If the kitchen is the heart of the home, you want to make sure yours in good working order. You want it to cater to your needs and be visually appealing for complete culinary harmony. Whether you're remodeling or just making a few simple updates, the devil is in the details, the saying goes, so design matters. Nailing the right kitchen can be tricky, but knowing what pitfalls to avoid can save you some heartache and hard-earned money. Here are the biggest ones to avoid.
Not Planning or Sticking to Your Budget
Everything decision is contingent upon your budget, so it’s important to plan it ahead of time rather than playing it by ear. Your budget will let you know where to make compromises and what to prioritize. A marble countertop may sound like a great idea, but not if you can’t afford it, and not if it’s at the expense of a dishwasher and refrigerator. So budget for all the necessary components of your project and do your best to stick to it. If you don’t know what your budget should be, these numbers will tell you where to start.
Lack of Layout
This is the big picture, so before you go looking at all the bells and whistles, you’re going to want to make sure the kitchen design actually works for cooking. The “golden triangle”—oven, refrigerator, and sink—should be the focal points of the room if your kitchen space allows for it. Arranging them in the right spots will maximize the efficiency of the space you have available. While this may not seem like a big deal, you’ll immediately feel like things are off if these components are not where they should be.
Minimal Counter Space
Knowing how much counter space you’ll need ahead of time will play a big role in the design. Appliances like sinks, microwaves, and coffeemakers will eat up precious room, so it’s worth factoring how much free space you’ll need to cook. Don’t skimp on space—you’ll need it. If you don't have enough, getting a kitchen alternative is one solution that can give you more room to work. Materials are also something important to consider. If you have the budget, you can spring for a more high-end counter, but make sure you look into what really suits your needs - not just your aesthetics - or you’ll be kicking yourself later.
Placement and type of kitchen lighting is important. Clearly, you want to see what you’re doing so you don’t accidentally slice a finger on the cutting board or bang your head into a cabinet corner. But what about style? Lighting isn’t one-size-fits-all, so you’re going to want to make sure the lights you use fit the look of your kitchen. Is the kitchen you’re designing modern looking? Consider some sleek recessed lights. Country chic? Small hanging lamps could do the trick. Customizing your lighting will allow you to optimize the functionality and appearance of your kitchen. It’s a win-win.
Remember that ridiculous haircut you had in ninth grade? Chances are you went for that look because it was en vogue. Hopefully by now you’ve developed your own style and your kitchen should surely reflect that - but you don’t want it to quickly to look dated because you jumped on the bandwagon of a trend. Make sure your kitchen has some universal appeal, like neutral walls or tiling, a scenic bay window, and modern appliances. Then you can add your personal flair in a way that’s not quite as permanent—think chalkboard wall paint, lighting pendants, or even shiplap. That way if you resell your house, a tacky kitchen won’t be a dealbreaker.
Tailoring a kitchen to your taste is a big part of defining your home. It’s something that should take planning and research. The good news is you know what you like and, most likely, what you need. Factor that in with learning from others’ mistakes and you’re well on your way to designing a kitchen that is as practical as it is a reflection of you.
About the Author
Peter Sawyer is a screenwriter and cinephile who enjoys DIY home and living hacks. Writing for Modernize gives him a platform to write about energy-efficient living in the home. He just wrote and produced a featurette about Halloween.More Content by Peter Sawyer