Top 5 Kitchen Renovation Mistakes to Avoid
Over the years, I have successfully transformed clients homes by narrowing down the elements and pieces that define their individual style. Many times I’m called out of frustration after failed attempts to decorate or remodel a space on their own. What began as an exciting project can quickly turn into an overwhelming headache. These homeowners were unable to get the finished look they tried so hard to accomplish. Creating the space they envisioned usually involved addressing at least one of the following issues.
1. Turn off your tunnel vision
Ask anyone who has been through a remodel and they will tell you it is a big undertaking. There can be almost as many choices to make in a small kitchen as a large one. Your options for materials and finish selections can seem unlimited. This is when tunnel vision kicks in.
You start making selections because they look like a photo you saw in a magazine or pinned on Pinterest. But you didn't consider how they integrate not only with each other but with the existing elements and finishes in the rest of your home. We want rooms to flow from one to the next. Your new kitchen should be an extension of the other rooms in your house. This is achieved with more than just paint.
Does your new design incorporate the architectural style of your home? An ornate, traditional kitchen does not belong in a sleek, contemporary house. Don't let your kitchen look like the space ship that landed on top of Soldier Field. Unless a complete remodel is in the future, incorporate existing architectural and decorative elements into the design. Look at details such as crown molding, door casing, glass doors and lighting fixtures. The smallest detail might be all it takes to marry the old with the new.
2. Don’t decorate with clutter.
That’s exactly how our rooms feel when we fill them with unnecessary things. Confused. You can't quite put your finger on it but something in the room just doesn't feel right. You try to fix it by picking up a few things at Target or HomeGoods or websites like Wayfair. Maybe getting a few new accessories or decorative items. There’s nothing wrong with those retailers but I’m asking you not to.
Stop buying things to fill a space or try to take attention away from the real problem. These are band-aids. Instead of adding more, edit the items you already own. Look at photos of kitchens in shelter magazines. On the counters, you might see a stand mixer, a few large canisters, a crock of utensils, a cutting board, a bowl of fruit or a vase of fresh flowers. The surfaces are clean and nothing is without purpose. We both know these rooms are staged for photography and we all have things that must live in our kitchen day to day. Take inventory of what you really use every day and put the rest away.
Decorate rooms through the finishes, fabrics and artwork you select. Let them complement each other and tell the story of you and your home. Allow the pieces you do display to breathe and have meaning.
Take a moment and list a few words you want to think and feel when you envision your home...
Was cluttered one of them?
3. Don’t install a 4” backsplash.
If you are installing backsplash tile do not let your contractor or countertop installer talk you into installing an additional 4” stone backsplash. The purpose of a backsplash is to protect your drywall. Installing full height backsplash tile makes the 4” piece redundant.
The backsplash should be a clean backdrop for everything that is going on in the kitchen and sitting on your counters. Adding an additional 4” of stone or quartz adds a large horizontal break to your line of sight. Not to mention it makes the tile look like an afterthought. This is seen in kitchen updates where the countertop and backsplash were already in place and backsplash tile was added above the existing 4" splash.
If you are giving your kitchen a face lift, remove the 4" splash before adding your new tile backsplash. It is attached to the wall with adhesive and the gap between the counter and backsplash is caulked. Don't worry, any damage you cause to the drywall when removing it can be repaired and it will be covered by the new tile.
4. Don’t install a full height granite backsplash.
When done right natural stone is beautiful. I appreciate its natural inconsistencies and characteristics. Mother nature does not make mistakes. Whether it is a blotchy pattern, has speckled graining or it has veining and fluid movement, granite is very busy. Each slab is different so even colors that tend to be more consistent can have sections of random, intense movement and color variation.
Keep in mind, just like paint, the pattern will be intensified when it’s covering a large surface – like your entire kitchen. If you are comfortable with looking at a very busy countertop and backsplash, then go full height. If you are second guessing yourself at all or just feel like that might be too much pattern for you to deal with every single day, then don’t install a full height granite backsplash. Use a full height tile backsplash instead.
You can read more about my thoughts on backsplash tile here.
5. Don’t try to figure this out on your own.
Hire a designer. Even if it’s just for a design consultation to eliminate the wrong finishes and help make the decisions you haven’t been able to finalize. Sometimes just having someone affirm your choices makes all the difference in the world. Peace of mind is priceless.
Working with a designer isn't just for the wealthy. It's also for people who can’t afford to make mistakes. If you can’t afford a two-hour consultation with a designer, you are going to be in big trouble when something goes wrong. That tile you thought looked so neutral suddenly looks pink installed next to your green granite. How much will that cost to fix? Or worse, you have to live with it and every morning when you get up to make a pot of coffee, the new kitchen you were so excited for leaves you feeling disappointed. Do it once. Do it right.