The kitchen is the most popular room to renovate in the home, alongside the bathroom. Renovating and redesigning can make the kitchen more functional and beautiful, but it can also become a nightmare if done incorrectly. Learn from others’ mistakes before they become your own by checking out these 15 kitchen design mistakes to avoid when planning your renovation project.

Ignoring the Kitchen “Triangle”

The three most used items in the kitchen tend to be the refrigerator, stove, and sink. Keep this “work triangle” of refrigerator, stove, and sink clear to prevent spacing and functionality problems. For example, don’t place your refrigerator in a space that allows it to swing back into your pantry or stove.

Don’t block one appliance with another or make it difficult for more than one person to be in the kitchen at a time. You should be able to stand in front of an appliance or drawer and open it completely without bumping into another part of the kitchen.

Underestimating Storage Needs

Most homeowners tend to think they have plenty of storage, until the plates, bowls, utensils, mixers, storage tubs, and everything else come spilling out or get over stacked in cupboards and drawers. When designing your new kitchen, make sure you have enough storage-cabinets. You may even want to consider creating a pantry space for food and extra cooking appliances.

It can be nice to have deep cabinets with a lot of storage but is frustrating if you can’t reach or easily access the items you have stored inside. Consider installing cabinet drawer dividers, pantry pullouts, and a Lazy Susan. These cabinet add-ons increase efficiency and are more costly to install down the road, so you’re better off including them in the initial kitchen design. Use vertical wall space for added shelving.

Limiting Counter Space

Things have a way of piling up on the counter whether we intend for them to or not. From toasters and other small appliances to fruit, condiment shakers, and other and knick-knacks, counter space is gone before you know it. When planning your kitchen, one of the easiest design mistakes is limiting counter space.

An easy fix to designate one or two areas to specific actions in the kitchen–such as an area of the counter for cooking prep work, a space for doing homework or bills (such as a bar or island), and a space for cooking and appliances.

Not Getting Enough Light

Nobody want a dark kitchen, especially when there are so many lighting and fixture options. Don’t get stuck cooking, cleaning, and doing prep work in the shadows of the kitchen. Get enough light from windows, overhead, and accent lights.

From recessed lights, pendant, track, and many other options there is no reason to stay stuck in the dark. Just don’t go overboard with mixing and matching. You’ll end up with strange light gaps or dark spots or a too bright kitchen that gets hot. Look into getting under cabinet lights for nice ambiance at nighttime for those late-night gatherings or midnight snacks.

Inadequate Ventilation

Kitchens need plenty of ventilation, and while it may not be the first thing on your design list, it should a priority. A poorly ventilated kitchen will have smoke alarms going off every time you cook, forcing you to open doors, turn on fans, and manually fan away smoke.

A lack of ventilation is not safe. It makes the kitchen smell like smoke, and traps steam and other items from properly airing out of the kitchen. It is also possible to ruin and warp your cabinets and other wood finishes with too much steam. Get a nice vent hood that is close to the stove to ensure proper ventilation in your kitchen.

Getting Island Size & Placement Wrong

Kitchen islands embody the style of a modern, spacious kitchen. However, installing an island that is too large or too small ruins its purpose and functionality. Placing an island in the wrong spot means maneuvering around it and creates an awkward footprint for the kitchen.

An island may not be the best use of space in a small kitchen and often leaves people moving around the island to get any work done or access other parts of the kitchen. Prior to installation, try blocking off the area where the island will go and determine if it’s a good size and placement.

Forgetting About the Backsplash

Don’t forget about or neglect the backsplash. A tile or stone backsplash helps protect your kitchen walls from water, steam, grease, and other dirt and grime that could cause damage.

It also ties kitchen together, since the backsplash can have multiple colors from throughout the kitchen or add some flair to monotone kitchens as an accent wall. A backsplash is an inexpensive way to add color, textures, and functionality to your new kitchen.

Doing Too Much with Too Little

Without a defined scope of work, it’s easy to make the mistake of trying to do too much with too little budget, space, or time. Sometimes the design changes and work can get out of hand on a kitchen renovation project, especially if you have a limited budget or a small kitchen space to work with.

Don’t expect new cabinets, new countertops, new floors, a kitchen island, and a floorplan alteration when you have only budgeted $10k for remodeling. Likewise, if you have an 8x10 kitchen, it may not be worth it, or even possible, to stuff $100k worth of materials into a small kitchen space.

Not Getting Guidance

Some homeowners start a project with so much enthusiasm that they get ahead of themselves and the project they have undertaken. Don’t DIY without some guidance and always get expert advice before you make any structural or large design changes.

Even if you plan to do some of the work yourself, consult with a kitchen designer. They can supply a detailed 3-D design, helpful tips and ideas, and ensure you don’t encounter problems that prevent the project from moving forward. While you don’t need a designer to select every knob and pull for you, it can be very helpful to get their input and advice–especially if you have no prior design or DIY experience.

Changing the Floorplan

It can be especially tempting to gut an entire kitchen and begin from scratch with a new layout and design, but it can also be costly and create an awkward kitchen. If possible, only change your kitchen’s existing layout for functional improvements, otherwise you could be wasting your time and money.

For small, closed in kitchens, consider knocking down a non-load bearing wall to open the space up to the rest of the house. The less plumbing and electrical work that needs to be done, the more cost efficient the project will be overall.

Going Over Budget

You might think the budget is the last thing you would forget about or make a mistake with but going over budget or re-allocating money to the wrong things occurs often during home remodeling projects. Don’t forget your budget and why you have chosen to dedicate that much money to renovations.

Consult with a designer to determine how much of a remodel you can afford, make a realistic budget based on your kitchen design, and stick to the budget you have created. It is understandable if small issues pop up here and there, but once you have decided on a budget range, try to stick to it so that your project face too many changes or a drawn-out timeline.

Playing It Safe

Everyone wants that perfect home kitchen, although sometimes those perfect pre-set designs can come at the cost if individuality and outside of the box design. When remodeling your kitchen, don’t forget to add your own flair or ideas. Give that all-white kitchen some of your own style.

Keep some aspect of your kitchen that you love, whether it’s a whiteboard or chalkboard for kids, a plant shelf for your succulents or fresh herbs, or your own unique twist on the design such as a space for cookbooks or a fun mini bar station. While a modern kitchen looks and functions great, don’t play it too safe with your design or you may find yourself disappointed by how “plain” things are years down the road.

Designing in A Vacuum

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of design and bringing to life all your kitchen must-haves, but don’t forget the big picture and fail to tie it all together. Remember that you are designing the whole kitchen, not a bunch of individual parts. Make sure each aspect ties back into the whole and looks and functions great together to create a cohesive kitchen design.

People also make the mistake of designing a kitchen that doesn’t mesh with the rest of their home. Make sure the kitchen flows well into the living or dining room–an island or bar is a great way to accomplish a “flow” that looks and functions well.

Choosing Appliances Last

Many people make the mistake of designing their dream kitchen, and then choose their appliances last. This can cause issues with getting appliances to fit well, especially if any of them are supposed to be inset to the wall or cabinetry.

Begin your kitchen renovation by buying any new appliances, that way measuring and shopping for cabinets and other design elements is easier. Choosing appliances early in the renovation process also allows you to design other elements of the kitchen around the color or finish of appliances you have bought.

Using Cheap Materials

Using secondhand and less expensive materials can be a great way to save money, especially for areas of the kitchen that are not used as much. However, going cheap on materials can also quickly turn into regret when cabinets and floors begin to warp, countertops chip and stain, and your kitchen isn’t as lustrous as you had hoped.

You don’t have to break the bank, but do spend money on good floors, appliances, countertops, and cabinets. Invest in the best quality materials and workmanship that you can afford. Choose granite, quartz, or marble for countertops and choose solid hard woods for cabinets.

Contact Us

Do you want to update your outdated kitchen without making any of these mistakes? Contact the experts at Kitchen Design Center in Fairfax, VA to help you turn your dream kitchen into a reality. Avoid making mistakes with the most important room in your home. Call us at 703-244-1220, send us an email at or visit our local showroom at 11217 Lee Highway Unit E, Fairfax VA.