Why Are So Many of the Most Expensive Kitchens So Poorly Designed?

People buying the most expensive custom cabinetry, or very expensive professional appliances often have surprisingly poor kitchen designs. Expert kitchen designers know that it makes NO SENSE to be paying for huge material upgrades without first making layout improvements like moving plumbing, walls, doors and windows to create the best kitchen design.

Unfortunately, good design is often overlooked with homeowners considering the most expensive cabinetry and appliances.

This is true for a number of reasons.

Homeowners aren’t kitchen designers with experience.

Only expert kitchen designers will be able to create the best designs. Unfortunately, homeowners don’t realize when better designs are possible. When customers have really big budgets they can be in charge and are less likely to accept advice. Many designers are wary of alienating high end customers and jeopardizing a huge sale. Lastly, customers with large budgets often start the design process with architects and get off to a terrible start. See why below:

A well-designed Brighton Beaded Inset Kitchen

All kitchen designers will tell you that the poor designs we see come from architects.

This is because “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing”. It takes many years of exclusively designing kitchens full time to get good at it. Architects have very little kitchen design experience when compared to even novice kitchen designers. Architects know nothing about kitchen cabinetry, since they don’t design in a cabinet line or sell cabinetry.

The best kitchen designers learn quickly to be careful and to worry about the details.

While architects in college value their own ideas above cost and tradition. Their training actually impedes their ability to create sensible, functional, and aesthetically pleasing kitchens.

Architects love to draw on paper and let others figure out how to make their drawings a reality. They train to be bold, often forcing too much cabinetry, seating, and appliances into a tight space. For the people that design and sell the cabinetry, the functionality and esthetics of the design is what we are accountable for.

As a kitchen designer, it is rare to see a good design from an architect. Homeowners understandably become frustrated when the poor design decisions they made with their architect need changing. Telling a homeowner that the design they worked on is bad, will not only upset the customer, but the architect will never bring the cabinet dealer any more business.

Kitchen by Paul and Lauren

Kitchen designers that work at showrooms and cabinet dealers that specialize in catering to the builder, contractor, and architect trade are put in a lose/lose situation. The kitchen designers that work at these companies can risk their jobs if they correct the mistakes of the professionals that bring their clients to the showroom. This got me into hot water on a regular basis at the last showroom I worked at, before starting my own company.

This is why Main Line Kitchen Design only works with professionals that send us their customers very early in the design process, before major design decisions are made. The builders and the few architects that we work with accept that they are not kitchen experts, and homeowners get much better kitchens as a result.

At Main Line Kitchen Design, we wish that our customers would come to us sooner, rather than later. And so . . . we hope to see you soon 🙂

Paul

6 Replies to “Why Are So Many of the Most Expensive Kitchens So Poorly Designed?”

  1. Fahad

    oh ok, I can definitely get you photos from the real estate listing. should I do that during the call in or can I email them to you?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Fahad,
      Just email me your address the day you are going to call and I can look up the photos. Assuming they are up on Zillow, Redfin, or one of the other real estate sites. Email me at Paul@MainLineKitchenDesign.com

  2. Fahad

    Hi Paul! I came over here after reading your answer to my question. Well, I will definitely keep this in mind now when reviewing plans we get from the architect — luckily he’s working on other things in the house, not just the kitchen (though now I’m wondering if I should get someone else in for the bathroom, etc!). You mentioned that you could review our floorplan on your podcast/call-in — do you mean the drawings I get from the architect? I don’t have any other official floor plan right now, nothing like that came with the house. We’re in the Dallas area by the way.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Fahad,
      You would need a plan for me to review. If the architect or you can supply us with drawings of what’s there now that’s best. Or after they are done, the plan they suggest will need to be changed to correct the errors that we usually find. But even sending photos of your present home often can show us what’s possible and what general designs make sense. Often if you purchased your home in the last ten years the photos on real estate websites are still up. From the photos, I can not only recommend general design layouts but tell you how much things should cost. Most importantly, often from the photos we can see what ideas will not work, but would be likely to be suggested by less experienced people. For example, using 42″ high wall cabinets in a room that’s 96″ high. Or putting an island that is too large in a tight space.

  3. Jessica

    Paul: While you do provide some helpful information, your posts are full of judgements, incorrect characterizations, and arrogance. I encourage you to rethink your approach, for the benefit of your readers.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Jessica,
      My opinions come from education, experience, and 30 years of accumulated knowledge about the industry I comment on. If the opinions and judgements I make offend you, I suspect that it is because they hit close to home. That is their purpose though, to prevent people from making the common mistakes that less experienced people make, though the arrogance in believing that they know more than they do. We live in a society where knowledge is not valued by many. Thankfully if you ignore experienced kitchen designers when you design a kitchen you just get a bad kitchen. When you disregard medicine and science it presently can prove fatal.

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