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Kitchen designers who work at larger cabinet dealers can sell millions of dollars in cabinetry a year and are paid well because of it. They are usually very experienced and good at their jobs. Designers that work for design and build firms or at home centers, such as Lowes and The Home Depot, are usually paid less then half what better cabinet dealerships pay.

With design and build firms like Garner Fox, the kitchen designer is one of the lowest paid professionals on the project. Often the owners, the project manager, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and other trade professionals are earning more than the kitchen designer. This is how little these firms respect our profession. Not surprisingly, the overpriced kitchens these design and build firms create look silly and amateurish to the better paid and more experienced kitchen designers working at cabinet dealerships.

Butler's Pantry
Brighton Beaded Inset Butler’s Pantry

Home Centers also don’t respect kitchen designers. For example, Lowes has reduced the amount they pay their most experienced kitchen designers by 50% in the last 10 years.

Home builders are the worst of all! Companies like Toll Brothers don’t consult with kitchen designers at all during the design of their homes or even in ordering the cabinetry. This creates absolutely ridiculous kitchens. In fact, twice in the last year, Main Line Kitchen Design has sold better designed replacement kitchens to new home buyers days after they closed on their brand new Toll Brothers Home.

Fabuwood Kitchen
Fabuwood Kitchen

Why do so few of these companies value kitchen designers? Ignorance and greed is the overwhelming answer.

How can you value good kitchen design when you don’t understand it? When you don’t understand the complexities of cabinetry, how can you understand that the people that who are selling it are doing more than simply ordering boxes? How do you even select quality cabinets to sell when you don’t know anything about them? Unfortunately, when you want to maximize your profit without any of the knowledge and experience that creates good kitchen design – you both ignore it and underfund it.

The best kitchen design firms / cabinet dealers understand the value and importance of the kitchen designer. The kitchen designers that work at these companies often make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and are worth it! Experienced and knowledgeable designers can sell millions of dollars in cabinetry a year BECAUSE they are so good at their jobs. Paying them well is a no-brainer. Undervaluing them is foolish, and will also compromise the success of your kitchen renovation.

Kitchen designer

Main Line Kitchen Design embraces this concept. Our kitchen designers are paid better than at most other dealers. AND, because we compensate our designers for their experience and ability, we can sell cabinetry for less than every one of these short-sighted competitors. We are also committed to eliminating many of the other wasteful expenses that don’t create great kitchens.

Whether your kitchen and your budget is tiny, or lavish, good kitchen designers help you get a better kitchen at a better price. It’s one of the most important parts of what we do.

Call us and have one of our experienced designers measure your kitchen and show you what’s possible. Our initial deposit of $150 for the first several appointments costs a tiny fraction of the value you get. We have the deposit not to make money but to make sure our customers place a value on working with a qualified kitchen design professional. Because valuing what we do is needed to get a great kitchen.

Once the dust clears and the grout dries on Main Line Kitchen Design’s customers’ kitchens we send them a thank you, usually a cookbook or a Di Bruno Brother’s Cheese book. One of our designers, Lauren Sciarra, goes one step further and often creates her own personal gift basket for her customers.

Emilio Mignucci

When our company was smaller the cheese books we sent out were personally signed by Emilio Mignucci, Di Bruno’s Vice President and head Cheese Monger. Emilio would graciously sit down and sign sometimes 50 books at a time. Many of the cookbooks we send out are written by Julia Child.

I believe Julia, Di Bruno’s, and Emilio share a special quality. Having a passion for your profession is infectious, and an eagerness to share what you love makes people want to learn more. This is why we choose their books to send out.

Stopping at a Di Bruno’s cheese counter and asking a question almost always brings a sparkle to the eye of the counterperson. At Main Line Kitchen Design I try to create an environment like this, where the joy for what we do can be felt by the customers whose kitchens we transform.

I think most kitchen designers love their jobs. Helping people create the center of their home is an honor. It’s rewarding knowing that when we do a great job our customers, their family and friends, will appreciate our efforts for decades to come.

