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Main Line Kitchen Design Trends Blog

Japanese and then Korean cars were at first considered to be of lesser quality than American automobiles. Eventually, many consumers considered them to be of equal quality and a good value. Chinese cabinetry may be on the same type path.

Main Line Kitchen Design carries 5 US made cabinet lines and I am familiar with dozens of others and the Chinese made Fabuwood line we carry I believe is equal to or better constructed and finished than many American made lines that sell for up to 15% more. Sure, when I saw the first Asian cabinetry offerings at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show they were very rough. But now I suspect that the cabinet industry is about to be hit by a tidal wave of less expensive Asian cabinet lines that will soon include high quality products.

Below is one of our Fabuwood kitchens:

Main Line Kitchen Design’s CotY Award winning kitchen by Ray Gardner appeared in the National Kitchen and Bath Publication K+BB online yesterday. The article by Erinn Waldo highlights Ray’s design process and what goes into creating such a striking design. One of Ray’s quotes from the article particularly resonates with all our designers.  Ray’s quote:

“Our guiding principle is that great designs increase the value of a home and look better than lesser designs – even if those lesser designs possess higher-end materials,” said Gardner. “All the products we recommend are of good quality, but spending $35,000 on professional appliances makes no sense if the location and size of the appliances ruins the space.”

Once again. Congratulations Ray!

Click on the photo below to link to the article.

HGTV is very popular with homeowners contemplating future home renovations. And by the number of shows that are about kitchens it is apparent that kitchen remodeling is one of the most popular renovations. So how accurate are the HGTV shows that focus on kitchen remodeling? And what do the actual professionals that design and install kitchens think of these programs? Since this is a frequent topic of conversations among kitchen and bath professionals, I thought I’d share some of their comments from a recent LinkedIn discussion on the topic.

Most professional kitchen designers don’t mince words – and their opinions of HGTV range from unprofessional to unrealistic to intentionally misleading.  Alternately, many professionals in the field recommend PBS TV shows like This Old House and Hometime for being reliable sources of information. Here are some quotes from a LinkedIn kitchen professional discussion group:

 ”It’s tough to combat and sometimes correct what consumers are believing to be true. I honestly don’t even watch HGTV anymore because its mostly just phooey and I get frustrated with the misconceptions and bad information being shown.”

 ”As certified kitchen designers, we work very hard to make sure we are meeting codes and specifications. When we allow HGTV and Houzz to be our voice, we are NOT promoting professionalism.” [Note from Main Line Kitchen Design - is an excellent source for ideas but home owners should still use caution and work with qualified professionals]

 ”I cringe when I see poor design or flagrantly wrong design that presents a safety, health or code issue to the end user.”

One designer observed:

“HGTV… not much different than reality TV, right? The more drama, the better, right? Everyone knows, there is a production company behind the scenes directing what they believe people will watch, right? (here, Honey BooBoo, eat this bag of corn curls!). They need the ratings, right? So it makes you wonder, then, why so many consumers think what they see and hear, is gospel.”

And  from another designer..”And so often consumers take it as gospel. ‘Well, I saw it on a program on HGTV!’ “

The comment we hear most often is that HGTV over simplifies the kitchen design and  remodeling process and generally includes unrealistic timelines and pricing.

I believe HGTV does a disservice to the kitchen industry.  Far from being helpful it is actually  misleading  to viewers who understandably believe the stories and expect the staged results that they see on TV.

Main Line Kitchen Design’s advice is to turn the channel if you are watching HGTV ..and of course…

Bon Appetit!


The Philadelphia Inquirer featured  Main Line Kitchen Design’s 2015 Delcy Award winning kitchen in the February 1st Sunday Real Estate Section. The article is written by Erin Arvedlund with photographs from both Scott Fredrick Photography and Inquirer staff photographers. In the article, our customers Matt and Daneen Downey discuss the road to creating the kitchen that was selected the best kitchen design and renovation between $60,000 and $100,000 in Delaware and Chester Counties by the National Association of Remodelers.  The kitchen was designed by Paul and Al Panaccio owner of A.D. Panaccio Inc. was the general contractor for the detailed and complex renovation. Below is a photo of the kitchen from before the extensive remodeling.

And here is a photo of the completed renovation with a link to the Inquirer article:

Hoping your kitchen renovation is as dramatic a transformation and of course ….

Bon Appetit!

Paul, Ray, Mary, Tom, and Julie

Main Line Kitchen Design

An edited version of this article appeared in the May 2011 issue of the national publication of Kitchen & Bath design news.

