializes in smaller kitchens. Projects typically take four to six weeks and average $25,000 to $50,000.
Kitchen and Bath Studios, 7001 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-657-1636; kitchenbathstudios.com. Specializes in high-end kitchens. Designer Karen Hourigan gets high marks from peers.
Kitchen, Bath & Building Design Center, Washington Design Center, 300 D St., SW; 202-646-6118; merchandisemart.com/dcdesigncenter/kbbdc. Open to the public for purchases, with a dozen showrooms of high-end and cutting-edge design in cabinetry, flooring, tile, and fixtures as well as an information display on local designers with photos of their work. Showrooms include Studio Snaidero (202-484-8066) for contemporary European styles; DeZahra (202-234-7287) for hand-crafted tile; Clive Christian (202-314-5700), Rutt Custom Cabinetry (202-554-6190), and Wood-Mode Kitchen & Bath Design Studio (202-266-0600), a designer favorite, offer beautiful woods.
Kitchen Guild, 5027 Connecticut Ave., NW, 202-362-7111; 3739 Pickett Rd., Fairfax, 703-323-1660; 6823 Tennyson Dr., McLean, 703-893-8900; kitchenguild.com. This 57-year-old company--under new ownership for the last four--is affiliated with a contractor and granite-counter service. The former owner, at 77, still designs kitchens. Although the company specializes in full renovations, it also does just cabinetry and counters.
Kitchen Planners, 12140-B Parklawn Dr., Rockville; 301-231-9068; kitchenplanners.com. Design and design/build services for kitchens alone or house renovations and additions.
Landis Construction, 7058 Spring Pl., NW; 202-726-3777; landisconstruction.com. The Landis brothers--Chris, an architect, and Ethan, an MBA--do high-end renovations, additions, and facelifts.
Levine Group, 2323-B Stewart Ave., Silver Spring; 301-585-4848; thelevinegroup.com. Jerry Levine, formerly of Wentworth-Levine Architect Builder, now runs his own firm.
Lobkovich Kitchen Designs, 8000 Towers Crescent Dr., Suite 150, Vienna; 703-847-0601; lobkovich.com. An architect-owned firm specializing inultra-high-end custom cabinetry for kitchens around the country. Showroom open by appointment.
Portfolio Kitchens, Vienna, by appointment only; 703-242-0330; portfoliokitchens.com. Owner Lois Kennedy, who specializes in ultra-high-end kitchens, gets high marks from peers.
Reico Kitchen & Bath, 8123 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-6000; 7500-B Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, 703-748-0700; www.reico.com. This firm carries seven cabinet lines; if you're an experienced do-it-yourselfer or working with a contractor, you can save money by using the stock cabinetry line. You'll also find Miele and Dacor appliances.
Stuart Kitchens, 1359 Beverly Rd., McLean, 703-734-6102; 8203 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 240-223-0875; 8031 Ritchie Hwy., Pasadena, 410-761-5700; stuartkitchens.com. This company recently opened a showroom in Bethesda. Its highly recommended designers are known for versatility.
Studio27 Architecture, 1600 K St., NW, Suite 202; 202-939-0027; studio27arch.com. This firm does lots of condominium kitchens and specializes in modern, high-end renovations and additions.
Tunis Kitchens & Baths, 7032 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-652-5513; tuniskitchens.com. In businessalmost 50 years; everything from full-kitchen renovations to custom cabinetry alone.
Voell Custom Kitchens, 4788 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-528-1776; voellcustomkitchens.com. Dennis Day's firm, in business since 1949, is known for traditional styles and high-quality materials.
Wentworth Studio, 2 Wisconsin Cir., Suite 700, Chevy Chase; 240-235-6057; wentworthstudio.com. Bruce Wentworth, formerly of Wentworth-Levine Architect Builder, opened his own business about a year ago. The design/build firm specializes in older, urban homes.
ADU (Appliance Distributors Unlimited), 729 Erie Ave., Takoma Park; 301-608-2600; also Chantilly and Springfield; adu.com. Showrooms open by appointment; service to builders, designers, and consumers. Large selection of high-end brands such as Viking and Wolf.
Appliance Builders Wholesalers (ABW), 8834 Monard Dr., Silver Spring; 301-589-1445; abwappliances.com. High-end brands such as Miele, Dacor, Sub-Zero, and Wolf.
DAD's Appliance (Discount Appliance Distributors), 12200 Distribution Pl., Beltsville; 301-937-0222; dadsappliance.com. In business 26 years, DAD's is known for working with builders and designers, but it also serves consumers directly and carries many high-end brands including Viking, Dacor, and Miele.
Ferguson Enterprises, locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia; www.ferguson.com. Designers recommend this national chain for appliances, fittings, fixtures, and sinks.
Foremost Appliances, 14501-D Rt. 50, Chantilly, 703-968-8079; and 300 D St., SW, Suite C-19, 202-646-0885; www.foremostappliances.com. Deals with designers, builders, and consumers; appointments recommended. High-end brands include Sub-Zero and Thermador.
Ann Sacks Tile Stone Plumbing, 3328 M St., NW; 202-339-0840; annsacks.com. This national chain manufactures its own line of tile. It also carries other high-end stone, glass, and mosaic as well as plumbing accessories.
Arc Stone II, 9020 Edgeworth Dr., Capitol Heights; 301-499-2100; arc-stone.com. Large showroom with natural-stone selections including granite, limestone, onyx, and slate.
Architectural Ceramics, 800-F E. Gude Dr., Rockville, 301-762-4140; Washington Design Center, 300 D St., SW, 202-554-8719; 203 S. Union St., Alexandria, 703-299-6200; www.architecturalceramics.net. A favorite of architects, designers, and homeowners, the huge tile selection includes custom and hand-painted.