I hope you see a sparkle in our designer’s eye when you ask them a kitchen question. . . .

. . . . and of course . . .



Main Line Kitchen Design is hosting a short story contest. Entries should be very short stories. Preferably no more than one or two pages. The story should take place in a kitchen, or be about a kitchen, and can be true or fictional. The winning story will be posted on our website which is visited by 1000 people each day and will be promoted on our Facebook page. The winning writer receives a check for $500 and our thanks for engaging our website visitors.

Please send entries to Include a mailing address to send the check should you win.

The photo below links to the second place finisher from a similar contest from several years ago. The author was my mother, and the contest was judged by our Facebook fans. Her story may not have won our prize but it captured my heart.

Click on photo to read story

Submission deadline is October 15th 2021. Winner will be announced and the story featured on our website and social media sites October 21st 2021.

Most people have heard a horror story about a kitchen renovation where everything went wrong! The contractor disappeared, the cabinets came defective or damaged, the job took a year to complete, the renovation was way over budget, or even the home was damaged during construction.

There is a saying in our industry “It’s all the same people”. By this, we mean that the people who have one thing go wrong with their kitchen renovation often have many, and the same problems over and over again. When one contractor quits, the next one may not be far behind. Why does lightning keep striking the same people? The answer is obvious: The homeowners are creating the problems by how they are going about their renovation.

When there are problems, everyone involved in a kitchen renovation has responsibility. The contractor supervising the project, the kitchen designer who created the design and sold the cabinetry, and the homeowner who hired them. When problems repeat themselves the cause is usually due to a lack of proper planning. Setting limits and making customers follow sensible procedures is the responsibility of the professionals involved. Contractors and designers are, too often, willing to take a customer’s money and their direction when they know the project is heading off the rails. Predictably the most problems arise when the least knowledgeable person involved in the project (the homeowner) is allowed to direct the construction process without taking guidance from experienced professionals.

Often, the team of professionals who allow these poorly planned catastrophes to proceed were hand picked by the homeowner BECAUSE they wouldn’t say no to bad ideas and poor planning. These professionals are “enablers” – and everyone involved in the renovation will suffer because of this. When the pandemonium begins can a rational person really sympathize?

I have to shake my head when I hear these renovation horror stories. We learn about the start of these kitchen nightmares each week on calls from homeowners who have demolished their kitchen without a kitchen plan. Without a finalized detailed kitchen design, they can’t get reliable construction bids. They usually also have no idea what everything will cost, how long they will wait for materials, or who will complete the project.

These HGTV inspired do-it-yourselfers firmly defend their decision to begin work without a plan or a budget. THEY know that they have to gut their kitchen so THEY firmly believe that it is sensible to start ripping a home apart before completing a plan and budget. I can’t get off the phone with these callers fast enough.

Rachel Street from Philly Revival

I also occasionally get calls from TV kitchen remodeling shows like the DIY Network’s Philly Revival. The producer is looking to get free cabinets from us in exchange for being featured in their renovation. I always tell these producers that Main Line Kitchen Design would be happy to give them free cabinetry in exchange for the exposure, but only if the kitchen is well designed. A poorly designed kitchen and poorly planned project isn’t something we want to be associated with.

These TV renovations also always begin without a kitchen design, and usually, without anyone knowing how long it takes to get cabinets, countertops or appliances. The “talent” on these shows are little more than DIYers. So, it’s no wonder that the shows are jam packed with bad ideas and misinformation. See this link to our ratings of remodeling shows.

Happy Forth of July – We hope there are no fireworks on your kitchen remodeling project.


Why do red flags go up when Main Line Kitchen Design receives an email like the one below?

