Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.
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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

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Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.

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They say the kitchen is the heart of a home – a haven to create culinary delights and to enjoy them with friends and family.

To make new memories and to remember old ones. To engage in meaningful conversations. To laugh until you cry or maybe cry until you can laugh.

The kitchen becomes the memoir of a home, and consequently why it is the primary selling point. So let’s talk about 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating your home’s primary selling point.

For more kitchen inspiration be sure to check out:

     

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

    #1 – Delaying Your Dream Design

    Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.
    Welcome To Our Home! Take The Tour

    Most of us do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars in our kitchen renovation budget, but this does not mean you need to delay your dream design.

    Before you embark on renovating your kitchen, make a list of the top 10 things your dream kitchen would include, choose 3, and make them happen.

    There are many tips and tricks in this post to make your dollars stretch, but there is little worse in the renovation world than spending thousands of dollars on an end product that still hasn’t fulfilled any part of a dream.

    It does not need to be all or nothing.

    Be creative. Do your research. And read on!

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

    #2 – Keeping Your Old Cabinets

    10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen
    45 BEAUTIFUL White Cabinet Kitchen Ideas

    Kitchen cabinet refacing has become a popular alternative to gutting the old cabinetry and starting over, but I feel that this often ends up contributing to mistake #1 – delaying your dream design.

    When comparing the price tags, many people choose to put up with a layout they don’t love to give their kitchen a coat of lip gloss instead of a professional makeover.

    The truth is, with some research and a lot of planning, you may be able to get closer to your dream design than you think by getting rid of your old cabinets.

    Before & After French Country Cottage Kitchen Renovation

    If you are renovating an investment house then this may NOT be the way to go.

    We have flipped two houses. In the first kitchen, I gave a complete makeover, and in the second kitchen, I added lip gloss.

    We profited over $50,000 on resale both times. You need to know your market, and where to put your money in order to make your money.

    For those of you who are settled in your home, by getting rid of your old kitchen cabinets you will likely be able to change your work zones to better suit the flow of your kitchen.

    Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.
    Design an Efficient Kitchen Around 4 Work Zones

    This may include a coffee bar, an island, approximating your dinnerware to your dishwasher, creating an appliance garage, and maximizing your dirty landing zone while minimizing kitchen foot traffic.

    You are thinking, “This would be great but remember that thing called money? “

    What if I said that you could buy brand new, solid wood kitchen cabinets with soft close doors and drawers for half of what you think you would pay?

    Keep reading.

     

    Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

    #3 – Waiting To Organize Your Cabinets

    29 Organization Ideas When Designing A Kitchen

    You are renovating your kitchen and installing new cabinetry.

    You have allowed someone else to design the layout, with input from you here and there, but ultimately you trust that your current kitchen inventory and day-to-day flow will work within this newly designed space.

    What happens when you realize you can’t fit all of your most frequently used dinnerware into the cabinet above your dishwasher?

    Or the garage for small appliances only comfortably fits your mixer, but not the blender you use to make your family smoothies every morning?

    Or your baking ingredients fit better in the cabinet on the other side of your prep zone?  (Read about designing kitchen work zones here).

    The point is this.

    You will be more satisfied with your new kitchen if you stage the cabinets BEFORE they are installed. Get out your pencil and paper, or the professional design draft you’ve been given, and make sure you take a full inventory of your current kitchen cabinets and organize that inventory into your cabinets on paper.

    mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen

    Does not have to be fancy just useful!

    Pay attention to the size of the cabinets and compare them to what you are currently using.

    If your current lower cabinet that holds your bakeware is 18″ wide, and you are sick of having to take 5 things out in order to access the correct baking sheet, then make sure your new plans include a lower cabinet that is 21″-24″ wide and is the right size for bakeware dividers or pegboard organizers.

    Organize your new kitchen cabinets before they are finalized to make sure they will hold everything you currently use and that they are better designed to fit your needs. Be sure to read 29 Organization Ideas When Designing A Kitchen for lots of creative ideas!

