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Designing Your Kitchen Remotely

L shape kitchen with island

September 2022 Update: Cabinet, door style and finish selection meetings are usually held in our offices. While most design appointments still are done via Zoom.

We are scheduling face to face design appointments in our offices under these conditions:

Designers are fully vaccinated. Designers need to have a copy of their Vaccination card kept on file in the office. 2-hour maximum appointment booked in advance on our office calendar. Masks are worn if requested by everyone in the office. Only one set of customers in our offices at a given time.

On Zoom design appointments:

Going over 3D designs and making changes while screen sharing via Zoom is now a regular part of our design process. We were surprised at how easy using Zoom is, and appointments have actually been shorter and more effective using it. Making design changes in our offices where there are more distractions can make appointments slightly less focused.


Picking a cabinet line, door style, and finish remotely can be challenging but, even here, we have been surprised. Because many customers find viewing the 8 cabinet lines we carry and the infinite number of door style and finish combinations overwhelming, not having all the samples to view tends to keep people from straying into choices that they would never select.


  • First, we discuss in detail with customers the price point and advantages of each cabinet line to determine the line they will probably want. Then, we go over door styles and finishes available in that line. If customers are satisfied with the photos of the door style and some of the finishes that come in that cabinet brand, we can have samples shipped directly to them from the factory.


  • Cabinet construction is easy to view online and for customers feeling the need to feel, touch and see a complete cabinet in the line they want, we usually meet with clients in our offices once they have narrowed down the cabinet brands, door styles, and finishes they are considering.



kitchen with large island and table attached
Fabuwood Fusion Blanc Kitchen


Hoping our customers stay safe and well during these difficult times. And for new customers wanting to work on their kitchen renovation or new home plans, we are here to help. Simply call and we will explain the entire design process and our deposit system.


Looking forward to hearing from you . . . and of course . . .

Bon Appetite!


Paul McAlary

President Main Line Kitchen Design


25 Replies to “Designing Your Kitchen Remotely”

  1. Sheritta Taylor

    Hi Paul, we live in the Washington DC metro area and have begun the arduous process of interviewing contractors and kitchen design firms. Admittedly, we’re having sticker shock in response to the estimates we’ve received especially since we plan to keep our appliances and floors (all newer). One of the contractors we met with mentioned that he prefers the quality and craftsmanship of Christiana Cabinetry. I didn’t see this brand included on your ratings list and I don’t see many online reviews. I would like to get your thoughts on this brand of cabinetry. Thank you in advance.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sheritta,
      I don’t know anything about Christiana Cabinetry

  2. Olga Nicholson

    I visited a company Mid South Building that you recommended but they do not offer any of the cabinet lines I’m considering.
    1. Is it possible to pay for a design and use a different vendor for cabinets?
    2. And what do you think of Alba Kitchens in NJ for design? Thank you

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Olga,
      It was great to speak with you on our podcast. I hope I answered all your questions.
      For others tentative to call. The calls are on your phone and they are recorded but not live.
      If you are not comfortable with anything said on the recorded call we will not release it.
      BTW I sometimes step over the line and need to be censored myself.

  3. SAle

    Hey Paul, I’m a big fan of yours. We’re looking for a kitchen designer to do a complete kitchen reno in our DC condo. Would love to hire you remotely for this project but my husband agrees with you that it’s best to work with someone locally. Do you have any kitchen designers in DC/MD/VA that you would recommend? Thanks.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi SAle,
      Here’s a link to the dealers we recommend outside our service area. Several are in the DC area.

  4. GaryK

    Hi Paul : is it advisable to place a stove/oven next to a corner lazy susan base cabinet (or an e-z reach corner cabinet) ? The cabinets have those double hinged doors and I’m thinking that the stove would interfere with their opening and closing. Please advise..and thanks so much for a great web site and blog/forum..

