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The answer without question is deciding on the designer and the cabinet dealer you are going to work with.

More than 3,000 people per week visit the Main Line Kitchen Design website doing research on kitchens. Everyday someone asks us our opinion about a particular cabinet line they are considering or how durable a finish is. Yet rarely do people ask us design questions or if the companies and designers they are working with are respected in our industry.

Unfortunately focusing on cabinet brands and finishes is where consumers often begin when considering a new kitchen. Even though the difference between a design done by a creative experienced kitchen designer and anyone else is the difference between a great kitchen and, at the very best, a passable one. We see this when we are asked to review designs because nearly all are full of serious flaws.

Because they mistakenly believe that their design cannot be improved due to cost or space constraints, customers focus on cabinet line, colors, and appliances. The most impactful choices they think they have to make. In reality those are just the finishing touches. The best kitchens for any budget, and the ones our customers choose, are rarely the initial designs that they thought they wanted.

Selecting a reputable cabinet dealer that will stand behind the cabinet lines they sell and most importantly put the best interest of their customers first is also very important. Because selling customers what they initially ask for is the easy path for a kitchen designer. Showing clients how to get better designs and cabinetry often for less money means taking a step back and showing them what they didn’t ask for.

The internet makes finding good kitchen designers and cabinet dealers easy. The best companies and designers will have the best reviews. Reading those reviews will give you insight into the company, it’s designers, and their design process. So spend your time choosing the company and designer you want to work with first. And together you and your designer can discuss all your choices. The ones you have already considered and the essential ones you have not.

Looking forward to hearing about when your designer surprises you with a better kitchen…

and as always…

Bon Appetit!

Paul

Viking Range, LLC, the leader in residential kitchen technology, has named Paul McAlary as the March Designer of Distinction.  Paul McAlary, president and designer for Main Line Kitchen Design based in Bala Cynwyd, PA is the third monthly winner in the 2017 Viking Kitchen Design Competition. Designers from around the United States are vying for the coveted honor to become the 2017 Viking Designer of the Year.

Viking Award Winning Kitchen

This residential kitchen and bar project was recently completed in Sellersville, Pennsylvania.

Paul describes the project below:

Like many of our designs this project moved the existing kitchen into the former the dining room. It also combined both the kitchen and dining room to create a larger dramatic and less formal space that can be enjoyed on a daily basis instead of on occasional holidays.

At the center of this beautiful and functional kitchen is a Viking professional 48 inch refrigerator and a 48 inch Viking gas range.   The spacious Bishop custom color matched grey and brilliant white Danbury kitchen leads into a distinctive home bar and game room.   Looking out the kitchen window of this elegant home is a view of the pool, gazebo, and a custom tree house.

Along with the distinction, Viking awards the winning monthly designers with $1600 in Viking cookware. And the 2017 Viking Designer of the Year chosen from the monthly winners receives a Viking range valued at over $10,000.

Julie Meyer, Paul’s wife and an integral part of Main Line Kitchen Design has plans for the Viking Cookware. But having seen some of the other winning designs from around the US, winning the Viking Range will be a challenge. Ossy Kim a Las Vegas kitchen designer and the February Designer of Distinction has a particularly striking kitchen.

Below is a link to past winner’s kitchen:

http://www.vikingrange.com/consumer/category/design/viking-kitchen-design-competition

 

 

 

Part of being a good kitchen designer is attempting to nudge customers towards better designs and better investments in their kitchen. Otherwise upon the completion of a kitchen renovation home owners could find themselves regretting some of their decisions. Below is a short conversion on this topic between Doug Mottershead CKD of McHale’s Kitchen and Bath and Paul of Main Line Kitchen Design. Both Doug and Paul are minor celebrities in the kitchen design world.

Before joining McHale’s 15 years ago Doug was the highest selling and highest paid kitchen designer in the entire Lowes Home Improvement chain as well as the first kitchen designer at The Home Depot to break the million dollar mark in sales. Doug’s creativity, knowledge, and his astounding amount of patience are what helped place him above all 10,000 other home center kitchen designers.

In print, speeches and online Paul’s advocacy for good design and most importantly safe design has produced strong reactions within the kitchen design community. His holding kitchen designers, trade magazines, and the National Kitchen and Bath Association to ethical standards generates mixed emotions from many professionals. Consequently, Paul’s presentation entitled Murder by Kitchen Design can illicit as many laughs as sour faces when he speaks to kitchen designers and general contractors.

