Main Line Kitchen Design
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Lafayette Hill Pa Kitchen

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.


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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 and would NEVER use anything higher. Builders and amateurs use these heights 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.measure


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.


Call in to our recorded Podcast 2-4 pm Fridays Eastern Standard Time to ask cabinetry and design questions. Have designs ready to email for layout advice. Call 610-500-4071

Close up of the kitchen range and vent on the island

Main Line Kitchen Design 2014 CotY Award winner


Here is a link to some other design tips:


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. Tsipora, April 5, 2019 at 1:48 am:

    I just found your website and, Wow! You really put a lot into informing and helping people. I didn’t go through all your resources so maybe this is addressed elsewhere but I’m wondering what you’d suggest for upper cabinets height wise for an 8’ ceiling? I don’t like soffits and would love to have the extra space a taller or stacked cabinets would give me.
    Also, what would be your recommendation for a 9’ wide u kitchen with a 4’ window at the head of the u that is two feet from one side and three feet from the other. I was thinking of just putting uper cabinets on the two long sides of the u and none on the window wall. That will bring the front of the cabinet one foot from the window on one side but two feet on the other. Any ideas? I can’t move the window.
    Thanks for any comments!

  2. paul mcalary, April 1, 2019 at 5:09 pm:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you for being so appreciative.

  3. Susan, April 1, 2019 at 11:29 am:

    That is a brilliant idea!! Thank you so much. I don’t like wide doors either so I think an 18″ on one side and 18″ & 27″ on the other will look great. You have no idea how much I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Thank you!

  4. pmcalary, March 31, 2019 at 9:47 am:

    Hi Susan,
    Without actually seeing your layout it is difficult to say. But I’ll take a shot.

    21″ wide doors are a little wide to usually look the best. As a designer I try to keep doors as close to 18″ wide as possible. That width door looks and functions best. Less experienced designers and homeowners first instinct is always to grab every inch they can for cabinetry even if their kitchen looks worse because of it. In your kitchen I might switch the wall cabinet on the right to an 18″ wide cabinet this would leave the cabinet 4.5 inches away from the window, but you can then add a filler and a filler overlay between the 18″ cabinet and the cabinet right of it to bring the cabinet back to 1.5 inches from the window trim. Now on the left of the window start with an 18″ wide cabinet 1.5 inches away from the window trim and then use a 27″wide cabinet with a 1/2″ filler between the cabinets to line them up with the base. You now have the same amount of cabinetry and also no less desirable looking 21″ wide doors. Of course as I mentioned this is without seeing your design so I’m just throwing darts.

  5. Susan, March 30, 2019 at 6:14 pm:

    My layout is very similar to the 2nd photo where it is pointed out that cabinets on either side of a window should match in size and spacing from window. I have one 21″ cabinet on right side of a window and on the left I need to line up the outer edge of wall cabinets with the outer edge of base cabinets (for backsplash). I have space for 45″ of cabinets so I would put two 21″. If I line up with the base cabinet edge, there will be 5″ of wall to the window and just 1.5″ on the right side. What would you do? I’d hate to reduce a base cab from 24″ to 21″ unless the window would look really “off”. Someone suggested a 3″ filler between the two 21″, but wouldn’t that look bad if all the other cabinets are full overlay? Thank you.

  6. pmcalary, March 7, 2019 at 1:12 pm:

    When people correct us and mistakenly tell us they know better. And go out of their way to tell us that they don’t like one of our award winning kitchens. I wonder why they are spending time on our blog if they disagree with us and don’t like our kitchens.
    Sometimes people asking for advice first tell us that disagree with things we have posted. Why ask us for advice then if you aren’t taking and don’t agree with other advice we have given? Certainly we would never work with a customer that started a relationship with us this way.
    I never tell people I don’t like their kitchen unless I’m asked for a professional opinion. I visit friends and families new kitchens that we didn’t help with all the time and I simply smile and say things look great. Going out of your way to comment negatively on a kitchen from the company whose blog you are reading free of charge seems a bit creepy. Even if you are interested in the subject matter.

  7. Grace Lipson, March 7, 2019 at 12:56 pm:

    He doesnt sound unhappy to me, just interested in the subject matter. Maybe a hobby.

  8. pmcalary, March 7, 2019 at 12:13 pm:

    If you examine the distance between countertop and wall cabinets, which is 18″, and compare it to the size of the wall cabinet. Or you examine the wall cabinet over the counter depth refrigerator it should be obvious that the cabinets can not be 48″ high. Since I didn’t design this terrible kitchen it could be a couple of inches higher than 42″ and be a custom cabinet. What a waste of custom cabinetry. Paying extra to get a couple of inches of extra space on a 42″ wall cabinet that is already to big to be the most attractive size. Having such small crown molding with such a large cabinet demonstrates in another way that the designer here was incompetent.
    I’m not sure what kitchen you are referring to that won an award but you seem like an unhappy person with too much time on her hands.

  9. Judy, March 7, 2019 at 10:10 am:

    Actually those were not 42″ cabinets in that picture, they were 48″ and no I don’t think if it’s done right 42″ look silly at all. I am not a fan of the designer kitchen that won the award, designer or not it doesn’t look functional, are you against upper cabinets all around??

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

    Yes a flat filler is usually used as a riser

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

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

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

  14. 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!

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