21 Design Mistakes to Avoid in the Kitchen

From not using an architect to selecting applicances that are too big for the space, top experts tell us what to avoid when designing a dream kitchen

Common Design Mistakes When Planning a Kitchen

Not making their design timeless, not researching their storage needs and not spending the time to find appliances and plumbing fixtures that best suit their budget.
—Rose Adams, Rose Adams Cabinetry & Design

People believe that if they are not avid cooks, they don’t need a great kitchen.  A well-designed kitchen should function properly whether entertaining with take-out, hiring a caterer or having a family member help with a holiday meal.
–Karen Williams, St. Charles of New York

People commonly request a desk in their kitchen. This can breed clutter, so we advise creating a way to hide the clutter—a desk with a pocket door adjacent to the kitchen.
—Susan Alisberg, Alisberg Parker Architects

With so much information available on the Internet, people tend to load their spaces with too many ideas, too many materials and too many functions, making the space feel more like a “kitchen showroom” than a home.
—Paulo Vicente, Vincente-burin Architects

Not having a solid layout and a unified design direction.
–Chris Sullivan Roughan, Roughan Interior Design

Selecting appliances that are too big for the space. Appliances that are scaled too large for a space actually make the kitchen look smaller and crowded. Clients often compromise clearances in order to get more storage, which makes it difficult for two people to work side by side.
–Sabine Godden, kitchen consultant for Pagliaro Bartels Sajda Architects

 Having their contractor supply the cabinetry. In essence, sacrificing design, innovation and unique use of materials.
—Ingrid Becker, Deane, Inc.

Not updating the lighting and not adding under-cabinet lights.
–William Luceno,  Majestic Kitchens and Bath

The biggest mistake is customers trying to design their own kitchens. They should always consult a professional to plan the space with the right balance and flow patterns between activity centers.
—Robert Bakes, Bakes & Company

I often find that clients imagine themselves changing habits of a lifetime when remodeling. In reality, we are all creatures of habit, so I spend time discussing how the client currently lives and creating a new space that will feel like a natural progression.
—Christopher Peacock, Christopher Peacock Home

The most workable kitchen should always start with a thorough understanding of the inside of the cabinets—what you want, where you want it and how often you use it.
—Kerry Sheridan, Sheridan Interiors

Not working with a design professional who will help them realize all of their needs for an efficient design.
–Sam Sadegi, Alno Wilton

Not planning enough time for the project.
—George Krawiec, Hemingway Cabinetry

Traditionally, kitchens were separate work spaces from the dining and living areas. Kitchens have evolved into the real heart of the house, and these traditional separations are sometimes mistakenly held onto.
–Bruce Beinfield, Beinfield Architects

Too many unique pots, pans and tools in your kitchen can strangle the design, making it more of a storage area than a living space. The best kitchens have breathing space.
—Katherine Hodge, Sage Design

The choice of the kitchen sink is often casual and last-minute, but this hardworking and visually significant appliance warrants thoughtful consideration.
–Barbara Sallick, Waterworks

Not using an architect. As the hub of family life, the kitchen needs to be laid out properly, fulfilling a family’s specific interests in cooking and entertaining in the design of cabinetry and pantries.
—McKee Patterson, Austin Patterson Disston Architects

People fall in love with the details of their new kitchen before thinking about the big picture.
–Mark Alex Maidique, Wheelock Maidique

Clients tend to become overwhelmed by the endless choices and can’t differentiate between what they want versus what they need.
—Regina Bilotta, Bilotta Kitchens

I feel symmetry is very important, so avoid having all upper cabinets not equal in size.
—Gregory McGuire, McGuire Home

Homeowners often leave appliance selection to last, which seriously limits their choices.
—Marco Barallon, Clarke

A version of this article appears in the January 2014 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headling: Ask the Pros

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