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Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Kitchen at Lowe’s or Home Depot

Homeowners often use home centers like Lowe’s and The Home Depot to design their kitchens and to buy cabinetry.

I have often defended home centers as not a bad place to work with. If you do a good job finding the most experienced home center designer in your area. Contrary to what many people believe, both Lowe’s and The Home Depot sell well made cabinets. If they are upgraded as needed.

However due to a combination of poor decisions made at the corporate level, I now feel that particularly Lowe’s, but also The Home Depot, are poor locations to design and to buy a kitchen. I’ll explain in detail below:

The corporate environment at home centers has always been at odds with what is required to design and sell complex kitchen renovations.

In the past, home center kitchen designers worked around company policies that hindered doing their job effectively. The reason for the lack of support by management is that designing kitchens is very different from retail sales.

Designing and helping organize a kitchen construction project requires a great deal of knowledge and experience. However, selling retail merchandise only requires a limited knowledge of the products you sell. Designing kitchens requires far more expertise. Knowledge of complex kitchen cabinetry, countertop specifications, kitchen design, and of all types of construction is a must. Because of this quite often kitchen designers at both home centers were paid in line with department managers.

As time has gone by home centers have continued to decrease what they are willing to pay kitchen designers. Both Lowe’s and The Home Depot have tried to limit their responsibility in designing and managing kitchen renovations.

For example, both locations no longer allow the person designing your kitchen to ever see your home or measure your kitchen. Both home centers also recently decided not to design or install kitchens that remove load bearing and even non load bearing walls. Despite the fact that over half of all kitchen renovations today involve removing a wall. This policy makes sense when you decide not to employ good kitchen designers, as it limits your liability.

Lowe’s, in particular recently made sure that no experienced kitchen designers would work for them.

About 8 years ago Lowes eliminated commission for their kitchen designers. At that time, their best designers earned double their salary in commissions, so to avoid a complete employee walk out, Lowes agreed to increase the salary of their experienced kitchen designers by 50% of their commissions from the previous year. So, a designer that might have made 70K was suddenly making only $52,500.

Main Line Kitchen Design’s phone rang off the hook with kitchen designers looking for work following this cruel decision by Lowe’s Corporate. Shockingly 5 years later Lowe’s told all those kitchen designers still working for them that they were going back in time and reducing their pay by the 50% they gave them 5 years before. So now a designer that might have been making 70K in 2014 now makes 35K. This guarantees two things. First that no good kitchen designer will continue to work for Lowe’s and second that any experienced kitchen designer still working for Lowe’s will be insensitive to their customers’ needs and angry with their employer.

The Home Depot has been less aggressive in their devaluation of the kitchen design profession, but they have continued to undermine it, and under pay their designers.

Designers can no longer measure their kitchens, move walls and doorways as needed, or even take responsibility for their designs. Contractors are expected to verify all measurements and take responsibility for any discrepancies. Home Depot kitchen measures that were once quite detailed and took over an hour are now routinely under 20 minutes.

Lowe’s and The Home Depot also continue to have disingenuous sales.

These sales pressure customers to buy now or miss a sale that is manufactured on a regular basis. These sales drive closings on kitchens often before it’s sensible to be ordering. And home centers are generally not less than 5% from their competitors in price, even with sales. In fact, they are sometimes more expensive. Cabinet pricing from an independent cabinet dealer must be similar, when the independent dealer carries the same cabinet lines.

IKEA Store

The lucrative kitchen cabinet market has lured other retailers besides IKEA such as Costco into selling kitchen cabinets. But again, without the benefit of a true kitchen designer. As is so often the case, greed and a lack of knowledge is dangerous.

Kitchens are far too expensive and complicated not to have a professional kitchen designer advising you on the important decisions you have to make during a detailed renovation. And investing in a poor kitchen design can not only waste money, but it can also actually devalue your home. Buying poorly made cabinets like IKEA is no longer even inexpensive, as many better constructed import lines are available. IKEA has also recently downgraded their cabinet construction making them a particularly poor choice in kitchen cabinetry.

In my opinion, working with home centers when renovating a kitchen is no longer sensible. Below are some of our related blog posts:

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all our customers and blog readers.

. . . and of course. . .

Bon Appetit!


57 Replies to “Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Kitchen at Lowe’s or Home Depot”

  1. Cee

    Everything stated here was my experience with Lowe’s these last 5 months. Author is spot on. Live and learn!

