17 April 2012

Food for Thought #7 - Just because you can, doesn't mean you should

I find myself using this line fairly often, so I thought I’d share my perspective on its importance to your kitchen or bath update.

Project scope

It’s not uncommon to find enthusiastic homeowners ready to rip down walls and shake up their entire home to get the kitchen or bath of their dreams. Web sites, TV shows and magazines all encourage consumerist fantasies that cost tens of thousands more than makes sense for your home and neighborhood, often in styles and layouts that won’t mesh with your existing architecture.

The most egregious example that comes to my mind was a couple building a new Florida home at the height of the boom. The wife brought me a picture of a lovely cottage-style kitchen with handsome wall cabinets rising from the countertops surrounding the main sink. “Your sink is on an island,” I pointed out. “This is designed for a sink wall.”

“My builder will create a support frame,” she replied. It didn’t matter that this frame would look absurd in the middle of her kitchen and defeat the openness that an island generally offers. She could get it done so she was going to make her husband and builder crazy doing it. Just because you can make something work, doesn’t mean you should!

Another common example is squeezing an island into a kitchen too small to accommodate one. I’ve had clients insist on including an island that will barely allow for 36-inch clearances, even though I’ve suggested that their space limitations will make the island more of a negative than a positive. Someone convinced them that a kitchen had to have one and darned if they weren’t going to! Just because you can squeeze something in, doesn’t mean you should!

Don't try to squeeze an island where it won't fit!
(Photo: Jamie Goldberg Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC)


This happened more during the boom years than it does today, thank goodness, but over-spending on your remodel rarely makes sense. Your budget might handle the extra funds just fine. You might be totally committed to having a $40,000-plus La Cornue Range but does this really make sense for your home and your neighborhood?

  • If a particular item doesn’t make Sensible Style for your home, but you’ve dreamed about it for decades and not including it will come as a great personal sacrifice, OK.
  • If you’re a professional caterer who works out of your home kitchen and need certain equipment, OK.
  • If you run a spa business at home and having a spa-level shower is a corporate necessity, OK.

Otherwise, put your money to better use, please! Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you should!

This gorgeous range isn't a Sensible Style choice for every kitchen
(Photo: La Cornue)

Care and feeding of your new kitchen

I always advise clients to use trivets and cutting boards on their new stone tops. Yes, they are heat resistant but you can still damage them with a pot straight off the burner. “I’ve put hot pots on my granite tops for 20 years,” declared one homeowner.” I shook my head sadly and repeated my recommendation of using a trivet. About a week after she got her new Absolute Black granite tops, she scorched a deep ring into the section next to her range. She couldn’t remove this mark. The fabricator came back to her home. They couldn’t remove the burn either. A lovely bowl sits on top of it today. Just because you can probably get away with doing something when absolutely necessary, doesn’t mean you should do it all the time.

Stone tops are durable, but they are not indestructible!
(Photo: Jamie Goldberg Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC)

Bottom line

Choose professionals in line with your lifestyle and project type and listen to their advice. Yes, it will still be your kitchen or bath. Yes, you can still have what you want. But be smart about it, please!


  1. I couldn't have said it better myself. I am going to print this out and have all of my clients read it! It is so true!

  2. Love the headline here!

    Agree with the content of the article, and also suggest the notion behind the headline applies to sooooo many other things.

  3. I agree entirely... It's one of my mantras!

  4. I could easily be guilty of the things listed here ... had I the money to be adamant and foolish. Sometimes not having the ready funds is better because it helps people be smarter, more reasonable and more resourceful. I will definitely keep these in mind just in case.

  5. Rye, I've found very little connection between foolishness and budget. There are smart and not so smart, stubborn and not so stubborn folks at every economic level!

  6. Great post, Jamie. Sometimes I think designers feel they have to "reinvent the wheel" just so clients feel like they're getting their money's worth (eye roll). I find some clients are relieved that they DON'T have to do that.

  7. Thanks, Gloria. You're absolutely right. I think some designers look to make a profit where it's not always in the client's best interest, as well. That's not good for the homeowner, the industry or Mother Earth!


Found Gold: Popular Posts from the Past!

Don't miss out on any gold -- subscribe by email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner