Main Line Kitchen Design
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I have sometimes considered whether we should give our potential kitchen customers a test to see if working with them is likely to succeed.

This is because occasionally we run into people that have completely unrealistic expectations about their kitchen renovation. These customers feel that they should experience no inconvenience during a major construction project. And whatever their unfounded beliefs are, that they should expect them met.

Conversations often begin with them saying “I feel”. As if feeling something no mater how unlikely gives those beliefs merit. For example we have had customers mistakenly feel that moldings should come to them pre-cut to the unknown lengths that will be needed on their particular installation.

Funny video on expectations.

 

No amount of explanation will satisfy people that didn’t listen the first time things were explained to them and who also believe that they should have been informed about every aspect of their complex project that they didn’t foresee. There is always information that customers aren’t aware of. Especially customers that took very little interest in becoming informed prior to their project beginning.

 

Needless to say these customers are also rude, impatient, and have a difficult time grasping that they are not our only customer and responsibility. If there are small problems on their installation, such as a scratched door, they can be upset that replacing that piece takes the time to order it, build it, ship it and deliver it.

 

The last thing I say to all my customers before they order their cabinetry is that our 20 page detailed contract boils down to this sentence:

 

“We do not want you or expect you to accept anything less than perfection. However, we can not tell you in advance exactly when you will get perfection and there is no compensation for waiting.”

A kitchen renovation is an expensive, complicated, inconvenient, and detailed project. There are nearly an infinite number of pieces to it, and dozens of people that all need to be working together. We can help you make your renovation something you will be proud of and that will last, but as the saying goes “you have to break some eggs to make an omelette!”

 

Here is our true or false personality and intelligence test. If you answer true to more than a few of these questions please spare us your business.

 

  1. I know more about kitchens than my designer or contractor.
  2. There is no reason a kitchen renovation should have any delays or inconvenience.
  3. Once I finish working on my design and finally pay my deposit to order my cabinets I expect the cabinet dealer to place my complicated order that day and tell me when my cabinets will be delivered.
  4. All cabinetry pieces should come pre-cut and ready to install such as plywood for back panels, moldings, and toe kick.
  5. Half walls behind islands and peninsulas come built in advance from the cabinet company.
  6. Electric and lighting comes pre-installed in my cabinets.
  7. My contractor who has never worked with Main Line Kitchen Design doesn’t need to check my design to make sure he or she understands what assembly is expected of them. And has no responsibility to measure and check the design.
  8. Farm sink cabinets, range bases, and all oven cabinets come pre-cut for my particular fixtures.
  9. I should be able to meet with a designer today or tomorrow to start my project.
  10. I know what I want and don’t need any help from a designer.
  11. The first step to starting a kitchen renovation is doing the demolition.
  12. If I do the demolition first on my own it will save me money and speed things up.
  13. Getting the most competitive pricing, fast turn around, and customization should not be mutually exclusive.
  14. I have done a kitchen renovation before so I know exactly what to expect.
  15. I have a party, baby coming, move in date, or other personal deadline that needs to be met. I should still be able to order and get anything I want at the same cost independent of my timeline.
  16. How I feel about what timelines should be or how things should be done has merit above what professionals tell me should be realistic expectations.

 

Hoping you are the kitchen customer we are looking for. And if so . . .

. . . We look forward to working with you!

 

Paul, Julie, John, Tom, Stacia, and Ed

Main Line Kitchen Design

Should you consider refacing the cabinets in your kitchen instead of getting all new cabinets? The answer is almost always a definitive NO! The reasons are varied and discussed here in detail.

 

Cabinetry over 20 years old will have inferior drawers, tracks, and hinges. This is true even for older expensive custom cabinets. In the last few years inexpensive well made cabinetry has become available at a fraction of the cost it once was. These less expensive cabinet lines use the top of the line drawer boxes, tracks, and hinges, and contain no particle board. Buying all new cabinetry in one of these well made less expensive lines can cost only 25% more than refacing the existing kitchen.

