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13 Common Kitchen Design Mistakes – Kitchen Designer’s Advice

Kitchen design mistakes can be costly in the long run and can cause some major headaches during the renovation process. Believe me, after doing this for 10+ years I’ve learnt a few lessons!

However, being aware is half the battle. Look out for these mistakes and avoid or fix them to help keep your new kitchen project running smoothly!

In this post, I’ve got some kitchen design mistakes to cover. A mix of some general and some technical mistakes I’ve seen over the years. 

Let’s get into it!

Kitchen Design Mistakes & How How To Avoid Them

Mistake #1: Not measuring correctly

It sounds obvious and it should be, but the number of times I hear we started our kitchen installation and it doesn’t fit. It’s probably one of the most common mistakes.

Take your time, double-check all your measurements, and then check them again! And check them again throughout the renovation process. 

If you’re building an extension, knocking walls down, re-plastering. If you’re making any alterations as you go along, re-check those measurements, because they’ll likely be different, especially if you’ve been working off the architect’s drawings. 

Get in there as soon as you can and get some real-world measurements…then double-check them! 😉

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Mistake #2: Rushing the design process

Another common mistake I see is not giving yourself enough time to really work on your project. You need to allow some time to go back and forth and develop the best kitchen design and get what you really want. 

All too often I’ll have people turn up saying they’ve started ripping their kitchen out or the builders are almost finished with the extension and they need a kitchen next week. 

Then I have to be the one to shatter their dreams and tell them it’s simply not possible. 

They either have to wait and go through the process properly with me or go somewhere else that does off-the-shelf cabinets but it’s not what they really want.

So, give yourself plenty of time to not only work on the design and get it exactly right but also for manufacturing timeframes that may apply. 

I’d say 3-6 months is a good amount of time from when you first meet with a kitchen designer to when you could start to have your kitchen installed. 

Kitchen Design Mistake #2: Rushing the design process
Kitchen design elevation drawings

Mistake #3: forgetting functionality 

This is when there just isn’t that consideration taken for how you will function and work in the kitchen. 

Often times it occurs because you’ve rushed the design process. The thought process will often look like this: I need some appliances, they can go there, whatever, they’re in the kitchen somewhere. And I need some cabinets to fill in the space. That’s a kitchen, done. 

Functionality and a functional kitchen are key when it comes to kitchen design.

Stop and consider things like your workflow, you can look at the work triangle or kitchen zones to help with this. 

Think about your cabinet types, what’s most functional for you, and where are you placing these types of cabinets. 

Ask Yourself: How can you make your kitchen as functional as possible for you!?

Mistake #4: Cramming too much in 

Most often this is when someone is adamant they want a kitchen island in their space but they really don’t have room for one and they’ll put one in any way to the detriment of the kitchen and its usability. 

Doing this means You don’t have wide enough walkway spaces, so you’re always bumping into one another, cupboard doors clash or you can’t stand in front and fully open drawers. Which all leads to a bad user experience. One that will drive you crazy!

Or maybe you’re focused on storage a little too much and have wall cabinets everywhere right up to the edge of your windows and doorframes and all the walls to the ceiling. Creating this heavy, claustrophobic feeling.

Consider the space within your space, give yourself enough room to comfortably manoeuvre around the kitchen, and really think about how much storage you actually need.

Maybe you could remove some wall cabinets or not take them all the way to the ceiling. Could you give your design a little bit more breathing space?

Kitchen design mistake - Kitchen looking 'heavy' with too much crammed in
The kitchen looks ‘heavy’ with too much crammed in

Mistake #5: Not accounting for any fillers or corner posts

More of a technical design mistake here.

Walls are never dead straight and at a perfect 90-degree angle, so you need to allow for fillers (or scribing panels) to not only fill any gaps but to move cabinets off the wall slightly so they’re able to open and not grind against the wall.

It’s the same kind of thing with a corner post. If you have a blind corner cabinet and you forget to allow for the corner post, then doors and drawers are going to clash or not open fully. 

I’m sure you’ve seen it before, where you pull the drawer out and it hits the handle of the cabinet adjacent to it. 

Probably the worst culprit for this type of mistake is not allowing enough space around an American fridge freezer (also known as a French-style fridge freezer). 

All too often I see designs that put them right at the end of the run tight against the wall or too close to a corner and the returning run of cabinets. 

So when you open the door, the fridge handle hits the wall or cabinets and you can’t open the door 90 degrees or more, which then means you can’t pull out your veg drawers. 

Remember: Pay attention to the placement of these things, and pay special attention to fillers and corner posts. 

Cabinet drawer hitting oven handle and stopping it from fully opening. Kitchen design mistake
This is what happens when you forget your corner filler! 🤦‍♂️

Mistake #6: Ignoring your lighting 

I’ve done a whole video on kitchen lighting, but basically, don’t forget to think about the lighting in your kitchen!

