The kitchen is the heart of the home, so renovating it is an exciting prospect for any homeowner. Renovations can be as simple as changing out finishes and updating appliances, or they can involve ripping everything out and starting from scratch.

It can be challenging to make the right decisions during this process, especially if you’ve never renovated a kitchen before. However, with the right planning, you can reduce stress and successfully renovate the kitchen of your dreams.

Here are five of the biggest mistakes to avoid when renovating your kitchen:

Not Taking a Kitchen Inventory

Before planning your dream kitchen, it’s essential to think through everything you’ll store and use in that space. Go through your kitchen as is, and make a list of each item you find. Then, spend some time thinking about what you can add and what you don’t want to keep anymore.

This list can include appliances, dishes, utensils, pots and pans, tablecloths, cutting boards, silverware, holiday decor, cleaning supplies, hand towels, cans, dry goods and more. Taking inventory requires an initial time investment, but it will save you time and stress long term.

Once you’ve decided what you’ll keep, spend some time thinking about where you’d like everything to go. Planning will ensure you don’t finish your renovation and realize you’ve left something out.

Not Keeping Walkways Clear

Kitchens have a lot of doors, drawers and appliances that can open into each other if not organized thoughtfully. Before getting serious about a plan, make sure to measure your space and ensure there’s enough room for each element.

Err on the safe side, and allow more room rather than less. It can be really helpful to imagine yourself and your family in the finished layout. Try drawing your plan or using design software to envision what the final product will look like. Then, consider what moving around the area would mean. Will you block someone from reaching the fridge if you pull out the trash?

Islands pose another space issue. They can increase countertop and storage space, but they also take up valuable space in small kitchens. Before deciding to invest in an island, ask yourself these three questions: Do I need the extra counter space? How much of the floor will an island take up? Will I be able to move freely around it?

Not Looking Behind the Cabinets

The invisible parts of your kitchen are just as important as final touches. It’s vital to put electrical outlets and light switches within easy reach. Work with a licensed electrician to ensure the electricity coming to your kitchen is adequate for your needs.

If possible, each entryway should feature a light switch. The number of outlets you need will depend on how many appliances you have in your kitchen. However, it’s a good idea to add several extra outlets for charging personal devices and any additional items you may purchase in the future.

Another invisible aspect of your kitchen is ventilation. Without it, cooking smells and excess grease will have nowhere to go. Adding a hood over your stove, installing windows and leaving space over your refrigerator are all important steps for keeping your kitchen fresh and clean.

Not Avoiding Impractical Finishes

Finishing your kitchen with beautiful hardware, solid countertops and a colorful backsplash is the part of a kitchen renovation everyone dreams about. However, it’s important to avoid only thinking about the stylish appearance of your finishes. While the final look matters, in three months, you’ll care much more about the function of these pieces.

Before choosing a finish, think about how you’ll use each item. For instance, what will you use a countertop for? How much time will you have to maintain it? Does your cabinet hardware feel comfortable in your hand and functional for everyday use? These functional questions can keep you on track so you make better long-term decisions.

While buying trendy items is exciting, it’s also important to think about the long-term resale value of your home. Kitchen renovations don’t happen every day, and you’ll probably live with the decisions you make now for a long time. Have fun with your design, but also plan to keep your kitchen timeless.

Not Staying Within Your Budget

Renovating kitchens can be expensive. You have to consider the cost of materials as well as what you’ll pay professional designers and contractors to complete the work. There’s also usually some unexpected expenses.

It’s essential to get quotes from contractors and then form a realistic budget before you begin your renovation. Scale items from most to least important. If you find your budget growing past your comfort zone, you can remove less-needed things from your list to keep your plans reasonable.

If a full renovation isn’t feasible for you right now, think about what changes you could invest in to improve your kitchen for a smaller cost. For instance, replacing a broken appliance or a cracked countertop can make a big difference. Later on, you can renovate the whole space and install the other features you’d like.

Planning the Kitchen of Your Dreams

Creating your dream kitchen takes hard work, especially during the planning stage. However, having an updated, modern room will more than repay all the effort you put in.

Planning ahead and doing thoughtful research can cut down on stress and help you confidently look forward to thriving in your new kitchen.


Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated. Her real estate work has been published by the National Association of REALTORS®, Rental Housing Journal, and other online publications.