Almost without exception older kitchens are poorly designed. Kitchen design was not as sophisticated in years past and most kitchens prior to 1995 were not designed by experienced kitchen designers.

 

A few of the undesirable design elements used in older homes include:

  • Soffits over wall cabinets cabinets.
  • Using 30″ or 42″ high wall cabinets. Experienced kitchen designers now avoid these sizes.
  • Different width cabinet doors on either side of a cooktop or window.
  • Having a stove at the end of a countertop or under a window which is dangerous and against building code.

Refacing a kitchen just reproduces problematic design features and leaves outdated drawers and tracks untouched.

Refacing a kitchen with design problems and then proceeding to purchase expensive countertops, appliances, flooring, and fixtures will cost nearly as much as a new kitchen and leave an elephant in the middle of your renovated room.

Another problem with refacing is that homes are becoming less formal. For example nearly 60% of all the kitchens Main Line Kitchen Design sells involve combining the kitchen and dining room. Many large homes being built today include a first floor office but not a formal dining room. Refacing your kitchen without doing the renovation that new home buyers are looking for could be be a big mistake. When the time comes to sell your home the new buyers might rip out the kitchen that was just refaced. Thereby rendering what was spent on the renovation valueless.

Below is a conversation between Doug Mottershead and Paul McAlary the owner of Main Line Kitchen Design about kitchen cabinetry.

Selecting  quality cabinetry and making practical renovation decisions is what good kitchen designers help with.

 

We look forward to helping you  make the sound decisions that will increase your home’s value and make it all that it can be.

 

Paul, Julie, John, Tom, Ed, and Stacia

Main Line Kitchen Design

Experiencing A Professional Appliance Demo Dinner

The best part of shopping for your new kitchen is a little known secret. Once a month, most major high end appliance manufacturers hold free cooking demonstrations to showcase their products. The evenings include wine, h’orderves, and often a six or seven course meal. Sometimes the evening includes watching Master Chefs prepare food using the latest, state of the art cooking innovations.

fretz showroom_main

These demonstrations are held in design centers so there is no pressure from salespeople – appliances actually aren’t even sold at these locations.  The Fretz Corporation on Woodhaven Road in Philadelphia first held what became the gold standard of these events. In the past you might have seen legendary chefs like George Perrier formerly of Le Bec Fin prepare a meal right in front of you,  something rarely experienced even at his own restaurants.

I can’t recommend this experience enough, particularly if you or your customer has an appliance budget of more than ten thousand dollars.  Deciding on which appliances to splurge on can become difficult when you see and taste dishes prepared in built in steamers or speed ovens, or sample espresso from Miele coffee makers.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about these evenings and so I think it must be time to go once again. The beautiful new Fretz Showroom at the Philadelphia Navy Yard or the Miele showroom in Princeton, New Jersey have particularly enjoyable programs. Here is the contact information to make a reservation:

FRETZ Showroom – Philadelphia Navy Yard 4050South 26th St, Philadelphia, PA 19112  886-987-2122 www.fretz.com

Miele Princeton Showroom  – 9 Independence Way, Princeton, New Jersey 08540        800-843-7231 x 1002  www.miele.usa

Hope to see you there,

……….. and as Julia said “bon appétit!”

Paul, John, Julie, Tom, Ed, and Stacia

Main Line Kitchen Design

HGTV can make our jobs as designers and renovators more difficult. Some of their shows involve fantastic story lines, ridiculously low constriction costs, and bad construction advice. I’ve watched numerous episodes of the shows below and rated them. Over all, the remodeling shows on HGTV are the least authentic and in some cases are more than just misleading.

Shows are rated from 1 to 4 stars. Looking forward to the responses this blog receives.

Flip or Flop             2 stars

Flip or Flop

Tarek and Christina El Moussa two unsurprisingly photogenic California real estate speculators buy homes to resell. Remodeling costs on this show are ridiculously low even by Pennsylvania standards. Misinformation other than the unrealistic renovation costs are not as common as on other HGTV shows. Christina’s ‘vocal fry’ makes the show hard to watch.

