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Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes

By: Liz Harrell
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Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes

By: Liz Harrell
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Find More Blog Posts

I have never fully remodeled a kitchen. I don’t know what it’s like to get up in the morning and make coffee in the corner of my bedroom while wiping sheetrock dust out of my hair. That sort of experience is reserved for the hard-core home renovators that I love and admire. However, I’ve done a few kitchen facelifts over the years. I’ve painted cabinets, replaced appliances and light fixtures, rehabbed a pantry, and I’m currently in the middle of a backsplash project. But over the years I’ve watched many friends renovate. I’ve been on house-hunting expeditions through new kitchens that left a lot to be desired. I’ve also watched and read everything about Martha Stewart since I was 16 years old, and there are some inalterable facts when it comes to kitchen remodeling mistakes. I have gleaned a few important tips along the way.

Kitchen remodels aren’t for the faint of heart, so if you’re considering venturing into new and unknown territory, it’s always best to make a list. 

Starship Enterprise Islands

If you’re the lucky owner of a sizable house or an actress in a Nancy Meyers movie, you probably have the square footage for a kitchen island the size of Manhattan. But for the rest of us home plebeians, we probably need to forgo dreams of an island as big as a boat. More reasonably designed islands give the perks of storage and seating, without being so large you’re unable to open your stove or cabinet doors. For homes sporting small kitchens, downsized mobile islands with wheels are the best bet for function, while still maintaining floorspace.

Open Shelving Paloozas

Usable storage is often vastly underestimated in kitchen remodels. While house hunting, I was repeatedly stumped by beautiful remodels with massive amounts of open shelving. It left me asking the all-important questions, like, “Where do you put the Tupperware? Where does the Crockpot go?” But seriously, no one wants to look at plastic sippy cups. Forgo excessive open shelves and invest in plenty of drawers.

Forgetting That Workflow Thing

The workhorses of the kitchen (sink, refrigerator, and stove) are always in need of planning when designing the floorplan of a remodel. Designers swear by the “kitchen triangle” when designing the ideal kitchen flow. I’ve lived in plenty of kitchens that didn’t have any semblance of a triangle, and my cooking ventures survived. But it stands to reason you don’t want to walk across a big room every time you need some milk. 

Somewhere to Park

Kitchens are the place where everyone ends up hanging out, so whether you have breakfast nook seating, island bar stools, or a simple bench in the corner, don’t forget to create a space for your guests to park while you cook. 

The Neglected Backsplash

I am always stumped by beautifully redone kitchens with no backsplashes. Seeing gorgeous new marble, or cabinetry, or lighting, with nothing but drywall for a backsplash is jarring. It’s a bit like getting dressed up to go to the Oscars and forgetting to wear earrings. Beautiful backsplash options are without a doubt the jewelry of every kitchen, so don’t forget to plan one.

Don’t DIY (Know Your Limits)

I am really good at painting a room. I can edge without painter’s tape. All I need is an unencumbered Saturday, and I can paint at least two rooms. But I have limits, and when it comes to painting kitchen cabinets, I leave that to the professionals. Been there, done that, made a huge mess. When it comes to tiling, plumbing or painting, sometimes we may need to park our DIY pride and hire a professional. Not only will you get it done right the first time, but you’ll also avoid the added expense of doing it yourself, and then hiring someone to fix it. 

Budget Hard (Unless You’re a Billionaire)

The average kitchen remodel (which can range from a cottage kitchen to a massive McMansion) ranges from $14,000 to $40,000 according to HomeAdvisor. Kitchen remodels can be vastly more expensive depending on what part of the country you live in. The overwhelming advice from top designers and remodel mavens? Set a budget and stick to it, and allow a certain percentage for emergencies and unforeseen expenses. 

Kitchen remodels, like all home endeavors, have pitfalls and rewards. But the all-important light at the end of the tunnel is a fully transformed space that creates the perfect “heart of the home.” Holidays with good food, popcorn and snacks for movie nights, and drinks around your (appropriately sized) island will make all the list-making, check-writing, and sheetrock dust cleaning worth it in the end. 

Meet the author

A little about Liz Harrell

Elizabeth Harrell is an author, freelance writer, and lives in Conway. Her book, My (not so) Storybook Life, was published in 2011. Her blog projects and articles have been featured in At Home Arkansas, Apartment Therapy, Better Homes and Gardens, Design Sponge, and here on Only in Arkansas. Visit her at https://elizabeth-harrell.com

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