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Main Line Kitchen Design Trends Blog

The Knotthink family has several members who are in design or building. Guy Knotthink, the family patriarch, is now retired but his son Will Knotthink is a general contractor and Will’s sister May Knotthink is an interior designer.  Will’s other sister Ivana Knotthink is an architect.  I’ve selected several photo’s of actual projects from the family’s portfolio.


Some of the Knotthink family’s most distinctive work is evidenced in bathrooms:


Kitchens are common project’s as well:

 But the most dramatic work of all of comes from architect Ivana Knotthink’s portfolio:


Here’s one of Ivana’s projects as seen from Google Earth:






Although the Knotthink family has traced their ancestry back over 500 years it still remains only speculation that this famous building was constructed by a Knotthink ancestor:

At Main Line Kitchen Design we make sure your kitchen project has all the planning required to make it a success.  Have a wonderful summer …… and of course as Julia said…..  ”Bon Appetit!”

Paul, Ray, Tom and Julie

Main Line Kitchen Design



Why are most kitchens so terribly designed?  And why do architects, interior designers, contractors, and even some kitchen designers place so little value on good and even safe kitchen design?  One of the reasons may be that we are bombarded with bad kitchen designs from almost every TV show and movie we watch.  Seeing these problem designs thousands of times  may legitimize bad kitchen design and make it seem more acceptable.

Below are some of the most famous TV kitchens and why they are poor designs.  And what’s wrong with the I love Lucy Lucy kitchen seen above?  There is a window over the range with curtains, a fire hazard, and no countertop on either side of the range which is also dangerous.









The Brady Bunch home needs to have at least 9 inches of countertop in back of the cooktop to be considered safe.  Shame on Mike Brady he was an architect!








The Huxtables on The Cosby Show have the same problem and no countertop on the side of the cooktop. With the cooktop burners right next to the phone and the refrigerator it is a good thing Cliff Huxtable was a doctor.










Both Paul and Jamie on Mad About You, and Francis and Claire Underwood on House of Cards have ranges without countertops on either side making them unsafe.  The Secret Service is overlooking one possible danger to their charge.











The Partridge Family has no countertop on the right side of their cooktop.  Again the wall phone is right next to the flames.  If the Partridges catch on fire they won’t be able to “get happy” as their theme song implores.











Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother have the same problems mentioned above.  And Friends which followed Seinfeld on TV Thursday nights had Monica and Rachel with no hood and wood only a few inches over their powerful professional range.




The low hanging cabinets left of the refrigerator in Dexter’s kitchen below are dangerous to anyone over 6 feet 4 inches.  But should we really be surprised that a mass murderer has a dangerous kitchen?



I guess  all these TV characters should just be happy they didn’t have the ugliest TV kitchen of all time.

That would be poor Alice Kramden’s kitchen on The Honeymooners.

Does your favorite TV show’s kitchen have any of the problems we saw above?   Chances are better than not that it does.


Hoping your real life kitchen is safe.  And as Julia said…..

Bon Appetit!


Main Line Kitchen Design is thrilled to be profiled in the May issue of Kitchen and Bath Design News, the most widely read national publication on Kitchen Design.  The article written by Kim Berndtson and photo spread elaborate on Main Line Kitchen Design’s unique business model and the challenges of running a successful dealership without a showroom. Here is the link to the complete publication.  The article featured in the Industry Profile section starts on page 28.

 Kitchen and Bath Design News / May 2014


The KBIS  Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas was back to its former strength, this year. The recovering economy, the Las Vegas setting and combining the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show with the Builders Industry Show all helped make the show a sellout.

The highlights for me were the gadgets. Hardware and cabinet interior convenience companies like Hafele, Revashelf, Blum, and Richelieu displayed some brand new and many improved versions of past conveniences. Lift doors, fold up doors, pull down shelves from upper wall cabinets are now better made and motorized. Pantry pull outs, sliding tall pantry doors, and pull out and slide pantry doors are also improved and touch activated as well as motorized. Island countertops that  slide out to create island seating and to expose primary and secondary sinks are now also available. It was also exciting to see tables and benches that pull out of cabinet fronts creating an eat in kitchen for tiny apartments. Dozens of under cabinet lighting systems, under cabinet power strips, and pop ups provide more options then ever.

Pop up TV and pop up electric below:



My Three Favorites

There is now an electronic device that can be built into an acrylic countertop for charging your cell phone simply by leaving it on the countertop over the device.  Another option available is an outlet and phone charger that builds into the back of a drawer.

I am also excited about a built in coffee system that fits into a wall or the front or side of a cabinet. It hooks up to your water supply, has an attractive stainless steel insulated pot and uses a very small amount of space. The best part is it retails for $399.


Kitchens are more exciting then ever.  Imagine Julia Child having these options in her television kitchen.

And so as Julia said … Bon Appetit!

