12 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating Your Kitchen

Gorgeous pearlized glass mosaic tile backsplash. An inexpensive option purchased from Lowes for only $12 per square foot.

Gorgeous pearlized glass mosaic tile backsplash. An inexpensive option purchased from Lowes for only $12 per square foot.

For many, renovating a kitchen can be an overwhelming project! Not only is it a big investment but there are so many decisions to make. It can even cause anxiety. I’m seen couples almost split up over arguments about which backsplash tile to select!

Planning and getting educated is the best advice I can offer to minimize the stress of a big renovation. The more you learn about the process, the smoother your kitchen renovation will go. Although it’s important to learn what to do during your kitchen renovation, it’s equally important to learn about the mistakes you should avoid as well. We will explore the top 12 mistakes we see on kitchen renovation projects.

  1. Appliances before Cabinets

The pantry cabinets were built to suit around our client’s new fridge

The pantry cabinets were built to suit around our client’s new fridge

If you’re dealing with a contractor that builds the cabinets to suit, you need to make sure you have purchased your appliances before fabrication of your cabinets begins. At the very least, know exactly which appliances you will be purchasing and make sure they aren’t discontinued or back-ordered. Your cabinet maker will need to know the specifications of the appliances to ensure he builds the cabinets to accommodate your appliances.

Imagine telling your cabinet maker to create a 33” wide opening for your fridge and then the fridge is delivered and it’s 36” wide. This could be an expensive mistake to fix! Sending your cabinet maker and contractor a link to the specifications of your appliances will ensure everything is built to suit.

2. Don’t go it alone

Your kitchen renovation is a big project and will likely be a large investment. If you do not have the experience of running a large renovation project on your own, it is worth the small investment to hire a kitchen design expert or work with a kitchen renovation contractor.

When I work with clients, one the comments I hear is how much easier I made the decision making process by listening to their wants, needs and tastes, and helping them make the perfect selection. Our team of professionals who work on the kitchen renovation also do this type of project 7-12 times per year. What might be stressful to you, is everyday work to us. By working with a kitchen contractor, you will receive tips, advice and their years of experience will help fine tune your kitchen renovation.

3. Don’t skip the storage features

Gorgeous pantry with pull outs we designed and built for our client’s custom kitchen renovation in Oshawa.

Gorgeous pantry with pull outs we designed and built for our client’s custom kitchen renovation in Oshawa.

If your budget allows for it, don’t skip the add-ons and storage features such as pantry pull-outs and drawer dividers. These increase the storage efficiency of your kitchen, a feature you will come to appreciate after your renovation is complete. These types of add-ons can always be done later but it’s much more costly to add them on down the road.

4. Don’t ignore the workflow of your kitchen.

This is one of the most important things to consider when designing your kitchen: The Work Triangle. The work triangle is formed between the fridge, stove and sink. Those are the three areas that you go between when working in a kitchen. There should be no less than 4 feet (1.2 m) or more than 9 feet (2.7 m) between each of those “legs” of the triangle. The sum of all three sides of the triangle should be between 13 feet (4.0 m) and 26 feet (7.9 m).

The purpose of a work triangle in your kitchen is to maximize efficiency and function. Utilizing a work triangle in your kitchen minimizes the distance traveled between work areas.

If you have questions or just want some guidance on your kitchen renovation, I recommend signing up for our Love Your Home seminar which takes you step by step through the whole process. This free to attend seminar will answer all of your questions about a kitchen renovation and take the worry out of the process. To learn about our next seminar, click this link to sign up for our newsletter which will let you know about all of our upcoming events.

5. Don’t settle for less counter space.

Tons of counter space here! Beautiful white shaker style cabinets with a laminate countertop. Laminate countertops have improved so much that they now have the look and feel of real stone.

Tons of counter space here! Beautiful white shaker style cabinets with a laminate countertop. Laminate countertops have improved so much that they now have the look and feel of real stone.

Get as much counter space as you can! You won’t regret it. With more counter space, you can spread out your work area, have other people in the kitchen helping you and in general, just feel more organized. Careful placement of your appliances will help create a more continuous flow of your countertop. If you have large appliances like your stove and fridge too close to each other, you will end up with a choppy layout and small countertop space in between. Plan your appliances and cabinets in such a way to maximize your counter space.

6. Don’t work with a budget that’s too small.

Realistically, you should budget one third of your kitchen renovation budget toward your cabinets. Kitchen renovations will typically cost between $30,000 - $ 60,000 and up. A $10,000 budget for your kitchen cabinets is not going to get you a very large kitchen or very many “extras”. Consequently if your dreams include taking out a load bearing wall to open up the space, having a pantry, deep pot and pans drawers, spice racks and more, then you need to set your budget higher. There’s nothing worse than getting excited about a renovation and then finding out that you’ve got champagne taste on a beer budget.

Stunning glass mosaic backsplash. Our client selected simple white shaker style cabinets with a light grey quartz countertop. The backsplash became the focal point but still allowed her to accent with other colours.

Stunning glass mosaic backsplash. Our client selected simple white shaker style cabinets with a light grey quartz countertop. The backsplash became the focal point but still allowed her to accent with other colours.

7. Don’t neglect or ignore the backsplash.

This can be the focal point in your kitchen so don’t ignore it. Even on a budget, you can stick with simple white shaker style cabinets, even a simple laminate countertop but invest a little into a splashier backsplash tile and suddenly you’ve got a WOW focal point in your kitchen. Backsplashes can even be simple glass subway tiles at a nominal cost but still add texture, shine, interest and a great focal point in a kitchen. Make sure your budget leaves room for a nice backsplash!

8. Don’t leave space underutilized.

The uses for the toe kick storage are endless: craft supplies, children’s books, wine storage, pet food station, cutting boards, cookie sheets….

The uses for the toe kick storage are endless: craft supplies, children’s books, wine storage, pet food station, cutting boards, cookie sheets….

There are many areas in your kitchen where you can create additional storage if your budget allows. For example, the toe kick at the bottom of your cabinets can be made into a pull out drawer. You can store cookie sheets, muffin tins or even rolls of aluminum foil or wax paper. If you’ve got a small kitchen or house, utilizing often overlooked areas like this can really increase your storage efficiency.

Also, have a look at your kitchen and breakfast area. Often there are small walls that could accommodate a shallow pantry or broom closet. Nowadays, broom closets are often forgotten in homes but even a 10” deep cabinet can store brooms and mops.

9. Don’t forget about the big picture

When you are picking out all of the elements of your kitchen, it’s easy to fall in love with a particular countertop or floor but don’t forget about what the overall picture is going to look like. All of your elements have to work together.

You always want to pick out your cabinet door styles and colours first. However, after that, you want to look at your largest element. Consider this: If you’re replacing the flooring throughout your kitchen and breakfast area, or maybe even throughout the main floor, that’s a large surface area you’re dealing with so pick out the flooring first. Your second selection should always be the countertop as that’s usually the biggest investment after the cabinets. When you’re selecting the countertop, make sure you have a sample of your door front as well as the flooring on hand to ensure they all work together.

Do the same for picking out the backsplash tile and the paint colour. As there are thousands of paint colours to chose from and they can even be custom mixed, always leave your paint colour selection to the end. Gather all of the other elements for your kitchen and consult with a designer, your contractor or a paint store experts (we love the experts at Sherwin Williams)

10. Don’t make your aisles too tight

Space between the perimeter and the island is a perfect distance in this Oshawa kitchen. Stunning white shaker style cabinets and a Cambria quartz countertop accent this functional and efficient kitchen.

Space between the perimeter and the island is a perfect distance in this Oshawa kitchen. Stunning white shaker style cabinets and a Cambria quartz countertop accent this functional and efficient kitchen.

I see this all the time. In an effort to try to squeeze more cabinets into the kitchen, clients will put an island in where it really doesn’t fit. Your aisle between cabinets should be a minimum of 3’ wide if there’s usually one cook in the kitchen and 4’ wide if there are often two cooks in the kitchen.

11. Don’t make islands too big

We all want to maximize our cabinets and work space but be careful not to go too big. Longer than 10’ is hard to walk around and deeper than 4’ makes it hard to reach the middle. Consider the size of your overall kitchen too. If you have a small kitchen, you don’t want to overwhelm it with an oversized island.

12. Don’t forget about your friends and family when planning your kitchen.

When friends and family congregate in the kitchen, you need to make sure there’s space for them.

When friends and family congregate in the kitchen, you need to make sure there’s space for them.

This is something that frequently gets overlooked. We plan our kitchens for our own use, and that’s the way we should plan them. However, if you entertain a lot and have family and friends over for dinners and parties, then you need to consider how your kitchen will function and feel when additional people are around. Will your guests congregate at the island and have you left enough seating there? If you end up with all your sisters in the kitchen with you at Thanksgiving helping you prepare the turkey, will you be bumping into each other. Make your kitchen functional for you but don’t forget about how it will function when others are around as well.

Knowing what mistakes to avoid is key when planning your kitchen renovation. This is a big investment and you want to do it right. Work with a contractor that specializes in kitchens and has done many kitchen renovations over the past several years. Make sure they understand your needs and your budget. If you have a limit of what you can spend on the renovation, make sure you tell your contractor. If you’re planning a $80,000 reno but have a $40,000 budget, your contractor can make suggestions along the way to keep you within budget.

To help you select the right contractor for your renovation project, read my blog post on How to Select a Reputable Contractor. And…if you have any questions about your kitchen renovation, I’d be happy to help. Post your questions in the comments below and we will answer you within 48 hours.