It doesn't matter if you're a first-time home buyer or a decades-long homeowner, fantasizing about a kitchen remodel is just plain fun. Knocking down a wall, adding an island, getting rid of those dated pine cabinets—everyone's makeover master plan is a little different, but the goal is always the same: Get the most you can out of your remodel without overspending.
So when it comes to overhauling your kitchen, what sorts of mistakes will have you paying through the nose? We assembled a team of experts to identify the major mistakes you should avoid during your kitchen renovation.
1. Not buying appliances first
Don't make the mistake of putting the cart before the horse—or in this case, putting the cabinets before the refrigerator. If you're completely remodeling your kitchen, Alexa Battista, a Wayfair home improvement expert, recommends choosing your appliances first, because sizes are limited.
“Often, shoppers are excited to get the design underway and will select countertops and cabinets first, but it's much easier to choose countertops and cabinets to fit appliances instead of the other way around,' she says.
2. Overspending on cabinets and appliances
Cabinets and appliances can make or break your kitchen—literally and figuratively. On one hand, we’ve all seen cheap-looking cabinetry and outdated refrigerators and ovens that practically ruin the look of a kitchen remodel. On the other hand, you can go broke trying to keep up with the Joneses in this area.
“Don’t always think that expensive is best,” says Jonathan Faccone, founder of Halo Homebuyers, in Bridgewater, NJ. “You can get beautiful, midgrade cabinets that have the same great look and feel of higher-end cabinets for a reasonable price.
“And regardless of cabinet quality, if you don't take care of them, they will not last longer than the less expensive cabinet brand,' he adds.
This advice extends to the selection of appliances as well.
“It may be nice to have top-of-the-line luxury appliances, but it’s not necessary,” says Howard Margolis, a Manhattan-based real estate broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “You no longer have to break the bank to find attractive appliances that function just as well, so focus on what you can afford to avoid overspending.'
3. Installing flooring before anything else
Installing your floor toward the beginning of the reno is a major mistake, according to Dave Murphy, national technical director at N-Hance Wood Refinishing, which does hardwood floor and kitchen cabinet refinishing.
“If homeowners are doing a full kitchen remodel, make sure the floor is last,” he says. “With large items coming in and out of the house and increased foot traffic, it’s best the wear and tear and scratches are made to the existing floor rather than the new one.”
4. Failing to measure
You know the adage “measure twice and cut once.” But sometimes, homeowners don’t even measure once.
“The most common mistake when renovating is guessing or estimating the dimensions of fixtures, hardware, and appliances,” says Battista.
She also advises homeowners to take the time to thoroughly review product details before purchasing an item to ensure that it fits.
“If you’re unsure about a certain kitchen appliance or product, consult the experts, whether it’s a plumber, contractor, or customer service representative,” she says.
5. Going light on the lighting
Improper lighting is problematic in any room, but especially in the kitchen.
“In this room, multiple people, sharp objects, raw meat, and hot appliances all come into play,” says Andrea Lively, creative design consultant at FBC Remodel, in Denver. “Make sure you have enough task lighting, in addition to any decorative fixtures you may want.”
Lively also suggests a dimmer switch and under-cabinet lighting.
6. Botching the backsplash
Lively warns that a misplaced backsplash is one kitchen remodeling mistake that she often sees. Horizontally, your backsplash should have a clear termination point—either where the walls meet or in alignment with the upper cabinets.
“Under no circumstances should it ever overhang the upper cabinet or, heaven forbid, turn a corner,” she says.
7. Failing to level the floor
Before you lay any flooring, J.B. Sassano, president of Mr. Handyman, says you need to make sure the floor is level.
“If leveling is required, you don’t want to have the floor half-laid before you realize this,” he says.
And if you think you can get away with an unlevel floor—you probably can’t.
“If the kitchen floor isn’t level, the counter won’t be level, unless you know you have an issue and have a strategy to deal with it,” Sassano warns.
8. Keeping your insurance agent in the dark
When you’re remodeling your kitchen, don’t forget to contact your insurance company to see if you need to upgrade your insurance.
'If the remodel includes adding square footage or using higher-value materials such as installing top-of-the-line appliances, designer cabinetry, or stone slab countertops, you should let your insurance agent know so your policy can be amended to cover these upgrades,” says Chris O'Rourke, vice president of property claims at Mercury Insurance. “This will help ensure that you are properly covered; you may even qualify for a discount.'