To find the right kitchen designer, first look at the kitchens of friends and neighbors. When you see something you like, ask who did the work and how that person or firm was to deal with.
Browsing through a company’s Web site or portfolio will give you a feel for its style. During an initial meeting, a designer will probably draw a rough sketch and give a ballpark estimate of costs. The next step is a home visit for exact measurements.
Before signing on the dotted line, it’s a good idea to check references for designers and contractors even if a friend had a good experience with them.
Here is a list of kitchen professionals and resources recommended by designers, real-estate agents, builders, and architects. These firms specialize in kitchens, and many do bathrooms as well. Most will guide you through an entire renovation, whether a tear-down or a minor remodeling. The company will draw up a plan and do the construction with either its employees or hired contractors. Often designers will help you choose appliances, sinks, lighting, flooring, and decorative hardware.
Not listed are general architecture firms whose work includes kitchens; also not included are contracting and design/build firms, which often do kitchens as well as whole-house remodelings. See our lists of top architects and remodelers on Washingtonian.com. Many of those larger firms limit jobs to major renovations and additions; if your project is smaller, you may be better off with a company that specializes in kitchens.
Also not listed are superstores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, and the Great Indoors, which can be good sources for ideas, materials, appliances, and design help. Remember that contractors at those chains aren’t store employees, so find out how the store would deal with problems.
If a designer or contractor isn’t listed here, that doesn’t mean the firm doesn’t do good work. Firms will often provide referrals, so consider this list a starting point.
AAI Poggenpohl, 6809 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-657-8618. Installation of the high-end European cabinetry line Poggenpohl is done through AAI Construction, its partner design/build studio in Chevy Chase. AAI also carries other cabinetry lines and offers its own custom cabinets.
Absolute Kitchens, 8230 Boone Blvd., Suite 170, Vienna; 703-917-0744. Owner and designer Richard Forbes’s architectural training makes his firm a good choice for larger projects.
Aidan Design, 4701 Sangamore Rd., Suite L3, Bethesda; 301-320-8735. This firm emphasizes clean lines and contemporary features such as Italian lighting. It recently introduced a line of eco-friendly custom kitchen products.
Alexandria Kitchen & Bath Studios, 1502 King St., Alexandria; 703-549-1415. This 12-year-old firm has five kitchen designers on staff; owner George Delaume has more than 25 years of carpentry experience.
Barrons Custom Kitchens, 23 W. Diamond Ave., Gaithersburg; 301-948-6600. In business since 1947, Barrons does contemporary and traditional designs and is a good source for custom and semicustom cabinetry and other supplies.
Bath & Kitchen Creations, 43671 Trade Center Pl., Suite 112, Sterling; 703-996-8600. This family-owned design/build firm does lots of suburban kitchens in traditional styles. Owner Bob Clements, a certified master kitchen-and-bath designer, oversees all jobs.
Boffi Studio DC, 3320 M St., NW; 202-333-7555. This Italian firm has six studios in the United States—the newest, in Georgetown, has been open two years. It specializes in minimalist, contemporary kitchens.
Bray & Scarff, 11 area locations. This nearly 80-year-old local chain is known for reasonable prices, but customers have complained about service problems.
Bulthaup, 3324 Cady’s Alley, NW; 202-338-2220. Designers at this German firm create kitchens that incorporate minimalism and innovative ergonomics. The company recently launched two new product lines, B1 and B2.
Cameo Kitchens, 7297-M Lee Hwy., Falls Church; 703-532-4545. Cameo designs kitchens of all sizes and carries only Honey Brook Custom Cabinets, a line made by Amish and Mennonite craftsmen. It does projects only in Northern Virginia.
Coyle & Associates, 7420 Fullerton Rd., Suite 102, Springfield; 703-644-9677. Rich Coyle’s firm works often with custom homebuilders and remodeling contractors and has developed a specialty in long-distance remodeling of vacation-home kitchens.
Dee David & Co., by appointment, Falls Church; 703-560-6601. Clients appreciate Dee David’s one-on-one approach. Designs all styles of kitchens in Northern Virginia, specializing in contemporary.
Design Solutions, 1598-D Whitehall Rd., Annapolis; 410-757-6100. Owner Joni Zimmerman calls her high-end custom designs “classic design with a twist.” Offers kitchen and bathroom remodeling and new construction.
F.A. McGonegal, 212 N. West St., Falls Church; 703-532-4440. This longtime (since 1915) design/build/supply firm offers everything from a consultation to full design and build.
Harvey’s Kitchens & Baths, 22560 Glenn Dr., Suite 115, Sterling; 703-444-0871. This firm, in business since 1977, carries several high-end custom-cabinetry lines and has installation crews on staff. Owner Karen Barnette and designer Kara Reinertsen do both traditional and contemporary kitchens.
Ikea, 10100 Baltimore Ave., College Park, 301-345-6552; 2901 Potomac Mills Cir., Woodbridge, 703-494-4532. Known for reasonable prices, this Swedish chain is an especially good choice for small kitchens and younger homeowners. You’ll find cabinets, ranges, sinks, faucets, and accessories. Ikea can put you in contact with a professional or provide resources for do-it-yourselfers.
Jack Rosen Custom Kitchens, 12223 Nebel St., Rockville; 301-984-9484. This family-owned company has designed kitchens since 1982. It does traditional and contemporary styles.
Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, 6935 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-657-2500. Gilmer’s 12-year-old, award-winning firm designs some of the area’s most creative high-end k
Kitchen & Bath Factory, 4624 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-522-7337. Owner/designer Bob Kay, in business 29 years, specializes in smaller kitchens and offers reasonable prices.
Kitchen and Bath Studios, 7001 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase; 301-657-1636. Four designers on staff specialize in high-end kitchens in a variety of styles including contemporary, early American, French, and Victorian.
Kitchen Guild, Northwest DC, 202-362-7111; Fairfax, 703-323-1660; McLean, 703-893-8900; Alexandria, 703-518-5006. This 55-year-old company specializes in full kitchen and bath renovations.
Kitchen Planners, 12140-B Parklawn Dr., Rockville; 301-231-9068. Design and design/build services for kitchen or whole-house renovations and additions with eco-friendly materials.
Lobkovich Kitchen Designs, 8000 Towers Crescent Dr., Suite 150, Vienna; 703-847-0601. An architect-owned firm specializing in high-end custom cabinetry for kitchens around the country. Showroom open by appointment.
Nancy Thornett Associates, 4833 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda; 301-718-0155. In business 25 years, this family-owned custom- and semicustom-cabinet firm has seven designers on staff. New product lines include St. Charles, Downsview Kitchens, and Francois & Co.
Pedini, 3340 Cady’s Alley, NW; 202-640-1976. Offers modern Italian kitchen cabinetry, design, and installation. Often uses environmentally friendly materials.
Portfolio Kitchens, Vienna, by appointment; 703-242-0330. Owner Lois Kennedy designs high-end kitchens in traditional and contemporary styles.
Reico Kitchen & Bath, Bethesda, 301-654-6000; Falls Church, 703-748-0700; Springfield, 703-914-4900; Annapolis, 410-571-8400. If you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer or working with a contractor, you can save money by using Reico’s stock cabinetry. The large appliance selection includes Miele and Dacor lines.
Stuart Kitchens, 1359 Beverly Rd., McLean, 703-734-6102; 8203 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 240-223-0875; 10440 Furnace Rd., Lorton, 703-690-4045; also in Culpeper, Waldorf, Baltimore, and Pasadena. This company, in business more than 50 years, designs and installs high-end kitchens throughout the area.
Tunis Kitchen & Bath Showroom, 7032 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-5513. From full-kitchen renovations to custom cabinetry.
Voell Custom Kitchens, 4788 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-528-1776. This nearly 61-year-old firm is known for traditional styles and high-quality materials, including Wood-Mode and Brookhaven cabinetry.
These wholesalers and distributors can be a good choice for hard-to-find imports, and the large selection often means more competitive pricing.
