The Seven Sins in Kitchen Design and How to Fix Them

August 21, 20123 comments

Kitchen with dishwasher next to the kitchen sink.

Sink and Dishwasher are placed next to each other. Barbara Schmidt,

“What’s wrong with this kitchen?” If you are asking yourself this question, then you might need a roadmap to building a better kitchen. As an interior designer, there are many times we visit homes that have some sort of design hurdle to climb in order to be truly functional.

Sometimes a simple fix makes all the difference in the world for resale. Look around your kitchen and ask what you would improve if you had the right person to make the change?

If you find the following in your kitchen design, it’s definitely time for a fix up.

1. Tile Countertops
At some point in the 1980s, a lot of kitchens were finished with tile countertops. Tile — as in 4″ by 4″, even up to 12″ by 12″ tiles. This was a quick fix for all those homes that couldn’t afford a stone top that was so popular.

The problem is the grout between tiles can harbor a lot of bacteria. The grout needs to be sealed to keep from staining as well. Even with treatment, however, grout can break down after a while and need replacement.

Tip: Update your home with neutral stone tops for the best bang for your buck. Quartz is another good choice but can cost as much as stone from your local big box store.

2. Dishwasher Over Yonder
Are you living in a partially updated kitchen? You know, where the dishwasher is across the room sitting next to a wall waiting for installation? Well, yes, it is better than no dishwasher, but it’s time to figure out that install for resale.

The most important point is to get the dishwasher close to the sink. If you have an odd-sized space, think about drawer dishwashers or dishwashers sized for apartments. Both offer a smaller format for those older homes and kitchens without much space.

3. Missing Electrical
Are you trying to split one outlet into several? Have you plugged in four small appliances into a duplex outlet? Older homes — even 20 years old — just didn’t have enough electrical outlets in kitchen spaces.

Running more electrical to a space that already has some electrical isn’t that hard if done by a professional. Consider going from a duplex to a 4-plex outlet. Extension cords can be a fire hazard, and there should be an outlet with a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) near the sink so that you are safely running your electrical near a water source.

4. Bad lighting
Task lighting came into our lexicon in the 1990s for kitchen design. Those under-cabinet lights that give illumination to the counter area are a relatively new “must have” in today’s kitchens. Most older homes should update their lighting to include more can or “pot” lights in the ceiling as well.

Tip: The key to great lighting is to select areas for illumination and try not to blast the entire area with one light. Consider in cabinet “puck” style lighting as well.

5. Tiny Storage
Can you ever have too much storage? Well, yes, when your kitchen is too spread out. However most of us have the opposite problem — too little storage. So how do you carve out more storage from the old style kitchen format?

Pantries are a great option. You can create a freestanding pantry out of an antique piece or build one in a dining area with your new kitchen cabinets, tying in the entire area as one custom build. Another option is to build out a closet area to include space for seldom-used kitchen items.

6. Retro Appliances
Need to update those ten or 20-year-old appliances? You do if you want full resale value on your kitchen. White appliances are out and stainless is still the go-to finish today.

There are shops around the country that have discontinued or scratch-and-dent merchandise for low prices. Remember that new appliances are much more energy efficient and will save on energy consumption in the long run.

7. Stand Alone Refrigeration
We’ve all seen the refrigerator in the back entry way or on the stair landing because there isn’t space in the kitchen. Think about placing a smaller refrigerator in the old space and adding drawer refrigeration to another area such as an island.

Another solution is to remodel the run of kitchen cabinets where the refrigerator stood to incorporate that new appliance size.

Ask the CliqStudios designers to price out that space because cabinetry is now much more affordable than ever before.


Showing 3 comments

  1. las artes Reply

    Small kitchens can have storage challenges. Countertops often become storage areas, but eliminating clutter can help any space feel larger. Use this trick in your kitchen and reclaim lost storage space with a corner appliance garage. The cabinet conceals coffeemakers, toasters, and more but keeps them easy to access for food prep.

  2. Bryan Reply

    Tile countertops are so 1980’s. I agree that if you do have a tile countertop, it’s time for an upgrade. My wife and I just bought a tan and gray granite countertop and we absolutely love it. I recommend checking some out if your looking to remodel your kitchen or bath.

  3. Daphne G. Reply

    Homeowners must really avoid those kitchen mistakes, you discussed it well Barbara.
    In my situation if there are things I need to modify, renovate or improve and have some second thoughts about it, I always ask some advice from professionals so I won’t get disappointed with the outcome of the project.

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