How do you as a homeowner best prepare your kitchen remodeling design? There are 2 ways: you can do the design yourself or you can have a professional kitchen designer do the design for you.
To do your kitchen remodeling design yourself, there are numerous kitchen drawing programs on the web. Some are free and others require an investment. The free versions include Google Sketchup http://www.soft32.com/windows/photo-design/image-editors/google-sketchup/free-download?gclid=CKSf0MCD27ICFQqk4AodeFAAbw . This program is relatively easy to learn but does not have the specialized tools needed to adequately design a functional kitchen. Another free option is offered by retailers such as Ikea, http://kitchenplanner.ikea.com/US/UI/Pages/VPUI.htm. While this planner is better at designing a functional kitchen it is difficult to use. The other drawback is that as a consumer you are limited to that retailer for purchasing your cabinets. Among the pay for kitchen remodeling design software, SmartDraw http://www.smartdraw.com/specials/kitchendesign.asp is popular and easier to use, with three options from $147 to $497. It also provides its own “Dummies” book.
The second option is to have a professional kitchen designer execute your kitchen remodeling design. The disadvantages to this option are that you can pay quite a bit more than you would on any software program and you will probably be obligated to buy the cabinets or at least the design from the designer. The advantages are that if you go to an experienced designer (ask many questions before you commit), you will get a tailored kitchen remodeling design specifically for your taste. For examples see http://www.teknikadesigngroup.com/ . A qualified, experienced designer will also take into account the cost of installation when doing the design and the guidelines set forth by the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) for a more user friendly kitchen. It will also take a lot less time. To see more about our design process go to http://www.teknikadesigngroup.com/design.py .
What is the best way? It comes down to budget. If you can afford a professional kitchen remodeling design, then that is the way to go, both in terms or time management and mistake prevention. However, if your remodeling project is on a very tight budget (less than $10,000 for the entire kitchen), I would start learning kitchen remodeling design software.