12 Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid and What to Do Instead

Most homeowners dream of having the perfect kitchen. Yet it’s easy to go overboard: led astray by Pinterest boards and home renovation shows.

There are some specific kitchen renovation mistakes to avoid that can turn your project from outstanding investment to kitchen nightmare.

MSK designer Suzy Baur shares with us how to avoid these twelve kitchen remodel regrets to keep your remodeling project from becoming an expensive bundle of issues.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #1: Supersizing that Island

Everybody loves a kitchen island. They’re a great place to handle cooking and food prep, and can serve as a place to hang out and chat while someone is in there working. Many people use the island as a breakfast bar as well.

Yet islands are not right for every kitchen. Sometimes the kitchen is just too small for an island, lacks the space, or isn’t laid out correctly for one.

Banging into the island every time you try to get to your cabinets is no joy whatsoever. If the island adds less functional space, not more, then you’re in some trouble. Remember to leave enough aisle space to move around and to work.

Read more in our post about whether you have enough space for an island.

If you’re going with a kitchen island, consider two-tone cabinets

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #2: Going Super Dark

Dark colors can be dramatic, and certain kitchen trends have made them popular of late.

If you have a big, sprawling kitchen, then dark colors can work.

If you don’t, then dark colors are only going to make a small space look smaller. Use light colors to lighten and brighten. There is nothing welcoming about a small kitchen, so you’re going to want to use as many tricks as you possibly can to make the space work for you.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #3: Overdoing the Bling

It’s easy to get carried away with shiny tile, amazing light fixtures, and tons of decorative features. Yet if you have too much “bling” that’s the only thing you’ll be able to see anywhere in your kitchen.

We like to advise our clients to choose one tile to be the main tiling and one to act as an accent. The accent tile can go above the cooktop, into a bar, or into a coffee nook.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #4: Neglecting the Star Finish

Find a focal point and build your kitchen’s visuals around it. That can be the countertops, the tile, or some sort of cool upper cabinets, but you want everything else to sit back and support these things.

If you have too much going on your kitchen will just look busy and cramped.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #5: Forgetting Function

Believe it or not, in a kitchen, the function should always trump beauty. A baker is going to be much happier in a functional kitchen with space for baking than they’re going to be in a gorgeous kitchen that has no room for supplies and no suitable spots for kneading bread.

Decide on your priorities. Know your needs vs. your wants. We’ll of course endeavor to make your kitchen absolutely breathtaking, but we also know you’re not going to love it if you can’t do what you want to do once you get inside of it.

Kitchen Remodel Miskate #6: Neglecting the Light

Lighting should be plentiful and adjustable. Don’t neglect task lighting.

If you have an island, have pendants, but have them all on dimmers. If you have under-cabinet lights you need to be able to control that lighting to support your needs.

Some people get headaches in bright light and will only want to illuminate what they’re working on, for example.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #7:  Misplacing the Garbage

Garbage is the last thing most people want to think about when they remodel the kitchen, but you have to think about it. Your kitchen produces more garbage than any other area of the house.

Many homeowners want to relegate the garbage to some obscure corner, but that’s a good way to make big messes when it’s time to start cooking.

We recommend putting it close to the dishwasher and the sink: right where you use it!

Don’t worry. There are ways to hide the garbage can so that it remains functional without becoming unpleasant.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #8: Failing to Consider Where Dishes Will be Stored

When you clean out the dishwasher, where are your uppers? They should be on the opposite side of the sink from the dishwasher (remember, the sink is always next to the dishwasher).


Because when the dishwasher is open it’s hard to reach the uppers! Now you’re struggling to unload the dishwasher. You end up having to put a bunch of dishes on the counter until you can close it and reach the cabinet you need to get to.

This, of course, means that you need cabinets in the area where it will be most convenient to put those dishes away.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #9: Overdoing the Storage Space

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as putting too many cabinets into your kitchens. You also need drawers and shelving. Remember, cabinets with drawers are not a substitute. That creates double movement in your kitchen. That is, now you have to open the cabinet and pull out a drawer. It doesn’t sound like much, but trust us: you’ll get annoyed with it before too long.

Drawers in cabinets can also get too heavy for the cabinets.

Switching up your storage space types means you do less digging and you get more use out of your kitchen.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #10: Skimping on Cabinet Quality

Don’t get your cabinets from the big box stores! You want sturdy, custom-built cabinets that can stand up to the kind of punishment most people put their kitchens through.

You don’t want cabinets made out of pressed particle boards, which will fall apart if you place too much weight inside of them. They’ll also start flaking and chipping fast, which means your brand new kitchen could look shabby and unkempt in a very short period of time.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #11: Installing a Built-In Microwave

Believe it or not steam ovens and regular ovens do a better job of heating up our food without drying it out. Warm your tea with a teapot to get a tastier pot of tea, and steam your vegetables and rice to get a lovely meal fast.

If you absolutely must have a microwave, avoid taking up space with over-the-stove microwaves. They can clutter up your stove space, prevent you from venting your oven correctly, and can be difficult to clean. Instead, place your microwave in a hidden, out-of-the-way place like a cabinet that offers plug access.

Kitchen Remodel Mistake #12: Going DIY

Those remodeling shows make it look fun and easy to fix up your kitchen, but manage to conceal that a whole team of professionals is working right alongside the homeowners. They have designers and builders on their side.

Most people simply do not have the necessary time and skills to create a gorgeous, functional kitchen. They will run into problems and blow their budget long before they ever get a functional kitchen. You’ll save money in the long run, and be happier with your kitchen, if you simply invest in working with a design build company who cares about you and the results you end up with.

Not sure where to start? Read our guide here on how to begin a home remodeling project.

Want to find out what we can do for your kitchen? Call MSK Design Build today at 925-944-0153 or use our free consultation form.

Suzy Baur

A Certified Interior Designer, Suzy Bauer, loves listening to her clients, hearing their vision for their new space, and making the space a reality that reflects their lifestyle. Color, material, and simplicity are her passions in design.

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