Kitchen Remodeling: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

Remodeling can give you the kitchen of your dreams. Or it can be a stressful, nightmarish endeavor that seems to never end—blowing your budget out of the water and creating a space that’s not at all what you envisioned.

However, with a clear plan, supportive contractor, and realistic budget, you can design a kitchen that’s a joy to be in. You’ll create a space where cooking is an absolute pleasure. And when you entertain, your friends will be thoroughly impressed.

There are a range of pitfalls to avoid when remodeling your kitchen. In reading this guide presented by our expert Northern Virginia handyman experts, you’ll be familiar with the top 10 most commonly made mistakes to watch for. Bring your ideal kitchen to life by ensuring you avoid the following errors.

1. Remodeling Your Kitchen Alone

Do you have a passion for DIY projects? Even so, we advise knowing what aspects of the remodel you could tackle yourself and when you need the help of a professional. For instance, if you’re particularly handy you might enjoy painting your dark walls a glowing yellow or hanging a perfectly complementary chandelier above your kitchen table. Partaking in small projects and finishing touches, like adding decorative fruit bowls or hanging artwork, is certainly enjoyable and will help you feel like you’ve really put a personal stamp on your kitchen.

However, professional designers and contractors are key in executing your kitchen remodel plans. Here’s why.

Even if you don’t employ an interior designer to outfit your kitchen, it’s worthwhile to book a consultation. A designer will be able to give you advice regarding how to finesse your remodel plan or how to accomplish your unique vision—such as where to source distinct glass tiles for your backsplash, and whether a pizza oven is truly a worthwhile investment. Also, a professional has an eye for design and could brainstorm ideas you hadn’t thought of—but love!

As for contractors, embarking on a kitchen remodel is not a wise idea without the help of a handyman professional. Many tasks including knocking down walls and refitting drywall, installing cabinets, and building bespoke tables are a challenge for even the most adept DIYer. Remodeling your kitchen is going to be a big investment, both financially and emotionally. After putting so much into your home, you’ll want to be sure each change has been expertly completed. A good contractor will stick to your renovation schedule as much as possible and keep you in the loop about developments. At Mr. Handyman of Northern Virginia, each of our service professionals has an average of 10 years’ experience in the trades—with some of our team members having worked in construction and/or carpentry for more than 20 years. When you hire our skillful, hardworking, and honest contractors, you can have faith that your kitchen remodel is in the best hands.

2. Neglecting to Gather Inspiration

Having a clear idea of what you want your kitchen to look like once the renovation is complete is integral to a successful remodel. While perhaps small details might change along the way—you may find yourself oscillating between “Eggshell White” and “Oatmeal”—ideally, you’ll come back to the same aesthetic time and time again.

It’s not only important to know what you want from your kitchen remodel, so you end up with the space you envisioned from the beginning, but it’s also important to communicate clearly with your designer and/or contractor. Flip through design magazines, scroll through Pinterest, and collect a folder of images that speak to your aesthetic. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, it will be much easier to decide on the kind and color of countertop you want, whether you’ll paint or stain your cabinets, and if stainless steel is really the right option for your appliances.

Armed with your kitchen mood board, you can use it as a communicative tool for both your contractor and designer—who’ll be able to share insights about how to achieve the look you desire with the function you need.

3. Prioritizing Form Over Function

While designing a kitchen that has your personal style written all over it is important, ultimately, you need the layout and function of your kitchen to work for your needs. Before you start renovating the space, ask yourself: What do you like as it is, and what needs to change?

When you and your family use your kitchen, what is its primary function? Naturally, kitchens are where Americans prepare food. But let’s break that down. Do you live to cook and consider yourself a home chef? You might want extra counter space for food preparation.

Contrarily, if you’re more of a “Should we order in or heat up a frozen pizza?” kind of cook, having state-of-the-art appliances and counter space for days might be less of a priority. Maybe instead, you want space for a homework nook for your children, or an island counter bar instead of a big dining room table for lavishly prepared meals.

4. Not Sticking to Your Budget

One of the biggest facets of a kitchen remodel is the budget. Since renovating is such a big decision, it’s important to carefully consider how much you should spend. Likely, you have already looked at your finances and have an idea of how much you can reasonably afford for your kitchen remodel. But where will all that money go?

First, it’s important to always leave a little wiggle room for unexpected costs, like your dream oven or for when things go wrong and require additional work. For instance, say your contractor knocks down a wall and discovers a spot of wood rot that needs to be replaced. Although planning is key to stay on-track and ensure you don’t go too far over budget, it’s reasonable to assume you may have a few surprise costs. So, you should put 20% of your total budget away as a “just in case” fund before breaking down your budget.

