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As kitchen designers and builders, we spend a lot of time talking to homeowners about their kitchens. We discuss what works, what doesn’t, and why their previous renovations or updates are no longer working for them. Our goal is to create a well-designed space that solves their problems not just temporarily, but for years to come.

If you’re planning a kitchen renovation, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure that you’re happy with the final product in the long term. From planning and design to execution and installation, here are nine kitchen renovation mistakes to avoid.

1. Forgetting Your Workflow

One of the first steps in planning a kitchen renovation is to write down or draw out your typical cooking workflow. This list might include steps like:

  • Chopping vegetables
  • Composting scraps
  • Creating spice blends
  • Cooking on the stovetop
  • Using small, countertop appliances (like a stand mixer or air-fryer)
  • Filling meal prep or leftover containers
  • Washing dishes
  • Putting dishes away

Thinking about your entire cooking and baking workflow can help your kitchen designer tailor your layout to your precise needs. Your knives and cutting boards can be conveniently stored near the trash can for easy chopping. Your dishes can live right above your dishwasher (but the open door won’t block any other key kitchen storage). Sure, this level of detail takes some planning, but it can make a huge difference in the final result!

2. Following Trends Too Closely

One of the most common kitchen renovation mistakes to avoid is following the current trends too closely and not finding your own personal style. There are ideas to be taken from every trend, but if you follow what’s hot too closely, you’ll be left with an out-of-style kitchen you don’t love a few years down the line.

We encourage our clients to explore trends through smaller decorative updates to their homes. But when it comes to major investments like a kitchen renovation, take the time to get to know your own sense of style and create a space you will love for years and years to come.

3. Settling for Default Options

When you start to see options for cabinets, appliances, and more, you’ll be faced with plenty of tough decisions. It can be easy to opt for the obvious or default options to save time and money or simply to check another decision off the list. But it’s important to consider what is most important to you and to push for what you truly want.

Do you really love the stately look of a thicker, custom baseboard that takes eight weeks to come in? Stick to your guns and have patience. Even if it seems like a small detail, if it matters to you, it matters to us!

4. Forgetting Storage Space

One of the biggest kitchen renovation mistakes to avoid is not creating enough usable storage space. Plenty of cabinetry is a given in any new kitchen, but if it doesn’t fit the items you need to store, it isn’t useful.

A kitchen with tons of cabinetry and storage. Forgetting storage space is a common kitchen renovation mistake to avoid.

Consider the broad range of food items, serveware, and cooking tools and appliances you need to store, and ensure that you plan your kitchen storage accordingly. Cookie sheets, heavy small appliances, and bulk groceries are all common pain points we see again and again, and with a little planning and ingenuity, we can create storage solutions for all of them!

You’ll also want to leave some room to grow so that your cabinets aren’t overcrowded and difficult to navigate. And, if you plan on growing your family, you’ll want to leave even more open space to provide room for the future.

5. Doing It Yourself

Tackling home projects yourself can be very tempting. DIY can be a huge money saver and can help you get your project done faster. And sure, most homeowners have the skills to hang a picture or patch a hole in a wall.

But, when considering a complete kitchen renovation, many homeowners end up in over their heads. Even if they can tackle the jobs individually, like mounting cabinets, installing a sink, and more, they likely don’t have the knowledge to design or plan the job properly, leading to major functional issues down the line.

The best way to ensure your kitchen renovation is functional, up to code, and perfect for your family is to partner with a team of experts who have years of experience in home and kitchen renovation. They’ll be able to guide you in the right direction when it comes to function, design and kitchen renovation mistakes to avoid. And they’ll see your project through the entire build down to the finishing touches.

6. Overwhelming a Small Space

It can be tempting to jam everything you’ve ever dreamed of into one kitchen renovation project. But, it’s also important to be realistic with the space you have.

Doing too much in a small space can actually make it feel even smaller. On the other hand, creative organization, clean lines, and wide walkways can make a small space feel roomy and comfortable. 

We often see homeowners struggle when they have their heart set on a specific element for their space, like an oversized island. While an island can work in most kitchens, try to be open-minded to finding the best solution for your space. Your trust will pay off in the final product!

7. Putting Form Over Function

Another common kitchen renovation mistake to avoid is putting beauty over function with your design decisions.

Butcher block countertops may be beautiful, but they won’t hold up to heavy use. Loads of electrical outlets may not be beautiful, but you’ll need them for all sorts of countertop appliances to keep your kitchen working for you.

The perfect kitchen will balance function with style so you can have it all. A custom kitchen designer will get to know you and your family’s needs and help you figure out where to prioritize design and where to put functionality first.

8. Forgetting Entertaining & Holiday Hosting

A lot of homeowners we speak to are focused on creating a kitchen that fits their day to day needs. However, it’s also important to take entertaining and occasional needs into account.

A beverage bar offers extra amenities for hosting and entertaining.

A table that seats twelve may be impractical and a poor use of space, but a smaller table with leaves and additional island seating can comfortably seat over a dozen people. You may think it’s a lot of effort to plan your whole kitchen around the one holiday you host, but with a little creativity, your kitchen designer can help make your space functional for normal use and special occasions.

9. Neglecting the Details

One of the things that truly sets an amazing home renovation apart is the final details. Things like lighting, trim, hardware, and tile can all make or break the design of your space. And neglecting these details is one of the most common kitchen renovation mistakes to avoid.

Maybe you forgot to create a space for your trashcan to be hidden away. Perhaps your island is a little too big, making your walkways tight. Or maybe you planned kitchen storage for small appliances and food, but not for miscellaneous items like mail, medicine, or cleaning products.

Working with a custom kitchen designer means every detail will be just right and take into consideration the scale, color palette, and style of the room. Especially in cases where you just aren’t sure which direction to go, your designer can guide you and help you create the cohesive, beautiful space you’ve been dreaming of.

Dreaming of a new kitchen? Check out our blog for everything you need to know about creating a kitchen remodel budget.