Main Line Kitchen Design
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Posts that have been popular lately.

This is not the time for most to be considering remodeling their kitchen. However, while many of our lives are stalled and we are looking forward to better times, here are some things to think about.

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Financial uncertainty lowers the number of homeowners looking to renovate their kitchens. But these are the best times to be borrowing the money needed to do major renovations such as kitchen remodels.

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Bishop Kitchen

Just as reacting quickly to health directives can flatten the outbreak curve and allow our healthcare system to deal with the pandemic, reacting quickly once the health crisis has subsided can make expensive kitchen renovations inexpensive or free.

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Interest rates have plummeted due to the havoc created by the Coronavirus COVID-19 and falling oil prices. Refinancing a home at lower interest rates will allow many homeowners to reduce their monthly mortgage payment while also being able to withdraw enough money to pay for a kitchen renovation.

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It is the uncertain times that create the opportunity to get such great financing. Sitting on the sidelines too long when you have a kitchen renovation you are contemplating would miss the opportunity.

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Hoping our customers can stay safe during this stressful time, and once it IS safe, that they don’t miss an opportunity that happens only once every ten or so years.

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Here is a our blog on financing a kitchen renovation

And here is a video by Third Generation Contractors on the same topic

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

Main Line Kitchen Design

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 custom cabinetry on the market.

Warning

If you are price comparing cabinet lines please click here and read this first. Price comparing your design at different dealers often leads you down a bad road.

Fabuwood Kitchen

We rate cabinetry assuming each line is upgraded to the top level of construction available, usually all plywood construction. 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.

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.

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 lower 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.

Brighton Beaded Inset Cabinet

Main Line kitchen design acknowledges that we are dealers for the following cabinet lines: Wellsford, Bishop, Brighton, Fabuwood, 6 Square, Legacy Presidential, Stylecraft 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. 