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

    #4 – Planning for Bigger Instead of Better

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When renovating a Kitchen

    With that being said, we move on to mistake #4 which is planning for a bigger kitchen instead of a better one.

    Maybe you are building a new house and want to design your dream kitchen with two islands, two sinks, an industrial-sized refrigerator, and enough square footage to host your entire neighborhood x 2.

    To clarify, if you are planning on hosting your neighborhood x 2 once a week, then this is probably the best option for you, but I have been in these kitchens, and do you know how many steps it takes to walk around two islands or how many minutes add up walking half a mile to put your dishes away each night?

    I am exaggerating, but only a little.

    I am a firm believer in quality over quantity.  For example, instead of trying to make the footprint of your kitchen bigger – consider replacing your current cabinetry with upper cabinets that reach the ceiling and trim them out with crown molding.

    You will gain storage space and will visually make your kitchen look bigger when you take it to the ceiling.

    White cabinets as opposed to darker cabinets will also give the illusion of added space. 

    For more tips on designing quality square footage instead of adding square footage read  How to Design an Efficient Kitchen With These 4 Work Zones.

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When renovating a Kitchen
    Before and After Foreclosure Kitchen Renovation

    Sometimes bigger is better, but just be sure that you are stepping out the space that you are designing.

    If your new kitchen dimensions are significantly bigger than what you have ever had, then it is important to find someone’s kitchen that is closer in size and imagine your layout in that space.  Do you need it that big if you are planning an open layout anyway?  What else could you spend the extra money on that may check off another dream item from your list?

    The French Country home that I am designing is not a double-island, prep sink, wash sink, and pretty sink kind of a kitchen, but it will have a 48-inch French range.

    For me, this is the answer to mistake #1, but consequently, does NOT apply to mistake #5.

    Read on.

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

    #5 – Overspending on Appliances

    Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.

    You can save thousands of dollars on appliances. The Sears Outlet online offers discounted appliances all over the country.

    My favorite way to buy appliances is from scratch and dent stores. These are often smaller family-owned stores, and the best way to find them is to Google “scratch and dent appliances in (your) city, state.” If a big box store gets a stove that has a dent in the side of it, then they cannot place it in their inventory at full price because it is considered blemished.

    Enter the scratch and dent market. If you are local, then my go-to appliance scratch and dent store is K&A Appliances. They are amazing!

    Most of these dents are hidden by cabinetry or can be touched up with an appliance marker. These appliance markers are also an easy way to make your current appliances look nicer if they have already suffered some bumps and bruises.

    You can save thousands of dollars on scratch and dent appliances. Compare deals in your area, and don’t forget to consider if they include warranties!

    Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.

    For a higher-end look without the 5 figure price tag, I LOVE my matte white with copper accent appliances from GE’s Cafe line.

    Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.

    You can get stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, coffee pots, espresso machines, blenders, you name it in the matte white GE Cafe line!

    [show_shopthepost_widget id=”4924453″]

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

    #6 – Buying Retail Instead of Wholesale

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen
    Lily Ann Cabinets

    This ties into the previous mistake of overspending on appliances.

    Again, unless you have money to burn or are building a new home with the understanding that you are not trying to cut costs in the kitchen, then buying wholesale is the best option for any DIYer or renovating a kitchen on a budget.

    What is the difference between retail and wholesale prices?

    I am a cabinet maker (the producer). I sell my cabinets to a big box store at wholesale price because they bought them from me in bulk.

    That big box store then up-charges my cabinets and sells them to the consumer at retail price. What you want to look for is a cabinet company that sells their cabinets at that wholesale price.

    They will not have as many cabinetry options, but you may be pleasantly surprised how many options they do have.

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen
    Lily Ann Cabinets

    My favorite online wholesale cabinet company is Lily Ann Cabinets.

    You will find solid wooden cabinetry in a variety of options for half the price, painted or stained, with accessories such as pull-out trash cans, cabinet dividers, etc.