Not giving any thought to your ambient or task lighting and just putting a light fixture in the middle of the ceiling thinking that’s fine. 

Not just lighting in general but effective, intentional lighting is so important for a functional kitchen. 

So think about and plan this early, as soon as you’ve got your kitchen layout confirmed. That way all the wiring can be put in place and ready. 

You don’t have to go chopping up walls or surface mounting things after the fact when you realise it’s too late. 

Top Tip: Plan your lighting from the start, it’s all part of kitchen design!

Kitchen Design Mistake - Kitchen with poor lighting
Kitchen with poor lighting

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Mistake #7: Overlooking the architecture

Now a lot of the time you’ll be designing a kitchen in the space you have and you work within those confines as best you can. 

However, if you’re having an extension, or a new build or even if you have the capabilities to change something structurally as part of your renovation, it definitely pays to stop and have a little think. 

Could you make your window bigger, and could you move a doorway or knock a wall down to give you a better layout option for your kitchen? 

Sometimes these more architectural elements are overlooked because we just focus on the cabinets and kitchen style.

Again, give yourself time earlier on and look at the room as a whole. Ask yourself, are there any changes to the structure that would positively impact your final kitchen design?

Mistake #8: Not enough power 

If you’re asking yourself, should I add another power point there? Yes! Add that extra one in. 

Whether it’s another socket on the wall along your main run of cabinets, inside at the back of your larder, creating a charging drawer or definitely on your island somewhere. 

Make sure you have enough power points across your kitchen so you have different functional zones. 

We don’t want trailing cables or multi-plugs everywhere. Better to have a spare socket/outlet than not enough. 

Mistake #9: Not planning a place for your Bins!

I know they’re not glamorous or on any top trend list but you need them. So don’t make them an afterthought. 

Think about where your bins will be as part of your kitchen design. 

It could be integrated into a cabinet near your sink, (that’s usually my go-to option) or they could be freestanding but tucked away a little and in an intensional and sensible location. 

Just don’t forget your bins!

Built-in kitchen bins located near the sink
Built-in kitchen bins located near the sink

Mistake #10: Neglecting Counter Space and Landing Areas

When designing your kitchen, adequate counter space is non-negotiable. It’s your kitchen’s workbench, where all the slicing, dicing, and mixing happens.

Not enough of it? You’ll feel the pinch during meal prep.

And don’t forget about landing areas, they’re crucial! That’s the countertop real estate right next to your fridge, ovens and hob/cooktop. Without it, where are you going to set down that boiling pot or bag of groceries?

Too little counter space makes for a tight, frustrating kitchen dance, and insufficient landing areas can be a recipe for a mishap. Make sure there’s ample room for both to keep your kitchen workflow smooth and safe.

Mistake #11: Poorly planned storage

Don’t just pile on the cupboards and call it a day. Think about what goes where and the best way to store it. Pots and pans? They need deep drawers. Baking sheets? Slide them into vertical dividers.

And for the love of organization, use some form of pull-out mechanism for your corner cabinet so you can actually reach the stuff at the back without a search party.

Smart storage isn’t about cramming everything in—it’s about making what you’ve got work for you.

Corner storage mechanism in a kitchen. Pull-out shelves in corner cabinet

Mistake #12: Choosing aesthetics over durability

Sure, that marble countertop and high-gloss finish look magazine-spread-ready, but will they survive the daily kitchen hustle, especially if you have kids around?

Be honest with who you are and your home situation. Whether you’re a busy family or simply not good at keeping on top of cleaning and worried about every spill.

Pick materials that can take a beating and laugh off spills. Your kitchen’s not a showroom!

Go for tough cabinets and forgiving countertops that won’t have you walking on eggshells every time someone drops a spoon or spills a drink.

Mistake #13: Forgetting it’s YOUR kitchen! 

It may sound a bit cheesy, but remember this is your kitchen. You need to love it and it needs to work for you! 

If it’s a quick renovation because you’re flipping the house, sure, go with something safe. But if you plan to live there for any decent length of time make sure it’s what you want.

Don’t worry if someone else isn’t going to like the kitchen years down the line when you sell the house, it’s usually the first thing people rip out and change anyway. 

And don’t worry if you’re not in love with the latest trend when you’re doing your kitchen, trends come and go. You’re the one that’s living and working in your kitchen. 

It’s your money, it’s your kitchen, you know how you work best. Get the kitchen that’s right for you!


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Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Some common kitchen design mistakes I’ve seen all too often over the years.

Kitchens are probably the most complicated room in the house, there are a lot of moving parts to consider.

While no project ever goes 100% perfectly, if you can avoid these kitchen design mistakes you’ll be well on your way.

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.