Hoping you have no regrets when you renovate your kitchen . . .

and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!

Main Line Kitchen Design

Main Line Kitchen Design believes the best resource for unbiased information on appliances comes from Yale Appliances located in New England. The Yale web site supplies PDF tutorials on a vast range of appliance topics and has insightful blogs that honestly appraise new trends in the appliance market. We trust Yale’s evaluations above less reliable information from Consumer Reports and JD Power.

BlueStar-1.jpg

For actually purchasing appliances we advise using local suppliers as any problems or damages during shipping or delivery can be more easily addressed. Kieffer’s Appliances in Lansdale PA is the local appliance dealer we like the most. Main Line Kitchen Design customers working with Kristen at Kieffer’s will receive preferred pricing and she can help coordinate appliances with our designs. Below is her contact information:

Kristen Cossa Outside Sales Representative Kieffer’s Appliances

(215) 852-3910 cell

kristen@kieffers.com email

www.kieffers.com

If customers choose other appliance dealers that’s fine too. Main Line Kitchen Design will assist any appliance dealer in our area.

Here are the links to the website and the blog of Yale Appliances. They originally assembled their PDF’s for employee training purposes and now generously supply them to the world:

https://www.yaleappliance.com/       Main web site for Yale – pay special attention to their Learning Center

http://blog.yaleappliance.com/          Yale blog. What’s new and interesting in Appliances!

http://blog.yaleappliance.com/best-new-appliances-architecture-digest-design-show-2017

 

Hoping your appliances help create the kitchen of your dreams… and as always…

Bon Appetit!

Paul

Main Line Kitchen Design is proud to have two kitchens featured in The Ardmore Library Kitchen Tour. The general contractors on the projects were Jack Gardiner of Third Generation Contracting and Al Panaccio of AD Panaccio Inc. We have worked with both Al and Jack on many projects and they are always a pleasure to collaborate with.

We invite you to join the Ardmore Free Library as it hosts the 2017 “Recipe for Renovation” Kitchen Tour on Sunday, April 23. This library fundraiser presents seven kitchens on the lower Main Line recently renovated by some of the area’s talented kitchen designers, architects, and builders. The kitchens reflect innovative solutions to a host of spatial challenges and demonstrate the stylistic diversity to be found in current kitchen design. Whatever the style, each of the kitchens has eye-catching elements and its own individual character.

Here is a link to information about the tour:

http://www.ardmorekitchentour.org/information/

And here is a preview of each of our featured kitchens:

 

 

 

Hope to see you on the tour, and as always . . .

Bon Appetite!

Main Line Kitchen Design

Here are Main Line Kitchen Design’s rankings for the top selling kitchen cabinet companies in the United States. All the designers that gave us input on the cabinet lines below have greater than 20 years experience in our industry. When possible all construction specifics were double checked on the web sites for each cabinet line.

Main Line kitchen design acknowledges that we are dealers for the following cabinet lines: Wellsford, Bishop, Brighton, Fabuwood, 6 Square, and CNC.  We could be prejudiced towards ranking these lines more favorably, but we have tried to be impartial. However, since the cabinet lines we carry were chosen specifically for their construction quality and value, our ranking them well should not be a surprise. 

Below is our comprehensive list of the top selling cabinet manufacturers in the United States and how they rank for construction quality and  for value considering the price point of each cabinet line. Price point is rated from 1 to 6 with 6 being the most expensive cabinetry on the market.

We rate cabinetry assuming each line is upgraded to the top level of construction available. A grade of A for construction quality will not be equal across different price levels, as the more expensive price point cabinets will have far nicer finishes and construction options.

The value grade we give is not a rating about the quality of the cabinetry but a rating of how good an investment a cabinet line is considering it’s cost. For example, many of the most expensive well made cabinet lines receive lover marks on value even though as designers we think the cabinetry is the best in it’s class. These lines receive lower grades on value simply because there are competitors offering the same quality at slightly lower prices.

Note: The highest grade for Quality in any frameless European style cabinet line is a B. While frameless cabinetry is easier to access and is sleeker looking, it is also less durable than the best made framed cabinetry.