This Old House                          4 Stars

This Old House

The show that started it all. While all the construction information is accurate the show isn’t intended to be cost effective renovation. Instead the show has morphed over time into a showcase for new construction techniques and to give some interesting back story to remodeling and design. Because of this I prefer the early episodes that were more about practical renovations and featured the granddaddy of the genre Bob Villa.

Rehab Addict                     2 Stars

Rehab Addict

Nicole Curtis is an attractive former Hooters waitress with little construction or design experience. Nichole hosts Rehab Addict a show about restoring historic homes. The show does not give any bad advice as far as I can tell. But historic homes can be so fascinating it is a shame this show isn’t more engaging.

Property Brothers           3 Stars

Property Brothers

Twin brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott and potential home buyers go through a formulaic process of pretending to select homes and designs. In reality houses and designs are all selected before the homeowners are found, and while everything about this show is staged the renovations and designs are creative and tasteful. Each episode also has unexpected problems arise that real professionals would know about in advance.

Fixer Upper                1 Star

Fixer Upper

Chip and Joanna Gaines renovate central Texas using a complete lack of realism. The show is as much a fantasy as are the walls that Chip crashes through that never have any studs in them. Finding space aliens would be easier then finding walls without framing. Watching this show if you know anything about remodeling or design is painful.

Kitchen Crashers              3 Stars

Kitchen Crashers

Alison Victoria and her show while completely staged at least doesn’t seem to be misleading. I’m sure that the only time Alison is ever in the kitchen being remodeled the cameras are rolling. And while the design ideas are simplistic and not particularly inspired they are also are not bad which is refreshing. This show could actually be much better with just a little more input from some real design professionals.

Hometime                             4 Stars

Hometime

Dean Johnson has gone through a series of female co-hosts over the years but since 1986 the show has retained it’s realism and it’s simple straight forward explanations for how construction and renovations are done.

Kitchen Cousins        1 Star

Kitchen Cousins

HGTV’s cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri are contractors that specialize in renovating kitchens. The show is accurate and is not misleading. However these two contractors know absolutely nothing about kitchen design nor apparently do any of the shows advisers. Nearly every kitchen they design breaks fundamental rules for well designed kitchens.

 

I hope the reviews above have given everyone some food for thought. Please continue to enjoy these shows but keep in mind that they are entertainment and not reality…

…and of course…

Bon Appetit!

Paul

 

 

Kitchen designers should first consider the 30 plus National Kitchen and Bath Association  guidelines when designing a kitchen.

After doing that the best designers know the simple tips below. Inexperienced designers, architects, interior designers, and home owners usually do not. This is just the tip of the ice berg for good kitchen design.

1 ) Never leave crown moldings closer than 9 inches from a ceiling. Once you get within a foot of the ceiling you should have the cabinetry and molding meet ceiling. Don’t create spaces that look odd and that can’t be cleaned.

Molding too close to ceiling without reaching it.

 

2 ) Professionals avoid corner sinks and equal sized double bowl sinks because they create such dysfunctional designs.

3 ) Keep cabinetry the same distance away from each side of a window.

4 ) Keep cabinet doors the same size and on either side of a window, sink or cooktop.

Cabinet doors on either side of the window are different sizes. Notice the other mistakes like the distance from the wall cabinets to the window is different on each side of the window and the crown molding is too close to the ceiling.

 

5 ) Some cabinet door styles or colors are so unpopular they that destroy the value of a home. Arched wall cabinet doors or golden oak stained kitchens are home value detractors. Pickled pinkish stain and white raised panel plastic Thermafoil cabinets are also home value killers.

6 ) Never run cabinets all the way to the ceiling without a two piece crown molding or a solid wood spacer. Ceilings are never level and there needs to be some way to disguise this.

7 ) Never put 8 feet of cabinetry in an 8 foot space. Professional kitchen designers know that walls are out of plumb or have bulges and that you can NEVER completely fill a space with whole cabinets. Fillers allow designers to make the adjustments that make a kitchen look right.