How did you hear about us:

Friend or Family Referral

Message Body:
Hi- I love your blog and have spent hours reading your web site. We are located in Northern New Jersey. Can you help us?
We will need about 18 cabinets and the other trims of course. 
We had to return an entire American Woodmark (Home Depot) purchase yesterday due to paint and construction issues on 50% of their cabinets. We are concerned that the pandemic is impacting the quality. 
We do not want the cheapest cabinets but we do want quality plywood construction.  My wife is an architect and has the drawings of what is needed. I am off from work on June 9 and we can come visit your showroom.  Thank you.

I’m going to dissect what’s troubling to me with this email line by line.

1) Someone that spends hours on our web site should know that Northern New Jersey is out of our service area. The emailer also later asks to make an appointment in our office first. Scheduling a measure appointment and paying a $150 deposit is the first step stated on our main page and described clearly on the contact form they filled out. So I worry that this potential customer doesn’t listen and doesn’t want to follow directions.

2) I worry when I’m told that a customer needs around 18 cabinets, as this implies they aren’t looking for design advice. And when they say “of course” they are putting their expertise on a level with us as professionals kitchen designers. A professional in another field might take offence to this. For example, if I told my mechanic I needed a new fuel pump “of course” – before he examined my car.

3) Telling the next company you want to buy cabinets from that you “had to” return an entire kitchen from the last company, because YOU judged that 50% of the cabinets were defective, is off the charts disturbing on many levels. Working with the first company to address the problems would have been wiser.

4) Telling us “you know what you want”, before we speak and show you designs and cabinetry, is a common frustration all kitchen designers endure. Stating that your wife is an architect and has the drawings of what is needed confirms that you don’t want our design expertise and believe you know better than actual professionals. Architects are not professional kitchen designers. Read why here

5) Because you are off of work on a certain day doesn’t mean we are available, and as you should know from the form you filled out, this is not how our design process works.

How did Main Line Kitchen Design actually respond to this email?

Thanks for contacting Main Line Kitchen Design. We only work with customers that contact us at the beginning of their projects. We wish you the best – Paul

722 Argyle Ave 2

Almost everyday someone calls or emails Main Line Kitchen Design because of our reputation as knowledgeable designers or because they love our website, our blog, or the kitchens we display online. However, they have already designed their kitchen and begun demolition. I can’t help but shake my head and wonder why they are looking for an expert after they have made decisions and begun their project, and not before.

Main Line kitchen Design hopes to help you sooner rather than later. . . and as always . . .

Bon Appetit!

Below are two relevant blogs on this topic that may make you smile:

Main Line Kitchen Design is excited to announce that we are now dealers for NatureKast outdoor cabinetry. Customers that need outdoor kitchens and custom barbeque areas can now have their spaces designed by professional kitchen designers.

NatureKast 3
NatureKast Outdoor cabinetry

Exterior kitchens like the one above make outdoor entertaining something special. When working in concert with landscape architects great poolside cooking areas can also be created. Our designers are excited to start applying their expertise outside.

NatureKast 7
NatureKast kitchen at night

NatureKast weatherproof cabinets have been designed to perfectly complement outdoor workstations. Innovative cabinets are available for most of the big names in outdoor grills, cooktops, sinks and appliances.

Discover unlimited design options for your outdoor kitchen area along with the widest range of outdoor TV cabinets, decorative molded elements and full-access appliance cabinets. Featuring a limited lifetime warranty.

Hoping to meet you outside this summer . . .

and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!

Designing a great kitchen takes more than money. It takes the help of a knowledgeable kitchen designer and the home owner being able to sensibly weigh a professionals design advice. Often the very wealthy are so used to getting their way that they are incapable of making compromises to their own poor design ideas. The result is that some of the most expensive kitchens are terribly designed. Below are several celebrity kitchens that while touted to be beautiful, have major design flaws that make them impractical and sometimes tasteless.

Chris Helmsworth’s kitchen above has both sinks far away and facing the wrong direction from the range.

Country music performer Kelsea Ballerini has one of the biggest kitchen design flaws. Placing the refrigerator right in back of the primary sink. Every time someone goes to the refrigerator they interfere with a person working at the sink.

