Construction changes are by far the best investments when you are renovating a kitchen. Surprisingly, these investments are usually considered last by home owners who chose instead cabinet, appliance, and countertop upgrades. While those upgrades can be nice and add some value to a kitchen renovation project they pale in comparison to the investment rewards that removing a wall. moving a doorway or enlarging or moving a window can add to a homes net worth.
Homeowners can focus on color selections such as getting a custom Dove White painted finish over an Egg Shell finish. Or choosing a Navy Blue finish over a more common Gray. These type of color upgrades often cost several thousand dollars. Selecting professional appliances such as a Sub Zero refrigerator and a Wolf cooktop or range would cost at least 8 thousand dollars more than selecting a GE profile slide-in range and counter depth refrigerator.
The eight thousand dollars difference could pay for ALL the following construction changes: Removing a load bearing wall, moving gas and plumbing lines, enlarging and lowering a window, and adding patio doors. Any one of those changes, and certainly all of them, would transform a home. While the appliance upgrades would be nice the construction changes could make a home tens of thousands of dollars more valuable than others in that neighborhood.
Unfortunately homeowners, real estate agents and contractors have a hard time envisioning design changes and often fight changes believing that they are not needed and are too troublesome and expensive. And when you can’t envision a kitchen transformed by radical design improvements you focus on what you can envision. Colors and material upgrades.
This is why Main Line Kitchen Design INSISTS on showing our customers design changes first. Even when customers fight us, insisting it isn’t what they want. We know that almost 75% of our customers choose very different kitchen designs than they originally planned. So we simply start with the design improvements that the kitchen designer recommends and then change the design into what the customer wants after they have considered ALL of their options.
We don’t make money on design changes and in fact eliminating color, countertop, or cabinet style upgrades COSTS us money. But giving customers a better kitchen for their investment makes everyone happier and helps us earn 5 star reviews and referrals.
Listed below are selected quotes from three Masters who influenced, in their own way, the art of kitchen design.
Julia Child Chef, TV personality and the first woman graduate of Le Cordon Blue
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
“The only time to eat diet food is when you’re waiting for a steak to cook.”
“I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” Also said by WC Fields
“I was 32 when I started cooking. Up until then, I just ate.”
“A party without cake is just a meeting”
“You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.'”
“How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?”
“It is hard to imagine a civilization without onions.”
Pablo Picasso Artist
Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.
Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.
It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
Everything you can imagine is real.
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
Leonardo Da Vinci Artist, Inventor, Engineer.
God sells us all things at the price of labor.
Not to punish evil is equivalent to authorizing it.
One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Kitchen design is a profession I love. Picasso best expressed the most fundamental rule that applies to kitchen design when he said:
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break themlikean artist.”
Every accomplished kitchen designer knows that this truth is vital in designing kitchens. Kitchen designers need to learn the rules of our profession and work as designers full time a number of years before we can become even competent at our job.
Most professionals would feel it was arrogant for a non professional to believe they could do THEIR job without training. Yet many people firmly believe that they can design their own kitchen and manage their kitchen renovation without the help of an experienced professional. Often architects, engineers, real estate agents, and contractors believe their limited exposure to kitchen design is sufficient to create a well designed kitchen. Experienced kitchen designers will tell you that the designs we get from these related professions are the worst ones that we see. Because, as the saying goes, “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
I once received a phone call from an attorney who wanted me to price out his design and use his measurements for ordering his kitchen. He told me that he didn’t need a kitchen designer and was fully capable of designing his own kitchen “as it wasn’t rocket science”. I asked him if he had ever heard the joke about a Lawyer who represents himself in court having a fool for an client. He said of course! Well I said, “A lawyer that designs his own kitchen has THAT same fool for a kitchen designer”. He screamed that HE had never been so insulted in all of his life. “Welcome to my world” I replied.
Our designers look forward to helping customers design a great kitchen and not simply selling customers the kitchen they want before getting the professional help that can open their eyes to what’s possible.
