14 Mistakes To Avoid When You Remodel Your Kitchen
Any decision to remodel your kitchen is not made quickly or easily. The process often comes with planning (and replanning) and sleepless nights – just to arrive at the go/no-go point, usually about whether to remodel or move instead. Most people hit the ground running once they greenlight the project the green light. In the heat of enthusiasm and excitement for their dream kitchen to materialize, they may overlook essential steps for a successful remodeling process.
Mistake 1—Getting attached to the “Grand” plan, not your actual floor plan
It’s tempting for a homeowner to focus on their big dream or grand plan for everything they desire for their new kitchen. With big dreams and big ideas, they can lose sight of their current kitchen’s floor plan or footprint. When you start with the existing floor plan, you can readily update cabinets, storage and workflow without the need to move electrical or plumbing. Any contractor will tell you the expenses add up in a hurry when you change existing plumbing and electrical wiring.
When it comes to the determining the style and color of your new kitchen, keep in mind how the new look will fit in with the rest of the house. At the very least, think about how your colors will work together.
Mistake 2–DIY design
Count on the temptation to design your new kitchen yourself, especially when the home-improvement programs on TV make such a feat seem possible for an average person. You gain many benefits from working with a professional kitchen designer, up to and including saving time and avoiding extra stress. A designer will help you work with all of the elements in your remodel – from cabinet color and style to hardware, lighting, backsplash, countertop and floor color. You can count on the designer’s expertise to narrow down your choices and help you make selections that work well together, and with the rest of your home.
A designer can also help you plan for the kitchen you want – and make a remodeling investment that will improve the value of your home. He or she will make sure you incorporate universal design features that will serve you as you age and appeal to buyers when it comes time to sell.
Mistake 3– Choosing the wrong appliances
Homeowners often forget – until it’s too late – about how and where their appliances fit in the design process. Sometimes they assume they’ll keep their existing appliances and then decide at the last minute that new ones would be much better. This becomes a problem if the location or size of an appliance changes – even an inch or less of difference can create a big headache. (See mistake #1,about losing site of an existing floor plan.)
Mistake 4—Choosing style over function
With your layout established, focus on the function of your “work triangle.” A designer will help you place your refrigerator in the correct, functional proximity to your stove and your sink. These three elements form your “work triangle,” allowing you the space and tools you need to prep and cook a meal without a cabinet or island in your way.
Another common functional mistake is failing to consider how, and in which direction, doors for your cabinets, refrigerator, dishwasher and oven will open. In most cases, you want to be sure you can open the pantry cabinet and the fridge at the same time. It’s especially frustrating if you can’t have the dishwasher open when you need to open the door to the cabinet where you store your dishes.
Mistake 5: Following trends too closely
Home improvement magazines feature pretty pictures to sell more magazines. Your kitchen does not need to express the pinnacle of kitchen trendiness. Your best case is to find a balance between styles and colors popular today, and those that will still look good for more than a few years.
Don’t remodel your kitchen to keep up with the neighborhood; your first priority needs to be how you live in your home and use the kitchen. If the end result doesn’t suit you, your budget and make you happy, you’ve made a big investment in someone else’s dream kitchen, not yours.
Mistake 6–Not including enough storage and prep space
The hard truth is that your floor plan is what it is – unless you have an unlimited budget and ambitions to renovate other areas of your house. If that’s the case, you can “never mind” and knock out that non-load bearing and relocate doors and windows. Most of the time, you work with what you have and do your best to create additional storage and workspace with your design.
It’s possible to add storage and workspace to any size kitchen, from a small galley or one-wall to a large open-concept kitchen. Simple improvements like two-tiered cutlery drawers and Tupperware pullouts can easily organize storage space that tends to get out of control. Full-height cabinets extend to the ceiling, and provide extra room for another shelf, either inside your cabinets or on top. Pullout cutting boards can increase countertop space while eliminating a piece that needs storage.
Mistake 7–DIY installation
You’ve taken significant steps to design an aesthetically pleasing kitchen, and you can’t wait to begin cooking. But you think you’ve seen enough remodeling shows to install the cabinets and countertops yourself. Our advice? Hit pause before you start your demolition and call a professional. Better yet, consult the professionals recommended by the cabinet company. Unless you are a contractor who remodels kitchens for a living, you’ll always be ahead of the game if you work with a licensed and insured professional. They are well-prepared to handle the heavy lifting, both literally and figuratively, and manage important details like building codes and permits.