CABINET RATINGS

Cabinet linePrice level 1-6    QualityValue
21st Century1AA-
6 SquareClosedClosedClosed
Adelphia Kitchens3BB
Adornus (frameless)3BB
Alusso by Adornus (frameless)3BB
All Wood – framed2AA
All Wood – frameless1CC
American Woodmark3BB
Aristocraft2CC
Belmont 1900 Series Frameless4BB+
Bertch4AA-
Bishop4AB+
Bishop Frameless5BB+
B.J. Tidwell Cabinetry3BC+
Bremtown6A+B
Brighton5A-A+
Brookhaven5AB
Brubaker5AA
Cabico4BB
Candlelight4AA
Canyon Creek3BB
CliqStudios ClosedClosedClosedClosed
CNC1A-A-
Collier5AB-
Craft-Made Cabinetry framed5AA
Crestwood Framed5AA
Crestwood Frameless5BA-
Crystal custom5AA
Crystal semi-custom4B+ B+
Cubitac Prestige and Imperial1.5A-A-
Cuisine Ideale (frameless)4BA-
Decora4.5AB
Desginers Choice4AA
Design-Craft4BB-
Diamond4B+ / A-B+/A-
Diamond Now Stock1BB
Durasupreme5B+B-
Durasupreme frameless3CC
Dynasty by Omega (frameless)4BB+
Dynasty by Omega (framed)4AA-/B+
Dynasty Pinnacle (framed)5AB
Echelon Cabinetry2B-C
Eurocraft Frameless3.5CC+
Executive (frameless)4BB
Fabuwood2AA
Fabuwood (frameless)3BB
Fieldstone4.5A-B+
Forevermark Possibly closed Not acceptingorders
Grabill6A+B
Great Northern Classic5AA
Green Forest2AA-
Haas3BB
Hampton Bay (frameless stock)1DC+
Hanssem framed1B+B+
Holiday (frameless)3CC
Holiday Kitchens4AA
Homecrest3B+B+
Homestead Custom4AA-
Ideal Cabinetry2BA-
IKEA (frameless)1DC
Innovation2CC
JSI Cabinetry1B+B+
J&K Cabinets Possibly closed 2 Possibly closed A+A-
Kabinart3C+D
Kemper3BC
Kitchen Compact2B-C-
Kitchencraft (frameless)3CB
Kith3B+C+
Koch Classic4A-A-
Kountry Kraft (framed)6AB
Kountry Kraft (frameless)6BB
Kountry Wood2CC
Kraftmaid4A-A-
Kraftmaid Vantage4A-A
Legacy2.5B+B
Legacy Presidential3AB+
LifeArt1C+A
Luxor Collection Frameless4BB
Marsh2BB
Marsh (frameless)2B-B
Medallion5A-B+
Merillat2CD
Merit Kitchens4B+B
Mid Continent2CC
Mouser5AA-
Mouser (frameless)5BA
NatureKast Waterproof Cabinets5AA
Norcraft (every upgrade used)3BD
Ovation4BC
Plain and Fancy6AB+
Plato Woodwork4AA
Poggenpohl (frameless)6BC
ProCraft1AA-
QuakerMaid (frameless)4BB
RiverRun Cabinetry3.75BB-
R.D. Henry4AA
Rutt6A+A
Schrock3BB
Schuler5A-B+
Shenandoah3BB
Shiloh4CC
Showplace3B+B-
Siematic5.5BC
Signature Custom5A+A+
Siteline Cabinetry3.5B-C
Solid Wood CabinetsClosedBankrupt 
St. Martin (frameless)4BB
Starmark standard5CC
Starmark inset or 3/4″ back panel5A+A
Stylecraft6AA
Tedd Wood5AA
Thomasville*4BB
Thomasville Nouvell3DD
Timberlake3BB
Tru Cabinetry3BB+/ A-
Ultracraft (frameless)2CC
Ultracraft 3/4 ply upgrade3BB+/A-
Urban Effects (frameless)3.75c-D
Village5AA
Waypoint2BB
Wellborn4 and 5AA
Wellborn Forrest3.5B+B+
Wellsford5A+A+
Wellsford (frameless)5BA-
Wolf2AB+
Wolf Signature Series3.5A-C+
Woodharbor4B+C
Woodmode6AA-
Yorktowne Now an Elkay CO4A-B+

Outside our service area?

FOR PEOPLE OUTSIDE OUR SERVICE AREA OF WITHIN A TWO HOUR DRIVE OF OUR BALA CYNWYD PENNSYLVANIA OFFICE, HERE IS A LINK TO RECOMMENDED DEALERS IN OTHER AREAS. GOOD DEALERS CLOSE TO YOU CAN BETTER ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT’S AVAILABLE IN YOUR AREA.

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.

Why does pricing a kitchen plan at a bunch of different places almost assure that a consumer gets taken advantage of?

Cabinet pricing is dependent on dozens of factors that customers are not knowledgeable enough to price compare accurately. Accordingly customers who shop too much and don’t trust a good kitchen designer usually fall prey to the first unscrupulous designer they meet.

Bishop Framed Ultimate Box
Framed Cabinet Box

For example, a designer making any of the changes listed below could significantly lower a cabinet price quote while also lowering cabinet quality. These subtle changes would often go undetected by the customers:

  1. Not upgrading to plywood sides. Up to 15% less but substantially less durable.
  2. Not flushing out the sides of the end cabinets. 5% less but less custom looking.
  3. Not upgrading track Hardware. 5% less but drawers would be less sturdy and probably not soft close.
  4. Not adding Decorative doors. 10% less but less attractive.
  5. Quoting a veneer raised center panel door instead of a solid wood raised center panel door. 15% less and undetectable to almost any homeowner. Note: Some customers might prefer the less expensive look but if they were quoted for the more expensive look they aren’t comparing “apples to apples”.
  6. Quoting a plywood center panel door instead of a solid wood one 15% less. Again difficult to detect and again possibly preferable to some customers.
  7. Quoting a standard overlay or partial overlay door instead of a full overlay door. Up to 25% less. A huge difference in price and looks that could not be appreciated by non cabinet professionals.
  8. Different box upgrade for example 1/2″ instead of 3/4″ box. Or melamine interior instead of a plywood veneer interior. 5-10% less. Again a significant price difference while most customers could never detect the difference.
  9. 5/8″ thick shelves instead of 3/4″. 5-10% less – quality reductions again.
  10. Soft maple, beech, or birch drawer box instead of a solid maple or walnut drawer box. 5-10% less – easily overlooked except for walnut.
  11. Keeping the same stain or paint color but changing the species of wood from Cherry to Maple or Cherry to Alder or Maple to Birch. 8% less – lower quality color and appearance to some peoples eye.
  12. Not including sales tax or shipping in the price to tack it on later. 6-10% less. What does this say about the designers integrity?
  13. Not including the same amount or type of moldings in the cabinet order. Up to 10% less – starting the see the many ways to work the price?
Roll out trays inside a cabinet
Roll out trays inside a cabinet

14. Changing drawer bases or base cabinets with roll outs to regular base cabinets. $200 to $400 for every cabinet changed.
15. Quoting a more expensive cabinet brand but downgrading, like the list above, to give you a worse product at a worse price. A customer would often believe they got “a deal” on a more expensive brand.
16. Special sale prices. Lets just say be VERY suspicious of cabinet sales.

All these examples make finding a talented, ethical, and experienced kitchen designer FAR more important than shopping cabinet pricing. Using cabinet pricing as a criteria to purchase usually makes it more likely a customer will get a bad design and a lower quality product at an inflated price.

Main Line Kitchen Design actually sells cabinets for less than home centers and most other dealers. However, we never quote pricing on another dealer’s design because there is no winning the price battle without deceiving customers who get on this pricing train.

The designer is THE most important part of the kitchen renovation process. Customers who prioritize price over design end up working with less transparent designers and end up either spending more or losing value in the end.

Looking for the best deal on a kitchen?? STOP researching cabinet prices and brands! INSTEAD research to find the best designer and cabinet dealer. Click here for an account of a buyer who followed this advice and one who didn’t . . .

The National Kitchen and Bath Industry show was held in Las Vegas this January. MLKD staff Paul, Julie, Ed, and Chris attended the show. Below are some our photos and an interesting video from the show.

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If you love kitchen gadgets check out Rev-a-shelf’s booth video below:

Link to the Rev-a-Shelf KBIS booth Video

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Or look at Main Line Kitchen Designs list of cabinet conveniences.

Link to cabinet conveniences

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Attending KBIS and IBS, the International Builders Show, helps our designers learn what are the newest and most innovative products in our industry. And we all agree . . . that the convention is fun!

Another Pennsylvania cabinet company Solid Wood Cabinets went bankrupt and closed last week. The Solid Wood Cabinetry bankruptcy followed Wood-Mode Cabinetry’s closure last year.

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While both companies occupied completely different ends of the cabinet market both companies had several similarities as well.

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Wood-Mode plant
Solid Wood Cabinetry Closes
Solid Wood Cabinetry Closes

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Among the similarities was that both of these cabinet lines made well constructed cabinets in their price point. Solid Wood was a very inexpensive RTA cabinet line but still made well constructed cabinetry. Wood-Mode Cabinetry was a well respected high end custom cabinet line that offered the highest quality cabinetry.

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Both cabinet companies, probably because of their niches, were favored by contractors who generally considered them a good value.

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Unfortunately both companies also closed without warning. Leaving their customers, contractors, and employees stuck in a financial and logistical mess. Paid for cabinetry was suddenly unavailable often only a few days after being purchased or just prior to delivery. Paychecks and jobs vanished.

