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 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.


Reface Your Kitchen & Make It Look Custom For Less

You HATE your kitchen! If it wasn't for the fact that you'd starve and die if you didn't cook there, you'd never even enter the room... or maybe your dislike is not quite as extreme. Perhaps you'd just prefer it look a little less dated or maybe you despise oak and long for a more modern feel. Maybe your dream kitchen is a Tuscan villa with ornamental details and a massive crown molding. You just wish you could change those cabinets but you know that ripping them out for the quality that you desire is just too expensive. BUT, what if your cabinets can be redressed as the cabinets that you desire and you could save thousands of dollars doing it? Maybe that dream kitchen is not so far out of reach after all, with the right partner in your remodel. 

J&M Custom Millwork & Remodeling has been in the dream kitchen business for over seventeen years. My company, Fashion House Interior Design Co, LLC works very well with them creating full custom kitchens to refacing kitchens in Arizona. Not only do they offer custom cabinetry to span your home, but they've perfected the refacing project in every way. Most refacing projects take between 3-5 days to complete and cost 30-50% less than replacing your cabinets. Once completed, your kitchen looks like full custom cabinetry, yet not one cabinet has been removed.

Before, this client's cabinets were lifeless natural maple with recessed doors. They had just redone their countertops, thinking they'd love their kitchen once they added them...but they didn't!
They were just too plain, too blah! Had they decided to replace their cabinets, they would have stayed with the exact same layout (there's really no other way to design this space and their storage was more than enough for their needs). They just hated the look. They longed for a Tuscan retreat that fit in with the rest of their home's decor. They got a price from Home Depot's refacing division and it was $18,000 to reface their kitchen, without the bells and whistles they desired! Even worse than that, at Home Depot you have to pay 100% up front. Sure, you can put it all on a credit card (if they approve such a charge), but you'll accrue interest and turn your kitchen into a major expense. 
Together, my client and I designed the details of the kitchen of her dreams and with minimal additional expense we added an overly dramatic crown with corbels, full extension roll out shelves in all base cabinets and appliques to create her look. Most stock and semi-custom cabinets have a recess on the sides (used to flush out your cabinets when attaching to a wall) Custom cabinets are completely flush. We add plywood panels to achieve a look of full custom cabinetry.

And here is the end result! Gorgeous and rich, this once 90's modern maple kitchen is reborn as a Tuscan paradise.

She loved it SO much that we then removed her island and created a custom piece to complete the transformation- for just $2,200. Oh, did I forget to mention... this kitchen refacing project cost my clients just $8,500 plus their custom island. NO ONE in this area can do this size job for this price. My clients know, they tried!
You too can have such a transformation to your space for far less than you ever imagined! Take a look at another one of my client's remodels and see if you may just need the high quality that J&M can offer you! Natural oak raised panels before...
Chocolate shaker panel after... with glass and marble mosaic tile and new granite for just under $10,000! That's 42" high cabinets, new tile splash, new granite counters and a higher height bar counter at the island, new stainless undermount sink and new 6" stainless steel pulls for their doors and drawers.
Need help to put your look together? Contact me at 480.227.1832 or call Jay at 480.206.9183 to schedule your no hassle, free consultation today. In less than 4 weeks, your kitchen can look just as fabulous!