We love what we do, which is visible in the kitchens that we create together.
Fireclay farmhouse sinks and wall mounted pot filler faucets placed over the cooktop are popular higher end kitchen fixtures. They both also come with risks usually never considered by the homeowners and designers that select them.
While there is some risk of damage often associated with many popular kitchen conveniences repairing the damage is usually simple. For example, water damage on painted cabinetry is quite common.
These three kitchen fixtures can cause water damage to cabinetry:
Tilt out trays on the sink base drawer. Homeowners place wet spongers in these tilt outs and over time the drawer front gets wet and the paint peels.
Trash Can Pull Outs.Water get dripped as people throw wet items and recyclables away. Overtime the pull out’s front door can be ruined.
Farmhouse sinks.Water drips down the front of the sink and falls on the cabinet doors below. Over time the paint on the tops of the doors will peel.
The good new is that all the damage from these issues is easily repaired for a few hundred dollars. Furniture re-finishers can repair paint damage or the cabinet doors and drawer fronts can be replaced.
By comparison, these two calamities caused by Pot Filler Faucets and Fireclay farmhouse sinks can cost many thousands of dollars.
Imagine the woman above innocently filling her pot when her cell phone rings. She runs to get her phone, says hello, and is greeted by an agitated family member. While trying talk calm her caller, the doorbell chimes and she looks through the window to see a UPS driver needing a signature for the delivery that she has been waiting for. After handling the delivery and calming her family member she returns to her kitchen just 10 minutes later.
The average pot filler will have spilled 40 gallons of water onto the cooktop and floor during those ten minutes. Many types of floors will be ruined by that much water and a finished basement below with carpeting and a pool table could easily add up to ten thousand dollars in damage.
Main Line Kitchen Design recently had a customer assure us that this would never happen to her. Because this was why she was redoing her kitchen now! The potfiller catastrophe had already happened a few months before causing $20,000 in water damage. She assured me that no one in her family would ever make that mistake again. AND SHE LOVED HER POT FILLER and wasn’t having a kitchen without one.
Now imagine a homeowner deciding to replace a light fixture or add new window blinds over their fireclay farmhouse sink. While working on their small home improvement project the screw gun or screw driver slips out of their hands. Tools tend to fall point down so the falling tool could puncture or crack a fragile clay farmhouse sink.
The fragility of fireclay farmhouse sinks is also why heavy cast iron pots and pans should never be cleaned in a fireclay sink. Even utensils caught in garbage disposals have been known to make the disposal shake enough to crack a fireclay sink. For this reason Main Line Kitchen Design recommends using cast iron farmhouse sinks and not fireclay. Cast iron sinks can chip but can be easily repaired.
If a fireclay farmhouse sink breaks it is a huge problem. Fireclay sinks are custom cut into the sink cabinet with a solid wood or steel cradle supporting the sink underneath. All the supports as well as all the plumbing below must be taken out to replace the sink because it sits under hundreds of pounds of immovable countertop. And fireclay sinks are never perfectly shaped so the new sink will never fit like the old one. If you can find a contractor willing to preform this complex repair expect his bill to be many times the cost of the expensive new sink.
Some of Main Line Kitchen Design’s customers still choose potfillers, fireclay farmhouse sinks, and occasionally both. There is no denying that these fixtures can be beautiful and you can see many kitchens with these features on our Houzz page. Link Here.
Part of a kitchen designer’s job is help customers become informed about what they should consider and be careful of. Homeowners should expect their kitchen designer to give them all the information they need, to make the decisions that are right for them.
As this very difficult summer comes to an end we want to wish all our customers and the thousand people a day that read our blogs good health. Please stay safe and of course . . .
Mark Smith, Industry and Technology teacher from Reed Custer High School shows a novel way to make a better kitchen cabinet. If more kitchen cabinet companies employed people like Mark our industry would be far better off.