Main Line Kitchen Design won two awards in February.  Senior Designer Ray Gardner and A.J. Ahrens owner of Amberwood Builders won the Bucks and Montgomery County National Association of Remodelers CotY Award for the best kitchen between $40,000 and $80,000.  Ray and A.J. often work together and always achieve great results. The kitchen was beautifully photographed by Bob Graham Jr. Photography and appeared in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article on kitchen design. The CotY Award winning kitchen is shown above.

Link to Philadelphia Inquirer article by Samantha Melamed:

Below A.J Ahrens, Paul McAlary, and Ray Gardner with A.J. and Ray’s award:

(Photo courtesy of Bob Graham Jr. Photography)

Main Line Kitchen Design also won the Best of Houzz 2014 award for customer satisfaction.  This is the second year in a row we have received this honor.  Comments such as ”Main Line Kitchen Design has an extraordinary gift for designing kitchen layouts” helped us win.   And what truly makes our profession so rewarding are comments like  ”The end result is a space that blows us away every single morning.”

Hope you have power, a warm home, and of course…….

Bon Appetit!





Determining who is the best kitchen designer in Philadelphia is difficult.  This story about several kitchen designers shows why.

One Saturday, we were having an open house at a showroom I used to work at. The 5,000 sq foot display area was packed with visitors as well as the 10 designers that worked for the company. Some of the designers mingled and answered questions, and about 5 of us had congregated in the middle of the showroom talking amongst ourselves while casually looking around to see if anyone appeared to need assistance.

Apparently we weren’t that observant because I suddenly realized that there was a customer in our little circle quietly listening. I looked down and said “I’m sorry we didn’t notice you Miss, can one of us help you with something?”

The customer thought for a moment and said “I don’t know if one of you would be able to help. Is it OK if we really don’t know the design we want in our kitchen? Even what style cabinetry we want yet?” All five designers immediately started to laugh, and the woman looked a little taken aback at our laughter.

I smiled and apologized telling her, “Miss, we aren’t laughing at you.  We are laughing because YOU are the favorite type of customer for ANY kitchen designer, and ALL of us would love working with someone who is so open to our ideas.  But, we may have a problem figuring out which of us gets to work with you.”

“Well,” she said “I don’t want to start a fight and you did notice me first so why don’t you help me. I do hope you’re one of the best designers.” Again all the designers started to laugh. “Well,” she asked ”NOW what’s everyone laughing at?”

I put out my hand and said “My name is Paul, and I believe we’re all laughing because we know that ALL of us believe he or she is the best kitchen designer.”  With that everyone started laughing and we found out our new customer’s name was Colleen.

Happy Thanksgiving,

and of course………  Bon Appetit!



The daily5REMODEL recently ran an article on a presentation given by Main Line Kitchen Design President Paul McAlary.  The speech, given at the spectacular Fretz Wolf and Subzero showroom in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and the article are sure to prove controversial.  The title of the presentation: Murder by Kitchen Design!  The talk was meant to be humorous, but not the topic.   Here is an excerpt from the article written by Leah Thayer:

It’s a wonder Paul McAlary can sleep at night, so troubled is he by the high-end “designer kitchens” he sees every day in the media. It’s not necessarily the builder grade cabinets and sloppy grouting and cheesy light fixtures — e.g., the usual fodder of design criticism — that get to him. Nor is it the DIY budgets and airbrushed timelines so often claimed for TV remodels.  Instead, it’s some of the kitchens that are designed by award-winning architects, certified kitchen designers and even, as he learned at a NARI chapter event last week, fellow NARI remodelers. Too often, they incorporate dangerous code violations and other hazards that “inspectors don’t know anything about,” said the owner of Main Line Kitchen Design, a design firm in the Philadelphia suburb of Narberth. “It’s just not on their radar.” Apparently it’s not on a great many designers’ radars, either. “Show me almost any kitchen, and I can usually rattle off 10 blatant errors before I even take a close look at the floor plan,” McAlary  said. For a mid-century retro example, take Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s kitchen, shown below. See if anything strikes you as wrong.


The problem?  The range under the window.  In most jurisdictions, it’s a code violation to place a range less than 12 inches from a window, for a number of reasons. “A fire on the stove can jump to the curtains,” McAlary said. “Or a breeze from an open window can blow out the flame on a gas burner and allow gas to accumulate, potentially causing an explosion.”

Leah Thayer’s article went on to describe many of the other dangers covered in the presentation.

Below are two other beloved TV family’s kitchens.  Can you find the issue that makes them both dangerous?


Hoping you don’t have any of these issues.  And of course……

Bon Appetit!


When most kitchen designers talk about custom cabinets, they are referring to cabinetry made in large production facilities with the ability to custom make individual cabinetry pieces and to modify cabinetry as desired.  These large custom cabinetry plants are fine furniture manufacturers able to mass produce durable consistent finishes on all their kitchen, bath, office, and furniture pieces.  Most custom cabinet companies that make framed cabinetry (the more durable way to manufacture cabinets) specialize in inset, beaded inset and lip cabinet doors. These are door styles where the cabinetry specifications need to be the most precise.