8 ) Good designers almost never use 42″ high wall cabinets. Builders and amateurs use this height to maximize cabinetry not realizing that the higher height looks out of proportion and gives little added space benefit. Cabinetry doors look best when their size is closer to The Golden Ratio. Good designers will stack cabinets with small cabinet doors on top to avoid overly tall wall cabinets.

42″ Wall Cabinets. Don’t they look silly so tall?

 

9 ) Always upgrade to all plywood construction or at the very least make every exposed surface real plywood. Particle board cabinets have plastic pictures of wood on their sides that discolor and peal quickly.

10 ) Highly grained man made quartz and Corian countertop patterns such as the beautiful Cambria Brittanica can not be seamed inconspicuously. These type patterns only work on tops without seams.

Cambria Brittanica countertop

 

11 ) Never start even the demolition on a job without a completed design plan finalized. NO time is EVER saved rushing. When contractors know what the complete project entails costs are lowered and the job runs smoothly.

The people that finish first are never the ones that started first they are the ones that planned to completion first and then started. When you hear a story about a kitchen that took 6 months or a year this was the fault of the unprofessional people organizing the job.

12 ) How much cabinets cost has little to do with their durability and more to do with the cabinet lines ability to customize. Doing a simplistic design or finish in a very popular door style like a shaker style in an expensive cabinet line is often just throwing money away.

13 ) Higher price level stone and man made tops, are not more durable, they cost more because of their color and pattern. In fact the higher level tops while beautiful may require more maintenance or be hard too seam.

14 ) The first constructive step in starting a kitchen project is having a professional kitchen designer measure the space. Any design work or material selections made prior to a professional kitchen designer measuring is inefficient and can lead to frustrations when surprises and problems are revealed to you by someone with more knowledge and experience .

15) The best kitchen designers will not ask for the the design you want. They will show you designs that make sense for your space and that you should at least consider. You can make changes from there to arrive at the kitchen that you want after considering what a profesional would do with your space. Saving money on material selections will make almost any design affordable. So keeping a layout the same ALMOST NEVER makes sense. It is the design itself that gives value to your home. Upgrading to professional appliances or custom styles and colors can be beautiful but the added expense is wasted if the design itself is poor.

Designers that give customers what they think that they want without at least showing them what’s possible are taking the easy road and the final kitchen always suffers.

Close up of the kitchen range and vent on the island

Main Line Kitchen Design 2014 CotY Award winner

 

Wishing all our customers a relaxing and enjoyable summer. And of course…

Bon Appetit!

Paul, Julie, Tom, John and Ed

Main Line Kitchen Design.

 

Most homeowners research cabinet lines before selecting the line they will buy. Unfortunately sometimes little research goes into selecting the dealer and kitchen designer that they will buy from. And the later can be more important than the former. Here’s why.

If you select a good cabinet dealer and an ethical kitchen designer they should give you the vital information that you need to select the cabinet line that is the best fit for you. The best kitchen cabinet dealers also carry cabinet lines that are well made and of good value. Being a knowledgeable dealer means selecting the cabinet lines that you believe will offer the best construction, styles and finishes to your customers for the best price.

Unfortunately many cabinet dealers either don’t know much about cabinetry or don’t have home owners best interests at heart. For example, if a dealer’s primary business is selling directly to contractors and builders then they will carry the cabinet lines that contractors prefer. IE cheap, less durable cabinetry with more flash than quality. This is because spending extra money for better cabinet construction is something most builders are not willing to do unless the cabinetry is for their own homes.

About half of all cabinet dealers focus on getting and retaining commercial customers. And this makes sense for them. Contractors are repeat customers and selling to them and to new home builders is the easiest market to sell to. Kitchen design is less valued among these customers so less design expertise is needed to sell to them. Often just giving architects and builders the cheapest cabinet that looks good and taking them golfing is a recipe for success.

For home owners and for the contractors that value construction quality, selecting a cabinet dealer that specializes in selling to consumers is usually the better choice. By selling directly to homeowners confusion concerning orders is reduced and there is not a middleman between the dealer and the end user. This is why Main Line Kitchen Design chooses to sell directly to homeowners.