  2. Rick

    You are trying so hard to steal Lowes and Home Depot customers. You don’t care about the customers, you care about the money you could make by converting customers to you by bad mouthing the competition. You would do and say anything. I would not put it past you to create fake accounts to write reviews on here. You’re definitely after something. This is all bull and you know it. Lowes and Home Depot are successful businesses for a reason.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      First, most of the designers that work for our company now and in the past have worked first for either Home Depot or Lowes or both. 25 years ago I worked at Lowe’s and before that Home Depot. 25 years ago I earned 70K at Lowes and another designer I worked with earned 90K. No home Depot or Lowe’s designer makes anywhere near that much money now.

      Second in the past, I used to recommend people working with home centers. Before they decided to devalue kitchen designers and not allow designers to see and measure the kitchens that they designed.

      Third you know nothing about our industry. Most kitchen designers would agree with me and even most designers working at home centers, particularly designers from Lowes, would agree with me. A few even do in the comments on this blog.

      Lastly, I shop at both home centers and I have family that works for them. I think both chains do a great job at some things. However kitchen design was never their strength and it has become much worse over time as cooperate devalued the kitchen designer position. READ the blog and the comments before talking nonsense.

    2. Cheryl

      Based on my experience with Lowe’s, Yonkers NY, the author is right. I purchased Kraftmaid custom cabinets from Lowe’s in August 2023. The designer made mistakes in the measure, and cabinets had to be re-ordered. But again more mistakes. As a result, and after many emails, I had had enough and asked for a total refund and for Lowe’s to take the cabinets back. Store managers, nor corporate haven’t resolved the problem in a stress free manner for me. Lowe’s’ gave me two options: I pay Lowe’s $1,200 to remove the cabinets or continue with this fiasco. As a result I have 10 kitchen cabinets that have been sitting in my living room since September. I wish I had read this article before purchasing from Lowe’s. I believe if I had gone to a design center I would have had a new kitchen installed by now.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Hi Cheryl,
        Buying cabinets at Lowes doesn’t always turn out poorly and buying cabinets from an independent cabinet dealer doesn’t always turn out well. However, the system Lowe’s has in place makes a successful kitchen renovation experience far more difficult. Designing a kitchen well requires an important fist step, having the designer measure the home and evaluate personally what design options might be possible. Eliminating this first step starts off a Lowes kitchen remodel on the wrong foot. Paying designers low wages almost guarantees that good designers wont stay with the company. Lowes Management is experienced in retail sales, but knows nothing about kitchen renovation and kitchen design. This means from the top down the decision making process is handicapped by by a severe lack of expertise.

        Add to all these bad decisions the very tough work environment the poor Lowes designers work under. Lots of noise, distractions, and interruptions that designers working at independent showrooms do not endure.

        Finally, in our company all the designs that our designers sell are reviewed by either myself or our vice president Chris Rossetti. The actual orders are also placed and reviewed by our office administrator, the designer, and again by either Chris or Myself. Lowes not only doesn’t do this but they don’t have the experienced experts needed to review complicated designs.

  3. Jake

    While your criticism of Lowes and Home Depot may or may not have merit, it is a poor sales tactic to knock your competition and doesn’t reflect well on you at all.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Criticism with merit is constructive criticism. It is considered helpful by most people and could, in this case, prevent a consumer wasting a fortune.

      Most of the people that read our blog are outside our service area and so their local home centers are not our competitors. This is why we try to recommend responsible other dealers around the US. See link here:

      We don’t recommend actual competitors within our service area. However, we do not say anything negative about competent ones, and there are many. Home Centers simply no longer reach this level of competence for kitchen design and kitchen renovation.

    2. Mark

      I recently dropped a box store (above mentioned) kitchen subcontracting gig for the reasons this article illustrates, retailers are NOT skilled/experienced contractors.

      As a plumber, the contractor took more than a 60% markup on any added work, and there was almost always added work because no one viewed these jobs in person prior to start….a $600 re-pipe then became a $1,000 re-pipe, etc.

      This led to constant situations where the customer was angry over price and usually it was directed at me, I told the contractor the mark up was too steep, he simply told me it was the box store who made that decision, so I left them.

      Assuming all their subcontractors were skimmed this badly, it’s also easy to see why & how the quality of work is so poor.

      I had to take pics of every job before starting to avoid liability, scratches, cracks and misaligned installations were common as a result of underpaid contractors rushing the jobs.

      Lowes and Home Depot are massive, a duopoly with very little competition, as a result their business practices are extremely rapacious, they over-charge you, underpay the subcontractors, all in the name of shareholder value and C-suite bonuses.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Hi Mark,
        Lots of one-sided issues that home centers force on their subcontractors:
        1) Contractors are forced to forgo getting paid anything until jobs are complete and signed off on by the home center. Meanwhile Lowe’s and The Home Depot insist on being paid in full for all labor and materials by the customers before even scheduling the job.
        2) When disputes arise the home centers are notorious for giving in to customers even when they are 100% wrong because they don’t want to lose future business. Then they make the subcontractor eat the disputed amount, which costs them nothing.
        3) The contractors are also held 100% responsible for the design and measurement errors as no home center employees measure the kitchens.
        4) Both Lowe’s and The Home Depot are known for bankrupting the companies that they work with. This is because they take a “my way or the highway” approach to all their business relationships.


      Dear Jake unfortunately this article is true. I worked at Home Depot 2000 to 2014 and yes it has gone downhill I was lucky enough to be in the error of paying a real designer. I now work at Lowes as a Kitchen designer. I don’t call myself a specialist mainly because I have my NKBA and my ASID. Both companies are acquiring uneducated in experienced people and not doing the proper training. Do I like working for the company not really do I love what I do yes. With 43 years in design and construction, I am eminently not making any more than the clerk at Mc Donlad’s and yes 50% less then I made at HD in 2000. These corporation do not have the employees in mind but the bottom line of plain greed for them self. I have seen it go downhill the last 20 years. I’m close to retirement 1 year away and no one wants to hire old people with experience and accountability. The big corporations don’t want to invest in training good training anymore it throw you in the fire or they send them to the people already working in that department who may have experience but more than like they don’t.

      1. ITSAdmin

        Hi Lorraine,
        Yes, our industry is not what it was. I’m responding to you from my balconey on a cruise ship in Lisbon Portugal, so at 65 I am winding down too. Hope you enjoy retirement. I feel kitchen designers get a little bit of imortality from the happiness we create by helping people get the new kitchens that improve their lives and make them and their families happier.

    4. Ed

      I don’t think Paul was really knocking the competition as he was very diplomatic in his comments. One of the problems with even your more experienced designers (including CKD’s etc) is that most of them have no construction experience other than a few job site visits. Most people purchase from the big box stores because they have no idea who they can trust. So they sit there with the designer over multiple appointments in a dusty noisy environment, while a designer, who is being interrupted by other customers, is trying to finish and close a kitchen sale before the manufacturer’s promotion closes. Been there, done that. There is no way in hell that a big box store can match a reputable professional kitchen design business for quality of service. Most kitchen designers stay with the big box stores because of benefits.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Hi Ed,
        You bring up the most difficult part of working on designs in Home Centers. The noise, the interruptions, and an environment full of as many distractions as there are dust particles. Home Center designers may not be the most experienced, or payed well – but they deserve medals for their service.

    5. Rick

      Agree Jake

  4. Jimmy Letourneau

    Any ideas for good kitchen design stores in San Diego Ca?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jimmy,
      This post lists recommends dealers around the US with one in San Diego:

  5. Christopher Wilber

    I bought from USA CABINETS. Best decision they were 40% less than Home Depot was trying to charge me. [Review continued on]

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Christopher,
      While I agree that you can get well made cabinets from USA Cabinets, you can not get competent design help. Our screening software identified you as working for USA Cabinets so I cut short your plug for the brand.

  6. Robert

    Lowes does not deliver! We ordered our cabinets in December of 2021 and they were delivered in Dec 2023! All wrong of course. Today, April 10,2023 we just open the new cabints and it not only the wrong size, its missing a door and hinges on one side. Please Please don’t order your cabinets from Lowes as you will regret it. We have been in the store multiple times to try and sort this out. Each time we had to deal with someone new. Regardless of the discounts offered do not bite.