In his video Mark acknowledges the superiority of framed versus frameless cabinetry but goes one step further making a truly superior framed cabinet. Notice his design is pocket screwing and gluing the plywood sides of his cabinet into his rabbited face frame. Plus he is using superior frameless hinges on framed cabinetry with his novel back plate for even more stability and strength.
How can so many incredibly expensive cabinet brands with fine furniture finishes and exotic woods types not be using these types of relatively inexpensive and innovative upgrades?
Here are two other blogs that explain the difference between framed and frameless cabinetry and cabinet construction.
In the drive to complete a kitchen renovation before moving into a new home, new home buyers usually end up wasting money, making mistakes, and creating delays. These rushed renovations often finish later than the projects better organized and begun after homeowners move in.
Most kitchens can be renovated in about 6 weeks from start to finish once designs are finalized and a renovation is organized well with everything ordered and coordinated in advance. Homeowners are far happier with the final kitchen if they don’t shortchange themselves in the amount of time it takes to make sensible selections and design considerations.
It makes sense to start working on a design as soon as possible but don’t attempt rushing. All professional kitchen designers know that the jobs that finish first are never the ones that started first rushing, they are the ones that were organized the best.
When people tell me horror stories about kitchens that took a year or more to complete I know everyone involved was responsible for making poor decisions. The contractor for encouraging the homeowner to rush instead of giving them sensible advice, The kitchen designer for undertaking such a poorly planned project. And the homeowner for changing their minds a dozen or more times because they didn’t make wise choices shooting from the hip.
If you are a new home owner and would like to begin working on your kitchen renovation project now we would love to help you. Most existing kitchens are OK to live with temporarily, and if you move in first and begin the project when it makes sense to start you will actually avoid undo stress. You will also save time and money, and get a kitchen that you know you love before the work begins and marvel at every day after it’s done.
Congratulations on your new home
Paul, Julie, Ed, Chris, Lauren, John, Tom and Stacia.
Kitchen renovations are complex. This is why it can take a professional kitchen designer a decade of working full time to become good at their job. Below is our test to determine your kitchen design and renovation IQ.
Answer the following ten True or False questions. Get 9 or 10 correct and you are a kitchen genius and Albert would be proud of you!
Kitchens need to be gutted and any walls removed before measurements can be taken to order cabinetry. True or False?
Granite and engineered quartz countertops are OK to put a hot pot on. True or False?
If your ceiling is 8 feet high then the largest wall cabinets you can use are 42″ high. True or False?
Your contractor should supply the measurements to the kitchen designer and cabinet dealer. True or False?
Painted cabinets are more easily damaged by water and chipping. This is why it is important to get more expensive cabinetry when you want a painted finish. True or False?
It is important to find cabinets that are Carb 2 compliant and meet off gassing standards. True or False?
For less expensive cabinets, getting cabinets made in the United States is a valuable upgrade. True or False?
Solid wood doors on a slab style stained wood door is important in order to get the nicest looking doors. True or False?
Stopping by a showroom to see what they have is a good place to start before considering a kitchen renovation. True or False?
Researching to find a kitchen designer that can make your dream a reality is always worth the effort. True or False?
Find out your score and your kitchen design and renovation IQ at link below:
Appliance makers have a long history of of disregarding safety concerns in order to give customers what they want.
It usually takes a decade of calamities before building code is changed to force appliance makers to address the safety issues that they already know about but simply prefer to ignore.
For example, professional cooktops and ranges were sold to homeowners for residential use with high powered hoods for about ten years before building code was changed to require a replacement air system for all hoods over 400 CFM’s. Up until the building code was changed in 2011, untold thousands of homeowners and their families were exposed to carbon monoxide pulled back into their homes from their chimney exhaust by the powerful blowers appliance makers knowingly sold to residential customers. See #7 in this blog from 2015
Another danger that continues to this day and causes the death of a couple of children each year is ranges installed without an anti tipping lock. Small children open range doors and stand on the door tipping the appliance on top of them. Although securing all ranges is code it is often overlooked even in appliance showrooms.
