Avoid a kitchen reno do-over with this foolproof list of what not to do
Planning your kitchen out on paper before a renovation will prevent costly errors (Picture: Getty Images)
No matter how much you have to spend on the kitchen reno, get the planning and design wrong and you’ll be unhappy with the end result and out of pocket.
The most frustrating mistakes or miscalculations may not even be apparent at first. But over time the colliding doors, lack of bench space or uncomfortable stretch from the sink to the cooktop will have you wishing you could rip it all out and start again.
It can be hard to visualise an end result but good planning and avoiding these key mistakes will keep you on track when upgrading your kitchen.
1. Jeopardising the triangle
The sink, the fridge and the cooktop constitute the core area, called the working triangle. Design the space so traffic doesn’t flow through this area and consider the ergonomics.
Movement between the three elements should be comfortable and smooth, so keep it unobstructed.
2. Skimping on storage
The kitchen has to house a lot of items, from food to dining ware and all manner of often oddly shaped, space-hogging gadgets and gear.
While it’s tempting to trade your dollar for biggest visual impact, such as flooring or tiles, the best bang for your buck is to spend on storage.
Take an inventory of all your kitchen items and organise according to need and the best access points.
3. Letting doors collide
Sketch the position of opened appliance and cabinet doors and drawers onto the floorplan. This will allow you to discover if doors bang into things or block access points before it’s too late.
Include knobs and handles in your calculations and pay attention to drawers and doors that are close to inside corners or opposite each other.
4. Underutilising bench space
There are the basic prep areas that everyone needs but let your cooking habits dictate your benchtops.
Additions like a marble slab for baking or an integrated cutting surface will reward you every time.
Space by the cooktop for utensils and ingredients, and a spot to dump shopping bags near the fridge make every centimetre work to best effect.
5. Going cheap on ventilation
With most modern kitchens being open plan, the need to vent out smells and food particles is greater than ever.
A cheap rangehood or ventilation system simply recirculates odours and dirty air, trapping only the largest food particles in basic carbon filters.
Improve air quality, eliminate lingering food smells and extend the life of your appliances with a good quality unit that vents to outside.
6. Not planning for rubbish
The days of one bin for everything are long gone and if it’s a trek to the kerb, integrate the recycling and composting in the kitchen where it’s handy and hidden.
Bins take up more space than in times past, so just the one spot is not enough. Plan a position close to the back door in a concealed cupboard.
7. Using fashion colours
Every element of the kitchen is subject to trends so you could in theory have the most up-to-date space on the block. But those colours that look so good right now are almost guaranteed to appear dated very quickly.
If you have a passion for a certain shade, keep it minimal to avoid regrets down the line. And when it comes to resale, remember that neutral rules.
8. Insufficient lighting
Where many kitchens fail is not having enough task lighting. Prep areas, the sink and cooktop should all be well illuminated. Plan the locations for switches before you start as they will need electrical services.
Overhead lights are best fitted with a dimmer, and look to benefit from as much ambient light as possible from windows and adjoining rooms.
9. Squeezing in an island
Not every kitchen suits an island and bigger is not necessarily better, as anything that gets in the way of the function quickly becomes a bugbear.
Locate the island in a position that won’t obstruct the flow of the working triangle and make sure there is enough room around it.
For an island to be a useful addition, it should be a minimum of one by one-and-a-half metres and proportional to the size of the kitchen.
10. Designing as you go
Unless you recently won the lottery, you probably can’t have it all. Make a detailed plan before the first tool is lifted, work it and rework it, then stick to it to avoid a meltdown when the bills arrive.