One of the greatest challenges for a kitchen designer is to create a design that the customer appreciates aesthetically and simultaneously provides them with a functionally well designed kitchen.  It’s equally difficult to just not make any mistakes.  And sadly, that’s something very few kitchen designers can actually accomplish.

When customers show me designs done elsewhere, I can usually rattle off 10 blatant errors before I even closely examine the floor plan.  Even more alarming, many designs actually have the potential to kill.  And, these same fatal designs have even won awards.

In the last few years, I honestly have yet to pick up a kitchen trade magazine without a featured kitchen on either its front or back cover having major mistakes.   Often they possess one of the possibly fatal design flaws listed below.  Here is my list of the 8 deadly kitchen designs that I see over and over again.

  1. Wall cabinet, spice pull out or an appliance garage too close to the cooktop or range
    Kitchens with hearths or grottos are the biggest culprits with the Professional high BTU burners being mere inches from the sides of the wood cabinetry creating a fire hazard.                                                                                                                                                                       .
  2. Range too close to the window
    Most building codes require a range to be a minimum of 12 inches away from a window for a number of reasons.  A fire on the stove can jump to curtains on the windows.  Or a breeze from an open window can blow out the flame on a gas burner and allow gas to accumulate possibly unnoticed prior to a potential explosion.  I have seen many, many, examples of designs with the range actually underneath the window.                                                                                                                                                                                                      .   
  3. Range or cooktop on the end of the run
    Handles of pots and pans can be left extending out in space to be flipped onto homeowners or their children.  This is usually seen all the more disastrously in high traffic areas and next to doorways where people are entering the room unprepared for the foolish design flaw.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             .  
  4. The deadly cousin or number 2 and 3.  A range next to the exterior kitchen door for all the reasons listed in 2 and in 3.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        .
  5. Wall cabinets extending out over where there is no countertop or by themselves without protective bases below them
    Usually this tends to be customer driven.  Out of the need to create storage space literally everywhere in their kitchen, cabinets get put in places where someone leaning or bending over unsuspectingly can stand up and fracture their skull.  I actually know of a contractor that fractured his skull this way and is now blind.                                                                                                                                     .
  6. This one is a little of a stretch.  But today many children and adults have respiratory issues such as asthma, severe allergies, or emphysema.  Placing cabinets with moldings approaching but not reaching the ceiling can create a space that is impossible to clean and yet accumulates over time inches of dust, dead skin, and dust mites.  This could cause potentially fatal health reactions to those sensitive.  I have seen where this is done intentionally to create a “shadow line” on the ceiling.  Once you get 3 or less inches from the ceiling, you must go all the way.                                       .
  7. Probably one of the biggest issues on the kitchen design horizon.  Today’s powerful hoods coupled with tightly sealed energy efficient homes create negative pressure inside the home when the windows are closed in the winter and the exhaust fan is on.  Without a heat/air exchanger or a heating system designed against negative pressure the exhaust fan will pull carbon monoxide back down the water heater exhaust, the furnace chimney, or more dramatically pull the smoke right out the customers fireplace into their home.  Nearly all designers and appliance salespeople never even consider this and only in the most expensive and usually colder climate neighborhoods like Jackson Hole Wyoming are there any building codes regarding this.**Just a note:  12 months after this was published Pennsylvania became one of the first States to regulate this very issue. Presently all 50 states require replacement air systems for all hoods over 400 CFM.                                                                                                                        .
  8. This one is almost no longer an issue but still exists.  Customers must have GFCI outlets within 4 feet of their sink but if they have an electric range with spiral coil heating elements and the kitchen designer places the range too close to the stainless steel sink, the 110 volt outlet issue will be benign in comparison to the 220 volt range, sink, and water shocker.                                       .

Kitchen design is a profession I love for many reasons including the creativity involved, the people you meet, and the sense of accomplishment when you do a good job.  But, the biggest reason I love designing kitchens is that it is an incredible challenge.

To answer any questions regarding the significance of today’s date (originally posted March 15th 2011):

“Beware the ides of March”

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Hoping you don’t have any of these issues,

Paul McAlary



“Kitchens should be designed around what’s truly important—fun, food, and life.”—Chef/restaurateur Daniel Boulud

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” ― W.C. Fields

“I wish my stove came with a Save As button like Word has. That way I could experiment with my cooking and not fear ruining my dinner.
” ― Jarod Kintz

“It does not matter how expensive your kitchen is if you are a bad cook.” – Loesje

“I love what you might call brutal elegance. Where form and function are really obvious. There is nothing easily broken in this house.”Actress Meg Ryan

“Most people start out wanting to go for their fantasy, but end up painting their walls dove-white.”—Shopkeeper/interior decorator Rayman Boozer

“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” – Julia Child

Wishing the Happiest of Holidays to all our customers and friends, and of course….