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Gary,
      It’s OK as it often can’t be avoided and other possibilities are worse. As with all kitchens we can’t really give you good advice without a floor plan.
      However the hinge on the cabinet ALLWAYS needs to be farthest from the rang so that the door opens away from the range and can open all the way. And Only use a 36 x 36 Easy reach or lazy Susan in this application and a Lazy Susan is a better choice normally.

  5. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Jim,
    You should call on a Friday as you are getting terrible advice from the designer.
    The cabinets with moldings should reach the ceiling. 6 inches of stacked molding and 36″ wall cabinets is what people who know what they are doing would recomend. If that designer hasn’t personally put a laser level on your ceiling and is recommending 39″ cabinets he or she would be fired at our company.

  6. Jim Stim

    Hi again, Paul. Our kitchen ceiling is 96″ high. Our kitchen designer said we can use 39″ wall cabinets. We like the 39″ cabinets. However, our contractor insists on 36″ wall cabinets. He prefers a 6″ gap to a 3″ gap for some reason.

    So, please help me do the math… If a standard kitchen has a 36″ high countertop and 18″ work area, this leaves us with 42″ for wall cabinets. A 3″ gap remains for uneven ceiling (and molding).

    I would think a 3″ ceiling gap is plenty. There must be crown molding that size, right? Am I missing something? Your thoughts?

  7. paul mcalary

    Hi Jim,
    Assuming you have 99″ high ceilings, one additional problem with 39″ cabinets is that they are an usual height and often are 10 or 15% more expensive than either 36″ or 42″ high cabinetry, depending on the line. I know Kraftmaid used to be this way. However, they may have made 39″ standard lately, I don’t know. Price it both ways to be safe.

  8. Jim Stim

    Hi Paul. Following up on your last comment to Rich … Would 39″ wall cabinets be an acceptable compromise for an older home? Our kitchen designer offered this as a standard option by KraftMaid. Our contractor is not convinced and still suggests 36″ maximum. Detailed ceiling measurements have not yet been made. Thoughts?

  9. Rich

    Hi. My kitchen ceiling is on avg. 99” high (although it varies up and down by 1/8”). If I want my cabinets to go to the ceiling, is it preferable to go with 36” wall cabinets (and 90” pantry cabinets) or 42” wall cabinets (and 96” pantry cabinets). I’m leaning toward using Fabuwood Allure cabinets so the height of my CM-4 crown is 2-5/8”). Thanks in advance for thoughts.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Rich,
      If your kitchen ceiling was only 1/8″ off level you would have a choice of using 36″ or 42″ wall cabinets. However measuring from the floor to ceiling at different points in the room tells you nothing. Generally, your floor will settle exactly the same way as the ceiling above. In order to tell how off level a ceiling is you must put a laser level or water level in the room. Most peoples homes over 20 years old are are far more out of level that this and older homes can be over an inch out of level across a room. Since cabinets must be installed perfectly level you must use 36″ wall cabinets with 9″ of stacked crown molding in a room 99″ high. Unless you have checked with a laser level.

      BTW I would use unfinished wood moldings and color match the paint. It cam match perfectly and save money and unlike prefinished moldings the paint can be touched up when expansion and contraction opens the mitered joints and seams.

  10. maria cristofaro

    hi, i live in avon , ct and am looking to do kitchen renovation. im sooo confused with all the brands out there. im looking for framed semi custom, shaker cabinets. i have a big kitchen and most likely will sell in 5-10 years. i ws looking at medallion, mauser, showplace, shilou. i want quality construction, great finish at mid range price. HELP PLEASE !!!!!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Maria,
      The cabinet brands you list are all on the expensive side. If you want quality construction and an excellent painted finish you will need to be in one of these types brands with upgraded construction or a less expensive import line like Fabuwood. Mid priced lines will have less attractive painted finishes but nice stained finishes. I’d stop shopping cabinets and shop for a good cabinet dealer and great kitchen designer. They can help you understand your choices.

