Six Not-So-Obvious Kitchen Mistakes

birds eye view of modern kitchen

photo courtesy of BLUM

As seen in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

screenshot of the Santa Fe New Mexican article

A new kitchen is the most popular major home upgrade that adds value, and makes life so much easier.  The design planning process can be fun too, if you avoid some mistakes you might not think of.

#1: Cutting Corners on Kitchen Cabinets

Just Don’t Do It! Kitchen cabinets will likely be your biggest expense. Right above your new appliances, if you need those. Choose the best quality cabinets your budget allows. With solid construction and quality finishes, your cabinets will last for years, and you’ll add value to your home.  

Planning your kitchen around stock cabinet sizes can keep costs down. If you choose a painted finish, you can add custom details to stock cabinets and then paint everything to match – a semi-custom cabinet package.

Shop for appliances first, and take the dimensions to your cabinet designer. It’s much easier to design your cabinets and countertops around your appliances, than the other way around! We recently had to source a small refrigerator from Europe to fit into a space that was designed in the 50’s, an expensive proposition. Appliances go in last and it’s a heartbreaker if they don’t fit their allotted spaces. The specification sheets you give the designer will spell out every dimension, as well as power needs and hookup locations on appliance backs.

Don’t skimp on features like drawer dividers and swing-out shelving; they’re more expensive to add later. If your new kitchen is organized and efficient, you can save money by needing fewer cabinets.

#2: Hoarding Cookware

If you have an outdated kitchen, then you have things in dark corners that you never use. Please don’t buy new cabinets for them!  Spend a day weeding out, and sending to Kitchenality, benefitting Kitchen Angels. Think Marie Kondo, and be ruthless. Yes, it’s hard if you still have your mom’s Farber Ware, but if you don’t use it, do you want to buy cabinets to store it? Also, make a list of small appliances and other equipment for your cabinetry designer, whose goal will be a storage place for everything, not cluttering your new countertops.

photo courtesy of Rev-a-Shelf

#3: Kitchen Countertop Budget Fails

If you see a gorgeous kitchen photo, don’t assume the same countertop selections will work for your budget.  A mix of materials might keep the budget in check, or it might cause a lot of waste, since stone and quartz are sold in very large slabs.  Get an expert quote. At $80.00 to $125.00 a square foot for solid surface counters, you want to be judicious.

contemporary kitchen
We did this kitchen with miles of white Silestone quartz
This is one of the older, more popular brands of quartz countertops – not natural granite or soapstone

#4: Putting Flashy Design Ahead Of Kitchen Functionality

We understand. You want to center your fancy new refrigerator on the back wall so you can admire it. But if it’s twenty steps from the stove, cooking will be an exhausting foot race. The sink, stove and refrigerator should form a “work triangle” so they’re just a few steps apart.  Don’t buy a handsome six burner commercial range, forty-eight inches wide, if it usurps a countertop area alongside it. 

#5: Forgetting Your Own Lifestyle:

Kitchen designers ask useful questions about how you really live. Do you have lots of kids? Weekend crowds? You can add a refrigerator drawer for drinks, or a second microwave.  If you never entertain, do you need a huge island and eight barstools?  A big island can bust your budget; you’ll buy more granite, more light fixtures, maybe a second sink.

Don’t forget the pets! If you’ve been tripping over pet bowls for years, check out a clever solution:  an open lower cabinet, with a shelf at baseboard height for drop-in water and food bowls in custom size holes. And a bin drawer above for food.

#6: Not Being Open To Advice

After planning and pinning and Houzzing for years, you have it all worked out. However, design professionals have years of real-world experience and computer software.  They can do all of the math, so they’ll help you create a dream budget and if need be “value engineer” it, to help stay within budget. They know where to place lighting and electrical outlets, and the codes for those.  And they pay close attention to detail, to avoid problems like corner drawers that bang into the adjacent drawer pulls. 

Oops! A really common kitchen design failure

Before you start that kitchen design, consider these not-so-obvious pitfalls, and consider professional help to fine-tune your plan, help you find top-quality products, and share ideas you hadn’t thought of.

Your ideas? Leave us a comment to let us know. Or call with questions about kitchens. We’ll talk with you and schedule an appointment if you like! Edy