 

Cabinet line                   Price level 1-6     Quality     Value
6 Square 2 B+ B+
American Woodmark 3 B C+
Aristocraft 2 C C
Bertch 4 A A-
Bishop 4 A A-
Bishop Framelss 5 B B+
Bremtown 6 A+ C
Brighton 4 A A+
Brookhaven 4 A B
Cabico 4 B B
Candlelight 4 A A
Canyon Creek 3 B B
CNC 1 B+ A
Collier 5 A B-
Crystal 5 A+ A
Decora 4 A A
Design-Craft 4 B B
Diamond 4 B B
Durasupreme 5 B+ B
Durasupreme frameless 3 C C
Dynasty Frameless 4 B C
Dynasty Pinnacle 5 A B
Fabuwood 2 A A
Fabuwood Frameless 3 B A+
Fieldstone 4 B+ B+
Grabill 6 A+ B
Haas 3 B B
Hanssem 1 ? C
Homecrest 3 B+ B
IKEA (frameless) 1 C C
Innermost framelss 3 B B
Kabinart 3 D D
Kemper 3 B C
Kitchencraft Frameless 3 C B
Kith 2 C C
Kountry Kraft framed 6 A B
Kountry Kraft frameless 6 B B
Kraftmaid 4 A A
Legacy 3 B+ D
LifeArt 1 C+ A
Marsh 6 B B
Medallion 5 B C+
Merillat 2 C D
Mid Continent 2 C C
Mouser 5 A A-
Mouser Frameless 5 B A
Ovation 4 B C
Plain and Fancy 6 A B
Poggenpohl frameless 6 B C
QuakerMaid frameless 4 B B
Rutt 6 A+ A
Schrock 3 B B
Schuler 5 B C+
Shenandoah 3 B C+
Shiloh 3 C C
Showplace 3 B+ B-
Solid Wood Cabinets 1 A A
St. Martin 5 A+ A
Starmark 4 B+ B+
Thomasville* 4 B- C-
Timberlake 3 B C+
Ultracraft Frameless 2 C C
Village 5 A A
Waypoint 2 B B
Wellborn 4 A A
Wellsford 5 A+ A+
Wolf 1 B+ B
Wood Harbor 2 C C
Woodmode 5 A+ A
Yorktowne 3 C D

* Note: Home Depot changes who manufactures this line on a regular basis.

Remember that choosing the designer, the cabinet dealer, and the installer you are working with is just as important as the cabinet line.

Below is a more general review of cabinetry from 2015:

2015 Popular Kitchen Cabinetry Brand Comparison.

Hoping you make all the right choices . . . .

and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!

Main Line Kitchen Design

Paul, Ray, Ed, Tom, and Julie

 

 

 

Designing a kitchen well means creatively moving appliances, sinks, cabinetry and even room openings around to promote working in the kitchen while making the design as attractive as possible in the style that your customer prefers. Becoming good at this takes years of experience and an unusually good grasp of spacial relations. Obeying simple design rules like the “kitchen work triangle” between your sink, range, and refrigerator can help avoid the worst floor plans.  But beyond that the primary kitchen design rules are too simplistic to find the great kitchen that is hidden in any particular space.

One of the most important ways I evaluate how well a kitchen is designed is by analyzing how the countertop in the kitchen is likely to be used. Imagine if we were to create a drawing of the shape of your countertop. Next we shaded that drawing from white to red according to how often the countertop was used. If the countertop was used frequently it would be shaded red and if it was hardly ever used it would remain white. Using this technique a well designed kitchen would have pink countertops showing that all the countertop in the kitchen was being used. While a poorly designed kitchen would have a bright red spot between the sink and the range and all the rest of the countertop would be nearly white.

Lets look at two examples.

Example of poor countertop function

Example of poor countertop function. This is most definitely NOT a Main Line Kitchen Design kitchen.

