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  • Dominique Michelle Vidal

12 Kitchen Design Mistakes to Avoid



The kitchen is a magical place in any home. It sets the tone for the rest of the house and its occupants. It's where family and friends congregate, favorite dishes are cooked to be shared amongst one another, and hours are spent discussing topics over a glass (or two or three) of wine. This is exactly why many consider the heart of the home to be the kitchen.


Renovating or building a new kitchen is a marvelous, yet tedious venture. This is an investment that will last for years to come and will also increase the overall value of your home (if done correctly). Read on for 12 Kitchen Design Mistakes to Avoid.


1. Make a Plan


When designing or renovating a kitchen, you need to map out the space and all of your most-used appliances on a piece of paper first. What use is a gorgeous granite countertop when your fridge doesn't fit into the space "planned" for it? From there, you can start "programming". (In interior design, programming is like detective work. It's the process of gathering and analyzing information about a problem before trying to solve it with design).


Sketching out floor plans to create a strategic layout is crucial for the functionality and visual appeal to any kitchen design. Don't start with what you're most excited about. Start with anything existing you're bringing into the new kitchen. Unless you're most excited about the appliances. Then by all means, go ahead. When designing or renovating a kitchen, you need to map out the space and all of your most used appliances on a piece of paper first. What use is a gorgeous granite countertop when your fridge doesn't fit into the space "planned" for it?


When making this list, you must consider the needs and lifestyle of any individual(s) that will occupy this space. That way everyone that occupies or will eventually occupy the space will get the most out of the new kitchen. Questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • Is it solely for cooking?

  • Is it the main area for entertaining guests?

  • Will it be multipurpose where your kids use part of the counter space for homework/tutoring?

  • Etc.




2. When in Doubt, Sketch it Out


A poorly planned layout can lead to a dysfunctional and odd-looking kitchen. We have all seen one at one point or another and it can be quite deterring. Whenever I viewed apartments during college, the kitchens I would see actually made me want to walk out of the viewing. There would be sinks in closets and the ovens/microwaves simply ceased to exist.


Many kitchens act as thoroughfares to other rooms in a house so the last thing you want is to impede passage between spaces in any way. By making a floor plan you can account for open cabinetry, door swings, if everything lines up with existing architectural elements, and all of the appliances' proximities to one another.


Sketching out floor plans to create a strategic layout is crucial for the functionality and visual appeal to any any kitchen design. Don't start with what you're most excited about. Start with anything existing you're bringing into the new kitchen. Unless you're most excited about the appliances. Then by all means, go ahead. When designing or renovating a kitchen, you need to map out the space and all of your most used appliances on a piece of paper first. What use is a gorgeous granite countertop when your fridge doesn't fit into the space "planned" for it?







3. The Kitchen island


The kitchen island often becomes the hub of activity in one's kitchen. It can have a variety of purposes by outfitting it with fixtures and appliances, such as a sink and cooktop, or bar stools for dining. At a minimum, an island adds counter and storage space just where you need them: at the pivot point between your kitchen's cooking, cleaning, and food-prep zones. This utility adds value to any kitchen. So much so that many builders and designers suggest just building a kitchen island to add value to a home!


While this could be an amazing and valuable addition to your home, it may be the worst thing you could do to your kitchen. Kitchen islands are great for increasing your prep and storage space but will work only if you have the room and position without obstructing flow. Placing an island in the wrong spot is another recipe for disaster. A poorly positioned island can obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove, and primary workstations, creating a bottleneck in your kitchen.




4. Focus on Workflow


When workflow isn't emphasized, one can end up with an impractical kitchen that results in chaos rather than the preferred simple act of cooking. Who wants to design their dream kitchen and then end up running backwards and forwards between the different parts of your kitchen every time you cook, wash, or prep?! I would say just about nobody.


Searching for appliances isn't the most exciting part of everyone's kitchen renovation dream plan but it's essential. Reference the following diagrams from Fabuwood when creating your kitchen layout and to provide adequate circulation, try to have about 4 feet of space between kitchen countertops. And allow even more distance if the kitchen acts as a thoroughfare.





5. Appliances First. Counters and Cabinets Second


Like most rooms, it’s important to get the lighting right for functional use as well as aesthetics. Prepping food will require more direct, brighter lighting than that of a dining area within the kitchen. Spotlights concealed under wall cabinets and in the ceiling are still the most popular, practical choice to use throughout. They can be grouped according to tasks, and used with dimmer switches so you can change the atmosphere in an instant. You might also want to consider plinth lighting which are strips that run along the base of your cabinet can provide a subtle light.


