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4 Kitchen Remodeling Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

By: Alison McLennan | August 30, 2021

Topics: Kitchen Remodeling

A kitchen remodel is one of the most rewarding, impactful, and decision-heavy home projects you’ll ever undertake. With so many little details to nail down, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture—and that's when mistakes happen. 

We’ve been remodeling kitchens in Lancaster since 2003, and in that time we’ve helped many clients redesign their kitchens to correct mistakes made by previous homeowners, or even builders! 

Below is a list of the most common kitchen remodeling mistakes we’ve seen that you can easily avoid.

1. Not Getting Clear on Your “Pain”

Every remodeling project should begin with a basic question: “Why do we want to remodel this space?”

Your initial answer might be something like:

“...it’s too small for our family.”

“...the layout isn’t functional.”

“...the style doesn’t fit the rest of our home.”

Whatever your initial response might be, dig a little deeper and ask, “How is this problem impacting me and/or my family?”

There’s likely something about the space that is causing frustration, stress, conflict, or fatigue. Honing in on the pain points and how they’re affecting you will enable you to make design decisions with clarity and confidence.  

2. Not Considering User Routines & Habits

It’s important to identify who will be using the kitchen, when they’ll be using it, and what they’ll be doing there. Not only does this inform traffic flow and necessary clearance between elements of your space, it can affect all kinds of design decisions. 

Does your family place dishes directly in the dishwasher, or do dishes tend to accumulate in the sink during the day? If the latter, maybe a sink in the island—where it’s most visible—isn’t the best option.

Do you have household members who like to eat or work at the island while you’re preparing food? Perhaps it’s worth adding a peninsula with comfortable stools to free up your workspace at the island. 

And don’t forget the pets! In our home, our dogs like to keep us company while we’re cooking. And since one of them is an English Mastiff whose favorite place is underfoot, wide clearances are more important than ever!

3. Not Investing Enough in Cabinetry and Storage

Cabinets will probably be the most expensive part of your kitchen remodel, rivaled only by appliances. It’s tempting to choose lower-end cabinets, because it seems like the savings are worth it. But in the end, most homeowners end up wishing they’d upgraded their cabinets rather than downgrading. 

Cabinets—and how they’re configured for storage—impact everything you do in your kitchen. They’re used heavily and frequently, so the quality of their construction and components will show rather quickly. 

Lower-end cabinets will be less durable and more basic, while higher-quality cabinets will stand the test of time while offering more options for practical storage solutions. Given how much these impact your experience in the kitchen, quality cabinets are worth a significant investment.

4. Not Giving Enough Thought to Lighting

There are two things you should keep in mind when planning for light: (1) Bright light and soft light are both valuable contributors to your experience your kitchen, and (2) a little bit of decorative light goes a long way.

In both cases, it’s important to balance function with ambiance. Common lighting for kitchens comes in the form of recessed overhead fixtures, which provide bright light for working. This is functional light, and for some it might be the only type of light you’re interested in.

But our favorite kitchens also have under-cabinet lights, which help eliminate shadows alongside the overhead lights, but also provide a softer, low-light effect at night. The ambiance of this light is ideal for cozy evenings when your family is winding down but still in and out of the kitchen for snacks or drinks. 

Decorative lighting fixtures in the kitchen are often overlooked, but the right pendant light or sconce can be the perfect finishing touch to take your kitchen from fresh and beautiful to stylish and inspiring.


Now that you’re armed with the lessons learned from others’ kitchen remodeling mistakes, are you ready to get started on your own project? We’ve created this free cost guide to help you set expectations about your kitchen’s budget.

kitchen-cost-guide-download

We’d love to come alongside you to design and build a kitchen that enriches your life at home. If you have questions about kitchen remodeling, please consider scheduling a free, virtual consultation with one of our Project Consultants.

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Written by Alison McLennan

Alison is co-owner of McLennan Contracting, where she also serves as Marketing Coordinator. She and her husband, Tim, have three children, whom they homeschool. When she isn't working, teaching, or planning the family's latest RV trip, Alison can be found introverting with a book in one hand and coffee in the other, or writing on her personal blog, alisonmclennan.com.

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