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Why a DIY Kitchen is a Bad Idea

HGTV and the DIY TV Network have made “do it yourself” kitchen renovations increasingly popular. These channels tell viewers that anyone can renovate a kitchen successfully with a little online research. The reality is quite the opposite, and a poorly designed and executed kitchen renovation will devalue a home.

An analysis of Google searches show over the past 15 years US consumers have increased their searches for “kitchen cabinets”. While substantially decreasing their searches for “kitchen design” and “kitchen designers”. This search data confirms that many consumers no longer believe they need expert kitchen design help. People now like to follow the do-it-yourself trend. They just need to find cabinets.

Kitchen Designers
Kitchen Designers Paul McAlary and Doug Mottershead

This brazen devaluation of knowledge, experience, and expertise is cultural. Much of the public now believes that their opinions and evaluations of the information that they can find online is more reliable than the opinions of experts in the fields they are researching.

Two psychological biases help add to the misguided confidence some consumers have renovating a kitchen without professional help:

  1. The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias stating that people with less ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with greater ability at a task underestimate their own ability. As a kitchen designer for 30 years, I noticed early on that the customers with the best spatial relations skills and design ability would ask for advice, and want to defer to me, even when their own ideas were good ones. While the customers with the least ability wanted their wild, impractical, and sometimes dangerous ideas implemented exactly.
  2. The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on what they partially create. For example, psychologists observed that the majority of people attempting origami for the first time irrationally rated their own creations above those of origami masters.

Thinking that you are smarter than knowable experts can prove deadly during a pandemic. Thankfully, when you are renovating a kitchen, thinking that you don’t need expert help only wastes money, and gives you a bad kitchen.

sign of good choice and bad choice directions

Small do it yourself projects can save money, give a homeowner a sense of accomplishment, and make sense. The information you need to do a one task project can also realistically be found online and on YouTube. Believing you can direct a complex kitchen renovation without years of experience is just foolish. Good kitchen designers know that it takes a decade of full-time experience for us to become good at our jobs.

The Main Line Kitchen Design staff hopes for a safer time and fewer supply chain breakdowns. We are here to help our customers make the design choices that help their homes become more attractive, practical, and valuable.

If you are within our service area, please call and speak with a designer. I guarantee you will learn more in a 15-minute phone call than in several hours Googling. Or listen to one of our podcasts. Everyone is welcome to call in to our Friday helpline and Podcast where we answer cabinetry and kitchen design questions. We also review designs sent to us. Just call 610-500-4071 on a Friday between 2pm and 4pm EST ready to email any plans you want reviewed.

Paul McAlary

President of Main Line Kitchen Design

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