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12 Common Kitchen Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

As the heart and hub of the home, the kitchen is one area in our renovation that we pay the most attention to. With so many things to consider, it’s sometimes inevitable that certain details get overlooked. To help you better manage your kitchen renovation, we pulled together common (and costly) mistakes homeowners tend to make when it comes to renovating their cooking space. Spare yourself the pain and remorse down the road with these tips:


Mistake 1: Thinking only about style/trends and ignoring practicality

We’ve talked about kitchen trends and styles a lot on Renonation. And while they are good to know and follow, don’t do so thoughtlessly. Always consider how your kitchen will fit in with your needs and lifestyle.

Design: Zenith Arc

Sure, open shelves may be super on-trend now, but if you have a massive cookware collection, you might want to invest in closed cabinets instead. You should also probably avoid the oh-so-chic dark kitchen trend if you have a very cramped space to work with, and go for a closed kitchen concept, rather than the trending open plan, if you’re do a lot of heavy cooking.

Ultimately, in a hardworking space like your kitchen, being practical and functional should always triumph over the latest styles. Trends may come and go, but a well-designed, efficient kitchen will serve you well for many years down the road.


Mistake 2: Overlooking inner cabinet organisation

Organising your kitchen cabinets well is really important to maximise storage efficiency. That extra rack or pull-out pantry might cost more now to your overall kitchen budget, but it will save you more than if you decide to add them on later.

Design: Crescendo Interior & Lifestyle

Here are several ideas:

  • Consider storing heavy cookware on pull-outs, as they make it easier to reach for them without causing a strain to your back.
  • Designing racks that help you separate your pot lids from your pots will also help you maximise the space inside your cabinets as you can now stack up your pots easily.
  • Add extra racks to separate your trays and pans rather than have them stacked on top of one another.
  • Go for a vertical plate rack to store your plates and cutting boards.
  • Include separate compartments in your kitchen drawers.


Mistake 3: Not planning for enough storage

Most of us tend to think we don’t need that much storage. We internalise the notion that fewer storage space means that we would naturally possess fewer things. But until we’ve lived in that space for a while, you wouldn’t realise things can just build up and accumulate without much effort.

Design: Charlotte’s Carpentry

Unless you’re particularly regimented in your decluttering process, just plan for more storage when you’re doing up your kitchen. You may think you can invest in a freestanding/off-the-shelf storage piece afterward if you really need it, but the truth is, more freestanding storage pieces can end up cluttering up your kitchen even more.


Mistake 4: Not planning around the ‘work triangle’

Design: The Local Inn.terior

Pay attention to this rule if you cook often. You want an efficient cooking space that works to your advantage—not work against you. Follow the ‘work triangle’ theory, where it posits that the placement of your refrigerator, sink and stove/oven (cooking areas) in the kitchen should form a triangle. The theory recommends a distance of at least 120cm between the three points, with no obstruction in between to facilitate a smooth traffic flow. While it’s not a rule that has to be adhered to strictly, it’s a good rule to follow to maximise kitchen efficiency.


Mistake 5: Sacrificing countertop space

Design: Ju Design Studio

Like with storage, we are inclined to think we don’t need that much countertop space. Truth is, we might need more countertop space than we think. Most of us leave frequently used appliances on the countertop, leaving us with fewer countertop space than we envisioned for in the first place. And if you double up your kitchen as a home office, you might need your countertops for more than just kitchen prep work.


Mistake 6: Leaving appliance shopping for later

Don’t leave your built-in appliance shopping till later. Your interior designer or contractor would need the measurements to fit in your hob, hood, built-in oven, refrigerator and dishwasher. If you’re fitting your washing machine and dryer in your kitchen space as well, make sure you get their dimensions. If you have a coffee machine or a juicer you want to place inside an open cubby, get the dimensions so that the planned-for cubby size is big enough.

Design: Icon Interior Design

Reworking the dimensions down the renovation line would just incur higher costs for you. Plus, if you want your appliances to flush with the rest of your kitchen carpentry for a clean, neat look, get those dimensions early.


Mistake 7: Leaving kitchen furniture shopping for later

Design: The Design Abode

Besides major kitchen appliances, there are kitchen furniture that you should consider shopping for first before the renovation gets underway. This includes your bar stools and counter stools. It’s a good idea to get the measurements for them first if you want them to fit perfectly. A general rule of thumb: if it affects your kitchen measurements, buy early rather than later.


Mistake 8: Committing to not-so-practical materials

Material choice for things like your backsplash, flooring, countertops and cabinets is super crucial in a kitchen renovation. You want durable and hardy materials that can take the brunt of a hardworking space. Countertops and backsplashes should also preferably be non-porous in case of accidental spills. You also want materials that are easy to clean and wipe down after a cooking storm.

Design: Icon Interior Design

Don’t be driven solely by the aesthetics of a material. Consider its practicality in the kitchen and leave the beautiful materials for another room at home. If you can, stay away from materials like marble, cement screed or tiny tiles with too many grout lines in the kitchen. Instead, opt for materials like quartz, kompacplus, large-format tiles, and granite.


Mistake 9: Forgetting the importance of kitchen lighting

Design: Luova Project Services

In general, make sure you have both ambient and task lighting in the kitchen. Install recessed lights along passageways for general ambience or place them above work prep areas like your sink or countertops to serve as task lighting. Under-cabinet LED light strips are also useful for illuminating directly onto countertops that are blocked by the top cabinets. For illuminating your kitchen island area, consider going for pendants for visual interest. Pendants should be hung with at least a 70-cm clearance between your island top and the base of the lamp.


Mistake 10: Not having enough electrical outlets

Design: Lemonfridge Studio

When it comes to electrical outlets, think about which appliances are going to stay on your countertop and which ones are stored inside cabinets and brought out only when needed. You might need an outlet for your coffee machine, one for your rice cooker, pressure cooker, slow cooker, food processor, juicer, etc. They can add up over time, so it pays to plan for more than enough electrical outlets.


Mistake 11: Not thinking about outlet placements

Design: DB Studio

Once you’ve decided on the number of electrical outlets you’re going to have, think about where you’re going to place them. The cables shouldn’t have to stretch too much. If you’re particular about aesthetics, you might also want to come up with designs that can hide your outlets. For instance, you can consider placing them underneath your top cabinets/shelves or the sides of your cupboards to hide them from view.


Mistake 12: Considering cabinet hardware as an afterthought

Design: Tab Gallery

Don’t leave the design of your outer cabinet hardware like your knobs and pulls as well as your inner cabinet hardware like your hinges and slides to the end. The former can significantly change the look of your kitchen, while the latter plays a key role to your kitchen’s efficiency.

Once you’ve selected the design and finishes for the rest of your cabinets, start choosing the right outer hardware to match with the rest of your design. Opt for sleek knobs and pulls if you’re going for a clean and contemporary kitchen, or more ornate, antique-looking handles if you’re after a vintage, Victorian look. Consider also the hues. A cooler kitchen would do well with stainless steel or matte-black handles, while a warmer-hued kitchen is the perfect setting for handles with a bronze or copper finish. Cabinet hardware is a great opportunity to run wild though. So even if the rest of your kitchen is a conservative space, let your hardware steal the show.

For hinges and other inner cabinet mechanisms, get quality ones that can stand the test of time. Your contractor and interior designer should advise you what to get if you’re sourcing your own, but make sure they are sturdy enough to handle the weight and height of your cabinet doors.


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