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, hors d’oeuvres, 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.
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
Reality shows can actually make our jobs as designers and renovators more difficult.
Some of their shows on kitchen renovations involve fantastic storylines, ridiculously low construction costs, and bad construction advice. I’ve watched numerous episodes of the kitchen remodeling 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. Is your favorite kitchen show on our list?
Shows are rated from 1 to 4 stars.
Flip or Flop2 stars
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
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
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 Brothers3 Stars
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 Upper1 Star
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 Crashers3 Stars
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 not bad, which is refreshing. This show could actually be much better with just a little more input from some real design professionals.
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
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…
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.
Main Line Kitchen Design 2014 CotY Award winner
Wishing all our customers a relaxing and enjoyable summer. And of course…
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.
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 …
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.
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 . . .
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.
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
We’re 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.
Main Line Kitchen ranks the best selling cabinets in the US
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.
FOR PEOPLE OUTSIDE OUR SERVICE AREA OF WITHIN A TWO HOUR DRIVE OF OUR BALA CYNWYD PENNSYLVANIA OFFICE, BELOW 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: