Skip to content

5 Kitchen Design Mistakes No One Should Make

These 5 kitchen design mistakes are not uncommon. However, if you make them, your kitchen renovation could be rendered valueless.

Construction Design Mistake. Leaving soffits on top of your cabinets

Soffits are completely out of style and so almost all sensible kitchen renovations will require removing the soffits, sometimes called “bulkheads” by homeowners.

Any good kitchen designer and contractor can reduce the height and or depth of the plumbing to fit between the top of the new cabinets and the ceiling and behind moldings that will hide it. Doing this should only cost about $1,000 in extra construction. The value of the change can be worth the cost of the entire renovation.

White kitchen with large island
The kitchen above spends 30 thousand dollars on appliances and expensive cabinetry but doesn’t remove the soffits and brings the cabinetry and moldings to the ceiling. This is an inexcusable design mistake.

We recently had a customer tell us that their contractor told them it would cost $17,000 to change the plumbing in their soffits. What an incredible warning sign, this typically means the contractor is not qualified.

Style Design Mistake. Getting arched doors or honey oak wood

These two styles are so unpopular that any kitchen renovation that is done with these choices instantly looks outdated. There is almost zero resale value in choosing cabinets in this style and finish.

natural wood kitchen with island. Putting a wall cabinet above the door in the photo would be a design mistake

Design Mistake. Putting cabinets over a doorway or window

Sometimes to get more cabinets the customer begins putting wall cabinets where they don’t belong. Putting wall cabinets over doorways or windows is tasteless and will instantly identify the kitchen project as unprofessional.

Buying Mistake. The contractor sells you the cabinetry

If your contractor is selling you cabinetry you can be assured of two things. First, you are overpaying for the cabinetry that you are getting. Second, the design of your kitchen is being compromised by the interests of the contractor. Contractors generally do what is easy for them, not what looks good or functions the best. Always buy cabinetry directly from the cabinet dealer.

Spacing Mistake. Getting an island too big for your space

This is the most common design mistake in kitchen renovation. Customers want islands so much that they insist on islands that will completely clog their kitchen. Only when the kitchen is completed, they realize how crowded the space is.

Design Mistake. Island too big. White modern kitchen with black accents and stainless-steel appliances
Beautiful but foolishly too tight! The space between countertops on an island with a cooktop and sink needs to be 48″. A person can then stand at the sink, and another can stand at the cooktop at the same time. 48″ is also the needed distance between countertop seating and a refrigerator or table. In the photo above, the island was made 48″ deep, so the homeowner is only left with 36″ cabinet to cabinet. This leaves less than 33″ from the range to the sink. Big design mistake!

Here’s another blog on the 8 kitchen design mistakes that can be deadly!

2 Replies to “5 Kitchen Design Mistakes No One Should Make”

  1. Joanne Gutierrez

    Hi Paul,

    We are looking at Signature Custom Cabinets for our kitchen renovation. I see you give them a high rating for quality and value. My question is that the draw box is 5/8″ solid Lenga wood dovetailed draw boxes w/ 3/8″ bottoms. I’m not familiar with Lenga wood. Is it an ok substitute for maple? We can get solid maple draw boxes at a 5% upgrade.

    Thank you,


    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Joanne,
      Any hardwood would be fine. I haven’t seen Lenga wood, but it referred to as “Patagonian Cherry” from South America. Maple is such a boring wood that it might be a nice change. 🙂

Join the conversation