Bon Appetit!

Main Line Kitchen Design

Paul, Ray, Mary, Tom, and Julie

Below are the 5 finalists in our, “What’s the most memorable thing that happened in your kitchen?” contest. 

Recently completed Main Line Kitchen Design kitchen

1) The most memorable thing that happened in my kitchen is my fiance proposed to me there. We had been talking about rings because I found a conspicuous clue in his office earlier in the day, and as I was cooking dinner he called me upstairs to his office to check out the ring he had been designing for me, purportedly on his computer screen. Well, all 4 burners were on and I had bread baking in the oven, so there was no way I could step away from the kitchen. He then came downstairs and completely surprised me when he pulled from his pocket not a printed sheet of paper, not his mini tablet, but the actual ring and proposed! My sauces on the stovetop survived as did the bread in the oven throughout this whole scene 

2) My kitchen is the Hub of my house. It was originally my husband’s grandparent’s house, so he has great memories to start with. We added to those memories by him proposing to me in the kitchen while I was baking bread almost 6 years ago. Since then we have had 2 children. We are continuing to add memories with family dinners, birthdays, art projects & homework. My kitchen holds almost every precious memory!

3) Our fist apartment was a small, old but affordable, walk-up. Although it left much to be desired, as newlyweds, we were satisfied and even excited about moving in — except for the kitchen! It contained only one cabinet which was situated above the sink and its exposed pipes. We improvised by buying a large standing cabinet and sewing a floral fabric to elastic and wrapping it around the sink. The area under the sink could now be used as storage space for cleaning products, pots and pans, etc. When our first baby began toddling around, it became his favorite destination. He enjoyed crashing through the curtain, playing with the pots and pans and eating the soap powder. I could not wait to escape from this hazardous kitchen. Eventually we converted the space to a toy area where he sat playing with his cars, trucks and blocks. In fact, that’s where he said his first word, which was “car”. 

One night, my husband arrived home from work with a bottle of champagne and wonderful news. He had just received a big promotion and a very substantial salary increase. While eating dinner at our little kitchen table with the baby next to us in his high chair, we toasted to his new job and our new house. 

It is now more than 50 years later and I still remember that antiquated kitchen and the joy and happiness we experienced in it. 

4) As my husband and a friend were working on my porch roof, I was making a pasta salad with fresh vegetables at the kitchen sink. My watch and rings on the ring stand. As I turned on the garbage disposal, I heard a terrible noise. I turned it off. When I reached in all the guys heard was me saying ” My watch!” My cat had batted my watch down the sink. All I had were pieces. Lucky it wasn’t my ring. We laugh about it now.

5) The most memorable thing that happened in my kitchen happened last thanksgiving. Although at the time I found it to be funny and touching , I wouldn’t know until this past February that it would be so memorable . My mom suffered a massive brain bleed 4 years ago , and became child like ever since that stroke . Last thanksgiving we all sat around after dinner laughing and enjoying each other’s company when my husband looked over and noticed my mom sitting in front of the dessert plate full if Choc chip cookies . My mom had been sitting there just smiling and singing to herself , she ate over 10 cookies . We asked her how she was doing and she said I’m so happy , and I love the cookies. Who knew it would be one of our last holidays with her . I still remember how beautiful and happy she looked sitting with her family and eating her cookies without a care in the world. She deserved it after raising 8 crazy children and 17 grandchildren.
Winners were announced on our Facebook page on December 2nd 2014.

As we move into fall and cooler outside temperatures there are still a few hot topics in kitchen design that will heat up conversations at least in the kitchen design world.

1)  The new building code requiring a replacement air system for all hoods more powerful that 400 CFM’s still creates confusion and tough choices for kitchen designers and their customers. The new code protects the public from the powerful hoods used by many designers and sold by appliance salespeople. The hoods were chosen to compliment professional ranges and cooktops but were poisoning customers with the carbon monoxide exhaust from their furnaces.

2)   Many cabinet lines now do custom color matching for little or no extra charge. Main Line Kitchen Design carries several of these lines giving customers the entire spectrum of paints and stains to choose from.

