Designing your dream kitchen can be an exciting renovation project that may involve knocking down walls, and selecting everything from flooring to backsplashes to appliances. It’s usually a fun but complex process with many components; you can easily overlook details that can result in major problems down the line—and may cause you to go over budget. So, we spoke with nine experts, including architects, designers, and flooring professionals to find the kitchen renovation mistakes you should avoid. Scroll down for 13 of their absolute deal breakers.
Failing to plan
According to Michael Menn, architect, homebuilder, and home remodeler in Northbrook, Illinois, the biggest mistake that most homeowners make during a kitchen renovation is failing to plan properly. A successful kitchen remodel requires an end goal and vision. Menn explains that he’s not talking about a pretty picture of what you want the kitchen to look like. “Decide what your life—and your family’s life—will look like in this new space, because the kitchen must perform to [meet] those ends.”
Underestimating the cost
In addition to planning, Menn says failing to create an accurate budget is another huge mistake. “Whatever you think you want to spend, you will spend more, so have a 15 to 20 percent contingency,” he warns. “Take the time and do as much research as possible on flooring, countertops, cabinetry, lighting, accessories, appliances, etcetera, since most people rush when making these decisions.”
Choosing appliances after cabinetry
Real estate broker Egypt Sherrod, one of the hosts of HGTV’s new show, Married to Real Estate, tells us it’s a mistake to choose your appliances after the cabinetry has already been installed. As she explains, “When it comes to designing a kitchen, measurements are crucial, and a one-to-two-inch difference can make or break an installment.” So, you need to know your appliance measurements before the cabinet specifications are made. Sherrod adds, “This allows for the specs of the appliances to be properly taken into consideration when laying everything out.”
Installing cabinets before floors
The order of installation is also important as it relates to your cabinetry and floors, and Paul Henthorn, owner of Slaughterbeck Floors in Campbell, California, recommends installing the floors after the cabinetry when possible. “If cabinets are installed on top of a hardwood floor, there are at least two potential problems,” he explains. “The floor loses the ability to expand and contract, making cupping or peaking more of a reality, and it makes it very hard to remove the floor without damaging cabinets, should it need to be replaced or repaired.” Also, he says that installing the floors after cabinets also minimizes the risk that the floors will be damaged from the cabinet installation.
Choosing the wrong flooring
If you plan to use hardwood floors in your new kitchen, Henthorn stresses that the wood selection is very important. “Select wood that is treated with the proper finish; a pre-finished sealed hardwood is a good choice.” He also mentions that hardwood can be slippery, whereas a textured finish like hand-scraped, distressed, or reclaimed wood can help provide more traction while also covering up damage from kitchen wear and tear. He recommends selecting a wood with “a high Janka hardness rating—1500+—such as hickory, so it can withstand frequent use and drops while minimizing damage.”
Henthorn also says the kitchen is the most accident-prone area in the house, so it’s important to protect the areas where slips are most likely to happen. “Use rugs or pads in front of the fridge, sink, dishwasher, and pantry.”
What about cork flooring? Henthorn explains that cork is most commonly used in kitchens, since it is soft, sound absorbing, and green. “However, cork does easily fade in the sun, so you may want to consider the sun exposure,” he warns.
Ignoring the kitchen triangle
Regardless of how stylish your kitchen looks, Sherrod says it won’t be functional if your key appliances are too far away from each other. “Ideally, you should create a chef’s triangle between your stove, sink, and refrigerator, so that they are all within a few feet from one another,” she says. “Installing those three primary work elements close to each other—but not too close—makes the kitchen more efficient and easier to use, while cutting down on unnecessary steps.”
Improperly wiring kitchen outlets
There’s also a safety mistake you should avoid when designing or redesigning a kitchen: improperly wiring all of your kitchen outlets to 15 amp breakers, according to builder Mike Jackson, another one of the hosts of HGTV’s Married to Real Estate. “Kitchens should have at least two to three accessible outlets on dedicated 20 amp outlets—and preferably, all of the kitchen counter outlets should be on a dedicated 20 amp outlet,” he explains. “These outlets should be on an Arc fault and ground fault circuit protector to prevent electrical fires or injuries.”
Trying to find online deals for critical items
Pamela O’Brien, principal designer at Pamela Hope Designs, in Houston, warns against looking for bargains online as it relates to critical items like plumbing and appliances.