Whether you’ve heard it in the office, a classroom or a soccer field, that old saying about mistakes being valuable learning tools really rings true, doesn’t it? If those mistakes occur during the course of a kitchen renovation, however, it may be difficult to be philosophical about them. Bungle a kitchen redesign, and you’ll either have to live with the consequences for a long time or invest even more money to correct them.
It’s better by far to avoid making a big mistake when renovating a kitchen. Here are six totally wrong moves that you should never make when improving the most-used room in your home:
1. Give up cabinets.
Maybe you long for a window over the kitchen sink. Perhaps replacing or upgrading all the cabinets in the kitchen will take too big a bite out of your budget. Or maybe you intend to become a minimalist and need storage space for only two plates, two mugs and two wine glasses. Whatever you think your “reason” is for reducing the number of cabinets in your kitchen - don’t do it. Cabinet storage space is a top priority in any kitchen; it can help keep clutter off your countertops, and improve the room’s appeal to potential buyers. Never give up cabinet space unless you have a ridiculous number of cabinets, in which case, see move No. 2 ....
2. Cover every inch of wall with cabinets.
The only thing worse than not enough cabinets is having too many. We’ve all seen kitchens where the cabinets visually overwhelm the space. Sometimes they’re too large for the scale of the room. Other times there are just too many of them. Keep in mind the need for visual balance, and turn to online calculators to help you understand how much cabinetry is appropriate for your kitchen.
3. Cheap out
New appliances can be a large part of your kitchen renovation budget, and the temptation to cut costs by buying cheaper quality products can be compelling. Yet kitchen appliances are among the most-used in any home. When you consider how often you’ll use them, how much wear and tear they’ll endure, and how great their impact is on the usability of the room, it makes sense to invest in the best appliances you can afford. What’s more, if you choose cheaper models - or worse yet, keep old, inefficient appliances - you may miss out on the energy savings that new appliances can deliver.
4. Give up even a single ray of sunlight or breath of fresh air.
More than one kitchen renovator has chosen to solve the problem of too little cabinet space by covering up a window. Not a smart move, especially when you consider the value of natural light and fresh air in a kitchen. If you have no wall space to spare for windows, adding Energy Star-qualified no-leak fresh-air skylights, like those from Velux America, can solve the problem.
Modern skylights are as dependable as high quality vertical windows and they admit much more natural light. Solar powered fresh air skylights passively vent humidity and cooking fumes from the kitchen while bringing in light. Pair them with solar-powered designer blinds, and your skylights become not just more energy efficient, but more functional, since both are operated by a programmable remote control. As an added plus, solar powered skylights, blinds and installation costs are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements.
5. Pick materials that are too fragile for life in the kitchen.
Just as you never pick a partner or a vehicle based on their looks alone, choosing kitchen materials based on beauty is doomed to disappoint. For example, recycled glass countertops can chip, scratch or crack more easily than other options, and may not stand up to rigorous use. Limestone has a lovely, luminous look but is vulnerable to stains. Before you choose a material for its looks, find out its durability and weigh that against your tolerance for cleaning and repairs, as well as how brutal you’re likely to be on the surfaces in your kitchen. And in that vein ....
6. Let looks
Choosing an overall design or materials that look great and are fashionable, but that aren’t practical for your lifestyle, is a recipe for regrets. Whether it’s buying a refrigerator that’s too big for the scale of the room, or opting for a countertop color that’s too unusual to be universally appealing, conceding practicality to appearance will make the kitchen harder to work in and harder to sell down the road.
A well-executed kitchen renovation can boost home value and improve your enjoyment of the kitchen, which is the heart of the home. With planning and care, it’s possible to avoid the kind of renovation mistakes that no one wants to live with.