3)  The invention of inset 6 way adjustable hinges now makes inset cabinetry only a small percentage upgrade in many mid range cabinet lines. In the past inset and beaded inset cabinetry was only available from very high end custom cabinet lines.

4)  Buffered hinges now give the popular buffering option on the cabinet door hinges themselves eliminating the pistons many customers found intrusive before.

5)  Although not available in the design software kitchen designers routinely use yet because renderings and price catalogs would take too long to load, CAD programs can now create images of  kitchens that are hard to distinguish from actual photographs. Once this technology becomes available in the CAD programs that contain kitchen cabinet pricing, kitchen designers will be able to show customers nearly photographic representations of what their proposed kitchens will look like. Amazingly many cabinet company catalogs no longer contain photographs of actual kitchens but are CAD reproductions.

The photos above are of an actual kitchen beautifully photographed by Scott Fredrick Photography and designed by Paul.

Wishing everyone a Happy Halloween and of course as Julia said ….

Bon Appetite!

Paul, Ray, Mary, Tom, and Julie

Main Line Kitchen Design


It generally only takes a few minutes to realize the initial value of working with experienced kitchen designers like our designers at Main Line Kitchen Design. Each of us has decades more experience laying out kitchen space than the builders and architects who are needed for the other phases of a kitchen project. Architects create and consider the exterior elevations, supply drawings for additions, or the beams necessary for the permits. Builders and contractors supervise or do the physical work and a myriad of other tasks that go into the complex process of creating a lasting beautiful kitchen.

But we can not emphasize enough – if your kitchen designer isn’t available to see you through the entire process, you’re in for a rough ride! The same goes for customers who, once they have plans in hand, don’t realize they need additional assistance. To get a kitchen from conception to actuality requires even more expertise than creating the design itself.

For example, builders can encourage ordering cabinetry before walls are framed often creating substantial additional costs that your kitchen designer can help you avoid. Frequently changes take place during the initial construction that affect the cabinetry order. And, designers are experienced enough with delivery time lines to assure that everything will be inhand weeks before it’s needed.

Every kitchen is a unique creation so the components are never “off the shelf”.  And those components aren’t going to be the right components if you don’t have an experienced designer guiding the manufacturer on your expectations and having your best interest at heart. There are literally thousands of parameters.  Consider just the sides of your cabinets: Which are unfinished and which are finished. Which are recessed and which are flush. Do they have integrated end panels or applied doors? Do the side panels and doors line up with the doors on the front of the cabinets? The ordering process is so detailed that good designers either have an elaborate checking system or a second set of experienced eyes assisting with all orders.

And then there’s the installation. Some of the smallest things can pose challenges like following a recipe you’ve never tried or assembling a toy. Multiply that by the scope of a kitchen and you can understand what the construction team you’ve hired has to deal with. It’s certainly a simpler and more successful task when the designer makes him or herself available to assist with the process.


At Main Line Kitchen Design, we know that making our customers happy usually requires spending as much time processing orders and consulting during construction as we spent working on that kitchen’s design. The only thing you’ll gain if you stop working with your kitchen designer before your kitchen is complete is aggravation.

We look forward to helping you every step of the way,

and of course as Julia said . . . Bon Appetit!


Paul, Ray, Mary, Tom and Julie

Main Line Kitchen Design


Below are three clips from Murder by Kitchen Design! A speech I gave to the Pennsylvania NARI chapters at the Fretz Wolf and Subzero showroom in Philadelphia. The talk discussed the 8 most common ways kitchen designers endanger their customers. It was meant to be informative and humorous although I believe some people in the audience were offended having made the dangerous mistakes themselves. The first clip below is the “frightening” introduction:

As noted in the second clip many architectural firms and other kitchen design companies actually have some of these dangerous mistakes displayed on their web sites showcasing their incompetence.

The third clip below is the conclusion of the talk. It highlights the TV show with the worst kitchen of all time and answers the two most common questions I get asked about bad kitchen designs.

Another question I get asked is why we chose Julia Child cookbooks to give to our customers when their kitchens are complete.  The reason is simple:

Julia Child influenced American cooking more than any other chef past or present. She was knowledgeable and passionate about cooking. I believe it was sharing her passion that was so infectious. At Main Line Kitchen Design we try to share our passion about kitchen design with our customers. That why it’s Julia’s cook books we we send out and why my blogs usually end with…..

Bon Appetit!


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