    Note these are RTA (ready to assemble), so if you are looking to build some sweat equity this is a very easy way to do so.

    They do have the option to buy them already assembled.  For our first kitchen makeover I put together the RTA kitchen cabinets myself, and I promise you do not need to be super handy – just able to read directions and use a screwdriver.

    Our third fixer-upper, the French Country Cottage kitchen, we bought them already assembled from Lily Ann Cabinets.

    10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

    #7 – Too Little Lighting

    mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen
    How To Add Kitchen Cabinet Lighting [in Less Than 20 minutes!)

    I understand lighting to fall into 3 categories – ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting.

    Ambient lighting is what you use when the sun goes down, so this would be your chandelier over the kitchen table or the pendants hanging above your island. Unless you live by Scrooge’s motto that “darkness is cheap” and you like it that way – typically ambient light is the first switch you turn on when walking into a room. We don’t usually forget to design this one.

    The second category is task lighting which is pretty self-explanatory. This is the light you use for specific tasks such as the pendant hanging above the sink that you might turn on to get a closer look at the pot that you have been scrubbing for the last 20 minutes and still doesn’t look clean (or am I the only one??). This could be a light mounted under a cabinet that illuminates your kitchen desk or a particular workspace. Canned ceiling lights on a dimmer switch can function as task lighting or accent lighting depending on the moment (convert your kitchen light with this dimmer switch). Sometimes we forget these areas, but typically we at least include a pendant over the sink.

    The third category, accent lighting, is most often overlooked, but I believe essential to creating the beautiful haven that we want to be our kitchen. Accent lighting is what gives us the ability to highlight or “lowlight” a given area. I would argue it is the ability to lowlight your kitchen that can especially make it showstopping. Accent lighting would include lights in your upper glass cabinets that run along the ceiling or under-cabinet lighting as in the picture above.

    A design tip is to install these lights on a timer that turns them on in the evening and turns them off in the morning. This is an elegant way to accent your cabinetry and create that soft evening glow for a dinner party or provide a night light for your 2 am snack.

    Another tip is to use accent lighting to create an art niche in your kitchen wall.

    mistakes to avoid when renovating your kitchen
    Image courtesy of ifinishedmybasement.com

    To install one in an existing wall, find the space between two studs, frame out the niche, and refinish with a small accent light at the top.  Excellent DIY tutorial here.  You can place a favorite picture, highlight a kitchen antique, or place a piece of art in this wall niche.

    You can put this little light on a timer as well or integrate it into the same run as your other cabinetry accent lights. I highly recommend timed lighting, because what is the point of investing in decorative accents if you never feel like flipping the switch on and off every night? Invest in LED bulbs, and the electric footprint should hardly be noticeable.  Dimmable LED Vintage Edison bulbs are also available for exposed bulbs that you want to give a vintage air.

    For more DIY lighting solutions, be sure to check out:

      10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

      #8 – Skimping on Storage

      10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen
      Lily Ann Cabinets

      I am not a professional designer by trade, but if I had to give it a shot, I would guess that this ranks at the top of the most commonly made kitchen renovation mistakes.

      I think this also ties into mistake #3 on the list when you wait to organize your cabinets until after they are installed.

      The simplest storage solution when replacing old cabinets is taking your upper cabinetry to the ceiling if they weren’t already. 

      Install that extra run of decorative cabinetry along the top to house holiday dishes, goblets, or punch bowls you infrequently use.

      Also, an option is to make your single upper cabinet much taller. If you have an 8ft clearance from floor to ceiling, then you could do 42″ high uppers to go to the ceiling or 39″ uppers and add 3″ crown molding along the top. This will give you plenty of extra storage if you did not have floor-to-ceiling cabinetry before.

      Another often overlooked possibility for the standard 10x10ft kitchen layout is an island.

      See mistake #9.

      10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

      #9 – Ignoring an Island

      Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.
      French Country Cottage Kitchen

      There are a lot of men and women out there who look at their current kitchen and assume there is no way they could fit an island into their new renovation.