The newest danger that is growing in popularity and encouraged by appliance dealers is installing ovens flush mounted with the oven doors even with the face of cabinetry. This gives a custom and seamless look particularly with inset cabinetry, but exactly how dangerous this is hasn’t been determined. Most cabinet makers void their warranties when ovens are installed this way and appliance manufacturers make no claim as to safety when their ovens are installed with the door of the oven flush with the face of a cabinet and the seal between the door and the oven box set behind the face frame of the wooden cabinet. However appliance centers frequently showcase this look encouraging customers to ask for their ovens to be installed in this manner.
It does not take much imagination to foresee the risk of a fire on a flush mounted oven should the seal on the oven door fail when the oven is on. Particularly when the oven temperature is high when broiling or set to the self cleaning cycle. Ovens are designed to mount with the rim around the oven covering the cabinet front and sealing the oven box from the interior of the cabinet such as shown in the photo below.
Cabinet doors and drawer fronts are recommended being over an inch away from the oven for safety. So how can appliance dealers show appliances with the oven seal pressed against the side of the cabinet and the oven box actually behind the face of the framed wooden cabinet? The answer is that unless someone makes a law and changes building code appliance dealers and manufacturers rarely address safety!
Showing this flush mount installation of ovens is irresponsible. Appliance makers surely know this but once again they have put profits above safety.
Hoping your appliance salesperson, kitchen designer and installer protect you from this particularly bad idea.
During these difficult times we wish you a safe and heartfelt . . .
Below is our assessment of the kitchen design and cabinet industry during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Presently there are several important considerations for customers to make when designing their kitchen and purchasing cabinetry from a cabinet dealer:
Allow for extended lead times and delays when purchasing cabinetry. Ask you designer what the present lead times are for the line you plan on purchasing but allow for added time for Covid related delays.
Take extra caution regarding the financial stability of the cabinet line and dealer you are purchasing from. Several cabinet lines have recently gone out of business and more will fall to the financial pressures of Covid. Cabinet dealers will not be far behind. Never pay more than 50% down for cabinets (except at Lowes and Home Depot where 100% advance payment is required. These home centers are safe financially IMO) Paying by credit card also gives you some added security.
While extensive planning is always recommended when renovating a kitchen or building a new home, it is now especially important. NEVER rip out an existing kitchen or begin construction without finalized kitchen design plans and a cabinet brand selected. Since cabinet lead times are in flux you can not know how long the kitchen design and cabinet delivery process will take until you have finalized your selections. Your contractor may need to move on from your project if the materials are not available. Getting the project started again later could add lengthy unneeded delays. Planning ahead of time will make things less expensive and the job run smoothly. The projects that finish first are NEVER the ones that rushed to start, they are the ones that are the best organized.
Special or unusual cabinet colors or cabinet color matching is taking an unusually long time during Covid. Be prepared for this if you are very particular about color choices.
Shipping has become an added issue for many cabinet dealers. Main Line Kitchen Design still offer’s in-home delivery for most of our cabinet brands but many dealers now only offer curbside delivery. Unloading cabinetry can require several strong people and equipment.
Below are the present lead times for the six most popular brands Main Line Kitchen Design is proud to carry:
All good kitchen designers have one quality in common. Patience.
It takes a very patient person to gently convince homeowners that they need design and selection assistance, because the majority of them believe that they don’t need it.
Customers with a little bit of knowledge can be frustrating. For example, having a customer tell you that since this is their THIRD kitchen renovation that they don’t need your help can make you want to pull out your hair. Kitchen designers know that it takes years for us to get good at our job. A full time kitchen designer could sell and help supervise 50 kitchens a year. And each one is completely different requiring it’s own unique problem solving skills and construction and budgetary considerations. We simply couldn’t be competent at our jobs if the designs and budgetary trade offs we recommended as experienced professionals weren’t superior to what a novice might propose.