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Bankrupt!
Bankrupt

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There were similarities that both companies shared that may have led to their problems. While both occupied opposite ends of the cabinet market they were both not inexpensive for the product that they offered. There were very beautiful less expensive custom cabinet lines than Wood-Mode and better values in inexpensive cabinetry than Solid Wood Cabinetry.

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One similarity between both companies that magnified their bankruptcies was that many of the cabinet dealers and showrooms that sold these lines, ONLY sold these lines. So once the line went out of business there were no other cabinet lines for their dealers to offer. This short sighted approach to the cabinet industry points towards other short sighted business models that made both of these cabinet companies vulnerable.

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Wood-mode made designing kitchens more difficult and time consuming for kitchen designers. They operated the way they always had with little accomodation to our changing culture. Solid Wood offered almost no design services at all. It was simply “selling boxes”. Both companies had terrible websites. These issues expose a lack of innovation that may be at the center of why both companies failed.

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Main Line Kitchen Design Kitchen
Main Line Kitchen Design Kitchen

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We live in rapidly changing times and so the companies that will excel will be the companies that can adapt rapidly and be willing to change. Investing in the future requires at the very least having an up to date website.

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This is why Main Line Kitchen Design is a Blue Ocean Company and tries to stay current and cutting edge in the kitchen world. For example, our team just returned from The National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show KBIS and the International Builders Show IBS held in Las Vegas last week. I’ll post some of what we learned in the coming weeks. Our industry continues to change and fascinate.

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Main Line Kitchen Design’s VP of Marketing Julie Meyer at KBIS

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Who says designing kitchens can’t be fun!

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Paul, Julie, Ed, Chris, Lauren, Tom and Stacia

Main Line Kitchen Design

Doug and Paul explain why managing a customer’s regret is one of the primary jobs of a kitchen designer.

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Below is a video of Doug Motterhead and Paul McAlary discussing managing customer regret when designing a kitchen and doing a kitchen renovation.

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I think it’s surprising to most people that being a truly good kitchen designer is not about giving customers what they think that they want. This is why I don’t like the catch phrase less experienced kitchen designers often repeat. “That they want to make their customers dreams a reality.”

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Being a great kitchen designer is about showing customers things they hadn’t considered and helping them to make sensible choices once they have all the options. Seldom do customers choose the design they initially dreamed of once they are better informed. We simply wouldn’t be good kitchen designers if customers didn’t choose different ways to spend their budget and different designs after getting help from a qualified professional.

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I think it is also surprising to most customers that telling them what is bad about any particular kitchen design is more important than what’s good about that design. And ALL kitchen designs have there good and bad points. This is what we are speaking of when we talk about managing regret. IE Making sure that whatever the design choices a customer makes, that they are fully aware of that designs pluses and minuses, and have no regrets when their renovation is complete.

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Looking forward to helping you get a regret free kitchen.

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

Main Line Kitchen Design

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Some kitchen design features are mutually exclusive.

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Most of our customers come to us with a kitchen wish list. Many also do not understand that certain features preclude others. Here are the top 5:

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1 Cabinetry reaching the ceiling without a two piece crown molding system, or for contemporary cabinet styles, a one piece flat molding to level the cabinetry. Wall cabinetry and tall pantry cabinetry can never be put all the way to the ceiling without some way to level the cabinetry and even stand up the tall cabinets in the room. In an over zealous attempt to gain every last inch of storage, amatuer designers often try to use 42″ wall cabinets and 96″ tall cabinets in a room 96″ high. The results are always disastrous.

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2 Large hoods and large doorways. Many customers want large hoods or hearths over and surrounding their range or cooktop. To look proportional wider hoods need longer walls to make the wall cabinetry on ether side of the hood also look proportional and not too skimpy. Leaving larger doorways on the same wall detracts from the look of the hood and can even make them look silly.

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7 Rolling Road Proof 15 22
Large hood with plenty of room left on either side

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3 Squeezing an island into a space that’s too tight. Nearly every customer wants an island in their kitchen. Generally the bigger the better. Often customers have seen islands they like online in kitchens far larger than theirs that they want to replicate in their own kitchen. If you want a functional and attractive kitchen there are set distances that must be followed to leave the proper space around any island. Ignoring these design rules can actually destroy the value of the renovation you are undertaking.