ADU (Appliance Distributors Unlimited), 729 Erie Ave., Takoma Park, 301-608-2600; 14911 Bogle Dr., Chantilly, 703-263-2300; 5192 Raynor Ave., Linthicum, 410-789-8000; adu.com. Showrooms open by appointment; service to builders, designers, and consumers. Large selection of high-end brands such as Viking, Sub-Zero, and Wolf as well as GE, KitchenAid, and Jenn-Air.
Appliance Builders Wholesalers (ABW), 8834 Monard Dr., Silver Spring; 301-589-1445. High-end brands such as Miele, Dacor, Sub-Zero, and Wolf.
DAD’s Appliance (Discount Appliance Distributors), 12200 Distribution Pl., Beltsville; 301-937-0222. DAD’s is a 30-year-old business that carries such brands as Sub-Zero, Viking, Bosch, Dacor, and Miele.
Ferguson Enterprises, multiple area locations. Designers recommend this national chain for appliances, fittings, fixtures, and sinks. It also provides cabinet installation.
Counters, Floors, Tile, and Other Features
Alexander Kitchin, Charlottesville; 434-242-7536. Casts and finishes concrete countertops, sinks, surrounds, and other elements. Also creates custom concrete furniture.
Ann Sacks, 3328 M St., NW; 202-339-0840. This national chain manufactures its own line of unusual tile. It also carries stone, glass, and mosaic as well as lighting and plumbing accessories.
Architectural Ceramics, Bethesda, 301-718-8343; Rockville, 301-762-4140; Alexandria, 703-299-6200; Falls Church, 703-714-0161. A favorite of architects, designers, and homeowners; the large tile selection includes custom and hand-painted.
Arlandria Floors, 1800 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-548-4848. Large choice of flooring including laminates, bamboo, cork, rubber, wood, and tile.
Bartley Tile Concepts, 6931 Arlington Rd., Suite C-2, Bethesda; 301-913-9113. Wide selection of high-end, customized stone plus ceramic, glass, and metal tiles and stone and quartz countertops.
Best Tile, 11601 Boiling Brook Pkwy., Rockville, 301-984-3386; 8196 Terminal Rd., Lorton, 703-550-2352. National importing chain that carries ceramic, glass, metal, mosaic, porcelain, and stone tile. Also offers tumbled and antique stone.
Classic Floor Designs, 2120 L St., NW; 202-872-9860. This company has a 5,000-square-foot showroom with hardwood, vinyl, stone, rubber, and leather flooring.
Concrete Jungle, 4510-J Metropolitan Ct., Frederick; 301-874-1001. Fabrication and installation of custom concrete countertops, sinks, benches, and wall and floor tiles.
Design Tile, 8455-B Tyco Rd., Vienna; 703-734-8211. This showroom’s wide selection of ceramic, porcelain, stone, shell, glass, and mosaic tile is arranged by color and composition.
Design Within Reach, 4828 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda, 301-215-7200; 3307 Cady’s Alley, NW, 202-339-9480; 1838 Columbia Rd., NW, 202-265-5640. Creative, modern furnishings for the entire house. For the kitchen, you’ll find contemporary counter and bar stools as well as stainless-steel tables and work tops.
Fernando’s Marble Shop, 15910 Indianola Dr., Rockville; 301-670-2794. This family-owned company fabricates and installs granite, marble, limestone, slate, soapstone, and quartz.
Floor Gallery, 12108 Wilkins Ave., Rockville; 301-770-3366. In business since 1919 and in Washington since 1969, this company specializes in custom vinyl tile; you’ll also find linoleum, cork, and hardwood.
Marblex Design International, 2926 Prosperity Ave., Fairfax; 703-698-5595. A fabricator specializing in custom stonework for countertops, floors, island tops, and backsplashes. Showroom features marble, granite, limestone, and quartz surfaces.
Marmara Corporation, 1125 Okie St., NE; 202-635-4292. The only stone fabricator in the District, Marmara installs granite and marble as well as more-unusual surfaces such as onyx and travertine.
Mosaic Tile Company, Rockville, 301-881-2520; Chantilly, 703-631-4848; Fairfax, 703-280-4300; Lorton, 703-495-8453. Specializes in eco-friendly tiles, grout, and other materials. Also offers a variety of tiles from Europe and Central and South America.