Arlandria Floors, 1800 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-548-4848; arlandriafloors.com. Large selection of laminates along with wood and tile.
Bartley Tile Concepts, 6931 Arlington Rd., Bethesda; 301-913-9113. Carries a wide selection of high-end, customized stone and hand-painted ceramic tiles, both imported and its own line, the Donna Marie Collection.
Best Tile, 11601 Boiling Brook Pkwy., Rockville, 301-984-3386; 8196 Terminal Rd., Lorton, 703-550-2352; besttile.com. Importer specializing in tumbled and antique stone as well as porcelain tile.
Classic Floor Designs, 2120 L St., NW; 202-872-9860. This 15-year-old company has a 5,000-square-foot showroom with hardwood, vinyl, stone, rubber, and even leather flooring.
Concrete Jungle, 4510-J Metropolitan Ct., Frederick; 301-874-1001; concretejungleonline.com. Artisans fabricate and install custom concrete countertops, sinks, benches, and wall and floor tiles.
Counter Intelligence, 8951 Brookville Road, Silver Spring; 301-589-5321; countintel.com. This company fabricates Silestone quartz, which looks and feels like natural stone but requires little upkeep.
Design Tile, 8455-B Tyco Rd., Vienna; 703-734-8211; design-tile.com. This showroom's wide selection of tile is arranged by color and composition for easier selection.
Design Within Reach, 4828 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, 301-215-7200; 3307 Cady's Alley, NW (Georgetown), 202-339-9480; 1838 Columbia Rd., NW, 202-265-5640; dwr.com. Creative furnishings for the entire house. For the kitchen, it's a source for one-of-a-kind counter and bar stools as well as stainless-steel tables and worktops.
Floor Gallery, 12108 Wilkins Ave., Rockville; 301-770-3366. In business since 1919 and in Washington since 1969, specializing in custom vinyl tile. You'll also find linoleum, cork, and hardwood.
Haifa, Washington Design Center, 300 D St., Suite C-18, SW; 202-484-5103; www.haifainc.com. With quarries in Israel and Italy, this company imports and manufactures limestone for floors and countertops.
Marble Systems, 2737 Dorr Ave., Fairfax; 703-204-1818; marblesystems.com. Natural stone--including granite, slate, limestone, and marble--in a wide variety of surface finishes like polished, rustic, chiseled, and antique.
Marblex Design International, 2926 Prosperity Ave., Fairfax; 703-698-5595; marblexinc.com. A fabricator specializing in custom stonework for countertops, floors, islands, and backsplashes. Showroom features marble, granite, limestone, and quartz surfaces.
Marmara, 1125 Okie St., NE; 202-635-4292; marmarausa.com. The only stone fabricator in the District, Marmara carries granite and marble as well as more-unusual surfaces such as limestone, onyx, travertine, and soapstone.
R. Bratti Associates, 401 E. Glebe Rd., Alexandria; 703-549-1135; rbratti.com. Specializes in granite, marble, and limestone for countertops.
Renaissance Tile & Bath, 816 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria; 703-549-7806; renaissancetileandbath.com. This designer favorite, formerly called Ademas, is a high-end chain based in Atlanta. Interior designers on staff help consumers with the wide selection of limestone, marble, and granite as well as hand-painted decorative tile.
Room & Board, 800-486-6554; roomandboard.com. This catalog and online retailer is a good low-price source for kitchen and dining tables. You pick the base and top separately, with many materials to choose from--such as granite, woods, glass, or stainless. A stainless base with a 42-inch cherry butcher-block top costs about $700. You can also find accessories like bar stools, hutches, and storage cabinets.
Universal Floors, 4625 41st St., NW; 202-537-8900; universalfloors.com. Installing, restoring, and refinishing of wood floors since 1953.
AT THESE TEST KITCHENS, YOU CAN TRY out stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, and other appliances. There's no pressure to buy--because the kitchens are wholesalers, no products are for individual sale. Frequently a dealer or designer refers clients to a showroom, but you can also set up an appointment directly.
Fretz, 9204-H Berger Rd., Columbia; 866-987-2123; fretz.com. This showroom, open by appointment, has high-end lines such as Sub-Zero, Asko, Scotsman, and Wolf.
Hadco, 45150 Business Ct., Suite 420, Sterling; 800-565-0330; hadco.net. Offers demonstrations and after-purchase care-and-use classes. Call for reservations.
Home-design magazines such as Kitchen & Bath Design News, Dwell, and Kitchen Magazine can offer ideas and inspiration. Here are some other sources to help you get started:
American Institute of Architects, 800-242-3837; aia.org. Has a searchable database for architects and sample contracts.
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, 202-872-5955; aham.org. Web site's consumer pages have buying advice, contacts for all appliance brands, and safety guidelines.
Energy Star, 888-782-7937; energystar.gov. Hotline and Web site give information on appliances and energy, such as how to lower your energy bill or get rid of mold and mildew. Rebates and special deals are offered through the program.
International Solid Surface Fabricators Association, 702-567-8150; www.issfa.com. Web site has information on the composition of all solid-surface countertops, such as Corian.
National Association of the Remodeling Industry, 800-611-6274; nari.org. Click on "Home Owners"for advice on choosing a contractor, a searchable database of contractors, articles, and tips on saving money and trouble in remodeling.
National Kitchen & Bath Association, 877-652-2776; nkba.org. This association certifies kitchen designers. Searchable database for designers plus articles, project photos, a remodeling guide, and tips on sticking to a budget.
Natural Stone Council, usenaturalstone.com. This site, cosponsored by the Marble Institute of America, has lots of information on stone and what works for what purposes in counters.