The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make In Your Kitchen

 

I know, it sounds so stern and so potentially detrimental... but that's because it can be! Your kitchen is still the biggest selling feature of your home and one of the most expensive spaces to renovate. The choices you make in this room can dramatically affect your property value, and whether you are planning on selling next year or ten years from now, wouldn't you rather make changes that affect your home's value in a positive manner? Perhaps you'll seek a home equity loan, maybe you'll end up selling sooner than you realize, or just maybe you are making  changes to beautify your space for yourself; there's a way to make smart remodeling choices in your kitchen, and that begins with educating yourself on what NOT to do!

1. Not adding hardware to your cabinets- On the West Coast, it's a very common thing for new homes to come with kitchen cabinets that do not have hardware. These cabinets are the standard cabinets you can buy anywhere and are actually made to accept knobs and pulls. They simply don't add them because they are a very subjective item. They can also cost anywhere from $2.00 for a basic knob to over $30.00 per ornate pull; but that doesn't mean you should skip them. It's always funny to me that people just get use to opening their cabinet doors and drawers by tugging them open on the tops and sides. Wood is porous and although your cabinets have a finish, the stain is still susceptible to oils, which can slowly affect the finish over time. Knobs and pulls can add class or even change the look of your kitchen. Think of it like dressing up without wearing jewelry. Your look is just not complete without it, and neither are your cabinets.

Imagine trying to open these drawers without a pull... Sheesh! My nails hurt just thinking about it!




2. White or Off White Appliances- I once heard a client several years ago say, "I like white appliances because they are clean"; as though other colors appear dirty. That's like the old thought that white paint in a room is cleaner than colors. It simply isn't true and in your kitchen, it creates a dated look. Kitchen appliances always go through a transitional phase of colors and styles. If these didn't change, we'd all still have sunny yellow or avocado green stoves. In the 80's and early 90's white, bone and biscuit appliances ruled the land and slowly behind it began a new revolution of black being the "in" color trend for those who chose to upgrade. One decade later began a new trend toward futuristic metals, which have now become a mainstay in the kitchen and black, still a nice choice, becoming the default. There is even a happy medium, with a price-point literally in the middle, of black and stainless steel combination appliances. As a designer, who continues to ensure that my clients optimize the value of their homes, I have never had a client who has said, "White appliances, yay! Let's keep them!" They are always the first things to go. When selling a home, they are an immediate value depreciator. I cannot stress this enough- stainless, stainless, stainless. It has become an appliance trend that knows no bounds, comfortable in a country kitchen, a Tuscan kitchen and a contemporary. It's a trend that will last for decades and a worthy investment for your space.  

3. Making your backsplash look like an afterthought- It always boggles my mind when I see kitchen displays that show a really great tile backsplash... sitting on top of a 4" granite, quartz or solid surface backsplash. Why would you do that? Some will say that they didn't know you could remove the little counter splash, some are worried about the added expense to do so and some just think that's the way you do it. A backsplash is meant to be a seamless piece of decorative art behind your counter. (It also serves a menial little utilitarian function of waterproofing...lol) Your normal counter backsplash can and should be removed to install your new tile, going up the full 18" from the top of your counter, to the bottom of your wall cabinets. It looks clean, well thought out and adds value to your space. If you are already investing in upgrading your kitchen with tile, removing your old splash should cost you no more than an extra $50- $200 (depending on how much they must remove) and may slightly damage the wall behind your splash. If removed carefully, by scouring the old caulk and then lightly prying it off with the appropriate tools, it may leave little to no damage. If damage does occur, it takes nothing more than a light spackle and sand and then you are off to the races with a full tile splash. It seems like such a small oversight, but it really goes a long way to perfecting your clean, updated look.

 

Do you see how this granite backsplash chops up the space? Look at the next picture.

 

This homeowner did it dorrectly. The look is clean and your view is unbroken.

4. Granite or other tile countertops- Grout looks great on a backsplash, but is dreadful when you have to regularly wipe it down on a countertop. Granite has long been the star of the stage for counters, but granite tile is not the same as having a granite slab countertop. I've written about this several times and will continue to fight the good fight! Putting granite tile in your kitchen is like having a gold plated ring with a diamond setting- there's just no value in it. The value of the "gem" is lost in the cheapness of the product. Granite tile is made of discarded left over granite slab. That's not what devalues it. The fact that it has become tile, versus a continuous slab is where it loses it's appeal. The look is not as seamless nor attractive. The fact that you have to invest $2,000 to do a granite tile top is even worse. It's just because it's granite and required diamond blades to cut the tile and the product itself can average between $7.00- $20.00 a square foot in material. Granite throughout the years has lowered dramatically in price. There's an old adage that says, "If you're gonna do it, do it right!" This could not be truer when it comes to granite. Any tile installed as a countertop is a BAD choice for countertops because oil, grease and chemicals get into your grout, sealed or not and discolor it, darken it, desanitizes it and it requires maintenance that is not worth it. So, unless you live in a historic home where the old fashioned look of yesteryear needs to be preserved, please use a slab countertop on your cabinets. Anything else is a waste of money.

5. Dated plants and decor above your cabinets- I could say "Yuck, enough said", yet I must elaborate for some, so I will. As we progress further in the world of design and decor, we have gone further away from the use of artificial plants and more toward the natural beauty of real plant life. Now, that doesn't mean that you should put real plants above your cabinets either! Nor should you line up your entire area above your cabinetry with tons of collections like little soldiers. The look that is most desired now is one of clean and sparse decor. Try highlighting just a few areas. Group in small bundles of three or five and create an interesting theme with your items- old pottery with coordinating plates, vases with interesting shapes mixed with a few boxes. Do not feel you must fill your entire space or place something above every
cabinet either. You can have some gaps to help it look cleaner and well planned. Consider two things as well: 1. These should not be squished into place. Make sure your space isn't too close to the ceiling. If it is, it's really not adequate visually to add decor. 2. These items should be cleaned occasionally. Some people simply set em then forget em and end up with hairy ferns that seem to become mutant in appearance. The less you have above, the faster you can keep them clean and well cared for. 
By avoiding these five HUGE mistakes, you can work towards a more livable and valuable kitchen that you and others can enjoy! 

 

More sporadically placed decor shows cleaner than piling your space with clutter.