R. Bratti Associates, 403 E. Glebe Rd., Alexandria; 703-549-1135. Specializes in granite, marble, limestone, and other materials for countertops, showers, and more.
Renaissance Tile & Bath, 816 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria; 703-549-7806. This designer favorite is a high-end chain based in Atlanta. Interior designers on staff help consumers with the large selection of tile and stone.
Stone Source, 1400 16th St., NW; 202-265-5900. A good source for natural stone, ceramic, glass, and porcelain tile as well as recycled and engineered materials and reclaimed wood for floors, walls, and custom furniture.
Tile Shop, 15142 Frederick Rd., Rockville, 301-610-5070; 6715 Spring Mall Rd., Springfield, 703-971-0169; 46301 Potomac Run Plaza, Suite 130, Sterling, 703-444-3902. A national chain whose three local branches include a new 15,000-square-foot showroom in Sterling with a sizable selection of affordable tile and stone as well as lots of helpful room vignettes.
Union Hardware, 7800 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-7810; 7505-M Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, 703-893-4444. In business since 1914, this favorite of local architects carries bathtubs, sinks, faucets, decorative hardware, and accessories such as mirrors and lighting.
Universal Floors, 4625 41st St., NW; 202-537-8900. Installing, restoring, hand-scraping, and refinishing hardwood flooring since 1953. Specializes in deep, rich stains.
Washington Design Center, 300 D St., SW; 202-646-6100. Kitchen showrooms include Clive Christian (202-314-5700) and Wood-Mode (202-266-0600) for high-end custom cabinets.
Waterworks, 3314 M St., NW; 202-333-7180. Known for luxury bathrooms, this shop also carries fixtures, sinks, stone, and tile that would work well in a traditional kitchen.
Working Wonders, 1416 Clarkview Rd. Ste. 100, Mount Washington; 866-569-0339. This new company outside Baltimore sells eco-friendly cabinets, appliances, furniture, composters, and accessories.
W.T. Weaver & Sons, 1208 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-333-4200. This family-owned Georgetown institution, in business more than 120 years, carries decorative hardware, tubs, high-end fixtures, and accessories.
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. This showroom, open by appointment, has high-end lines such as Sub-Zero, Asko, Franke, and Wolf.
Hadco, 45150 Business Ct., Suite 420, Sterling; 703-478-9301. Offers demonstrations and after-purchase care-and-use classes. Call for reservations.
Ideas and Information
Here are more resources to help you get started.
American Institute of Architects, 202-626-7300. This site has sample contracts and a searchable database of architects. The three local chapters—AIA DC (aiadc.com), AIA Northern Virginia (aianova.org), and AIA Potomac Valley (aiapvc.org)—also provide information on finding and hiring architects.
Angie’s List. This consumer-networking Web site ranks home-improvement companies across the country. Membership is $67 a year plus a $15 sign-up fee.
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, 202-872-5955. The Web site’s consumer pages have buying advice, contacts for all appliance brands, and safety guidelines.
Energy Star, 888-782-7937. The phone 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 Surface Fabricators Association, 977-464-7732. The Web site has information on the composition of all solid-surface countertops, such as Corian; also advice on cleaning and on finding a fabricator.
National Association of the Remodeling Industry, 800-611-6274. Online, click on “homeowners” for advice on choosing a contractor, tips, and a searchable database of contractors.
National Kitchen & Bath Association, 800-843-6522. 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. This site has lots of information on what stone works for what purposes.
Washington Consumers’ Checkbook. A $34 two-year subscription gives customers access to Checkbook’s semiannual magazine, newsletters, and Web site, where local service firms are rated on price and quality based on subscribers’ surveys, undercover shopping, and other research.
These services offer free referrals to remodelers and other home-improvement businesses they have screened: Urban Referrals, ServiceMagic, and Home Connections serve the Washington area. Home Solutions Connection focuses on suburban Virginia and Maryland.
Delbe Home Services, delbe.com. Each customer is assigned a service representative, who provides contractor referrals, manages any projects, and can let the contractor in if you’re not at home. The 24-hour service ensures that a contractor can be sent to your home at any time—even for a flood at 2 am. Membership is $175 a year ($87.50 for Washingtonian readers).