Look carefully at the kitchen in the photo above. Think about how the countertop here will be used. Imagine you are cooking at the cooktop. The countertop both left and right of the cooktop is only 12″ wide and too narrow to stand in front of and cut and chop. In fact the countertop on the left of the cooktop will be covered by the refrigerator door every time it is opened. And when the refrigerator is open the person putting things away or taking them out also won’t be able to use the counter that the door to the refrigerator is covering! The only place to work at or place things conveniently on the countertop close the cook top and refrigerator is the countertop left of the sink. This means as shown in the photo that a drain board or drying area will have be to the right of the sink.  So people working at the sink will also want to use the countertop left of the sink. All the countertop on the peninsula in this kitchen is too far away from someone cooking to be convenient using, and the person at the sink will be forced to bypass the drain board every time they go to the peninsula. The peninsula may get used making sandwiches but it isn’t where you need the greatest amount of top in your kitchen. This kitchen is a perfect example of a poorly designed kitchen. Using the shading technique there would be one bright red area of countertop left of the sink and everywhere else the countertop would either be shaded lightly or not at all.

Now look at a kitchen with a similar amount of countertop designed by Main Line Kitchen Design.

Well designed kitchen with functional countertop arrangement.

This is a well designed kitchen with functional countertop arrangement.

722 Argyle Ave-1

Notice in the kitchen above that the countertop both left and right of the range is wide enough to comfortably work at. The countertop left of the sink has an expanse of countertop that can be worked at and the area right of the sink is not very narrow. The refrigerator is in a separate area with countertop of it’s own, and while when the refrigerator door is open only a portion of the countertop will be covered by the refrigerator door and the peninsula in back of the refrigerator is also close enough to be useful loading and unloading the refrigerator. The peninsula is also serving double duty for the people sitting at the peninsula. Shading this countertop according to how often the countertop will be used will show a completely pink top with some areas slightly darker than others.

Creating this design required closing a window that was formerly above the range, relocating all three of the “kitchen triangle’s” components and removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room. However the added construction costs to make these changes was only about $4,000 and so about 10% of the total cost of the project. Money well spent in my opinion. Some customers will spend that much money just upgrading their range to a professional range or their refrigerator to a Subzero. Those changes while nice have a very limited impact on the overall beauty and function of a kitchen.

Check out our Facebook page to see a slide show of this and other kitchens set to music.

https://www.facebook.com/Main.Line.Kitchen.Design/

Hopping your countertop is “all pink” . . .

and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!

Paul

 

Most people believe they can’t do it or that it will be too expensive.  And, they’re wrong.

It’s almost always doable, usually costs nothing and can even save money.

What IS the best investment your in your new kitchen?  It is changing the lay out!

Barely a day goes by that a customer doesn’t  say to us “I have a small kitchen so there isn’t much that I can do.” or “We are on a budget so we need to keep the layout of our kitchen the same.” Actually, there are many design possibilities with nearly every kitchen and improving the layout costs next to nothing.

Most of our customers don’t realize that just moving a sink, an appliance, or a doorway can dramatically improve an entire kitchen and incur little or no addition construction costs.  A kitchen renovation includes installing flooring, drywall, lighting, cabinetry, backsplash, molding,  fixtures and appliances.  Changing the location of a sink or appliance rarely impacts the total construction costs.  Even moving a doorway which might cost $500 could be offset by design improvements that make the cabinetry more standard and less expensive.

Berwyn PA Kitchen after

Many choices make kitchens expensive but improving the layout is not one of them.   Homeowners  frequently select a doorstyle that is 25% to 40% more than that of a similar less expensive style.  Adding a glaze to cabinetry generally adds 10% or more to the cost.  Higher price level granite, quartz, soapstone, or marble countertops can cost thousands more than similar looking selections that wear equally well.

Upgrading appliances can have the greatest impact on a kitchen budget.  But all these expenses have a very limited effect on what the finished kitchen looks like.  For example, the difference between a stainless steel shallow depth GE profile refrigerator costing $3,000 or a Sub Zero costing $9,000 is barely noticeable.  Good designers want to see you get the most for your money and will suggest similar, less expensive options.

Kitchen Pictures 06152012 008

 

The layout of a kitchen can change an entire home for the better, sometimes increasing the home’s value far more than the cost of the renovation. Even removing a wall which can cost a couple of thousand dollars could save overall costs because it reduces the number of wall cabinets.  If because of the reduced wall space, the design also switches from having a wall oven and cooktop to a range, the reduced price of the appliances and cabinetry saves far more than the cost of removing the wall.

Selecting the doorstyle, finish, countertops, and appliances is the easy part of a kitchen renovation but not the first part.  Layout possibilities, available materials, and many of the details kitchen designers help clients with have the most impact on your happiness with the finished project and the cost.  That is why it is so important to shop for your kitchen designer first, and cabinetry and materials second!

