6 biggest kitchen remodeling mistakes to avoid

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Deciding to redesign or remodel your kitchen is exciting. However, it is no small undertaking. There are many different factors to consider – and just as many mistakes to avoid. Considering the amount of time you spend in your kitchen, making sure it is optimized to give you the greatest level of comfort and convenience is a must. Below are some of the most common mistakes homeowners experience when it comes to kitchen remodeling – and how to steer clear of them yourself.

1. Rushing through the planning process
To make sure your kitchen remodeling project is completed on time and without exceeding your budget, you should spend a lot of time in the planning phase. Rushing into the project can eventually lead to production delays and unnecessary expenses. According to a Consumer Reports survey, the top mistake homeowners make when remodeling their kitchen is changing their minds once the project has already started – which, on average, leads to a 10 percent increase in costs.

The more thorough you are in the planning and preparation stages, the more likely it is the actual implementation process will go smoothly and you will be satisfied with the end result. On the other hand, don’t make the project timeline airtight. Leave room for the unexpected, such as late deliveries.

“A common mistake people make in planning a kitchen remodel is starting the consultation and design process too close to the completion date they have in mind,” explained Alure Home Improvements Designer Patricia Nicolini. “For example, if you want your kitchen complete for the holidays don’t wait until after Labor Day to start the process. Start in the spring. Planning and execution can take a total of four to six months!”

Start planning your kitchen remodel as soon in advance as possible.
Start planning your kitchen remodel as soon as possible.

2. Focusing on appearance while neglecting function
High cabinets that are hard to reach, colors that looked great in the store but not so much in the lighting of your home – these are just two of many problems that can occur when you don’t take a balanced approach to your kitchen remodel. New hardware or an appliance may look great, but from a functional standpoint does it make sense?

What are your biggest pain points in the kitchen right now? Do you wish you had more storage? Does the existing layout make it difficult to move around while cooking? Are you often frustrated with the lack of counter space? Would the room look better with more lighting? Rather than simply homing in on what you do like in kitchen designs, focusing on what you don’t like can be useful. You may like the design of someone else’s kitchen and decide to mimic it without realizing it may not be a practical solution for your specific lifestyle and needs.

Consider the “kitchen work triangle” – the stove, sink and refrigerator. These areas are the busiest spaces, so you don’t want to make them too cluttered or arrange appliances in a way that makes it difficult to move between each. Additionally, consider your lifestyle – not just when it comes to the layout, but the materials as well. For example, do you do a lot of cooking in your kitchen? If so, you should choose countertop materials that don’t chip or burn easily.

For new homeowners, Nicolini suggests waiting between six months and a year before starting a remodel – rather than immediately after moving in.

“This way, you will get a better feel for how your house works or doesn’t work for you,” the design expert explained. “It will help keep the could- and would-haves to a minimum.”

“Take advantage of design imaging tools to preview the new design.”

3. Relying on sketches 
In this day in age, you shouldn’t settle for drawings or sketches of the design – not when you can get a three-dimensional preview. Design imaging tools allow you to test out different styles and options to get a more realistic idea of what the end result will be. This technology may also bring to light potential issues you didn’t pick up on in the planning process but are able to see now that they are in a more 3-D environment. For example, let’s say the positioning of the fridge doesn’t leave a lot of room for the door to be opened all the way. Using this software improves your decision-making and reduces the chances of regret something later.

4. Not consulting an expert
Let’s be honest: Kitchen design and remodeling probably isn’t your area of expertise – and that’s OK! While you may know what you do and don’t like, professionals help make sure you aren’t overlooking critical elements. They can inform you of the latest materials, trends and techniques to use and make suggestions on the products that offer the most value. While you may want to be involved in the project, it is probably not something you know the ins-and-outs of. Contractors and designers do this for a living, so getting their expert opinion will lessen the chances of you making a mistake. They help you steer clear of otherwise avoidable pitfalls. However, don’t let them decide everything. To ensure you are satisfied with the end result, stay involved and establish clear lines of communication throughout the entire process.

5. Skimping on the upgrades
Remodeling your kitchen isn’t simply about giving it a new look. You should also see it as an upgrade – an opportunity to improve the aesthetic and function while simultaneously increasing the value of your home. One way to do this is to purchase energy-efficient appliances. According to This Old House, they can help save money on your energy bills by consuming less energy than conventional products. Not only do Energy Star-certified products offer better insulation and accurate temperature controls, they are 40 percent more energy-efficient than older versions. You shouldn’t look at various features and add-ons as being additional or unnecessary expenses, but rather investments in your home.

“Of course everyone has a budget,” Nicolini said. “But don’t skimp on the things that will make you happier or the function in the kitchen easier. For example, interior cabinet options, roll outs for pots and pans, built-in garbage pails, decorative moldings and under counter lighting – just to name a few.”

Kitchen upgrades aren't an expense - they're an investment.
Kitchen upgrades aren’t an expense – they’re an investment.

6. Assuming all contractors are the same
Before you hire a kitchen remodeling company, you need to spend some time researching and comparing contractors. Don’t just go with the first – or cheapest – one you come across. Consumer Reports found that nearly 20 percent of general contractors don’t have insurance or a state license – and almost 10 percent don’t have either. These credentials are important for safety and liability reasons, but they can also influence the amount of money you spend. According to the source, contractors that are accredited tend to do a better job at minimizing costs when unexpected disruptions occur during a remodeling project.

This is why it is important to be strategic about the company you work with. How much industry experience do they have? Are they certified? Do they specialize in kitchen remodeling? Do they have positive feedback and reviews from past customers? At the end of the day, your kitchen remodel will only be as great as the materials and techniques used by the people handling the project.

To increase the likelihood that your kitchen remodeling project goes smoothly and you deal with as few disruptions and challenges as possible, make sure you work with an expert that can help you throughout every stage of the remodeling process- from the initial planning until the final nail is in place.

For more information about how to successfully plan a kitchen remodel, download our white paper:

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