Even for what seems like a minor remodeling project, there will likely come a time when you need to help with electrical or plumbing work. To ensure you don’t start a kitchen fire because you decided you should be able to wire the garbage disposal on your own, call professional tradespeople who know about the codes and do everything by the book – you’ll end up with a remodel that’s both beautiful and safe, and one that well help you pass inspection when it’s time to sell.
Mistake 8—Not adding enough lighting
A beautifully designed kitchen should have at least three types of lighting:
- Overhead lighting for the whole room
- Task lighting directed to food prep, cooking or clean up
- Accent lighting to add ambiance
In-ceiling can or track lights are great for illuminating the room overall. Under-cabinet lighting, range hood lighting and a light over the sink will provide task lighting. And you can take lighting up a notch with over-cabinet lights, pendant lights, or even lighting along the toe-kick of your cabinetry that will showcase the design elements you love the most.
Mistake 9–Blowing the budget
Homeowners often believe that their DIY remodel stretches their budget. Yes, you pay good money for the services of a contractor – but part of their job is to make sure your budget works hard for you. The contractor is the right person to advise you about what’s absolutely necessary for your remodel, and what might be nice – but not necessary, especially if you want to stay within budget.
Your budget must also include room for contingencies. What happens if an install goes wrong or a cabinet unit arrives damaged during shipping? You need to have funds available should such an incident occur – experienced professionals recommend a set-aside of 10% of your kitchen remodeling budget as a precaution.
A good designer will also help you mix and match the right accessories to arrive at a yo beautiful and functional cabinet system at the desired price point. Focus first on high-quality cabinets, appliances and accessories that will hold up to their intended use. A less-expensive version may look nice for a while, but often show enough wear and tear that you’ll end up replacing them – at the same cost – a few years down the road. If you don’t want to think ahead to replacements, it’s wise pay a little more for items of better quality.
Mistake 10–Overlooking essentials
One of the banes of an ambitious cook’s life can be the number of appliances you need to turn on at the same time. This often means musical chairs around the most convenient electrical outlet. It’s easy to overlook electrical outlet needs when designing your new kitchen. Be sure to discuss every appliance that requires power and where you’ll use it to make sure you end up with the right number of outlets. More outlets may add some cost, but you’ll be glad you remembered to include them during the planning phase, rather than after your beautiful new backsplash has been installed.
Mistake 11—Failing to ventilate a new oven adequately
The predictable buzz of your smoke alarm may have been the cue for all the neighborhood kids to head home for dinner. But when you remodel your kitchen, you can remedy that situation with a new and improved range hood. There are many different types of hoods available. Some vent outside of your house and others recirculate the air after removing smoke and particles. It’s smart to invest in a better range hood that will pull smoke out of the air and vent odors and heat out of your kitchen.
Mistake 12–Forgetting about the trash and recycling
Recycling and trash are not something you want as the focal point of your new kitchen. If your space allows, it is nice to have a cabinet dedicated with a pullout for trash and recycling. This keeps the garbage and recycling stored out of sight and easy to manage.
Mistake 13—Making changes during construction
Your designer will help you plan and select cabinets and countertops to optimize your kitchen layout. We can’t say this often enough: The time to make changes is in the design phase, not after you’ve ordered your cabinets or during the installation!
Double and triple check your design and cabinet choices before you sign off on your final order. After that point, any changes to flooring, fixtures, cabinets, countertops or appliances can stop your remodel dead in its tracks – and you’ll be on the hook for restocking, new materials and additional labor. There’s no way around the fact that change order cost you time and money.
Mistake 14–Not enjoying the process
Pause for a moment – you have earned the privilege to design your dream kitchen. With a little hard work, your vision will become a reality right before your eyes. This is an exciting time. Yes, there’s stress in the heat of a remodel, but keep your eyes on the prize to imagine your beautiful new kitchen, streamlined for easy prep and cooking. And once the actual physical remodel is complete, you can enjoy selecting accessories and decorating your new “heart of the home.”
These 14 mistakes cover common – but avoidable – missteps that can happen during a kitchen remodel. It is not always a pleasant process, but with the right professionals on your team, you can transform your kitchen into a relaxing place for your family and friends to gather and enjoy time together.