    1. CAMELA

      Robert, I have gone through something similar. I paid for everything accept the installation of countertops which is Pavimento but contracted though Lowes. My cabinets delivered were broken and damaged. I had to get replacements and that was timely. Counter top has visible seam. I learned well after from professional contractors, that cabinets were ordered with wrong sizes. Problem is I went without an entire kitchen for a year and I am selling house and project should have been done by January 2023 at the lastest which was way too long. I have asked for monetary reimbursement for the issues. I had a contractor talk with Lowes Installation Manager and pointed out each issue. They agreed, but Lowes says they will offer me $250.00 if I sign a release to all claims. Its a Unconditional Release and Forever Discharge Lowes Home Center LLC , Its parent and all subsidiaries and affiliates ……. I have dozens of emails, ive spent hours on the phone with Lowes and I would NEVER RECOMMEND anyone to purchase a Kitchen from Lowes. I have been dealing with Beth an executive customer relations, who has not given me the information I requested. Names of the committee and how they made their decision. Basically them saying they will replace and install anything in error… So Ill have to wait months and months again, How can they promise that I wont be delivered broken cabinets again and have to wait months. This project has already causes loss of money. If it would have been done, my house would have already been sold.
      The disappointment and anguish and stress this has caused has literally brought me to my knees. Lowes not the company I thought it was.

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Hi Camela,
        Replacing damaged cabinets should be fast. Not sure of your issues but Lowes does use a Logistic company to deliver that we used to use until they began damaging cabinets and losing them. We now pay twice as much for delivery, but the results are worth having us and our customers pay a little more to avoid all the trouble.

  7. Marie

    Lowes told us to demo our kitchen to ready for cabinet install in August 2022. As of today, January 2023, we still do not have it completely installed. Lowes is very unresponsive and blames the installer. The installer blames, Lowes. Meanwhile, I have six cabinet fronts that do not fit, Handles that were not installed as promised due to screws that were too short, missing, molding, and much frustration.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Marie,
      Sounds like everyone involved has a piece of the blame. Screws for the handles can be picked up at the hardware store by the contractor or the drawer fronts removed and the handles installedn with the screws you have. Who measured the kitchen? Who approved the sizes that were ordered? Lowes doesn’t have anything to do with the installation of handles. That’s 100% on the contractor.

    2. Judy Tullos

      Hi, What! Me too! I ordered a cabinet, single oven base, because a double oven was never my choice. I want it gone. The first one was found to be mismeasured for my thirty-inch stove, which I told the cabinet rep I had. It went back and the second order was successfully shipped. Meanwhile the installer decided to design a pedestal for my stove, at a cost of one thousand seven hundred dollars. But, I could get a cabinet with storage, cabinets above and drawers below for that. So I found a simple single oven base cabinet with a drawer,
      local cabinet supplier, for less than that. Besides, the installer has not responded to any emails since before I got his plans on December nineteenth. If you recall, I first ordered a cabinet in August. I expected to roast a turkey in a new stove, Surely Christmas. I am returning the cabinet ( they have it and expect a restocking fee of about seventy dollars as that is twenty percent). I do feel better about calling another cabinet company. I thought I was safe to have the same company that sold me the cabinet install it. My real injury is I have lost sleep, made six trips to Lowe’s, and spent way too much time waiting for the installer to just answer. I know it was December, but we once had roofers working on Christmas Eve. None of the miscommunication has been my fault .

  8. Amanda James

    Hi Scott,

    I was happy to see your article, as I was one of the kitchen designers that went through the Lowes restructuring of that department. The worst part of the transition was after they took away our spiffs and 1/2 of our commission, they hired Interior Specialists that not only received 4% of our cabinetry sales, but 4% of everything included in “their” sale. That would be appliances, flooring, lighting, and even a screw! Each department would do all the work and the the Interior Specialist would get all the credit (awards) and money. At my store, they made over $120,000 one year.
    I also heard that the Interior Specialists threatened a class action suit about hours worked, and Lowes settled out of court and our Specialist (even after she left) received a check for over $9,000.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Amanda,
      At Lowes every lucrative job is eventually eliminated due to corporate greed and undervaluing expertise, so eventually the Interior sales position was eliminated leaving only the outside sales position still commission. That was also eventually eliminated. Lowes routinely takes advantage of their employees. For example, some of these employee class action suits get resolved by declaring losses that reduce Lowes contributions to their employee’s retirement plan. So that they get their employees coming and going.

