7 Kitchen Remodel Mistakes That Will Drive You CRAZY (Avoid)

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Remodeling a kitchen can be quite a rewarding experience. From conceiving an idea to seeing it come to life, the project can keep you occupied and inspired at the same time. However, there might be some mismatch between expectation and reality if you make specific errors.

The seven kitchen mistakes that will drive you crazy are improperly spacing furniture, overlooking function, not considering family members when deciding function, overcrowding the kitchen, getting spontaneous halfway through, underestimating storage needs, and oversizing islands.

In this article, you’ll learn the reasons why each of these is a mistake and find great ways to avoid the following

  • Improper use of space that hinders the function
  • Not considering functionality in three dimensions
  • Forgetting about others who will use the kitchen
  • Not sticking to the initial plan
  • Downplaying storage requirements
  • Using oversized islands instead of small ones


the inside of a beautiful newly renovated kitchen with wood floors and dark brown cabinetry

1. Mismanaging Space

One of the mistakes people make when remodeling any room is the mismanagement of space. But this has the worst result in the kitchen. That is because kitchens are high-function environments. From cooking, serving, and dining, a lot can be done in a kitchen. However, mismanage space, and you’ll have complaints at each step.

People often mismanage space because of how attached they are to an idea. Whether inspired by a Pinterest board or a personal vision, one can forget to step back and look at the overall function and form. Here are some factors to consider whenever you have an idea for the project.

How Does This Affect the Number of Steps?

You do not want meal preparation to become an aerobic exercise with short marches from the spice rack to the stove. Make sure that any two points that require at least three trips are close enough to each other to remove the unnecessary step.

You will generally need the dishwasher to be close to the casual dining area (the breakfast nook) for easy cleanup. The cooking station should be next to the cabinets where you store the spices, herbs, and other dry ingredients.

How Does This Affect the Function of Other Areas?

While placing cabinets next to the cooking station is a no-brainer, it isn’t evident that the serving station must be close to the stove. You have to consider the space’s breathability to decide whether there should be a breakfast nook in the first place.

If you have a prominent kitchen counter in your project vision, simply add barstools to it and create a casual dining area. However, if there is too much empty space, a small dining table with a few chairs can help fill it.

How Does This Fit Into Our Cooking Needs?

Finally, you have to consider the project from the lens of your personal needs. If you space out the project according to a ‘standard’ but find it function-hindering, you’ll not be happy with the result.

a drawing of a kitchen layout design

If you make minimal use of the kitchen and just microwave takeout leftovers, you may design the space to just look nice. But if you cook multiple meals a day, you should emphasize easy cleanup. Ultimately, the way you will use the area will set the true standard of how you should occupy it.

Best Practices for Managing Space

To make the most out of your kitchen space, you should take the following steps at the front-end of your remodeling process.

  • Create a rubric with columns for space, function, and aesthetics. Give a score to every immovable object like a counter or a cabinet.
  • Prioritize space-efficiency for high-activity areas like cooking and dining.
  • Prioritize aesthetics for high-visibility areas like the portion visible from the open door and the points of focus upon entering.
  • Let space work with your budget. If you do not plan to spend a lot, merely using strategic placement will help keep your kitchen from looking too empty.

2. Not Considering Function

You may be tempted to skip this section altogether because, of course, you’re considering function, right? Wrong. Objectively speaking, remodeling is such a visually driven project that most homeowners aren’t prioritizing function enough. We tend to think in black and white, and as we prioritize aesthetics, the function takes a backseat until it is too late.

One of the expected results of this is the tiny aisle effect. The tiny aisle effect is where your vision of the space being two-dimensional interferes with your kitchen’s surroundings being three-dimensional. While using a measuring tape to keep aisles wide can be a great way to fix this specific issue, you would be treating the symptom, not the underlying cause.

One of the best ways to avoid the clash of the visuals with the real-life function is to simply have two vision boards addressing the space at right angles. In other words, you’ll not just create a visual direction that considers the look across your kitchen’s length; you’ll also visualize the same from its width. That way, you can see how beautiful a counter is and how much space is left behind it.

a sketch of a kitchen design

Another thing to consider is the way doors open. Whether it is the over, a cabinet, or kitchen drawers, you want there to be enough room for each to operate. While there might be enough space between the oven and a parallel fixture, it might be impossible to open its door.

A great way to avoid this issue is to simply create a list of all objects with doors. Once you can see everything with a door and nothing can ‘skip your mind,’ you can reliably open the doors’ reach and design the space accordingly.

Another way to avoid this mistake and other functional issues is to simply ask yourself if your current kitchen is functional. Some people remodel for aesthetics; others can’t operate in their present kitchen, which drives them to remodel. If you are okay with your kitchen’s function, simply swap out current furniture and appliances with new ones of similar size, and you’ll retain its previous function-friendliness.

the inside of a small kitchen showing its design and practical and functional layout

You may not like such a simple remodel and may want more position-variety. In that case, simply open all the doors in your current kitchen and see how much space there is between different structures with doors wide open.

Ensure you record this space and keep at least that much distance between open doors and the structures nearest to them. This allows you to carry over your personal sense of function to the new project while adopting contemporary aesthetics.

There’s also the possibility that the current kitchen environment is quite function-hindering, and that’s why you want to remodel it. In that case, make a list of everything that is an inconvenience. Often we get used to certain inconveniences, but it would be a shame to not fix these issues during the remodel because you don’t come to see them as issues.

3. Not Factoring in Family Members

This is a mistake often made by couples where one is more interested in home projects than the other. Because of the others’ disinterest in the project, they get left out in the planning process. But more importantly, they might get ignored when considering function. Please consider the people who will use the space aside from yourself. Here are a few things to ask yourself.

Am I Living Solo?

If you are a bachelor, you may have more freedom to remodel your kitchen but should keep some room for another person to move in. The last thing you want is for your kitchen to become a problem when considering bringing home a partner, inviting a friend for a sleepover, or getting a roommate.

Have at least two barstools next to your kitchen counter and leave enough breadth across the cooking station for two people to cook simultaneously. Cooking dates are a great way to have fun, but if you’re both working in a confined space, they have the opposite effect.

Do I Have Kids or Pets?

Whether you have kids of your own or have friends who often visit with their kids, you must toddler-proof your kitchen. That means making spillable things like tumblers and bottles hard to reach.

Also, make sure there aren’t any light rugs that may get easily stained. At the same time, you don’t want to have exposed tiles; they may be easy to clean but aren’t sufficiently cushioned. Exposed tiles can be dangerous for kids who might slip and fall.

If you have pets, then you must be even more conscious of the staining. Furthermore, there’s a severe risk of bite marks and claw patterns if your kitchen furniture is predominantly wooden. It would then be wiser to have harder materials like concrete and metals, at least in the lower portions that your pet is the most likely to reach.

You may also consider a barrier to keep your dog from strolling into the kitchen. And if you give your pets the free reign to walk in and out of the kitchen, you should keep human food away from them. That means you should have sufficient storage space high enough and out of their reach.

Do I Have a Partner/Roommate?

Finally, you have to consider other adults in the house. Suppose you don’t have anyone else who regularly cooks in the same kitchen, going by your personal preferences of function will work. However, if you’re married and your partner also cooks, please ensure that the cabinet heights and island sizes are as functionally accomodating to them as they are to you.

If possible, make sure that the person in charge of the remodeling project is also the one using the kitchen. If that can’t happen, make sure to take their advice before every irreversible decision; it is only fair. In the absence of their feedback, here are the factors to consider for social functionality:

  • Height: Cabinets should be positioned with the shortest adult member of the house in mind.
  • Width: Aisle width should be determined with the largest adult member in mind.
  • Cleanability: Keep your kitchen easy to clean if you have kids.
  • Durability: Keep your kitchen hard to damage if you have a large pet.

4. Overcrowding the Kitchen

While the previous mistakes have more to do with prioritizing aesthetics over functionality, this mistake has to do with tunnel visioning on the function to the point of disturbing the visual appearance as well as function. Typically, a novice remodeler might make a checklist of what’s required in the kitchen. This list is usually broad and counts many of the options aspects as necessities.

That isn’t a problem if one’s kitchen is large enough. However, people with small kitchens may buy all the same appliances and furniture, albeit to a different effect. If you have a relatively smaller kitchen, you have to adopt a minimalist attitude and do your best with the essentials. Here are some ways in which you can make the most of a small kitchen space.

  • Swap the island with a floating table. While some might do away with the table altogether, you can easily have your cake and eat it too if you use folding chairs and a floating table. This way, the dining area can unfold when the cooking stations are not in use.
  • Remove chairs and use stools. Stools can slide under the table and take up less space even otherwise. This makes the replacement a logical one for saving space while retaining function and aesthetics.
  • Save space by using your refrigerator’s top. Instead of adding an extra shelf, you can simply use the top of your refrigerator to save space. This allows you to have fewer cabinets and a less crowded kitchen.
  • Have hooks on the wall to store appliances. Flat pans, cups, and even oven mitts can be hung from a more 2D hook line. This saves a lot of 3D space because you no longer require a bulky cabinet.
  • Keep unnecessary appliances out of the kitchen. Yes, if you use a juicer once every four years, it does not have to occupy functional space in your kitchen cabinet or atop your counter. Let it sit in an appliance closet elsewhere in the house.

The above ideas are by no means a complete record of all how you can save space. They are just some handy ones to get you started. As long as you know the space-saving fundamentals, you can create a pleasant, functional environment regardless of your current needs. Below are the principles behind these handy tips so you can come up with your own idea.

  • Eliminate whatever consumes space but is not necessary.
  • Replace what is essential but has a smaller alternative.
  • Find multiple uses for structures and furniture to justify their space.

5. Getting Spontaneous Halfway Through

Murphy’s law dictates that what can go wrong will go wrong. This is an excellent argument for spontaneity, but when you start improvising and changing things once the work has begun, you permit yourself to discard the previous plans. A small change snowballs into a complete reimagining of the fixtures, flooring, and even lights. Discipline is crucial, and so is planning.

If you give yourself the permission to change things halfway through, you’ll not put in enough effort into planning all the way through. That’s why you should promise yourself not to change a single thing once the work has begun.

To stick to the plan, you must make a complete plan. Therefore, you should have a checklist of areas and factors that you must consider before calling it a day. Here is a comprehensive list of things to include in your plan so you’re not tempted to improvise midway.

  • Have a budget. It is essential to have a budget so you don’t start cutting corners midway or blow through your budget before completing the project.
  • Measure the area. You must know the floor area of your kitchen and the height up to the ceiling to make decisions accordingly.
  • Consider the color and style. You have to be specific about the kind of aesthetic you want. Everything must fit in. A vision board or a Pinterest idea board is sufficient for this.
  • Chart potential purchases with costs and size. Make a table and include cabinets, countertops, sink, fixtures, flooring, paint, appliances, accessories, and extras. Pen the costs and size of each.
  • Labor costs. Present the plan to different contractors to get a great guaranteed price.

6. Underestimating the Required Storage Space

Nothing will drive you as crazy as not having the space you need to store pans and pots while cooking. If you already have dinner sets and silverware that you’ll bring back into the remodeled kitchen, you can just make a broad estimate of the storage space required. Often, the homeowner forgets to take into account ingredients and other things that might need to be stored.

There are certain drawbacks to going big on storage space and staying minimal. So how can you decide what’s right for you? We recommend that you take the following steps to determine the number of cabinets and shelves you’ll need in the kitchen?

Decide the project size — Is your kitchen a small, medium-sized, or large one by the average standards? If you have a large kitchen, then you’re not likely to make this error to begin with. However, if the space is medium-sized or small, you might make the mistake of overcrowding or not having enough storage capacity.

Count the Storage Essentials

The next most important thing on your agenda should be to make a list of essential appliances, silverware, dinner sets, and ingredients that will need to be stored. While those with larger kitchens have the luxury of including all the plates and pots they have, you might have to use fewer of these. Make sure to have a space for dry ingredients.

Find Creative Ways To Store

This step is much more relevant if you have a small kitchen and wish to keep the space breathable. You must not just assume cabinets and shelves to be the obvious solution for everything that needs to be stored.

3 Easy Storage Solutions for Your Kitchen

While space-saving principles have been discussed earlier, this section provides direct solutions to expand your storage capacity without taking up too much space. Consider these products if you have a small kitchen.

1. Hynawin 3 Tier Corner Shelf

This is an excellent table-top storage solution that can hold multiple jars, mugs, a coffee machine, and cutlery. It also has hooks on one side from where you can hang cups and small pans.

The product is made with quality bamboo and among the most reviewed ones in its category, with over a thousand Amazon ratings. On average, it holds a 4.3 out of 5 stars global rating with 4.8 stars for being lightweight and 4.1 for storage capacity.

2. Comfecto Under Shelf Basket

This is a great way to add storage capacity to your existing shelves. This undershelf can hang from the bottom of a cabinet or a shelf and plenty of space to place anything under 5.6 inches (14.2 cm) tall on the rack.

It has a breadth of 13.4 inches (34 cm) across and 9.6 inches (24.4 cm) deep, making it ideal for mugs, stacked plates, and larger cutlery. With over 450 reviews, the product currently stands at a global average rating of 4.5 stars. Customers have given it an average of 5 stars for its ease of assembly since it only needs to be hung from the bottom of a shelf.

3. Ironstone Utility Rack

You can place this utility rack under the sink, floating desk, or dining table. With a variety of holding areas and ample space, this is a storage solution that is as functional as it is aesthetic. From housing a petite microwave to holding a stack of dishes, this tiered rack can do a lot in little space. Boasting over 6,000 reviews and ratings, the rack currently has an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars.

7. Using Oversized Islands Instead of Small Ones

This kitchen remodeling mistake is made by those with larger spaces as much as the ones with smaller ones. However, those who move from a small kitchen to a bigger one are most likely to make this mistake.

Whenever you scale your small kitchen vision to a bigger space, you may forget the number of steps required to execute any function within the environment. As a result, you may have a perfect looking kitchen, but the island becomes a chore to walk around.

If you have a small kitchen and you have a large island, you take up too much space and may have to cut corners when it comes to storage capacity. Ultimately, the island plays a small role in the function and a major one in aesthetics. Speaking purely from a functional perspective, a smaller kitchen can do without an island altogether. Here are some solutions to consider if you have a small kitchen:

WINSOME Suzanne 3 Piece Kitchen Set

This is a space-saving dining bar that can be wheeled in and out from a crevasse. It also has two stools that can get tucked under the folding table. Finally, it features two drawers that can hold plates for dining.

As Amazon’s choice for space-saving dining tables, this is an excellent replacement for a permanent island in a tiny kitchen. With over 1,400 reviews and ratings, this set stands at a 4.5-star average with 4.8 stars for its compatibility with small spaces. Most importantly, it is not permanently anchored in your kitchen.

Yescom Floating Desk

If your kitchen is super-small to the point where you’re not considering any dining area in the space, Yescom floating desk is a great addition that doesn’t occupy a lot of space, especially when folded in. With a small stool, you can create a breakfast nook in your small kitchen. This is great if you live alone. The product has over 370 reviews and stands at an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

As mentioned earlier, even large kitchens can be victims of oversized islands. While the rest of the kitchen is dependent on proportions, an oversized island is an oversized island regardless of how vast your space is. Even though it might look alright compared to the surrounding space and appliances, people will still have to walk a lot to get around.

The best solution for a large kitchen is to have multiple islands. Two islands across from each other can create a sense of symmetry. If the kitchen is large enough, and we mean huge, you can have three counters next to each other in a single row to create a pattern effect.

Essentially, it is like a single long counter with space for people to pass through. Functionally, each counter can serve a different purpose. One can be the dining nook; the other can serve as top storage for the most used items.

Here’s a Recapitulation (…fancy word eh?) lol

Remodeling your kitchen can be hectic if you don’t plan all the way through and avoid the most common mistakes that can infuriate a homeowner. Here’s a recap of the post going over the mistakes you want to (and must) avoid.

  • Using space in ways that aren’t ideal
  • Ignoring function while embracing aesthetics
  • Not considering others who will use the kitchen
  • Improvising halfway through the remodeling process
  • Not having enough storage capacity
  • Using large islands that people have to walk around