Six Design Mistakes to Avoid in Your Kitchen Remodel

From daily cooking, eating breakfast or family dinner, to entertaining friends, the kitchen is utilized a multitude of times throughout the day and night. Aside from being beautiful, the kitchen needs to be functional. Incorporating great design into your kitchen remodel can be a challenge for the do-it-yourselfer. But here are six common mistakes to avoid in order to achieve a practical and beautiful kitchen design.

1. Don’t obstruct access to the kitchen triangle.

In my business, we refer to the sink, stove and refrigerator as ‘the kitchen triangle’, the area of greatest activity that requires careful planning and unobstructed access. Of the three, the sink will see the most activity and should have easy access to the stove and refrigerator, as well as your countertop workstations.

Sinks need to be installed in close proximity to the plumbing, but often kitchens are designed with the sinks installed right above the plumbing or in a poor location. Instead of making this kitchen design mistake, consider hiring a plumber to relocate the drains and the plumbing to accommodate the best placement for the sink.

Regardless of kitchen size or layout (L-shaped kitchen, galley, U-shaped or Island style), the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be less than ten feet or greater than twenty-five feet. If the sum of the legs in the work triangle is too small, people will be tripping over each other; if too large, cooking will become a tiring task.

2. Don’t forget workspace.

One of the biggest complaints about kitchen design is the lack of counter space. Consider all of your kitchen activities that will require countertop workspace. Factor in your small countertop appliances (such as mixer, toasters, food processor, etc.) that will require a permanent space. If, after evaluating your needs, you realize that you need more countertop space, consider adding an island or breakfast bar in order to maximize your countertop workspace.

3. Consider lighting.

The kitchen is one room where you can’t afford to have poor lighting. Rooms generally need three types of lighting: general lighting for overall illumination; task lighting; and accent lighting. For the kitchen especially, you should evaluate your work areas and focus on how you can provide each area with the light it needs. Consider recessed lighting for overall ambient light. Illuminate directly above the main working areas with additional recessed task lighting, pendant lighting or a series of mini-pendants where these can enhance the lighting and add to the beauty of the kitchen. Pendants look great above kitchen sinks, while a series of mini-pendants might enhance the appearance and lighting of breakfast bars and kitchen islands.

Install under-cabinet lighting as an additional way to ensure that the countertops have sufficient lighting for common kitchen tasks.

4. Don’t forget to ventilate.

The best of kitchen design incorporates great ventilation that will allow the kitchen to keep cooler and odor free. Whenever possible, it is important to use a ventilation system that vents vertically or horizontally outside of your kitchen. Inexpensive range hoods simply circulate air, while good ventilation systems will improve the quality of your indoor air by venting outside of the structure. Effective ventilation systems will keep your kitchen and home cleaner and odor free and will help extend the life of your appliances.

5. Don’t choose the wrong kitchen island.

When it comes to kitchen islands we generally think of additional storage, preparation and serving space in the kitchen, but kitchen islands can take up a lot space. Choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong location can be a disaster, especially in a work area that can get over cluttered. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations will create bottlenecks and major hassles. At minimum, an island should be 4 feet long and a little more than 2 feet deep, but it must also have room for people to easily move and work around it.

6. Don’t ignore your trash and recyclables.

Dealing with trash and recyclables in kitchen design has gone far beyond simply placing a trashcan under the sink. Recycling is here to stay, prepare your kitchen to manage trash efficiently. Whenever possible, dedicate a specific area to trash sorting and incorporate sorting bins into your kitchen design. Plan for cabinet pullouts that conceal trash and recyclable bins and will keep you from having an unsightly trashcan that will take up valuable floor space.

Robert Frank is a local resident and owner of Robert Frank Interiors, a full-service interior design and construction company located in San Marino, California. Robert Frank Interiors works in collaboration with clients to create beautiful, functional spaces that reflect their lifestyles and personalities. Visit us on the web at