Main Line Kitchen Design
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Posted July 14, 2017 by pmcalary

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.



  1. John, April 12, 2018 at 10:00 am:

    Hi Paul et al,

    These tips are extremely useful. As a follow-up, I am wondering how tall you would suggest for wall cabinets if the ceiling is 108″. Our current cabinets are 41.5″ tall and are 12″ from the ceiling. Given that, would you think new cabinets could also be 42″? I was planning on installing a frieze board from the cabinet top to the ceiling, and then installing crown molding (also what you suggest). Would it make any sense instead to add another level of smaller cabinets (possibly with glass doors) on top of the 42″ cabinets? There is room (12″) but I want to have crown molding. But with 108″ ceilings, having glass door cabinets near the ceiling seems totally impractical and likely out of proportion. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. John, April 12, 2018 at 10:02 am:

    Would you please remove my last name from my previous post! Thanks!

  3. pmcalary, April 12, 2018 at 10:34 am:

    For a 108″ ceiling what looks best is to stack cabinetry with 36″ high wall cabinets and 12″ high wall cabinets, often with glass doors in some of the small cabinets above. A stacked 6″ high crown molding goes on top reaching the ceiling. See photo link: If you can not afford to stack cabinets then I would still use 36″ high wall cabinets as the door sizes look more proportional than 42″ high cabinets and still use a 6″ stacked crown above leaving you an foot from the ceiling. We only would recommend a 42″ high wall cabinet for a ceiling that was around 102″ as there would be no better alternative.

  4. John, April 12, 2018 at 10:50 am:

    That is a beautiful kitchen! I like the contrast b/w the gray cabinets and the white cabinets on the island. If we did stacked cabinets, would be there be any vertical frieze b/w the cabinet top and the crown molding? I guess you usually need some vertical piece to connect the cabinets to the crown to hide ceiling imperfections/not being level. Thanks for the ideas!

  5. pmcalary, April 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm:

    Yes a flat filler is usually used as a riser

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