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If you're planning a kitchen remodel, you've probably already realized that this endeavor is one of the largest and most involved of all home improvement projects. While that can be intimidating, you don't' need to worry. With a little advance know-how and some simple guidelines, you can avoid the most common mistakes and help your new kitchen take shape with ease. Here, we'll review some of the most common, and the most costly, mistakes often made during kitchen renovations and remodels. We'll also give you some tips for finding and selecting the best professionals for the job.
Planning and Design Mistakes
Designing the layout of your new kitchen is one of the most important parts of the job, even though it's completed long before the actual work has begun. Far too many homeowners put too little thought into their kitchen design. The end result is often a kitchen which looks beautiful, but doesn't function properly in a variety of ways. The kitchen is the center of most homes, a place where families congregate and relax. Ensuring that this space is as convenient and welcoming as possible will make all the time you spend in the kitchen that much more enjoyable.
Ignoring the Triangle
There are three places in the kitchen where most of the action takes place...the sink, stove and refrigerator. These spots receive the most use, and a smart kitchen design puts them in close and convenient proximity to one another. You've probably been in kitchens where the sink and stove are right next to each other, but the refrigerator is clear across the room! This may not sound like a big deal, but after living and cooking in the home for a while, all those extra steps add up to frustration.
Ideally, these three hot spots should be close enough that they can be reached with a few steps. There's no need to line them up side by side, but they should be conveniently placed with no large obstacles (such as an island) in the way. If you do a great deal of cooking, consider placing an area for slicing and chopping within this triangle as well.
Improper Island Design and Placement
Islands are a great way to add usable space to your kitchen. However, don't' make the mistake of choosing any old island and plunking it down in the middle of your kitchen...you'll probably end up with an obstacle instead of a convenience.
The best islands are multi-taskers. They incorporate all the needs of your individual household while being unobtrusive. A full two feet of space should be allowed on all sides of the island to ensure that it doesn't create a cramped feeling. If your kitchen is small, select an appropriately sized island.
Islands can be incorporated into your triangle by including a range, stove or even a small refrigerator into the design. Custom islands can be constructed to include any combination of appliances; remember that these islands will require additional wiring and installation.
If you plan to use your island as a dining area, plan enough room so that each diner has a comfortable amount of space. Remember to plan for the future, as well. Your children may be small now, but they'll grow. Instead of installing permanent kid-sized seating, consider adjustable stools that can grow with your family.
Never purchase an island without storage. Placing a large block in the center of your kitchen without storage only creates wasted space. Islands offer a wonderful opportunity to store frequently used items like cookware and silverware. You can also create larger cabinets for items which are only brought out on special occasions, or appliances which don't fit into your wall-mounted cabinetry. A very popular custom insert is a built in wine rack or cooler; this luxury addition is great for wine enthusiasts who are sick and tired of running downstairs to fetch a bottle for dinner.
Improper and Inefficient Lighting
Since the kitchen is the center of the home, it should be a cozy and comfortable spot. Poor lighting can transform a truly stunning kitchen into a dark and dreary place...not a place you want to spend time.
Experts recommend three types of lighting for the best kitchen experience. These include general lighting (usually an overhead fixture), workspace lighting and accent lighting. The design and intensity of your lighting should fit your individual d cor. Workspace lighting makes the preparation of food safer and easier, while general and accent lighting create a well-lit yet cozy atmosphere.
Insufficient Recycling and Garbage Space
With the advent of the green movement, more households than ever are recycling. While this is a wonderful thing, it can create some space issues. Where one big garbage can used to be all that was needed, today's kitchens often require space for garbage as well as separate glass, paper and metal recyclables.
Instead of relying on separately purchased bins which must be somehow fit into the kitchen, consider investing in customized built-in areas for waste and recycling. These customized cabinets can be placed in convenient spots, out of the way yet easy to reach. They should be large enough to accommodate the size of garbage can you usually use. Many homeowners enjoy the convenience of locating waste containers near a back door for easy disposal on collection day.
However you configure your waste collection, don't make the mistake of ignoring it entirely. Nobody wants to deal with a newly remodeled kitchen cluttered with cans and plastic bins.
Indulging in Whims and Trends
We're all intrigued by professional-grade large appliances that claim to practically prepare a six-course meal all by themselves. Likewise, we all enjoy looking through design magazines and marveling at the bold and trendy hues. Before you actually install that triple convection oven in an eggplant-hued kitchen, however, take a step back and think about two things: the future and your budget.
When it comes to money, a kitchen renovation shouldn't exceed your actual needs. If you do a lot of entertaining and have been frustrated by the outdated slowness of your current appliances, then a professional quality range or refrigerator may make good sense. However, if you do an average amount of cooking at an average skill level, a gourmet kitchen is simply a very expensive decoration. Chances are good that you'll never use many of the features that come on the most expensive large appliances, which makes them complete wastes of money. Take an honest look at your household's needs, and buy accordingly.
Trendy colors are another common mistake during kitchen renovations. Trends tend to be big, bold and bright. Reds, purples and bright blues are all trendy right now, but they won't always be hot. In fact, in a few years, they'll probably look dated and stale.
Another trendy mistake to avoid is the placement of expensive, decorative pieces in such a busy area. If your household includes children, these beautiful pieces can easily get broken. A great example is the current trend of accent tile. Accent tiles are sculpted tiles which are incorporated into floors or walls. While they are stunning visual pieces, they can cause falls for children or those with limited mobility, in addition to being more fragile than traditional flooring. Always consider your household before investing in expensive trends.
The most enduring trends aren't really trends at all...they're timelessly beautiful colors and textures which will remain appealing for years to come. Wood finishes and neutral colors are popular in kitchens because they're warm and welcoming. Stick to smaller pieces which aren't permanent when it comes to following the latest trends. Table linens and window treatments are great ways to stay current without breaking the bank or necessitating a new paint job every year.
The single most common, and most costly, mistake made by well-meaning homeowners during a kitchen renovation is taking on too much DIY work. In some areas, it's actually illegal. Electrical work, work that involves gas lines and plumbing are all jobs that require the expertise of a licensed and certified professional. Attempting to tackle these jobs yourself can lead to fines, denied insurance claims, and potentially dangerous situations like flooding and gas leaks.
Enlisting the help of skilled professionals lets you avoid these potential dangers. It usually ends up saving you money, as well, since many homeowners attempt these projects on their own, get stuck, and end up calling in a professional anyway. This stop-and-start approach leaves you with a disassembled kitchen, wasted time, wasted money and wasted effort.
Finding a pro to help with your remodel couldn't be simpler. Websites which connect professionals with homeowners allow you to look through local contractor's licensing and certification. You can narrow your search further by reading consumer reviews, written by homeowners just like yourself.
Once you've narrowed your list, start making phone calls. If you get a bad feeling from a contractor, trust your gut. A reputable contractor won't pressure you, try to convince you that things like licensing and insurance aren't important, or give you a ridiculously low bid. If you see any of these red flags, walk away and resume your search. Once you've found the right contractor, you'll have a partner to help you with every aspect of your renovation, from design to labor. A contractor with years of experience has seen all the potential mistakes and can help you avoid making them yourself.