  9. Sarah

    I have just completed my training as a kitchen designer here at the home depot. The process took 8 months, while the training is very good, it is basic and will take me practicing and having my designs peer reviewed by senior designers for a long while. I fully plan on using Home Depot to learn as much as I can and then try for a better paying KD position. Home Depot will pay for your NKBA certification. Also if you do decided to go with THD for your kitchen project we have a guarantee on our product and install, we will make it right for the customer.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sarah,
      8 months of training is something new at The Home Depot, at least in our area. Having your designs reviewed by the expeditor or department head is not new. However, moving and removing load bearing walls is essential in most of the designs we do in our area and The Home Depots around here don’t let the designers or installers move any structural elements. This makes the kitchens that they sell poor investments for most of their customers. They do guaranty their work which is great, but the design itself is what gives the renovation value. So, if the design isn’t great, either because the designer is inexperienced or because structural changes were required to get the best design, then the customer was poorly served.

    2. Michelle

      Did THD pay you for training?

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Hi Michelle,
        I can answer for Sarah. Yes The Home Depot pays for every moment you are working for them. So you get paid for your training while on the job. Unfortunately for Home Depot Customers, and as Sarah mentions, as soon as you receive the training they provide and work as a kitchen designer for a couple of years, any sensible kitchen design employee would immediately start looking for a better paying design position. Home Depot and Lowe’s both pay far less than other kitchen showrooms.

        For example, the highest paid kitchen designers in our area working at a home center make less than 60K and most make under 50K. While kitchen designers working at independent showrooms would start at 60K and can make as much as 200 or 300K on a good year with commissions.

        I had lunch with a designer last week that made 340K in 2021. In fact the combined salaries of the four designers at our table was 830K for that very lucrative year.

        So if you are looking to become a kitchen designer The Home Depot is a great place to start! However as a customer the most important element in your expensive kitchen renovation, the designer, can’t really be very good. Otherwise they would be working someplace else.

  10. Mike Schools

    Mr Roach is not telling the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. How do I know, watched my wife for over 17 years, the majority of that in cabinets then in their interior sales position debacle. When Lowes opened up in 2002, the employees were great, learned their areas and were helpful. That changed, with the exception of a few, no one seemed to care. First went spiffs(sp), which to me seemed a joke. Paying mfr incentives for items, people the majority of the time had to have. Mainly appliances. Then their cutbacks, as referenced in the article. My wife is a very conscientious person and took her work seriously. By this time, I wouldn’t bother with other employees because they no longer knew the store (there were a few), I just ask my wife, then I just started going to local owned, more customer oriented. As I said, they asked her to do the interior sales position, but they failed to vet their contractors and it was nothing but a headache for her. I saw many people that would have made excellent managers over that time but Lowe’s for some reason didn’t promote from within. Lowe’s had gone from being employee friendly to typical corporation. As for my wife, she’s still designing for a custom shop but with the current issues with cabinets suppliers who knows. But people will continue going to the big box stores because they believe they’re the best for lower prices.

  11. Donna Rutana

    NEVER remodel your kitchen at Lowes. They subcontract everything out and when problems arise, they will barely get back to you. When they do, they fall back on the one year warranty for any issue you may have. My 2 year old granite is rough and dull, the sink isn’t mounted correctly and the silicone fell out after 18 months and water went into my cabinet and it is all warped. All they say is I had one year warranty. They are the most worthless company in helping you solve issues whether it is about the granite, the sink, etc. THE WORST STORE TO REMODEL A KITCHEN FROM. DEFINITELY……BUYER BEWARE!!!!!!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Donna,
      It seems like you had a particularly bad experience with that Lowes. Generally I think other problems are more common then Lowes not standing behind the work they do.

      Here’s a quick way to get satisfaction at a home center. Write or email corporate you complaint. Since problem resolution is far more effective starting at the top you will find starting there less frustrating.

  12. David Mayben

    If it takes a person 8 hrs to measure your kitchen, you are working with the wrong company.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi David,
      It takes 8 hours to drive to a customer’s home and to discuss and measure their kitchen, then to put those dimensions on a computer and create a 3D design in 20-20 CAD and afterwards in a 2 hours design appointment to show the customer those designs, make changes to the designs together, and to price out their entire project.

      Main Line kitchen design does all this for a $150 deposit. Some potential customers think we should do all this and share that much of our expertise without a deposit at all. We charge the small deposit not to make money but to eliminate the people that are so selfish that they don’t find the small deposit reasonable. We have found that the people that object to the small deposit are people we prefer not working with.

      Fortunately because we are accomplished designers and offer cabinetry at very reasonable prices our designers are overbooked with the people working within our design and deposit system. The small deposits we charge qualify customers and help us allocate our time effectively. This benefits our customers by keeping our prices low and benefits our designers by allowing them to make a better living.

  13. V. Marie

    Hi there,
    I just wanted to let you know that The Home Depot actually started Virtual Design Consultations at the beginning of May 2020. I had mine set for May 16th 2020, and the designer I worked with was a gentleman who had owned his own cabinet shop for over 40 years, and is now retirement age, keeping busy designing kitchens. In the process I learned that they send their designers to Atlanta for a week to learn the program and rules of design. T

    So, the part you stated regarding Covid-19, and The Home Depot’s response to the pandemic is inaccurate, as well as the insinuation that the designers are not very good, or knowledgeable simply because they don’t make commission.
    March 2020 is when the pandemic really made its presents in the US, and so this was within a few months that they had this option. Also, I would like to mention that they gave each employee 80 hours of paid leave, voluntary or due to Covid-19 Diagnosis. Further more if the employee used the time voluntarily, and ended up getting the virus, they paid their wage anyway. So, The Home Depot is actually taking care of their designers, and Customers during this hard time. I think you should redact that portion, as its untrue.
    I was totally happy with my experience and my cabinets are amazing. Thanks to Bob in American Fork Utah.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      There are definitely some good and even very good designers that work for both Lowes and the Home Depot they are just becoming more rare.

      You really didn’t read the blog, as much of the issues you bring up apply to Lowes and not Home Depot.
      It is Lowes that treated their employees badly not Home Depot.

      A weeks training is nothing as it takes years of experience to become even competent as a Kitchen Designer.
      Not having designers measure the kitchens they work on and move walls and other structural elements means they are doing the job half way.
      Lastly when you pay so much less than other places you can’t expect to get the best designers.

      I’m glad you are happy with your kitchen and worked with an experienced designer, but your experience is the exception to the rule.

      I does make me a little suspicious when a poster has so much information about about how Home Depot’s human resources department works.

  14. Mike


    Thank you for your website — I’ve learned more here than I wanted.

    We hired an acquaintance who does kitchen renovations. His initial estimate was $125k which jumped to $200k w/o explanation. This made things uncomfortable and I politely requested an explanation. He replied that his company’s policy was to not provide a detailed breakdown and that the initial estimate serves as a starting point only, not as an end-all. I then paid him a total of $17k to purchase the plans which we loved and walked away. Now I’m researching cabinets and as I said, this website and all the contributors have been invaluable. So thank you.

    It seems the crux of your objection to contracting with Lowe’s/HD for cabinets has to do with their level of design expertise as well as their questionable subcontractors. From my research (and I think you’d agree), Kraftmaid, Schuler, and to a slightly lesser extent Diamond/Thomasville are all great products (at worst they’re on par with Canyon Creek which our original design was based around, but realistically, everything I’ve read suggest them to be superior). If I were to supply Lowe’s/HD with my plans, and if I were to hire my own general contractor, do you see any other reason to not proceed?

    For what its worth, estimates from a couple of subcontractors whom we feel comfortable with have been less than our original estimate and I’ve been happy with our decision to step back.

    Thank you.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Mike,
      You are right that those cabinet lines upgraded are fine lines. However Home Centers aren’t necessarily less expensive than private dealers. For example Main Line Kitchen Design is slightly less expensive “apples to apples” than home centers near us. Many independent dealers will be within 5% of a home centers price. Especially ones that carry the same lines. There is no guaranty that private dealers will have better designers and be better organized than Lowes or Home Depot, but if the dealer gets good reviews it is far more likely.

      You are starting at a disadvantage by having worked extensively with one company and wanting to buy your cabinets from another. All the discussions that created your design the new designer was not privy too, and who will be taking responsibility for the measurements and that the design doesn’t have mistakes.

      I would send us your design just to see if we see problems arising before selecting a designer and dealer to work with. We review plans Fridays 2-4 pm EST free of charge. This Friday I am on. Call our main number or my cell directly at 610-500-4071 and email the drawings to

  15. Alberta Holloway

    Seems to me to be a bit biased. we have had in the past 2 NOT lowes or home depot renovate kitchens and the same thing occurred including pressuring for sales time limits etc. seems us home owners can’t win for losing… no matter how you go

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Alberta,
      If you had bad experiences twice that would suggest to me that either you are doing something wrong in your search for a company to work with, or that there aren’t a lot of choices in your area. That could make a home center the best choice for you.

