Kitchen Makeovers – Great Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes

Your kitchen is often the center of your home. It’s where you prepare meals, get together with family, conduct household activities. And it’s inevitably the place where the most people gather during parties! So it’s little surprise that a kitchen makeover or an entire remodel can have the greatest impact on how you feel and live in your home. Also not surprising – kitchen remodels can provide the biggest return on investment when selling your home.

So where to begin? So many people want to start by focusing on the fun stuff … what kind of wood for the cabinets? Marble or granite for the countertops? What about the color scheme? However I highly recommend starting off with some more practical questions:

  • Is the traffic flow pattern adequate?
  • How efficient is your work triangle (the movement from the sink, to the stove, to the refrigerator)?
  • Do you have adequate work and prep space?
  • Do you have adequate and efficient storage (drawers vs. cupboards vs. pullouts)
  • Do you need a workstation or desk for mail, homework, computer, etc?

By focusing first on how you want your kitchen to work for you – you’ll build a strong foundation andthen you can move onto the aesthetics.

In order to help you begin assessing the questions above – I wanted to share the Top Five Mistakes I see in kitchen remodels and new construction:

Mistake #1

Time after time I see a brand new remodel where the refrigerator sticks out like a sore thumb! The 12” deep cabinets above the refrigerator are impossible to get to and therefore, useless… And those stainless steel appliances you bought look great from the front but the sides are often black! Instead … build a full depth cabinet above the refrigerator and use it for storage of cookie sheets, splatter screens, and cutting boards and install a full panel on the side of the refrigerator to cover up the black sides. Voila…you’ve transformed your kitchen in a BIG way!

Mistake #2

Using the same countertop material for the backsplash and making it the standard 4” high. The backsplash is a great opportunity to bring some color, style and bling into your kitchen without a spending a lot. Use the entire 18” under your cabinets to make a statement, especially behind the stove where grease cleanup is difficult on a painted surface.

Mistake #3

Poor lighting! Lighting plays such an important role in both efficiency and ambience. Spend a little extra for under-cabinet lighting. Use 4” pot lights, not 6”, for general lighting but don’t put so many in that it looks like craters on your ceiling – and consider their placement to ensure lighting has some semblance of order. Also consider installing some pendant lighting over the sink and/or island. And last but not least, always install dimmers on all of your lighting.

Mistake #4

Space planning. Many people want to expedite the kitchen makeover process by just pulling out their existing kitchen and putting new furnishings in the exact same footprint. As an interior designer, I advise against this gutting and replacing approach – I much prefer taking my clients on a journey of planning their dream kitchen. And focusing on space planning is key.

So many people don’t think about the details of drawer versus cabinet placement. Think about all the things you store in your kitchen and how you will access them. Also keep some breathing room around the sink. Dishes pile up on both sides, dirty on one, clean on the other. And make sure you have a good working triangle. Space out the stove from the sink but don’t put it across the room because then you’ll have to drag all those heavy, greasy pots all the way across your beautiful kitchen. And don’t forget that a kitchen remodel is the perfect time to purge all of those unused dishes/pots/pans that never get used. If letting go is difficult, hire a good organizer to help you!

Mistake #5

Assuming you can’t afford custom cabinetry. Custom doesn’t always mean a significantly more expensive product, but it does mean a more superior product. Especially considering that you get exactly what you want and every inch of your space is utilized, and utilized efficiently. Think long and hard about using cheap cabinets. Your kitchen is such a frequently used and abused space that purchasing the right cabinets will pay off in spades.

When you remodel your kitchen – not only are there so many things to consider, you are essentially losing the most important space in your house for a significant amount of time. So kitchens can often be the most stressful areas to remodel. And we all know that the devil is in the details – so consider hiring an interior designer to handle those devilish details for you! They can help in the following ways:

  • Evaluate your existing kitchen and make suggestions so that you can maximize and optimize the space
  • Prevent you from making costly mistakes
  • Keep your remodel on schedule and on budget
  • Keep your kitchen from looking like every other kitchen on the block

I hope you’ll keep these mistakes and suggestions in mind if you’re thinking about re-doing your kitchen. By focusing on the practicalities first, the clients I’ve worked with have been overjoyed with their results!