Suzanne Summers’ kitchen above has several bad decisions, including the sink facing a wall and selecting gigantic expensive appliances over badly needed countertop space. The kitchen table centered in the kitchen is a traffic flow problem. Clutter ads to the bad decision making.

Amy Schumer’s Manhattan kitchen above while small didn’t need to break the 1st rule of kitchen design ie having countertop on both sides of the sink.

The Kourtney Karrdashian kitchen above is poorly designed function wise and taste wise. But should that be a surprise?

It is often true that in these expensive kitchens no one cooks, so the poor design doesn’t in fact hurt the homeowner. However good design is also esthetically pleasing on a subliminal level. Some might call this Feng shui, but good design just “looks right”, and sensible decisions make a space feel comfortable.

At Main Line Kitchen Design our designers try to help our customers make sensible desisions. Thankfully the celibrities that our designers have worked with have been both a pleasure and very sensible.

Jan Petersen the founder and respected kitchen designer from Petersen’s kitchens in Bryn Mawr was known for her sensible approach to kitchen design. When she worked with Philadelphia 76er’s she advised them not to create a kitchen for the very tall. She noted that the spaces designers normally leave between the floor and the countertop and between the countertop and wall cabinets, hoods etc., are design tested and work with appliance heights and many other considerations. She also brought up to her basketball professionals that selling their homes, if they were traded, might be difficult if the kitchen wasn’t more universal.

Samuel Dalembert the Sixers former seven foot center, who was single when he was renovating his kitchen, mentioned to me with a smile that he wanted to make his kitchen comfortable for a woman he hadn’t met yet. Being sensible is part of creating a great kitchen.

Looking forward to a great summer . . . and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!


I always tell our designers to treat our customers like family. Treating a customer like family DOESN’T mean agreeing with them and rubber stamping their ideas. It means having their best interest at heart, doing your best, and actively trying to prevent them from making a mistake.

Fabuwood Butler’s Pantry

Were a family member of mine going to make a mistake, I would try very hard to encourage them to make better choices. When you care about people, you are honest with them without hurting their feelings. Sometimes when truly bad ideas are being considered, tough love might be needed. The old adage that “the customer is always right” doesn’t apply to family. We care too much about them to just sell them things.

I know that sometimes this approach isn’t what customers are looking for. Main Line Kitchen Design has even gotten a few poor online reviews from people that were frustrated by our designers being honest with them. That’s OK, because the majority of our customers get better kitchens because of our approach, and their homes and the relationship we build with them are advertisements for our success.

Some of our customers take pride in the choices they made though they were originally against them. One couple I worked with was certain that they wanted an island. I was so against the tight space that was going to be created that I asked them to work with another designer, if that was what they really wanted. After thinking about it and looking at the drawings they reluctantly decided to keep working together and take my advice. After their kitchen was completed they were incredibly happy and proud of the the result. They laughed with friends, family, and even the contractor proclaiming that they were “almost fired by Paul!”

These are the customers that write the 100’s of glowing 5 star reviews Main Line Kitchen Design has received. People that we helped get a different and better kitchen than the one they originally wanted. They know that the kitchen that they love and are living in was the product of us working together, and that they would have gotten a very different kitchen had we simply give them the kitchen they originally asked for.

Looking forward to treating you like family.

Here is a link to ours:

and a story written by my mother about the happiness her 1960’s kitchen brought her:

The residential construction industry is setting sales records in 2021. Understandably, most reliable and reasonable contractors are booked up months in advance. In some specialties, like roofing, demand is off the charts and many roofing companies are booked over a year in advance.

Increased demand also brings price increases for the labor on renovations and new homes. Adding these labor increases to the skyrocketing costs of materials has increased overall construction costs by 20% in the past year.

Getting quality materials can be a challenge for contractors. For example, lumber quality is down while prices are way up. Getting straight moldings, and studs to work with can frustrate carpenters.