Selecting a dealer that is financially stable with a great reputation and working with a talented kitchen designer with many years experience is also essential. Savvy customers should do a google search of the dealers and designers they are considering. Do they get good reviews? Are they registered with the Better Business Bureau? Do they have outstanding complaints?

Look on the Houzz.com page of any kitchen cabinet dealer you are considering. Legitimate companies will have many of their projects posted for you to review and evaluate. Are their kitchens attractive? Do they have odd or out of place design features? Remember companies will be posting only their best work. So posting odd kitchens is a bad sign.

Reading the bad reviews a company gets can be telling. Do the customers who complain seem to have a valid problem or do they seem a little nutty? Did the company you are considering address the complaint in a satisfactory way?

Does the company you are considering insist on measuring your kitchen? Good companies will insist on this while poor ones will take any measurements simply to expedite a sale.

Big sales on cabinetry with expiration dates are a bad sign. Reputable kitchen dealers should always be offering their best price. So big sales mean inflating prices to begin with which is dishonest. And pressuring customers to order complicated kitchen projects possibly before they are completely planned out and selections soberly considered is irresponsible. A kitchen is not a toaster. Selling kitchen projects like they are shows incompetence and a disregard for your customer’s best interest.

These considerations are possibly more important than researching cabinet lines but can be overlooked by consumers.

Hoping you do all your research.

And as always…

Bon Appetit!

Paul, Julie, Tom, Ed, John and Stacia

Main Line Kitchen Design

 

 

We Discuss Whether or Not HGTV Remodeling Shows Are Realistic

If you ask almost any kitchen design professional they will immediately shout NO!

In fact on Linkedin kitchen forums and at industry events nearly all kitchen designers and remodelers routinely complain about how misleading HGTV renovation shows are.  Professionals believe that these shows make our lives harder.

PBS shows like This Old House or Hometime are factual and try to give accurate and interesting glimpses into renovations. Conversely HGTV cares very little if anything about accuracy. Their renovation shows are reality television created to garner ratings. It frustrates real professionals when our customers bring up things they have seen on HGTV. For example customers will often believe they know the correct way to do something, what a realistic time line might be,  the cost of a project, and the possible calamities that might befall a project all from the over dramatic and fact free shows they have enjoyed on HGTV.

Nearly every HGTV remodeling show will have a “Construction Surprise” during the remodeling project. The TV personality (show hosts are not real renovation professionals who remodel homes when not on TV) will tell the homeowners something like “I’m so sorry Bob and Jean but this turns out to be a load bearing wall and it will cost $5000 extra to remove it.” Real professionals must determine what is load bearing and what is not before even giving an estimate. When contractors and design professionals know what they are doing surprises almost never happen and if they do they are small ones and inexpensive.

Unfortunately seeing these unprofessional surprises routinely on HGTV  frightens homeowners into believing that their projects might have similar surprises. Unscrupulous contractors can use this misconception to over charge home owners and under bid honest professionals. This is especially frustrating to the knowledgeable pros that bid jobs accurately and stand behind their bids.

Celebrity renovators like Alison Victoria from HGTV’s show Kitchen Crashers are not real. You cannot become an expert designer and renovator 2 years after leaving The University of Nevada Las Vegas with a degree in psychology. Professionals know that it takes at least a decade of experience along with talent to become a competent kitchen designer and to direct remodeling projects. And the information obtained from HGTV is less real than their hosts.

If you enjoy HGTV reality remodels think of them as simply entertainment. Your kitchen designer and general contractor will breath a sigh of relief. And if you hire competent professionals for your kitchen renovation you can expect no HGTV type surprises.

As my favorite TV chef would say at the end of her show …

Bon Appetit!

Paul

 

Viking Range, LLC, 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

 

 

 

A good kitchen designer nudges customers towards better designs & 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

We believe the best resource for unbiased information on appliances is Yale Appliances

Located in New England, Yale’s 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


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