Wasting money on a kitchen renovation

Four common kitchen design mistakes, and some helpful solutions

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Custom kitchen by Henge Homes allows for flow and adheres to the golden triangle (HengeHomes.com/Edward Kowal)

Custom kitchen by Henge Homes allows for flow and adheres to the golden triangle (HengeHomes.com/Edward Kowal)

Ever notice how people tend to congregate in the kitchen? No matter what the activity—an intimate dinner party, children doing their homework, or a check-in with your spouse—the kitchen is the focal point of many homes. No wonder, then, it’s the first room in the house we dream of getting a makeover.

The good news is just about every appraiser, media personality and realtor will tout the benefits to your home’s resale value when you renovate a kitchen. But if you’re not careful you can easily waste a lot of money.

Here’s a list of 4 common kitchen design mistakes, and some helpful suggestions:

#1. Focusing on the shiny and forgetting about the space

When renovating a kitchen we can get caught up on including the best and brightest new appliances but really, we should focus on maximizing space. Instead of focusing on the new fridge, focus instead on how to get more counter-space. To do this you’ll need to evaluate how you currently use your countertops and then plan accordingly.

#2. Not designing according to flow

When taking into considering flow you need to pay attention to two major traffic areas: the kitchen triangle and in-and-out traffic.

The triangle is the golden rule of kitchen construction and it takes into consideration a design that enables you to maximize your use of the three busiest areas in your kitchen: the sink, the stove and the refrigerator. If you design your kitchen and there are obstacles to any of these three spaces, it will feel and be an inefficient and this will detract from your kitchen—and your homes—overall value. To make sure you get this right, walk through your proposed kitchen pretending to do all the things you need to for making a meal. Do you have easy access to your fridge and then counter space? Does your sink have an unobstructed path to your stove (for boiling pots of water) and can you get to your dishwasher from your sink without being hindered by cupboards or drawers.

The other flow of traffic you’ll want to consider is in-and-out traffic. How people get into and out of your kitchen seems relatively straight forward but, keep in mind, that you’ll be in this room preparing meals when guests or your family meander in and out. If you don’t plan this well, you could get a bottle-neck or the feeling that the kitchen is too small or narrow (even it it’s not, in terms of space).

#3. Choosing the right products

Materials matter. While fads come and go—first it was granite, than stone and now quartz for countertops—your decision should be based on your needs. For instance, laminate are rugged and heavy duty—making them ideal for a heavily trafficked kitchen or a rental unit— while high priced stone, concrete, or wood countertops will need regular maintenance and special handling.

#4. Ignoring the details

Most people will walk around a new kitchen, touching the new appliances and caressing the countertops. But you should be staring at the details.

→ Is there silicone caulking where the countertop meets the backsplash/wall? If not, you could get prolonged water exposure behind your cabinets, which could lead to mould and rot. → Also, take a level and determine if your counters are installed to a 90 degree angle to your floor and ceiling. (Skip this step and you could be stuck with a backsplash that doesn’t look neat or straight.)

→ Stove fans that aren’t vented directly outside.

→ Cabinets that don’t open or close properly

→ Finally, make sure you plan where your electrical outlets need to go so that on-the-counter appliances can have power where needed. These outlets will need to be circuit interrupter protected (GFCI). No GFCI and potential buyers will see a big red-flag (and wonder which kind uncle did your electrical, rather than employing a certified electrician).

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