Okay, Sparky, so you’re ready to remodel your kitchen. Good on you. Kitchen remodels make a home more usable, more pleasant, more efficient and more valuable.
But please, whatever you do, please oh please, don’t let these seven deadly sins/kitchen remodeling fails happen to you. Do not, under any circumstances:
1. Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor or Trying to Be Your Own Contractor
The absolute worst kitchen disaster, waiting to happen. Oh dear me, this could sink the entire project before it even begins. (You’ll pardon the “sink” reference—but in one kitchen remodel I know of, the contractor actually forgot to put in a sink.) Check references, visit your contractor’s previous jobsite, get a referral from a trusted friend, and trust but verify. One of the leading sources of Better Business Bureau complaints? Bad kitchen remodels. Trust me on this—and ask me how I know.
2. Diving Right In With No Design
“Hey, let’s just rip out those cabinets, put an island in here, and uh, the stove over there.” No, no, no. Hire an architect. Or go to Ikea and use their free kitchen planner kit. Or visit NKBA.org—the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s website—and check out their kitchen design software. Hire a kitchen planner. Or buy a software package you like and put together your own dang design—but never move forward without an actual plan.
3. Forgetting to Ask Mom, or Dad. Or Whoever Cooks.
You’ll need to do some analysis here of who typically cooks in your kitchen, and when. Then you’ll need to ask the cook what he or she wants. This sounds like the most common-sense item on this entire list of fails, but way too many kitchens have been designed and built by non-cooks. I saw a newly-remodeled house once that had a nice kitchen and no dining area—I mean, no actual place to eat in the entire house.
4. Cheaping Out
Kitchen remodels cost money, right? The answer is yes—they’re one of the most expensive things you can do to an existing house. They also typically return almost as much or more in resale dollars than you spent on the remodel. But a cheesy kitchen remodel with low-dollar rental unit-level appliances and cheap materials will never recoup its cost, and will likely lower the value of the home.
5. Buying Old Appliances
Appliance choices have exploded in the past few years, with whiz-bang features, industrial-look and stainless construction and automated choices just a few of the budget-busting temptations. Your budget may allow the giant 12-burner red powder-coated gourmet Italian stove, or just a regular 30” gas oven, but whatever you do pay attention to the energy usage of your new appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators, trash compactors and many more appliances now come in hyper-energy-efficient configurations, and despite their slightly higher purchase price can save you thousands in the long run.
6. Choosing Sub-Standard Flooring
My wife and I bought a beautiful 1920’s-era Tudor house in the Bay Area a few years ago, and the previous owners had just re-floored the big, spacious kitchen—in cheap, fake-wood linoleum. Major fail. I have no idea how much it cost them, but we had to rip it out before we moved in and install proper tile. Flooring is just as important as cabinetry and appliances.
7. Fighting Your Home's Bones
Ever see a modern, slick, stainless steel and granite kitchen in a vintage home? I have, and it’s not pretty. Take into account the age, style and architectural era of your house when you plan your dream kitchen, and remodel accordingly.
You’ve been warned! If only someone had written this article long ago, so I could’ve read it…