The path to getting the best design and spending a kitchen budget effectively can be elusive.  At Main Line Kitchen Design we look forward to finding and taking that path with you.

All the best, and as Julia said……

Bon Appetit!

Paul

 

 

So many kitchen designers are less than competent that I thought I’d give customers a cheat sheet to help them evaluate the designer they might be working with. Here are my top ten warning signs. If several apply to your project then you are almost certainly working with a less proficient kitchen designer.

Shaker Kitchen

  1. Your designer is not a full time kitchen designer. IE they are an architect, interior designer, contractor, family friend, or real estate agent. Kitchen design is a complicated profession and anyone not designing and selling cabinetry full time for a number of years can’t have learned enough to be good at it. Would you pick non professionals to replace your transmission or cut your hair? If that would worry you then why are you using a non professional to be your primary adviser on a 20 to 200 thousand dollar renovation?
  2. You are planning on keeping the footprint of your kitchen the same just replacing the old cabinetry with new. Every kitchen we see can be improved. And since most customers mistakenly believe that they have limited design possibilities and that design changes have a large effect on costs, it is almost certain that if you are keeping the foot print of your kitchen you are making a mistake. For the same money you could always get a better design because that’s what good kitchen designers do; show you how better designs than you realize are possible.
  3. You have serious design issues and the designer can’t find a solution. Examples of serious design errors would be: having a  range or cooktop next to a doorway, having the primary sink without at least 18″ of countertop on one side and 24″ on the other, having a cooktop or range under or immediately next to a window, or having cabinetry or molding within a few inches of the ceiling without reaching it.
  4. You are getting a side by side refrigerator and your refrigerator is within 12 inches of a side wall so that one of the doors can’t open completely. The smaller freezer side hitting the  wall would be the worst case scenario.
  5. The designer has 24″ wide cabinets in your kitchen with single and not double doors. This is one of the first lessens kitchen designers should learn. 24″ wide doors sag over time and look out of proportion. NO good kitchen designer will EVER use a 24″ cabinet with a single door.
  6. You have more than one or two types of unusual gimmicky cabinets in your kitchen. Examples would be corner drawers, tall pantry pull outs, Magic Corner or Lemans corner cabinets, mixer lifts, chefs pantries, or more than a couple of lift doors. There are always design issues associated with these unusual conveniences, that’s why they are unusual. They are also expensive and are less efficient in using space. If your designer has added several of these items without letting you know about their limitations it means that they probably don’t know about them and that they are spending your money ineffectively.
  7. You are getting frameless cabinetry and your designer hasn’t warned you about durability issues. Frameless cabinetry looks best when your kitchen is a contemporary or modern slab door style. But because there is not a front face frame on the cabinets the hinges, doors, and drawers are all attached to often only particle board sides. IKEA cabinetry is the most common example. Kitchens using this less durable style of cabinet construction need to be designed to minimize stress to the cabinetry. If your designer hasn’t mentioned this then it is unlikely that they understand the limitations of the cabinet line they are designing your kitchen in.
  8. Wall cabinet doors are NOT the same width on either side of your sink or cooktop. Assuming that there are wall cabinets on both sides of your sink and cooktop it looks odd if the doors to the cabinets are different widths on each side. Good kitchen designers will be able to accomplish this when designing a kitchen.
  9. All the wall cabinets align with the base cabinets in your kitchen. This is a novice kitchen design error. Good kitchen designers know where symmetry is important and where it is not. Aligning all the base and wall cabinets usually means that your designer has only designed a few kitchens in their lifetime.
  10. Your designer is placing great importance on centering tables and islands with windows. This is another novice error. Since alignment can only be determined from a single perspective in a room, centering an island or a table with a window is usually less important that maintaining the correct travel space around it. Having light fixtures centered over the table and island will make them feel like they are in the correct position while leaving you the functional space you need for a well designed kitchen. Many customers worry about this concept but when their kitchen is done they are always grateful that the didn’t give in to their concerns and let space override alignment when designing their kitchen.

Traditional Kitchen

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.

Hoping your designer is one of the best …

And of course …

Bon Appetit!

Paul

Here’s another  time lapse kitchen renovation from one of our recently completed jobs, curtesy of Jack Gardiner Third Generation Contracting. Jake Ferry was the Videographer.


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