Remodeling home...consult architect or interior designer first?

I am planning on remodeling our very tiny galley kitchen and adjoining family room by expanding out about 8 feet. The problem is, neither one of us has an eye for what goes together. We both know what we like/don't like when we see it, but just aren't creative enough to coordinate things on our own.
So, are we better off getting an interior designer's perspective first, or hiring an architect? Are architects trained in any way to help people decide on things like what countertop color looks best with a particular cabinetry color? On the flip side, would an interior designer be aware of things like plumbing & electrical requirements/codes? This is the home we plan on staying in for at least the next 15 years, until our children finish school, so we'd like to make it very much "ours".
Can anyone help?
-- monix denix
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On Fri 07 Nov 2008 11:35:33p, monix denix told us...

Start with a Kitchen Designer. A good one will know how to ask the right questions that will reveal what you do want and need. They will be aware of cabinetry, appliances, and other equipment specific to kitchens. They will also be able to work with an architect or construction firm to define the details of the actual expansion. Most also have computer software that can show you what your new kitchen will look like.
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Wayne Boatwright
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On Nov 8, 12:35 am, monix denix <monix[dot]denix[at]gmail[dot]com> wrote:

Start with magazines, books and online sites that have lots of photos to see if you can find what you like vs what a designer vision is, then see a pro.
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Both good ideas. Kitchen design books/mags can give you some ideas of what you like and a kitchen design company can also give you ideas and lay it out for you.
If it's a simple 8 foot extension that you're considering, I would not start with an architect. Depending on the local laws, what exactly is being done and whether the kitchen design firm has access to an architect to stamp plans, etc, you may need to get an architect involved later.
I'd only start with the architect if you were considering more extensive remodeling of the house.
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monix denix wrote:

If you have an expansion in mind, you must have a rudimentary plan in mind. Start by shopping the big box stores for styles and special cabinets and appliances you like. Many of the brochures have layout sheets that allow you to cut and paste what you like. Cabinet mfgs. have automated sites that allow you to put in cabinets, colors, flooring, etc. Also take into account the primary uses ... microwave near the sink if kids are going to be doing a lot of "warm-up" meals - that was our primary meal style on school nights with busy schedules for all. An island with a small sink and second disposal was part of my dream kitchen for preparing company meals (survived without it).
We redid our kitchen, updating old built-in-place cabinets several years ago. Initially we went to Home Depot, planning on entirely new cabinets. We got through the measuring stage, and cancelled there. They offered us our $100 deposit, which we didn't expect to get back. You might explore their planning services ..... that is all they do, and worth $100 but be careful what you commit to.
I have never used an architect or designer and think it is about as likely to satisfy and be worthwhile as any other in the trade ... gen'l. contractor, kitchen contractor, cabinet maker, etc. Tile, glass and appliance shops can give you good ideas, too. We worked with a glass shop to get a "new" backsplash behind our cooktop....cemented counter laminate to the wall over old metal tile and then patterned pressed glass over that. Love it! Much easier to clean, cheap to replace.
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I can tell you from years of experience that most architects and Interior designers get along like cats and dogs. Unless you get them both from the same firm (and even then there might be conflict) be prepared to have a bucket of cold water to separate them. Get the architect first. He/she will probably recommend someone for the colors etc.
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On Nov 8, 12:35 am, monix denix <monix[dot]denix[at]gmail[dot]com> wrote:

At this stage try a small local architect, it will be well worth the price and he will get you the most square footage at the lowest cost, get you safely past your permits and inspections, get your plumbing, electrical, framing, windows, hvac, right, etc. After you have a gutted shell then worry about the colors and get the kitchen design done for free (included) by the cabinet supplier. Insist that the designer come do the kitchen plan at your residence itself with a CAD program included in the cabinet price. Reputible cabinet suppliers all have great design knowledge on kitchens and what will work best. But because you are doing a bump out get an architect first, I woldn't even think about colors, materials, or decorating yet.
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I'd have to take exception to that. The time to be considering where the cabinets are going to go, where the windows are going to go, do you want an island, the traffic flow, where the appliances should be located, etc, is at the beginning. The empty shell approach would be a good idea if the kitchen were already there and they were not expanding it.
An architect can certainly do kitchen design, but it's not necessarily their specialty. I would consult a kitchen design place first, because they are the most up on what makes a kitchen great, what new features are available and that people want, etc. Also, as far as pulling all the necessary permits, etc, a good kitchen design company will do that too. It's their business to completely gut and remodel kitchens. And I would say there is a big difference between a cabinet supplier doing a design for free and the services you can get from a real kitchen design company.
If you're just changing cabinets, the free cabinet design could be a good idea. But I would not think I was getting a bargain by relying on a free cabinet design company to guide me in a $100K+ kitchen renovation.
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