Lack of planning for ones' appliances can lead to a headache and heartbreak over an oversized refrigerator. And for goodness sake, do not overlook the small appliances! Not measuring small appliances like microwaves, blenders and food processors can be an issue too. Without a proper placement, they can end being placed on the counter and creating clutter on your beautiful countertops.




6. Cabinetry Selections and Utilizing Space


When selecting cabinets, it's important to look for solid wood units at least a 1/2-inch thick, mortise-and-tenon joinery, well-finished surfaces (wood knots or bad sanding). Cabinetry selection is not somewhere you want to skimp. Choosing colorful or low-quality cabinets can be an expensive mistake. They tend to go out of style or won't stand the test of time when they are either colorful or low-quality. One must also keep in mind the style and aesthetic of ones' cabinetry selection.


I highly suggest opting in for a cabinet that goes all the way up to the ceiling. By designing a kitchen with cabinets that go all the way up to the ceiling, you will be maximizing your vertical wall space. Leaving a large gap in-between your cabinetry and ceiling leads to dust buildup. These spaces are hard to clean and serve no real purpose. If a full height cabinet is not in store for you, I'd recommend closing the gap with a soffit. A soffit is a decorative architectural feature that can help fill up the empty area in a more purposeful, appealing way.


When it comes to utilizing space, ceiling height cabinets are a great choice but there are so many other ways to utilize space. You can never have too much space-saving storage in a kitchen and it’s easy to miscalculate just how much you’ll need. Make an inventory of everything you’ll want to store in your new kitchen and make sure you allocate a place for everything before you start planning your space.


Don't leave any space underutilized and don't forget trash!


Studio McGee Kitchen



7. Durable Materials Are a Must


Order samples of everything you could potentially use. Samples typically don't cost a cent and you will be able to see how it looks and feels in your space. You never know if the temperature of your lighting will make a counter material look drab next to the cabinetry.


Marble countertops are a great look but could stain easily from certain drinks and dyes. It also erodes quickly from acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemons. Look into alternatives for any natural material in a kitchen. For marble, there are a plentiful of porcelain tiles that realistically mimic the real stone look and withstand the test of time. For more affordable and durable counters, I suggest going with synthetic materials or a stone, such as quartz or granite.






8. Lighting


Well-planned, versatile, and stylish lighting is more important in the kitchen than in any other room in the house. You’ll need spotlight task lighting for preparing meals, softer mood lighting for dining areas, and LED accent lighting to show off your stylish cabinetry. By keeping all of these different kinds of lighting techniques in mind, one balances the ambiance and puts an emphasis on practicality.


For areas of the kitchen where family and friends gather, like the kitchen table or the kitchen island, consider living room style lighting. Pendants add a more focal light source and create ambiance and are a wonderful opportunity to add some character to the space.




9. Trends


From millennial pink to mixing metals, trends are adored by most people. It's important to follow trends but be wary when applying them to a kitchen. These spaces tend to go through renovation about every ten years or so you need to come up with a design that will stand the test of time. If you must, apply the trends through accessories and small home appliances, which can be swapped out easily and cheaply if your tastes change.




10. Consider Consultation


When it comes to the design complications and hefty expenses a kitchen can present, sometimes it's best to consult with an expert (or a couple of experts!). Paying for a consultation might cost you a few bucks upfront but in the long run, you will likely end up saving money by avoiding mistakes. Even if you already have a good idea of what you want, a professional kitchen designer can help you fine-tune your scheme and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Don't underestimate the DIY people you see nonchalantly completing kitchens all on their own. In their own right, they are semi-professional as well.




11. Always Keep Your Budget in Mind


Prior to designing, sit down, and set a realistic budget for your kitchen project, and stick to it! Spend no more than 20% of your home's value on a kitchen renovation. One-third of that 20% should go into your cabinetry because quality cabinets make a difference. And if you really want to approach this wisely, leave a 10% contingency fund for the unexpected expenses.


Ask yourself what is worth salvaging and what needs to be tossed. If you have good-quality units, for example, you can reuse the interior carcasses and simply replace the doors and handles. This will give you a completely new look for a fraction of the cost, as well as being less wasteful from an environmental point of view.




12. DON'T FORGET THE RANGE HOOD


For goodness sake, don't forget the hood range! This happens way more often than it should. Especially when someone installs a stovetop on their island and doesn't consider ventilation. A ventilation system should be efficient at capturing impurities and circulating air so don't be hesitant to invest in a quality product that does so.



Happy kitchen renovating and good luck!




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