Often people shopping for a new kitchen don’t understand that a small cabinet shop or an Amish furniture maker is not what  kitchen designers are referring to, or what customers are seeing when they go to a kitchen and bath showroom and see a “custom” cabinet.  Small and what most kitchen designers refer to as ”homemade” cabinet makers have a wide range of skills and abilities.  However, most of their cabinetry doesn’t compare with a higher end, larger manufacturer’s.

Homemade cabinetry makers aren’t large enough to afford the ovens needed to bake and dry cabinetry and finishes.  Their equipment and the shop conditions can’t produce consistent quality cabinetry and finishes.  Their warrantee is also less valuable because they are individuals who can die, get sick, or change professions.  Cabinetry warrantied at a traditional showroom or at Main Line Kitchen Design is warrantied by both the selling company and the large cabinetry manufacturer.

The construction specifications at small shops can be the same as those at larger cabinet companies.  In fact the hinges, drawer tracks and all the cabinetry hardware will most likely be identical in all these lines.  But, because of the differences in available equipment, the finishes on the cabinetry from smaller cabinetry shops usually doesn’t approach the quality level of even the lower level semi-custom cabinet lines.


This difference in finish quality is the main reason why kitchen and bath showrooms don’t sell this type of cabinetry.  Kitchen designers can see the difference instantly and, were the cabinets side by side in a showroom, consumers would be able to as well.

Occasionally we get a customer that takes our designs and brings them to a small cabinet maker or friend to copy what we designed in a high-end semi-custom line or custom line for around the same price.   In their desire to get themselves “a deal”, they end up paying the same money for an inferior product, without a reliable guarantee and from a home furniture maker far less knowledgeable about kitchen cabinetry and design.  These customers often become our best referrals when problems eventually arise.

Wishing everyone a great fall and of course as Julia said……….

Bon Appetit!



All photos for this article are of Jim Bishop Danbury Cabinetry.  Kitchen designed by Ray Gardner - Senior Designer  Main Line Kitchen Design.  Installed by A.J. Ahrens of Amberwood Builders.   Photographed by Bob Graham Jr. – Copyright  Bob Graham Jr. Photography.


This forth of July week had fireworks in the sky and some on the web as well when many kitchen designers disagreed vehemently with each other on a LinkedIn debate.   The question that got everyone up in arms?

Would you allow or have you EVER allowed a customer to make a HUGE mistake?

As a kitchen professional  I found it disheartening that not all designers could even agree that selling a dangerous kitchen was unethical.  One designer stated:

“if someone comes in ONLY to buy cabinets.  I don’t interrogate them, I sell them exactly what they asked for.  If they kill themselves with them, that’s their problem.”

What I found the most distressing of all was that some CKD’s and even a MCKD (Master Certified Kitchen Designer) felt that cabinets not fitting or placed at mistaken heights was  not their responsibility. One said: “Bad design pays the same commission as good design.  If a client is hell-bent on buying a bad design, they might as well buy it from you, as long as the bad design does not include safety concerns.”

One designer told a near tragic story that ended as follows:

“Within six months, the whole house was lost due to a fire that began on the top of the indoor gas grill. The occupants were not home and there were no injuries. This story may be an extreme example of what can happen when advice is ignored but it may explain the differences between somebody that will or will not order a kitchen with out weighing the possible consequences.”

Dangerous kitchen breaking building code.

As a kitchen designer, it is our job to help our customers create a kitchen that they will enjoy for many years.  That job includes gaining an understanding of what they like and how much they have to spend in order to help them get the best kitchen available within their budget.

I strongly believe that our job also includes protecting potential customers sometimes even from themselves.  Certainly if a design is dangerous Main Line Kitchen Design will not sell that design.   We also will not sell a kitchen with known design errors, such as cabinets not fitting.

I believe all professionals should be held to the same ethical code they use in medicine: “first do no harm.” And I want my doctor, my lawyer, my accountant, and my auto mechanic all to care more about protecting me then they care about making a buck. 

It was after I posted this comment in the design forum that the sparks started flying and Fourth of July was off to a bang in the small world of kitchens.

Hoping your kitchen designer has your best interests and safety at heart!   And of course as Julia said……

Bon Appetite,


Below is a list of the 10 worst ways to go about designing your new kitchen.  The list was compiled from a LinkedIn dialog among professional kitchen designers.  Thanks to all the kitchen designers that contributed their expertise and years of experience to come up with these top answers.  Some of the anecdotes they told were hilarious, but that’s another blog all together.  Hope you gain some insight from our list…and of course …….Bon Appetit!   -Paul

1) Design your kitchen yourself and then price out that unprofessional design many places.

2) Pay an architect to design your kitchen.

3) Purchase the appliances you are getting first and design around them.

4) Keep your existing floor plan exactly as it is now.

5) Hire the cheapest contractor.

6) Get your permits then layout the cabinets.

7) Don’t use fillers or flat stock  in your design to allow for ceiling and walls being out of square or out of level.

8) Make plans dependent on your kitchen being completed in an unrealistic time frame.

9) Rely on kitchen cabinetry information from Consumer Reports.

10) Design and buy your kitchen from IKEA

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