  11. Kitchen Cabinetry Update during Covid-19 -

    […] Here is a link to the Main Line Kitchen Design Design Process during social distancing […]

  12. Alex

    Thank you, Paul!
    I emailed the plan and renderings to Chris and I will call him tomorrow between 2 and 4pm.
    We live in Farmingdale, NY (Long Island).

  13. Alex

    Hi Paul, thanks for all the useful info you share so generously and the great advice you provide! Would you kindly take a look at our new kitchen layout and advise if you see any problems? All appliances are in their previous location except the dishwasher, which used to be on the right side of the sink.
    We have a deep refrigerator, allowing only an 18″ wide dishwasher (my wife wants a 24″ dishwasher, so I have to move on the left side of the sink).
    I wonder if there is a better way to make use of our space, because it gets tight around the sink area…but I worry of the financial impact. I also got a quote for our new kitchen using Waypoint cabinetry that seems high to me.
    Could you please advise if my impression is wrong (or right)?
    Many thanks for your extraordinary help!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Alex,
      Chris will be taking calls the next two Fridays so you can call us Friday between 2-4pm EST and he can look at your design. Just call the main number calls are being transferred directly to Chris or he is extension 8. His email is

  14. Jane

    We are in the process of designing a kitchen in Eastern NC, and are looking at the Shiloh inset cabinets. I noticed that they are rated poorly with a C. We have the Starmark Custom cabinets in our primary home and have been happy with them. You marked the Starmark inset cabinets very high.
    Is there a significant price and quality difference between the two. The NC home is a 2nd home and don’t want to go completely overboard, especially because we are replacing the kitchen due to hurricane damage.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jane,
      In my opinion Shiloh does many thing right and just one thing terribly wrong. They use an insufficient hanging rail on the back of their cabinet. This makes their cabinetry likely to fail when put under stress. Especially when wall cabinets are loaded with dishes over a period of time. Shiloh cabinets could be modified by a contractor on site to make the cabinets meet the criteria we think is needed to get a high rating but we don’t judge a line on what’s possible but on what they offer. If you are considering Shiloh ask your contractor to modify the hanging rail on every cabinet to make it more durable. You could have him call us or you could call us on a Friday between 2 and 4pm EST and make sure you get me (Paul) and I could give you some ideas on how to do this. Possibly even send you schematics if needed. Starmark upgraded needs no modifications to get good reviews from us.

  15. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

    Hi Pattie,
    Have you tried the kitchen designer we recommend in Commack Long Island? While I do not know Meredith Weiss personally beyond speaking on the phone a few times she designs very nice kitchens and sells some of the same lines we do which I find encouraging. I know she is very busy but probably not now during a pandemic. I’m not sure if she would design remotely. Here is her info:
    Merri Interiors Commack NY 917-660-7658
    If customers overcame our objections, we would design remotely and even sell cabinetry on Long Island but we would require a $1000 deposit to start which would be applied towards cabinetry upon it’s sale. However, I truly believe that designing a kitchen is still done best locally. And any customer that is out of our service area can get FREE help from us by calling on a Friday between 2pm and 4pm. By the way I grew up in Wading River Long Island and attended Port Jefferson High school back in the 1970’s when most of us had long hair and bell bottoms.
    Peace out 🙂 Paul

  16. Pattie

    Hi Paul, under the current Covid-19 circumstances, would these “remote” services be available outside your normal range? I have been following your blogs for some time and don’t feel the level of competence you exude in any of the local designers I have spoken with. I live on Long Island, NY.
    I would love to move forward on renovating my small kitchen which WOULD require changing the location of appliances, but NOT changing the footprint of the space itself.
    Please let me know. I am leaning toward the Brighton line in a full-overlay door.
    Thank you for all of the kitchen wisdom that you so generously share on your site.

  17. Pat Morse

    Paul, I spoke to you earlier this week and asked for help designing a kitchen lay out though I am out side of your service area. You asked me to send plans (it is new construction) and to contact you on Friday in your blog.

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