After saving 20% of your budget for emergencies, a typical breakdown of costs for a kitchen remodel can be found in the table below. You can also use this table to help plan your kitchen remodeling costs.

budget table

5. Choosing Your Appliances Last

The size and shape of your appliances will impact everything else in your kitchen, from your countertop length to how much space you have for cabinets. Waiting until midway through the construction process—or even near the end—to select your appliances is a big mistake. Your contractor might have to re-do work that’s already been completed. For instance, if your countertop has been installed but your dishwasher is too high and won’t fit, the counter and adjacent cabinets will all need to be raised. It’s a lot easier to choose cabinets, countertops, and backsplashes that fit your appliances rather than the other way around.

6. Not Accounting for Storage

How much storage you need depends on a few factors. If you love to cook or have a big family, you’ll need room for a large fridge, freezer, and expansive pantry. The more ingredients you cook with—or the more mouths you have to feed—the more space you need.

Also, a big storage consideration is where you’re going to put all your pots, pans, rice cookers, deep fryers, cutlery, Grandma’s china—the list goes on and on. Take a look at how many appliances, cooking tools, and crockery you use right now. Do they all fit in your present cupboards and drawers? You’ll need at least that much space when you remodel your kitchen. And if you don’t have enough space—and don’t intend on downsizing—consider adding shelves, cupboards, or drawers accordingly.

Planning for how you’ll layout your storage is also an opportunity to get creative with your design elements. For instance, if you love the look of a rustic kitchen you might not mind if mixers, cookbooks, and spice jars on the counter add to the aesthetic of your space. But if you prefer a tidy, minimalist look, check that all your appliances and crockery can fit in your cupboards.

7. Neglecting Your Backsplash and Ventilation

Your stove and oven are two of the most used appliances in your kitchen, and as such, they’re often quite messy. Pasta sauce splattering your backsplash in big red stains. Potatoes boiling over and steaming up the place. Cookies your teenager baked for the first time burnt to a crisp. We get it! So, when it’s time to remodel your kitchen make sure you put careful consideration into your backsplash and ventilation.

Backsplashes are aptly named, given that they catch splashing sauces, oil, and wayward ingredients spilling out of their pots. That’s why it’s key to pick a backsplash material, color and—if necessary—grout that hides a multitude of stains and is easy to clean.

If you don’t want your fire alarm going off every time you cook, you’ll need a good hood fan. Even if your meal is cooking happily and not burning, the smoke and steam that’s a byproduct from your cooking adventures can set off the alarm—and create an unpleasant cooking environment.

8. Insufficient Lighting and Electrical Outlets

Have you tried cooking in the dark? It’s downright impossible, not to mention unsafe. While we’re exaggerating—it’s unlikely you wouldn’t have a single light in your kitchen post-remodel—your lighting does play a big role in both usability and ambience of the space. For example, fluorescent lighting might be common in a hospital or school, but it hardly evokes coziness in your kitchen.

To make sure you have accessible lighting to cook safely and create an inviting space, a good rule of thumb is to have three sources of light in your kitchen:

  • General overhead lighting

  • Task lighting that is more focused, such as a light in your hood fan

  • Accent lighting, such as wall sconces

9. Cutting Corners on the Small Stuff

As you near the end of your renovation and your budget has seriously started to dwindle, it can be easy to cut corners on the little things like cabinet knobs and fixtures. While installing a lazy Susan or adding pantry pull-outs might not make or break the overall function and design of your kitchen, these little touches can elevate a good space to a great one. If you’re investing a significant amount of time and savings into your kitchen remodel, you might as well ensure it’s exactly what you want—down to the last little detail.

10. Disregarding the Bigger Picture

It’s very easy to get tunnel-vision when remodeling your kitchen. But it’s still important to make sure the space suits the rest of your home—especially if you have an open floor plan. While ultimately design decisions are up to you, if your living room is modern and your kitchen is like a French country house, the stylistic dichotomy might be a little jarring.

Pay attention to the colors and materials you’re using in your kitchen. Whether they match or contrast the rest of your home, it’s important they work together to create a cohesive aesthetic. Small details like your cabinet hardware, backsplash, and light fixtures can be a great way to tie-in other design elements around your home.

Bonus Tip: Hire Mr. Handyman of Northern Virginia!

When it comes to reliable, trustworthy, and expert contractors, you can’t do better than the team at Mr. Handyman of Northern Virginia. Not only are we dedicated to consistent, quality workmanship, but we also always put our customers first. We will take time to answer all your questions, listen to what you need, and treat your home with respect.

If you’re planning a kitchen remodeling project for your Northern Virginia home, we invite you to give our courteous staff a call today or request a service online to get started.