Skip to content

Kitchen Design Words That Spell Problems!

A sure sign of a kitchen DIYer are words most often heard on HGTV and HOUZZ.COM like shabby chic, shiplap, and IKEA. Professional kitchen designers cringe when we hear these words. Just Googling kitchen photos with these profane words brings up page after page of kitchens that will devalue a home and cause problems.

Shabby Chic

is a term used to put a good spin on renovating a kitchen with some new elements but keeping other outdated design features. These kitchen creations are a complete waste of money and only forestall the time when a more sensible person will rip it all out and create something tasteful from scratch. Below are two examples of “Shabby Chic”

old kitchen with christmas decorations
old kitchen with very old decorations


HGTV personality Joanna Gaines popularized using shiplap exterior siding in kitchens.

Beadboard, tongue and groove planking, or wainscoting is often used by professional kitchen designers. I’m pretty sure Joanna just didn’t know any better when she started using an exterior product inside but soon all these products became “shiplap” to the public. Googling “shiplap” brings up some frightening DIY kitchens like the example below.

a more modern kitchen with dining room table

IKEA enthusiasts and DIYers love IKEA. Professional kitchen designers know that IKEA is a terribly made cabinet line that can cause problems. I find just hearing the brand name irritating.

Many far better constructed cabinet lines exist that come already assembled and cost no more than an IKEA kitchen. It is only because novice designers don’t know any better that they value IKEA. Respected psychologists actually named the delusion of overvaluing things you design and build yourself The IKEA Effect. The IKEA designs that DIYers like Christina below create are always flawed and odd looking.

black and white kitchen with small island
I’m Christina – a DIYer and decorator living on the Alberta prairies in a home we built ourselves. My goal is to inspire you to create a cozy home and life you love!

Some of the oddities above include solid cabinet doors over lower glass doors. This makes cabinetry appear unbalanced. Wall cabinets over windows, traditional door styles without crown moldings, and cabinetry sitting on a countertop very close to a sink break fundamental design rule. Mixing styles that don’t go together can be done to be eclectic, but I suspect that here, it is unintentional. Finally, an expensive pot-fill over a cheap range with a back control panel on it, just makes me nuts.

Kitchen Cupboards

is an old term used for kitchen cabinetry that is often used by people “not in the know”. Doing a Google search for the term brings up DIY experiments like the kitchen below. Should a professional ever use this term WATCH OUT!

modern style kitchen with slab cabinets

The Hippocratic Oath a physician takes says to first “do no harm”.

All professions should follow this rule and for kitchen designers this means not endorsing designs that will destroy the value of a client’s home. Were a customer to request any of the kitchens above, as ethical designers, we would pass on that project.

I wish that all kitchen design professionals would put the value of their customers home above simply selling cabinetry.

Homeowners looking for a design firm and cabinet dealer that puts their best interests above simply selling cabinetry find that they will come across less problems.

Stay safe and Bon Appetit!


Join the conversation