There is presently not enough shipping containers or dockyard workers to fill orders and unload the building materials in the United States. Many appliances are out of stock with no deliveries even scheduled. Lead times for windows and doors has tripled in some cases. In the cabinet industry, the most expensive custom cabinetry lead times have doubled and the less expensive brands are sometimes out of stock.

KBIS 2016 9

The best contractors and kitchen designers manage these delays with extra organization. This means making sure that all the components for a renovation will be available when needed. When timed correctly progress on a renovation or new home can move forward without interruptions, and contractors don’t need to move on to other projects while they wait for materials and subcontractors to become available.

This means that the projects that run cost effectively and are completed in a timely manner don’t start immediately. Good scheduling means waiting until “all your ducks are in a row”. This is why patience on the part of a homeowner is particularly valuable right now.

Kitchen designer

Homeowners under normal conditions are often antsy and want to start their projects immediately. Even when common sense dictates waiting to get estimates or scheduling the job in an organized fashion . Now, with the added challenges, patience on the part of the homeowner can mean huge savings and projects that run smoothly.

The penalty for a lack of patience and organization can be great. Many of our callers complain that they can’t get contractors and cabinet dealers to even call them back or answer the phone. However these same people will often tell us that they have already begun demolition before even designing their renovation, and that they must have materials immediately. It doesn’t surprise me that when some contractors or cabinet dealers get these messages they aren’t calling people back. Or if home owners show a lack of patience during an initial meeting, that the contractor doesn’t submit a bid.

The take-a-way in todays construction climate is that patience is a virtue. Having patience will help you find good people to work with and will save you money, time and aggravation. Listening to honest advice is also especially important. The contractors and suppliers that are overly optimistic are telling you what you want to hear and are the very people that will frustrate you and waste your money.

Main Line Kitchen Design makes managing and organizing our kitchen projects our highest priority. And we give our customers the honest advice that they need, but sometimes don’t want to hear.

Let us do that for you!

Paul, Julie, Ed, Chris, Lauren, John, Anna, Tom and Stacia.

Getting the best kitchen design for any kitchen takes an experienced designer and several design appointments. Getting the best kitchen for a really tough space often takes even more. Two kitchens presently under way by our designers Lauren Sciarra and Chris Rossetti explain how another set of experienced eyes can make all the difference between a very good kitchen and a great one.

One of Laurens recent Kitchens

Both of these kitchens began with a phone call to Main Line Kitchen Design and a conversation with our owner Paul Mcalary. Each homeowner explained that they felt they had a difficult space and weren’t completely happy with the designs other companies had come up with. Because real estate sales photos of both homes were available online, Paul quickly found major design improvements. Chris’s customer was even able to supply the new design they were considering. After Paul explained the design possibilities, the homeowners were excited about the better designs.


In Lauren’s kitchen, the home layout was so challenging that Paul decided to measure the home himself and to work up a preliminary design moving walls and doorways before Lauren Zoomed with the customer. In Chris’s kitchen, Paul drew out and explained the design improvements he had come up with looking over the photos and plans, and sent a drawing to Chris to continue working on. In both cases, the designs the customers ended up purchasing were not only far better than anything they had considered before but were even better than the changes originally proposed by Paul!

Senior Designer Lauren Sciarra

Both Lauren and Chris reworked the space beyond what anyone had previously considered. Lauren’s design changes both improved the home layout and saved money. Chris rethought the space and by removing a wall created an open kitchen with an attractive island.

Downingtown Pa Kitchen
Brighton Kitchen Designed by Chris Rossetti

Experienced kitchen designers know that there are an infinite number of ways to design any kitchen but only a few truly inspired designs. Inexperienced designers, home owners, contractors, or architects don’t have the decades of kitchen design experience needed to see the forest through the trees, and arrive at these inspired designs. Even the best designs can be improved. And sometimes as in these two cases, two heads are better than one. And, the result is something that transforms the value of a home and creates a kitchen that everyone stands back and admires.

Hoping to transform your kitchen and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!

Photos of the two kitchens discussed will be available soon. Links will appear below as they become available:

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