      If you are that person, then I would say, “You might be surprised!”

      The bottom line is that you need 39″ minimum of floor clearance from base cabinet to base cabinet in order to comfortably get around your kitchen. I would argue that as long as you can fit 39″ of floor space around an island that is no less than 2ft deep by 2ft wide than you can fit an island.

      Kitchen island carts are typically about this size which is also a great option if you would like to be able to move it.

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      So if one of your kitchen dream list items is an island, then get out your tape measure, graph paper, and pencil and get creative!

      FYI – a 2×2 ft island is basically a 24″ wide base cabinet with decorative paneling on the sides and back to match.

      Find your base cabinet options and design from there.

      10 Mistakes to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen

      #10 – Dismissing Stone Counter Tops

      mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen

      The final mistake addressed in this list is dismissing natural stone for your countertop.

      It is still a common misconception that natural stone countertops are only for the double-island with 3 sinks kind-of-kitchen budgets. Granite countertops have become much more competitively priced over the years and, at times, can be cheaper than high definition laminates. Companies often have a handful of standard color options that will be offered as part of a “package deal.”

      **If you are building your forever home I would not sacrifice your dream countertop to maximize these deals, but for most homes, this is the best bang for your buck as granite countertops are often considered a valuable home improvement due to their longevity and quality.**

      When renovating our first kitchen (read here), I found a package deal that said if I bought x amount of square feet in one of their standard color options, the deal included a stainless steel sink, a granite cutting board, and travertine tiles for our backsplash (which we installed ourselves).

      To find packages in your area, Google “granite counter-top packages in (your) city, state.”

      The best deals will often be a paid Google advertisement that will populate the top of your search. Certainly compare this to other local options, but do not prematurely dismiss this as an option – especially if it hits one of your dream kitchen items from mistake #1!!

      Many blessings as you work to make your kitchens a memoir of home.

      For more kitchen inspiration be sure to check out:

        Ahna Fulmer Signature

        Pin any of the images below, and shop my kitchen!

        Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.

        Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.

        Discover 10 mistakes to avoid when renovating a kitchen to stretch your dollars and create a beautiful kitchen packed with practicality.

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        18 Comments

        1. […] Not including the structural changes or the flooring (we left the original flooring because it was actually in good shape) this brand new kitchen – cabinetry, appliances, electric, sink, faucet, plumbing, counter-tops, back splash – cost us less than $12,000. If you are looking to make money when you sell your home, then consider the tips from this DIY kitchen renovation on a budget!  For a much more detailed look at kitchen renovation checkout 10 Mistakes Essential to Avoid When Renovating a Kitchen. […]

        2. Great tips, Ahna. I didn’t realize granite had become so competitive in price, and I love that fact that you shared about not procrastinating organizing cabinets! Wonderful info, and I’m pinning to my Kitchen Inspiration board. We are blessed to have you at Tuesday Turn About… Hope to see you this Tuesday!

        3. […] Have you ever been through a kitchen renovation?  I actually have… The kids and I shared a home with my folks when they decided to gut the kitchen and renovate EVERYTHING! It was well worth it, but it was a long 7 weeks! I sure wish we had this super helpful post from Ahna at Hammers N Hugs.  […]

        4. I didn’t even know you could buy through a wholesale cabinetry provider. Amazing tip and I love the recommendation you made as well. My wife and I are deciding between cabinet refinishing and a complete renovation. Honestly, it comes down to money. Your wholesale idea will change our overall cost greatly. Thank you

        5. Lucky me! I replaced backsplash with handcrafted mermaid tail teal tile which is fab with my swirled brown granite and almond wraparound cabinets, ceramic pink/gold/ivory pulls, blush velvet stools/chairs/Anthro oversized floral teal sofa in big kitchen. I have a quarter round distressed walnut island for the ‘main’ kitchen and the fronted floral sink duplicates my ‘butler’s kitchen at the other end of my oversized kitchen ( coffee, tea, wine area). Thank goodness color is back in kitchens.

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