In a word . . . Architects.
Over the 25 plus years that I have been a kitchen designer there is no question that some of the worst kitchens that I have seen sold have also been the most expensive. Even the most expensive kitchen that I personally sold was a design that I was slightly embarrassed to sell.
Why are these expensive kitchens so poorly designed? The first reason is that customers with the most money to spend nearly always start their project by consulting with an architect. Once the kitchen design process begins with an architect, seldom does the architect consult with an actual kitchen designer. So, the architect who in far less experienced and knows none of the rules of kitchen design nor how cabinetry is built or priced works on the design with the customer until it is nearly complete.
As a kitchen designer it is incredibly frustrating to be handed an amateurish design to price in the most expensive cabinetry that we sell. The homeowner and the architect have spent hours creating a design that often breaks the most fundamental kitchen design rules and looks like what it is. The work of nonprofessionals. Unfortunately, after all the time spent creating the ill-conceived design it would frustrate everyone involved to go back to square one where the mistakes began. Worst of all, neither the homeowner nor the architect realize how silly these designs are because they aren’t kitchen designers. And to tell them that “the emperor has no clothes” is usually met with both anger and skepticism.
Just in the last two weeks I have been given two designs to price in custom cabinetry done by respected architects that place expensive 48″ SubZero refrigerators behind the primary sink in the kitchen. You could not place such a wide refrigerator in any worse location. Toll Brothers who use architects to design their kitchens are notorious for making this same mistake.
The problem with the refrigerator location, besides looking odd, is that every time someone goes to the refrigerator the person at the sink must leave so that the refrigerator doors can be opened when the person at the refrigerator steps back to open them. The refrigerator doors would also be dented in these designs if the dishwasher doors were down. What a waste of money!
In one case the customer was considering spending $74,000 on expensive poorly made cabinetry and over $40,000 on appliances for their bad design. As is usually the case the homeowners were so invested in their poor design that hearing that it had problems or that the cabinets they were considering were overpriced and poorly made was not received well.
Another reason that expensive kitchens tend to be poorly designed is that wealthy clients are less amenable to hearing that their design ideas have problems. Or, that the expensive appliances, cabinets, or countertops they want don’t fit and have issues associated with them. Often people of means have grown accustomed to the people working with them simply agreeing with them. Kitchen designers know that these sales will be very large and that by being critical of what the customer wants they risk losing the sale. So many kitchen designers will remain silent about problems that might alienate wealthy clients and their architects.
Not all kitchen cabinet dealers and kitchen designers are able step in at the beginning of a major home renovation that removes load bearing walls and possibly adds an addition to a home, but some most certainly are. Working with companies like Main Line Kitchen Design that help you design your home from the inside out prior to bringing in the architect fosters better kitchen designs and save on architect’s fees that were often wasteful and ill advised.
Wishing the 30,000 people that read our blog each month a Happy July 4th.
And to those considering a major kitchen renovation . . . Please find an experienced kitchen designer to work with sooner rather than later.
Paul, Julie, Ed, John, Lauren, Tom, and Stacia
Main Line Kitchen Design