      Doing something wrong in your search might not seem obvious to you. For example, my sister is one of the smartest and nicest people I know, but when she was trying to get an estimate for installing her kitchen none of the contractors she brought in retuned a quote. I quizzed her because I suspected she was doing something wrong. It turned out that because I had told her to get three estimates she felt bad having contractors work on giving her an estimate when she would only be selecting one to work with. She thought she was being sensitive to the contractors and honest by apologizing and telling them she was getting three quotes. Contractors perceived the warning as threatening and telling them that they better give her a good price. Once she stopped doing this she instantly got bids and better input from the nest three contractors.

      Customers could instantly turn off kitchen designers by seeming like know-it-alls or cost driven and not respecting the designers time and expertise. Designers will suspect customers are difficult to work with if they say things like:

      I know exactly what I want
      I don’t need a designer
      My kitchen can only be designed one way

      or by

      Not wanting to pay a small deposit to have the designer measure their home, create a design, and go over it with them.
      Or by wanting a designer to quote a design from somewhere else, of one they did themselves.

      Kitchen designer are interviewing potential customers just as customers are interviewing kitchen designers.
      Customer that give off a bad vibe might be intentionally dismissed by more experienced designers and so through “natural selection” end up with the type designers that you describe.

  16. Damon

    There are pros and cons to utilizing big box stores for home remodeling projects. One benefit is I know where I can complain and raise hell if something goes wrong or is delayed. Use a GC or independent shop, especially as a new resident, and you’re probably flipping a coin.

    To the gripe about the Home Depot & Lowes ~$99 in-home measurement fee, that fee is deductible from the final project cost. It protects themselves from looky-loos and comparison shoppers.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Damon,
      I would agree that when you work with a home center you know that even though you will most likely be working with less experienced people you are assured that the job gets completed even if individual contractors or people quit, get injured or go bankrupt. However doing a good job researching the reviews of independent kitchen places is probably safe and you will get a more professional result. Since the creativeness and ability of the kitchen designer determines to a large extent the value of your home, working with a less qualified designer could cost you a fortune in lost resale value.

      I also agree – the $99 is just to get rid of time wasters and people looking for something for nothing. If they don’t get the $99 deposit that’s applied to the project, no one would be advised working with them.

  17. Peggy

    We are remodeling a kitchen in an older home. We are on a budget but want to make an informed decision. We met a Schrock representative at a local cabinet store. She suggested the Entra line Ingalis door, painted. What are your thoughts about this line of Schrock versus Trademark. She also did not feel it was necessary to upgrade from furniture board to partial plywood. Entra also has a full plywood box. Thank you and we appreciate your thoughts.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      There are many better made, less expensive and better looking painted cabinet choices then Schrock. Unless they have a specific color paint that you “must have” which is a separate issue, I would not recommend them. If you are getting a painted white shaker style door from Schroch you are wasting your money. Any upper tier import will make an off white shaker door far better. Fabuwood would be one of the best choices: All plywood construction, every upgrade available as standard construction, including solid wood dovetail drawers and soft close drawers and hinges. A better style shaker door with an attractive bevel and a wider door frame. And finally a smoother nicer finish. All costing less than Schrock.

      We sell mid priced US Lines ourselves but would never sell a painted white shaker door in Legacy Presidential or Bishop. Fabuwood does that style and color better for less. It is in the stains, different wood species that the mid priced US lines are worth the money. Most custom lines do everything well and their stains are like fine furniture, but they are much more than all these choices.

  18. Viktor Wills

    Home depot charges 99 dollars to just come out and measure space. It’s a joke. This should be free to be able to get an estimate.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Victor,
      I disagree. Giving you a detailed estimate requires about 8 hours of the person measuring and the designers time. Homeowners take an incredible amount of peoples time without consequence when kitchen design professionals measure for free. We charge $150 to measure, do preliminary designs, and give customers a 2 hour design meeting where we make design changes and price out the customers kitchen from soup to nuts.

      $150 doesn’t even remotely pay for our time but it does qualify homeowners and give them an incredible amount of advice and expertise for very little. Valuing our time and expertise is important to the working relationship between us and our customers.Just like customers are shopping for designers and cabinet dealers we are shopping for what will be good customers.

