Kitchen Renovation: 9 Mistakes to Avoid for Your Remodel

Your kitchen will likely be your most important room. Think of it as the engine room of your home where you eat and socialize. It needs to be functional but it also needs flair. That can make for a fine balance.

It’s time to cook up a plan so that you don’t sacrifice space for looks. You’re investing your well-earned cash here but you also need to invest some time to get the right result. In our 35+ years of renovating kitchens, we’ve seen it all when it comes to errors made by property owners and kitchen contractors. Here are the kitchen renovation traps you need to steer clear of.

Planning for a kitchen renovation


1. Insufficient Storage and Counter Space

A lack of counter space is a common complaint in some kitchens. You’ll need a place for appliances and somewhere that you’ll enjoy preparing food.

Get counter-intuitive with some clever ways to make the most of the space you have. You might be able to extend your countertop by adding decorative elements to the ends of your cabinets. These could include corbels or shelving supports.

You might also be able to reconfigure the layout or flow of your space to include a peninsula or island. Plan this carefully. If you have a large room, it can be tempting to go for an island that’s a little too big.

Anything more than ten feet might be too long because it will become a nuisance to continually walk around. More than four feet deep and it can be hard to reach for things in the middle. 

Similarly, if you cram islands with baskets, dinnerware, and other appliances, it will create a problem. You could end up expending too much energy looking for the items you need.


Small Spaces

In a small kitchen, a peninsula can work better than an island. Don’t overwhelm a small space. There will always be plenty of options available for any size or layout of kitchen space. 

You’ll also need plenty of storage space. It’s possibly the one thing you can never have too much of. Think through carefully where you’d prefer to keep things so that your most-used utensils are always easily at hand. 

This is important as it’s a real mistake to start making changes once the remodeling work has begun. That simply complicates things and can push up the budget dramatically.


2. Not Thinking About the Lighting

Lighting is another crucial part of any kitchen design and yet it’s often overlooked. It should be right up there as a top priority. Why? Because it can make or break the look of your kitchen.

There are also practical issues. You’ll want to be able to see clearly while you’re reading your favorite recipes. The correct lighting also makes chopping up your vegetables and spices easier and safer.

You’ll need to think carefully about the lighting sources above your stove and countertop areas. That’s because this is where you’ll be spending the most time. Lighting will also add to the ambience of the space.


Different Kinds of Lighting

Typically, there should be at least three types of lighting.

  • general overhead lighting
  • task lighting for the areas where you work most
  • accent lighting to create a mood 

Pendant lights are excellent for brightening up prep areas. You should also consider under-cabinet lighting. That can add a touch of drama and bring the kitchen to life.

Open shelving is very fashionable these days. It’s a great place to show off your favorite pieces, such as beautiful plates or bowls. Light them up so that you get to enjoy them at night as well.

Choose some softer lamps for a kitchen table. It’s important to get the balance right here. You need enough light to see what you’re eating. Too much light though can feel oppressive.


3. Not Thinking 3D in Your Kitchen Renovation

Of course, your kitchen has to be beautiful but it also needs to be functional. Consider the size and direction of doors on all your appliances, and cabinets.

Fridges need a lot of clearance and so do ovens. Picture any door openings to make sure that you don’t create a cramped kitchen.

You’ll also need to be sure that doors from cupboards and appliances can open simultaneously. You don’t want to have to close one in order to be able to open the other.


4. Not Considering Electrical Sockets

You need to have a practical head on when considering where to place electrical outlets for all your appliances. It’s difficult to have too many sockets but it is important that they are in the right place. 

It may be possible to hide outlets within your island, in backsplashes or in a drawer for those times you need another extra socket. 


5. Forgetting What the Kitchen Is For

It’s important to keep a clear head when you’re looking through all the latest styles. Make sure functionality takes pride of place in any design decisions you make. Stick to the basic ‘work triangle.’

This refers to the positioning of the sink, stove, and fridge. They should all be convenient to one another. There must be enough space between them so that you can move easily from one to the other.

Colors, styles, and patterns may be what catch your eye at first, but choosing major appliances is a key step in the design process. Consider what your family needs, and determine which appliances are going to be best for you. 

A good kitchen design will focus on work zones. These include the food prep areas. Everything needs to be within easy reach.

It’s a big mistake to put the fridge too far from the area where you’ll be preparing meals. The design may seem appealing but you’ll quickly get fed up of all the extra legwork.


6. Busting the Budget

You need to set and control your budget. Make sure you assess your finances carefully.

You also need to consider what the overall goal of the kitchen renovation is. If you’re planning to stay in the home for many years to come then you may wish to spend a little more.

If you think you might move fairly soon, then look into the extra value a new kitchen might give your property. That means figuring out if it is a wise investment, and, if it is, how much is the most you should spend.

Set realistic goals so that you don’t waste time planning for a dream kitchen you simply cannot afford. 

Always have a ‘ Plan B.’ You’ll need to keep a little extra aside for contingencies. That could be in the form of a credit card. There are almost always unplanned extras that will crop up. 

A sensible rule of thumb is to set aside an extra ten percent of the total cost of your renovation as a precautionary measure.


7. Making Impulsive Decisions

Materials in a showroom might look much more attractive than they would in your home. It’s a mistake to just buy on impulse because something looks aesthetically pleasing in a shop.  

Always get some samples to take home with you. This is particularly important when it comes to flooring. Samples of wood or ceramic tiles will allow you the opportunity to think about whether a particular style really works in your home. 

The same goes for colors. Color psychology is important. Some are calming, others can be bold, natural or organic. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your kitchen so be sure the color is something you’re happy to live with long-term.

You may have chosen a stainless steel finish for your fridge, oven, and dishwasher. Be careful about going overboard with stainless steel. Too much and it can make a kitchen feel clinical and cold.

Try mixing in some colored or different metal choices for your hood or smaller kitchen appliances.


8. Overlooking Backsplashes and Ventilation

It’s inevitable that the area behind your stove is going to get splashed with food and grease. Backsplashes make life easier to clean up the spatters. You can certainly make a feature of them by fitting a mosaic-tiled backsplash, for example.

You’ll also need to install good ventilation. This is an important practical element in any kitchen. It prevents the build-up of smells and reduces humidity which can be damaging to your home’s decor.


9. Forgetting About the Trash

We live in an age when recycling is becoming increasingly important. Style may not immediately spring to mind when we think about trash. It’s important though to think about where to place your garbage cans.

If cabinetry space allows, you could dedicate one cupboard for storing trash and recycling pull-outs. This is an ideal way to keep unsightly garbage tucked away and out of sight.

This kind of design also makes recycling more convenient and easier to manage for your entire family. Always go for ‘soft-close’ doors on your cabinets. It’s a small but pleasing luxury. 


A Kitchen for Your Future

Your kitchen is going to be somewhere where you’ll spend a lot of time. It needs to be practical and pleasing. Careful planning will ensure you don’t fall into any kitchen renovation traps.