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7 Rolling Road Proof 13 1
A large island that fits

4) Top of the line appliances are not always best. Professional appliances are not only very expensive but they are generally larger and require a lot of additional space. For example the cost difference between a 42″ SubZero refrigerator and a 36″ counter depth refrigerator might be 6 or 7 thousand dollars. Not only is 6 inches of space lost in the kitchen as both refrigerators have the same storage capacity but the added investment is often better spent on construction changes or other features. Removing a wall or soffit, moving a doorway, or enlarging windows can be far more dramatic than the upscale refrigerator.

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More appliances but with enough room

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5) Adding a powder room to increase the value of a home only works if the doorway does NOT open into the kitchen or dining area. Some people may chuckle at how obvious this is but we are regularly amazed how often customers are considering this. Additionally this is against building code. Good designers can usually find a better location for a “must have” powder room.

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Happy New Year! . . .and of course . . .

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Bon Appetit!

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Paul

Exposure to the silica dust created cutting and polishing Engineered quartz countertops is giving some workers severe silicosis a fatal lung disease

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The Center for Desease Control has issued the following warning: “Silicosis is an incurable occupational lung disease caused by inhaling particles of respirable crystalline silica. … Because quartz, a type of crystalline silica, is commonly found in stone, workers who cut, polish, or grind stone materials can be exposed to silica dust.”

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cutting of quartz counter top
Engineered Quartz Countertop Fabrication

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While inhaling dust from the cutting and polishing of all countertops is unhealthy, the fabrication of engineered quartz countertops has been found to be especially dangerous. NPR reported in October that the “artificial stone used to make kitchen and bathroom countertops has been linked to cases of death and irreversible lung injury in workers who cut, grind and polish this increasingly popular material.” Some scientists are comparing the dangers of cutting quartz countertops with coal mining.

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In 2016, OSHA issued new workplace limits on how much silica could be in the air at countertop fabrication sites. Unfortunately a year later, the incoming Trump administration canceled the safety agency’s national emphasis program for silica.

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Print 1928 Conwell Ave 01
Example of a quartz countertop

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Main Line Kitchen Design presently sells Quartz countertops. But the time has come for responsible retailers to investigate the conditions at the fabrication sites where the engineered quartz that we sell is cut and polished.

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Main Line Kitchen Design will talk to industry experts at the National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, KBIS, held this January in Las Vegas. After we return from the show, we will speak to our fabricators and try to ascertain if their workers are being exposed to these dangers from the countertops we sell.

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Main Line Kitchen Design will not sell a dangerous kitchen design to our customers. For example we do not sell kitchens with ranges and cooktops next to doorways. See our two blogs on this topic: Kitchen designers who don’t protect their customers and Is your kitchen designer going to kill you?

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If we determine that we can not sell Quartz countertops without endangering the lives of the people who fabricate them we will cease selling Engineered Quartz countertops.

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Wishing all our customers and the people we work with a safe and happy Holiday Season.

. . . And of course. . .

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Bon Appetit!

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

Main Line Kitchen Design


Among the honors and awards we received this year were:

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Best of The Main Line by Main Line Today

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Best of House & Home Magazine

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Best in Customer Service on Houzz.com

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Angie’s List Super Service Award

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DelCY Award for best kitchen in Delaware and Chester County.

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Paul was selected by Kitchen and Bath Design News as one of the top 50 US Innovators in the kitchen and bath industry.

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Feedspot selected our Website as the 4th best Kitchen Design Blog and Kitchen Design Website in the world.

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Two Main Line Kitchen Design kitchens were featured on the Ardmore Library Kitchen Tour.

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Recently completed kitchen
Recently Completed Kitchens

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We are also grateful for customers taking the time to write so many 5 star reviews.

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Wishing all our past and future customers a wonderful holiday season

. . . and of course . . .

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BON APPETIT!

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Paul, Julie, Ed, Chris, John, Lauren, Tom, and Stacia
MAIN LINE KITCHEN DESIGN

Main Line Kitchen Design gives advice to a DIYer on remodeling their home on their own.

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Below is a post from one of our blogs by a homeowner contemplating remodeling their home. Paul’s detailed answer stresses the do’s and don’ts for DIYers.

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Question: We are thinking about remodeling our six bedroom home this summer. I’m praying I can do a wonderful job. Any tips?

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Paul’s Answer

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Success in renovating a home requires the same thing as any other project.

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First – Doing the research to understand what’s involved in the project. And after researching deciding correctly what parts of the work you are capable of doing yourself and what you will need to get professionals for.

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Fortunately we now have Youtube and the internet so you don’t necessarily have to go to the library. Spend at least 20% of the time it will take to do a project researching how to do it the way professionals do and planning it. Then you can reasonably attempt the project yourself.

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Assuming you know how to do things you are not trained for is the most common mistake for amateurs and less competent professionals.

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For example most homeowners believe that they know how to paint or even wall paper. They foolishly believe that there is little to know in these simpler renovation tasks. However there is a great deal to learn and not learning assures a very poor job. Professionals will often spend longer prepping the work area than actually painting or wallpapering.

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Find out what tools professionals use. You may be doing a renovation yourself to save money, but if you aren’t using the tools needed to do the job well you will certainly fail. Tools won’t be expensive and will pay for themselves in the time you save. Learn how to repair and prep drywall, how to use a caulk gun, plaster, sand, prime, size for wallpaper. Follow the procedures laid out in detail on the videos you watch and the books or articles you read.

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For example one difference between a professionals work and an amateurs in painting is that a professional might use up to a case (12 tubes) of caulk prepping walls and trim work in just a single room for an older home while an amateur might use zero and not even own a caulk gun much less know how to use it. The difference in the finished product is staggering.

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As a kitchen designer I can assure you that designing a kitchen well is not possible without the help of an experienced and talented kitchen designer.

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Fortunately most cabinet dealers supply design help free of charge as it is incorporated into the cost of the cabinetry. Designing your kitchen yourself especially if you are an architect, engineer, real estate professional or contractor means you haven’t grasped the fundamental concept that you don’t know what you haven’t done professionally.

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The worst designs we see as kitchen designers ALWAYS come from these professions because they arrogantly assumed that they knew enough to design a kitchen and did little or no research. Smart professionals in these fields KNOW they need professional kitchen design help, and that it is free, and so collaborate with kitchen designers at the cabinet dealers they chose.

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Buying RTA cabinets or IKEA saves about 20% on cabinetry but you still must put cabinets together and you have no qualified professional kitchen designer to help you design, plan, and organize your kitchen renovation. This makes no sense, but is all the rage. The best contractors, and architects would never buy RTA cabinetry so why do homeowners and less experienced pros assume this is a good idea. The answer is the IKEA effect a common delusion that effects most do-it-yourselfers.
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The distinguished researchers that named The Ikea Effect found that the majority of human beings would rate their first attempt at complex origami as better than a lifelong origami maker’s. This exaggerated over evaluation of their ability is telling and dangerous for DIY re-modelers.

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As humans we can be delusional and in denial. We see examples in our politics, and in our personal lives. The smartest and most rational person is always the person that admits they don’t know something and then does the research needed.
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Because as humans we tend to delude ourselves, critical thinking and self evaluation are surprisingly important on any large scale DIY renovation. IE knowing what you don’t know. 

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Below is our blog on this subject with a funny video that makes this point!

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https://www.mainlinekitchendesign.com/general/why-you-need-a-professional-kitchen-designer/

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Hoping you do the research you need for your renovation.

. . . and of course . . .

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Bon Appetit!


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