      Here’s a funny video on the topic:

  19. Sara

    Hi, enjoyed reading your comments/responses. we are starting a kitchen remodel and are conflicted about which cabinet company to use. We want the full access/euro style cabs and designer recommended Crystal Cabinets/Encore. Then checked out Home Depot’s Thomasville Nouveau line which is cost 60% less. Can you pls provide your opinion? we do want good quality cabinets that last 20 yrs but is it worth paying the extra amount? thanks!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Sara,
      First we would only recommend frameless cabinetry for modern slab door styles. Is that what you are considering. Thomasville Nouvell is terribly constructed so we would never recommend that line, and Chrystal Encore IS a very expensive custom frameless line, so maybe you need better help in selecting a cabinet line in the type of door style you like. Crystal doesn’t say how their Encore line is exactly made but they are a good cabinet line in general. There will be less expensive lines with the same construction though. What is the door style you are looking for?

  20. Johnny Roach

    As a manager at Lowe’s, I can assure you this article is horse crap at best. We still have most of our designer’s. We still pay them supervisor pay. They still learn CAD and most know more about kitchen design than licensed contractors. BTW its PAID* not payed!

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Johnny,
      Glad your managerial skills allowed you to catch a typo. I’m returning from the National Kitchen Show and sitting across from one of many former Lowes kitchen designers. Being a former Lowes kitchen designer myself I have to agree with him that Lowes store managers are, in general, part of the problem and not the solution to all that’s wrong with the kitchen departments at Lowes. Neither one of us knows any remaining good designers still working for Lowes and lots of angry former commissioned employees from appliances and other departments that just lost 25% of their salaries. Licensed contractors by the way are not qualified to design kitchens.

  21. Unhappy customer

    I have to concur. It took home Depot over 5 months to install my kitchen. Someone else did the flooring/plumbing and demolition. Cabinet installation took 5 months. Extremely stressful experience.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Wow that’s a long time! A two week delay makes our customers incredibly upset.

  22. Megan

    Hello, I realize that this article pertains to matters in the US, however I work at a Home Depot in Canada and we can absolutely move walls and door ways as needed, load bearing or not. We have experienced installers that do the measures, construction and installation. Yes it is unfortunate that designers can no longer go inside the customers home, however the measure form that the installer fills out is extremely detailed and always has pictures of the existing space accompanied with it.This provides more than enough information for us to create beautiful renderings using 20/20 and to ensure the customer gets their dream kitchen. We do have time sensitive sales that pressure the customer into buying their cabinets, sometimes this is exactly the push the customers need to get their project started especially if they have been waiting for years to update their home. Home Depot also has extensive instructor led training to ensure that each and every designer is aware of NKBA standards and best practices when it comes to designing kitchens as well as bathrooms, offices, closets or whatever other room the customer may be interested in doing. I have never worked on commission, so I cannot speak to what a loss that might have been. I can say that because we do not work on commission, I have a great partnership with the other two designers I work with. The only competition is with ourselves and with our sales last year. Home Depot has tons of incentive programs and contests to inspire us to be the best we can be. I of course cannot speak on behalf of all Home Depot stores, but mine is pretty great.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Megan,
      I have a couple of issues with your comment:

      First, yes Canada is a very different place than the US and also your store could be an exception to the rule, even in Canada.

      Knowing many US kitchen designers from Home Depot none of us would ever call Home Depot PK’s and their limited training extensive.

      On the job training is a poor substitute for the knowledge and years of experience needed to make a kitchen designer competent. And designing kitchens that remove load bearing walls requires construction knowledge from the designer that Home Depot does not give, and experience from the contractor that Home Depot does not test for.

      And finally, your comment is so well thought out, and addresses marketing and advertising issues so effectively, that Home Depot Corporate couldn’t have done a better job. Your email is listed as info which makes me suspicious that there might have been some direction from above in creating your comment.

      If not, you are as good a marketer as you might be a kitchen designer, and exceptional people are always “the exception to the rule”. The best kitchen designers I have met have always been exceptional people so your customers are very lucky to have you.

  23. Scott Mass

    Excellent perspective and useful for my designers as an independent kitchen dealer with Lowes down the street

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Scott,
      Thanks, I can’t believe that with the recent salary changes that the Lowes designers could be putting up much competition.

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