10 Mistakes to Avoid During Your Kitchen Renovation, According to Interior Designers

Avoiding these common kitchen renovation pitfalls will save you time and money down the line.

modern kitchen with gold finishes and farmhouse sink
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As one of the most frequently used rooms in the home, you want your kitchen to work for you. If that's not currently the case, you may be considering a kitchen renovation. Although kitchen makeovers are typically a significant expense for many homeowners, it's also an investment that can last you for years to come and may even increase the overall value of your home. But there are a few things you need to consider before embarking on your renovation journey, like what your budget is and what you want out of your kitchen. Not doing so may cause you to make some common kitchen renovation mistakes many homeowners make during their own remodels.

Forgetting Your Budget

First things first, make a kitchen renovation budget. Decide what features of your kitchen are the most important—more cabinet and drawer space, a kitchen island, a designated food pantry, additional lighting—and allocate your finances accordingly. As you work, continue to reference your budget to ensure you're staying on track with each renovation task.

Not Taking Inventory of Your Kitchen

Taking a detailed inventory of your current kitchen will help you understand what you want to get out of your remodel. What are your most used appliances? What is your kitchen's current traffic flow like? How can you make your floor plan more efficient?

"The better they accomplish the inventory task, the better we can design around how a family really functions in their kitchen" says Liz MacPhail, the founder and principal designer at Liz MacPhail Interiors. "We try not to make things so unique that there isn't broad utility, but to ignore lifestyle specifics for each family defeats the purpose of creating a custom kitchen."

layered lighting in bright kitchen
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Not Layering Lighting

Lighting is one aspect of your kitchen remodel that shouldn't be overlooked. "Kitchens are multifunctional rooms that need illumination to meet the demands of many uses while still looking sharp and stylish," says Bryan Johnson, CEO of Shades of Light. "To effectively illuminate your kitchen, consider the three layers of lighting and choose multiple lights that each fulfill different purposes."

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting brings diffused brightness to the whole room and is what's used to make houses feel warmer. "This is often achieved with kitchen ceiling lights or chandeliers over a table when the kitchen includes an eat-in nook," says Johnson.

Task Lighting

Task lighting focuses direct light on a specific area to help you better accomplish an activity, like cooking or eating. An island chandelier or pendant lights hung over a table or island are examples of how to implement task lighting in your kitchen. "Occasionally, wall lights like sconces can also add task lighting over a specific work area, like a sink," says Johnson.

Decorative Lighting

Let your personal style shine through by implementing some decorative lighting when renovating your kitchen. This style of lighting creates visual focal points and spotlights in any area of your kitchen you want to highlight, like wall art, architectural features, plants, and more.

large kitchen island in modern white kitchen
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Not Considering Clearances

To avoid bottlenecks in your kitchen, plan to provide proper clearances. "Take a tape measure and map it out in the space, if needed," says Ann Stockard of O'Brien Harris. "For instance, if there is seating at an island that backs up to a refrigerator, ample room needs to be planned for if there is a person at the island and a person opening the refrigerator." Also consider corner clearances and make sure door and drawer hardware will clear the items perpendicular to them.

Not Planning Out Your Storage

Storage space is a must in any kitchen, and a remodel is the time to make sure you have room for all of your cookware and appliances. Think about all of the items you want to stowaway in drawers and cabinets, from pots and pans to cookie sheets and cutting boards. "Measure out your drawers and doors, especially in lower cabinetry to ensure those tall stock pots have plenty of clearance when all is said and done," says Kerrie Kelly, creative director of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.

Forgetting Electrical Elements

From microwaves and refrigerators to stand mixers and toaster ovens, electrical sockets in the kitchen are crucial. "Plan for outlets on the perimeter of the kitchen, and if you are incorporating an island, consider placing a few outlets there as well," says Kelly. "If you have a pantry, create a countertop area with outlets to be able to hide and use those appliances while keeping your counters free of clutter."

cottage-style traditional kitchen
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Ignoring Your Home's Bones

Just as you want your kitchen to work for you, you also want it to work for your home. Consider the current structural and architectural integrity of your property and design accordingly. "A very modern kitchen would certainly feel out of place in a more traditional setting," Stockard says.

Renovating Alone

The kitchen is one area of your home where you want to limit how many DIY tasks you take on. "Going at it alone could end up ultimately costing you more time, money, and mistakes, than you bargained for," says Kelly. Consider hiring a good contractor who typically has a team that can address more complex areas of your kitchen—like the plumbing and electrical. "We suggest interviewing multiple contractors and finding one that you trust to get the job done," says Kelly.

Blue kitchen with modern design
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Not Being Strategic About Appliance Placement

Now is the time to mix up the placement of your appliances and create a workflow that's logical. "Let's say your sink is in front of the window and the kitchen flows to the right of you—range, wall cabinets, etc.—you don't want your dishwasher to your right just because that's what you're used to," says Rebekah Zaveloff, co-founder and principal designer of KitchenLab Interiors. "You want it to your left so when you're loading or unloading dishes the flow of work makes sense." Consider how you move throughout your kitchen and place your appliances where they feel the most convenient.

Basing Your Remodel on Trends

You want your new kitchen to feel timeless, and that can sometimes be difficult if you design based on current trends alone. "Trends come and go, so it's best to avoid finishes that are too trendy," says Stockard. "We believe a kitchen is an investment and should be designed to stand the test of time." As you make renovation choices, think about how you or your family will grow and change as the years go by.

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