Below are a couple of funny examples of kitchen designers and our battle with patience:
Doug Mottershead is a well known Kitchen Design Professional featured in some of our YouTube videos. Patience should be Doug’s middle name. 20 years ago, when Doug and I worked together showroom walk-in customers would often have the following experience:
“Hello, how can I help you?” I would greet them.
The customer would tell me that they had all their measurements and wanted to sit down that moment and have me do a design.
“I’m sorry” I would explain, “but I work by appointment and to make sure that the design work I do is professional I need to come out to your home, see the space, and measure it. Can I make an appointment for you or answer questions?”
At this point the customer would be both annoyed and frustrated and seeing Doug at his desk, quickly by-pass me and ask Doug the same question?
Doug’s response was always the same if he didn’t have a customer presently in front of him. “Oh I would love to help, please sit down! what’s your name?”
“I see from the measurements of the two kitchen walls drawn here that one wall is 10 feet and the other is 12 feet. I need to enter the measurements into my computer in inches so should I put in 120 and 144 inches?” might be Doug’s first measurement question. “Yes” the customer would reply confidently.
“You don’t have a window on either of these walls, is there one we should put in?” might be Doug’s next question.
“Oh, there IS a window in the middle of the ten foot wall”.
“How big do you think it is?” Doug would innocently ask.
With hands stretched about three feet apart the customer would reply uncertainly “About this big”
“That looks about 36 inches” Doug would enthusiastically reply. “Is that including the window trim? and should I put it right in the middle of the wall?” Doug might sheepishly ask next as uncertainly quickly grew on the customers face.
At some point during this interaction the customer would finally ask the magic question “Could you come out and measure?”
“Mrs Jones I would love to visit your home and measure?” Doug would reply, then Doug’s appointment book would come out and the first two appointments would be scheduled.
Flashing forward to about three months later I might see Doug and Mrs Jones finalizing her cabinet order. “Mrs Jones YOU have designed a beautiful kitchen!” Doug would exclaim. At this point I would lean over to see Mrs Jones’s design on Doug’s computer screen. And of course I’d see another signature Doug Mottershead kitchen design and simply smile approvingly.
Doug’s amazing patience has propelled him to record setting sales at every company he has worked for.
Another person that appears in one of our YouTube videos is Mark “The Pickleman” Mitten. Mark plays “The Engineer” in our video below. As a former stand up comic Mark is very funny and as a good friend of mine he has heard stories about kitchen designers having their patience tried. About 15 years ago Mark used his sense of humor and the information from my stories to torture Ed Sossich a kitchen designer friend of mine that Mark had heard me talk about. Ed is now Main Line Kitchen Design’s Operation Manager.
Fifteen years ago Ed was working as a kitchen designer in a Lowes store when Mark approached him posing as a potential client.
Mark greeted Ed sitting at his desk with the following:
“Hello, since it looks like you aren’t doing anything, I’d like to get you to put my kitchen design on your computer. I have all the measurements in my head and because I have designed a kitchen before and I’m a Real Estate Professional I don’t need any design help from a designer. When you finish putting my design on your computer I would also like to speak to whoever’s in charge to get discount.”
Mark watched Ed’s expression slowly change and the color in his face turn red as he finished his prepared speech. He waited patiently for Ed to absorb everything and just before Ed could respond Mark blurted out. “Sorry man, I’m a friend of Paul McAlary’s and I could’t resist busting your stones. I know you’re a friend of his too.”
Mark’s joke is actually not uncommon. Kitchen designers will sometimes leave voice messages for other designers that they haven’t spoken to recently starting out in a disguised voice and leaving a frustrating message before revealing who they are. As designers we get patience testing calls and voicemails frequently so it never ceases to be funny trying another designers patience. Much like getting a guard at Buckingham palace to smile.
Below is Main Like Kitchen Design’s variation of this inside joke: