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Common Kitchen Design Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

10 Common Kitchen Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them



A great kitchen design can be a costly, but very worthwhile investment. While there are plenty of articles about the latest trends and products for the kitchen, it’s important to make sure you spend time researching and developing the best layout and design for your space.

Kitchens are one of the busiest and most-used rooms of our homes. Did you know that, collectively, we spend three years of our lives in them? This means that functionality is essential - make sure you do your homework and watch out for these kitchen design mistakes as you plan your next kitchen.


Underestimating Counter Space

Even if the overall space of the kitchen is small, be cautious about sacrificing too much counter space as it’ll really come back to bite you. It's always disappointing to see kitchen plans with not enough counter space!

On average, the minimum amount of counter space for a kitchen is 13 feet. For a smaller kitchen, this may seem like too much counter and you don't want to sacrifice space for other important items that you may need such as a larger refrigerator or stove. For a larger kitchen, this may not seem like enough and your kitchen will not have a nice flow to it.

Often, inexperienced designers and DIY-ers tend to underestimate how much room homeowners will actually end up needing for things like cooking, chopping, baking, and storage. There’s nothing worse than feeling cramped in your own kitchen and not having room to experience the joy of cooking.

If you’re not a spatial thinker, it might be worth it to use more concrete examples (such as a design app, a whiteboard, or even a piece of timber) to assist in visualizing the true width and depth of counter space to make sure you have enough. 

The gorgeous kitchen in this Contemporary home has more than enough counter space! This home also offers three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a 3-car garage, and 3,650 square feet of living space. Plan #161-1140

Creating Small Storage Spaces

Where in the world is the air fryer going to fit? While you might have thought to include storage nooks in your dream kitchen design, they won’t be of much use if they can’t actually fit the things you need them to.

Kitchen storage is often home to things of unique shapes and sizes. Kitchen Aid mixers, paella pans, your grandmother’s iced tea pitcher, etc. So having uniform storage spaces doesn’t really account for the variety of items.

Instead, a more creative storage solution would be to have cabinets and drawers in a variety of sizes that can help mitigate the problem before it even becomes one. 

This beautiful kitchen has storage space for all different items - deeper drawers for pots and pans and slimmer cabinets for sheet pans or spices. In addition to the great kitchen, this French Country home offers three bedrooms, two baths, a 3-car garage, and over 2,800 square feet of living space. Plan #142-1209 

Excluding Workflow

Above all, kitchens need to be functional. While aesthetics are very important and can create the perfect ambiance for the room where everyone gathers, without function, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and a lower resale value down the line.

For example, the dishwasher needs to be near the sink, if not right next to it. Could you imagine clearing a sink full of soapy dishes by carrying them across the kitchen to the dishwasher? The trail of suds they leave on the floor would get old, fast.

Instead, pause and think about your workflow when designing your kitchen. Other workflow suggestions could be things like:

  • an open counter space next to or across from the refrigerator for ease of unloading groceries
  • placing a window above the sink for nice views during clean up
  • Storage for large pots and pans in the direct vicinity of the stove 

The gorgeous kitchen in this Modern Farmhouse has a great workflow with the dishwasher next to the farmhouse sink and a huge center island near the fridge to make unloading groceries easier. This fabulous home also offers three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a 3-car garage, and 2,500 square feet of living space. Plan #106-1331

Forgetting Ventilation

We’ve all been there: desperately fanning the smoke alarm, hoping our cooking mistakes don’t trigger it and ruin our evening. One of the best things to do to avoid this (and the lingering of any unwanted smells after mealtime is over) is to ensure you avoid the kitchen design mistake of forgetting ventilation.

While many homes have an outside door leading directly into the kitchen, the easiest place to start is to ensure at least one accessible, easy-to-open window in the space. After that, ensure your stove has a range hood with a great extractor fan to provide excellent ventilation for your kitchen.

The fabulous kitchen in this wonderful 3,832 heated square foot Ranch plan includes ventilation and plenty of windows to let in sunshine and fresh air. The home also offers three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and a 3-car garage. Plan #202-1014

Excluding Appliances

In smaller kitchens, you might be tempted to leave out appliances of convenience to save space. Appliances of convenience would be things like a dishwasher or microwave oven. Technically you can get by without them, but they make life a lot easier and are standard in pretty much every American kitchen.

While room for a dishwasher or a nook for a microwave isn’t as commonplace in older buildings or smaller apartments, in a new build, leaving them out (or at least space for them) is one of the biggest kitchen design mistakes you can make as this choice could possibly tank your resale value.

Potential buyers could easily lose interest if they think they need to remodel the kitchen to add a dishwasher or space for a microwave. It gives the illusion that your kitchen is small and the buyers may choose a home with a kitchen they don't need to remodel.

The stunning kitchen in this Ranch home has more than enough space for appliances, including a wine refrigerator. In addition to the kitchen, this 2,925 square foot home offers three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a 3-car garage, and the option of finishing the basement for an additional 2 bedrooms. Plan #161-1135

Not Setting a Budget

It is so very easy to go over budget during a renovation or new build, but the kitchen is one of those areas that have the potential to be a real blowout. When creating a budget for designing your dream kitchen, remember to be flexible and realistic.

If granite countertops are what you always dreamed of, you may not be able to get those high-end appliances or custom cabinetry. Think about what you definitely do want and also what you don't mind sacrificing. Having this hashed out before the build starts can save you disappointment and a headache down the road.

Additionally, think about all of the different issues that may arise during construction. From utilities to delays in construction, wise homebuilders should expect the unexpected and have a little extra put away for these situations as they arise.

The delightful kitchen in this Modern Farmhouse is just one of many amenities in this house plan! With over 3,200 square feet of living space, this home offers five bedrooms, four baths, a 2-car garage, and a lovely wrap-around porch. Plan #198-1127

Staying on Trend

There’s something to be said about a trendy kitchen...while it's sleek and stylish in the present, a few years from now, it might not be and you may not like it as much.

When choosing things like colors for the cabinets and materials for the countertops, make sure you’re making selections that align with your personal tastes and you aren’t choosing an item simply because it comes in the color of the year.

There are certain trends (like granite countertops, all-white everything, etc.) that have been around for decades and won’t go out of style in the future, but some trends (like open shelving) may not be in style in the future but more of a personal design decision. After all, cabinets and drawers can hide all sorts of things. 

This spacious kitchen has a combination of both cabinets and open shelves which is great for displaying items and hiding others. Removing the shelving and adding cabinets in the future will be an easy remodel if the homeowner changes their mind. This stunning Mid-Century Modern inspired home offers three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, a 3-car garage, and over 4,000 square feet of living space. Plan #202-1001

Not Unifying the Space

One of the most common kitchen design mistakes is not considering how everything will tie together once assembled. For example, you might like the idea of a checkered tile backsplash, but how will that look against your mahogany kitchen cabinets and ceramic-tiled floors?

As you design your dream kitchen, take a step back and consider how the design, color, and texture of things like the countertops, backsplash, cabinets, paint color, and floors all need to come together. And if you have an open floor plan, think about how the whole space will come together. How will the great room and dining space complement the kitchen and vice versa?

The open floor plan of this wonderful Contemporary home is tied together nicely with the same flooring throughout, neutral colors, and by using different types of wood. This home also offers three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a 1-car garage, and over 1,900 square feet of living space. Plan #126-2010

Ignoring Vertical Space

Forgetting to maximize vertical space is an especially large problem in smaller kitchens. If you choose to leave a gap between the tops of your cabinets and your ceilings, you’re missing out on prime storage options.

While you may not be able to access them without a step stool (which may seem like a hassle), these areas of the cabinets can be used to clear up storage elsewhere in the home and is a great place to store items that you don't use every day such as holiday plates or platters. 

The tall cabinets of this 5-bedroom Contemporary Ranch utilize every inch of vertical space and are a great way to store items that you don't use all the time. This wonderful house plan offers 3,152 square feet of living space, a 3-car garage, 3.5 baths, and a huge master suite. Plan #142-1440

Thinking That You Know Best

There are many parts of kitchen design that are possible to DIY. It can be fun to unleash your inner HGTV star on “Demo Day” and install new cabinets from wood you sourced and cut yourself. But it’s easy to get carried away.

No matter how much we teach ourselves about construction and design, the kitchen is a tricky place to finish on our own, due to its complicated nature. While you may have your colors, counters, appliances, and cabinets all picked out but how will you tie it all together with the flooring, lighting, and backsplash? Sometimes it's best to consult a kitchen designer for their input on the layout and the items that you chose for the kitchen. The last thing you want to do is spend money on your kitchen and then not like it when it's done. 

Additionally, it's not just the construction of the kitchen that a homeowner should think about but also the utilities such as electrical, plumbing, etc. Unless you are a licensed professional in these areas, it’s best to call in an expert to avoid costly mistakes. A little more money upfront will often save you a fortune in the long run and ensure the safety of your family.

An alluring kitchen in this Acadian-style home offers plenty of counter space, a center island with possible seating, and lots of lighting. This beautiful home offers four bedrooms, 3 baths, a 2-car garage, and a little over 2,300 square feet of living space. Plan #140-1135


As you can see, some of these common kitchen design mistakes are very easy to fall into! But with a little planning and a lot of creativity, your dream kitchen can be functional, beautiful, and most importantly, on budget. 

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