Kitchen Design Mistakes

10 Biggest Kitchen Design Mistakes

Dreaming of a new kitchen? In order to make your dreams a reality, consider ten common mistakes to avoid in designing and remodeling your kitchen to save you time, money and aggravation.

#1 - Over-customizing and inflexibility

Unless you have money to spare, remain flexible regarding materials and design for your new kitchen. For example, you're vacationing in southern Italy and the beautiful tiles you find in the craftsman's shop are perfect for your new dream kitchen. You can't live without them, even though he has to chip the marble off the mountain by hand and each one takes three weeks to make, because they have fossilized leaves imprinted in them.

If you need two hundred tiles, stop dreaming and do the arithmetic. Three weeks, each one, two hundred tiles. Forget it. Buy everything he has on the shelf and leave the store. Use the fifteen you bring home in your suitcase as accents imbedded in the floor here and there, or in the tiling around the sink and keep them a beautiful memory.

Likewise, the German track lighting with special light bulbs which cast a delicate hue of light. Those light bulbs are so special and unique that they are only available in Germany!

Avoid difficult and over specialized items so that repairs and replacements don't turn into logistical nightmares. All appliances, plumbing, electricity, and carpentry should be repairable with no more then a few local phone calls.

Don't make the mistake of including items which are too hard to repair or replace in the design of your kitchen!

#2 - Changing the Plans

Once work has begun, any change will cost you money even if materials are downgraded. This is because measurements have been calculated and materials ordered. Even a small change such as a two inch longer built in convection oven could mean that the hand cut granite counter which is already installed and ready, has to be pared down on one side which means you lose a customized finish.

Be warned by the plight of those who changed so much in quest of the perfect kitchen that they abandoned their budget in the middle and ended up without the funds to finish. Living for years with an unfinished kitchen is not a very appealing option.

Don't make the mistake of changing your kitchen design halfway through - be happy with your original kitchen design and stick to it!

#3 - Spending It All At Once, Over-Budgeting

Set a budget, then plan on spending 80% of your projected figure. Remember, no one ever pays less than the estimated amount; it always costs more. That 20% you held back from your budget will be used to cover the usual unforeseen circumstances which inevitably pop up such as minor changes, previously unperceived problems and other charges.

ImproveNet offers interactive estimators and project calculators to help you estimate how much your project will cost, how much material you'll need, and what it could look like.

Don't make the mistake of overspending your budget. Set a budget based on your kitchen design and stick to it!

#4 - Using the Wrong General Contractor

The contractor you choose should be an expert in kitchens, not roofs. Talk to people that have used a contractor you are considering within the last three months. Ask to see the work they did. Ask the right questions: Was he within his estimate? Did he finish on time? Did they keep the job clean and did they tidy up nicely afterwards? Were his workers polite, neat, clean, and on time? Are there any complaints? A little time spent on researching your contractor can save you a lot of headaches later.

Don't make the mistake of hiring the cheapest odd-jobs man you can find, or your kitchen may not be the design you want at all!

#5 - Inaccuracies in Measurement

This shouldn't be your problem at all, but frequently this common mistake is passed on to the customer's wallet. Before you sign a contract, insist that the contractor take responsibility for any inaccuracies in measurement or factory flaws which often occur. Don't settle for almost fits or good enough. They have to promise and deliver a finished result according to the specifications that were agreed on.

Don't make the mistake of being intimidated by your contractor. Insist on perfection for your kitchen!

#6 - Throwing Dollars Out the Window

Don't pay for a renovation in advance. Establish a payment plan with the majority of the balance paid after the work is completed. Evaluating the work as it progresses and testing the finished product is a great incentive for the contractor to please the customer.

Don't make the mistake of paying your contractor up-front for your kitchen!

#7 - Handing Over the Design of Your Kitchen to a Designer

Your new kitchen should reflect your taste, not the designers. Yes, the pink and yellow appliances are very stylish, and happy but maybe stainless steel or white is what you prefer. You are the best judge. Don't let anyone convince you that what they want is what you need. Work with your designer to achieve the practical tasteful space that fits your needs and lifestyle. Ask to see a virtual model of the plans and stay involved throughout the design process.

Don't make the mistake of agreeing with a kitchen design just to please the designer!

#8 - Going It Alone

Ask your friends and neighbors about their renovations - what they like, what they don't like. Solicit opinions from people you trust before and during the job. Ask the members of your family for ideas and suggestions about how to best utilize the workable space.

Don't make the mistake of doubting your kitchen design once it's done!

#9 - Investing Too Much

Yes it is your dream kitchen but practically speaking, even the most expensive kitchen renovations should not cost more than 20% of the current market value of your home. The average kitchen renovation adds only about 8% to market value. If you ever want to sell your home, an appealing kitchen is a big plus, but don't throw all your money into it expecting an investment return.

And on the other hand, most experts agree that kitchen renovation done well is worth at least 5% of the value of your home. Under-spending may reflect in market value.

Don't make the mistake of having a too extravagant kitchen design, or a too simple one!

#10 - Indulging The Latest Fads

Resist the temptation to choose trendy designs which will make you queasy after you get over the pizzazz. Remember your kitchen is the heart of your home. Make wise choices with an eye on livability. The best strategy is practical, classic, timeless. We've all seen kitchens designed in the latest fashion. Nothing becomes as outmoded as yesterday's modern look. Avocado green cabinets anyone? Mosaic daisies tiled into the walls? Also try to resist flamboyant displays of self expression. In the end, you will live happily ever after!

Don't make the mistake of being too flamboyant in your kitchen design - remember how fast trends change!

About The Author

Bob Williams provides timely advice for common home improvement projects. These practical tips will give you the knowledge you need to save time and money.

"Found your tips very helpful. Keep number 7 in. I explained to the designer i wanted drawers in all my units. when i saw finished plan he said you dont want drawers like that they are old fashion now, best have drawers together. Said a cupboard on a certain wall would not work ( even though i had one there for 10years ). So he had no sale from us. So you still have to be very careful who you have. "


"I have had several clients who read your advice and each has been a pleasure to work with. It is all about communication, your advice got them thinking, and become interactive in the design and practibilities of what they wanted to achieve. I cannot quite understand Lauryn's comments on item 7. Perhaps she? he? is not customer friendly and demands her/his way!! Well done"

Richard Matthews

"As a professional kitchen & bath designer with certification from the NKBA, I find tip #7 extremely insulting. I realize you are probably referring to designers in general, but it is still not right. A good designer will NEVER push you into something you do not want or like. A good designer helps you find what you love and are comfortable with. If your designer is more focused on themselves and the trends then you should fire them immediately. Also, people need to understand that a kitchen designer is their best friend. The contractor and architect have not been trained with any schooling on kitchen design. We help you maintain the look you want and also increase functionality in the kitchen. We know the ins & outs and help you achieve the beautiful & functional kitchen of your dreams. Please revise/take out tip #7- it is insulting and you are mis-informing your readers."

Lauryn, AKBD

"As a kitchen designer myself, I just want to commend you on those tips you have presented. If every customer who sees me had read the tips to start with, they'd save themselves countless headaches and hassles. Especially the one about handing the design over to the designer. Unless the customer has done their homework and has ideas of what they'd like in the room and how they'd like the kitchen to function, it's pointless asking me to start a design. Yeah, I could design a kitchen that would suit me, but that's not really what the customer wants. I think you should highlight that part. Many thanks on common sense."

J C Martin