How We Work – Kitchen and Bath Design

A successful kitchen design is one that covers all the details, and the same goes for a beautiful bathroom design. At M.R. Brewer, we’ve developed a process to ensure your ideal options are factored in all along, rather than as afterthoughts.

Many of our kitchen and bath customers (whether they’re coming here just for design services, or as part of a comprehensive new construction or renovation project) start their planning process independently, collecting ideas and building ideabooks on Houzz and Pinterest, as well as the traditional way, by compiling folders or notebooks full of tear sheets from design magazines. This is a great way to start narrowing down your personal aesthetic and style, and also to dial in on the functionality your family needs.

If you start on Houzz, we’d love to connect with you! Follow M.R. Brewer and/or our kitchen designer Tavia Douglass, and we’ll review your boards before we meet.

When you’re ready to get together, this is what the process will look like:

Phase I - Consultation

We offer a complimentary 1-hour consultation at our offices. The purpose of this meeting is to get to know each other a little bit, talk about your goals and budget, and provide some guidance for your next step.

In some cases, that’ll be a discussion of how to retain our design services here at M.R. Brewer and what to expect from our working relationship. In others, it will be recommending another local designer or builder who specializes in precisely what you’re looking for.

We don’t try to be all things to all people, but we do try to give the best possible advice to everyone we meet. And because our millwork shop counts dozens of Portland-area builders and contractors as customers, our referral network is informed and strong.

Phase II - Preliminary Design

During this phase, we’ll invest a considerable amount of time diving deep into your project and applying our years of design experience to your challenges. In exchange for our time and ideas, we do require an upfront deposit and written design agreement at this point.

We’ll start the process by confirming your project goals, the scope of work, and the budget you’d like to stay within, and we’ll make a site visit. If it’s an existing home, we’ll take measurements and conduct a thorough inspection of the space at that time. If it’s a new build, we’ll discuss site-specific considerations such as orientation, light, and views.

At this phase, the most important things for you to make sure we understand are your functional and spacial wants & needs. Colors and finishes will come later.

Phase III - Design Development

Now that we understand your core criteria, we can present some ideas for you to react to. You’ll be making some big decisions during this phase, so we recommend separate meetings for each of the considerations below, typically about two weeks apart. These include:

Reviewing conceptual floor plans: we’ll show you 2D rendered floorplans with varied schematics, spatial relationships, scales, and placements, with the idea of exploring the full range of possibilities. Together, we’ll discuss the merits of each so that you can confidently decide which layout will be best… or which elements you’d like to combine into another round of revisions (up to 2).

Refining your look: now is the time to talk finishes and materials. These include cabinetry choices, countertops, hardware, fixtures, and other finish-related considerations. We’ll gather current pricing and availability for your materials of choice, and make recommendations and/or adjustments as needed to keep the project on time and on budget.

Presenting technical drafts & elevations: this is the really fun part – seeing your layout come together in detailed drawings and 3D-rendered elevations. We’ll review these together alongside samples of the materials you chose to make sure all your choices still feel right when you see them side by side. If not, we refine until you are in love.

Providing detailed project and budget summary: once we’ve finalized your design, we’ll present you with a detailed project summary and budget, which will include your goals and the full project specifications, and will guide the next phases. If your kitchen design is part of a larger project with us, we’ll present this information together with your project manager as part of your total cost estimate.

Phase IV - Contract + Ordering

We’ll fold your project and budget summary into your design contract, which will also include each party’s responsibilities and the estimated completion timeline. Once you’ve signed off on that, we’ll begin ordering materials and scheduling installation. If you’re working with an outside contractor, 50 percent of your design and material cost will be due at contract, 40 percent at ordering, and 10 percent at your final walkthrough. If you’re working with M.R. Brewer as your installer, your payments will follow the payment schedule for your comprehensive project.

Phase V - Installation

If installing with M.R. Brewer: We’ll work hand in hand with our full-time construction and project management team, who will complete the demo and installation according to the plan, ensuring that all details are completed to your specifications.

If installing yourself or with your own builder: We’ll begin this phase by providing final detailed construction documents to your builder and/or subcontractors. They’ll then take the lead on demo and installation, and we’ll remain involved by coordinating materials and staying involved to support their efforts to build the project as designed.

Phase VI - Completion + Final Walkthrough

Now it’s time go through the space together, checking each detail to make sure it was completed according to the plan. We’ll note any items that need to be addressed and add them to a punch list for the finish carpenter or appropriate trade partner to correct asap.

We’ll also document all warranty items for you, so that you have that information all in once place, and will go over any tips or best practices for maintaining the different elements of your new space.

Photography

We plan to do great work for you, and we love to show that kind of thing off! So if you’re willing, we’d love to send an architectural photographer over to document your new space once it is complete. The photos will help our future customers see the type of work we do, and we’ll also give you rights to the images for your own personal use.