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What NOT to Do When Creating a Killer Kitchen

By Brian S.

The kitchen is commonly referred to as the one room that can sell a house. Sure, a luxurious lounge, beautiful bath and breathtaking boudoir are all a plus, but if you don’t have a killer kitchen, you are potentially reducing the overall appeal of your home or condo by as much as 50 per cent! It seems that, no matter how comfortable or stylish every other room in an abode may be, for some inexplicable reason family, friends and guests are drawn to the kitchen like mosquitos to an exposed ankle.


Think about it; it’s not just the bright lights and mouth-watering aromas that attract one and all to the hardest-working room in the home. The kitchen counter doubles as a makeshift workbench. The kitchen table can instantly be turned into an impromptu surface on which everything from a school project to bill-paying to Easter egg colouring to planning a wedding can all be easily accomplished. There is no doubt that, from the Aleutian Islands to Asia Minor to the Australian Outback, the kitchen is the room in which people of all cultures tend to congregate.


A kitchen makeover can make the time spent in the kitchen more efficient and will most definitely add value to your home—so long as the upgrade is done right. However, beyond simply filling the room with shiny new appliances, there are a number of things not to do when transforming your kitchen from appalling to appealing.



Don’t Eliminate Counter Space

One of the worst things you can do when planning a new kitchen is place form over function. When it comes to countertops, forget about design and focus on functionality. Of course you want the kitchen counters to be decorative, but don’t sacrifice counter workspace for something trendy that will likely never be used. Before committing to anything, first evaluate how you currently use your countertops and think about what your future needs might be. Allocate an appropriate amount of space to each activity while keeping in mind that more than one person may need to use the kitchen counter simultaneously.


It’s also important to evaluate the proposed traffic flow through the kitchen and what effect it could have on countertop activity. Since there will likely be a host of appliances situated on the kitchen counters, it’s important that you carefully choose where they will be located and that you plan for an electrical outlet to be nearby.



Don’t Create an Inefficient Design

No matter what, never allow access to the sink, the stove and the refrigerator to be obstructed. Why? Because the greatest amount of activity in the kitchen takes place at these three locations, with the sink being the busiest. It’s imperative that you have easy access to all three stations, especially while cooking.


In the planning stages, ensure that there are no swinging doors (entry, cabinet, or otherwise), jutting island corners or narrow aisles that might interfere, impede or cut off direct access to any one of these important kitchen locations.


After establishing a good flow, think about other areas in the room that also need to be easily accessible. For example, consider designing a rubbish bay near an exterior exit for easy disposal. Ensure there’s a certain amount of empty counter space close to the same exit on which you can deposit groceries. Finally, plan for an unobstructed path from the food prep station to the dining area.



Don’t Skimp on Storage Space

Because the kitchen includes lots and lots of pots and pans and crockery and kitchen utensils and canned goods and…well, you get the picture; kitchen storage equals prime real estate. That means lots and lots of kitchen cabinets and pantries, all of which must be easily accessible. After all, who wants to run out to the garage to retrieve something that should have been right at their fingertips in the midst of preparing the evening meal?



Don’t Cram a Kitchen Island into a Small Space

The additional prep and storage space offered by a kitchen island can instantly make any kitchen look special. However, placing an island in the wrong location or, even worse, stuffing one into a kitchen that is too small for it is a huge mistake. No matter how fabulous you think that kitchen island will be, you have to remember that the kitchen is a work area. As such, anything that gets in the way is a problem. If an island obstructs the flow of traffic, creates a bottleneck or prevents you from making your way from the fridge to the stove then either it’s too large, the wrong shape or your kitchen is just too small. As a rule of thumb for efficient flow, you need a minimum of 42 inches (106.5 cm) on each side of the island. If you feel that an island is essential, consider relocating the sink or the stove from the countertop onto the island.



Don’t Neglect the Lighting

There are three kinds of lighting installed in most rooms. They are comprised of general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. The average kitchen relies primarily on general lighting that is provided by some kind of overhead fixture, along with the ambient light that filters in through a window or open door. In many instances, general lighting just isn’t enough. No matter how stylish the décor may be, poor illumination will ensure that it looks dull and drab. When planning your kitchen, be sure to dedicate task lighting fixtures above the sink, stove, food prep areas and anywhere else where an activity that might require additional illumination may take place.



Don’t Forget to Ventilate

If you don’t want visitors smelling last night’s snack of Durian lingering on the stale air, make sure that you install a high quality ventilation system that routes the cooking odours, smoke and grease particles through ductwork and then out via a roof- or wall-mounted vent. Avoid inexpensive range hoods that merely circulate the dirty, stale air, trapping airborne particles in its integral filter. By venting the foul kitchen air outdoors, the kitchen will be cleaner, it will extend the life of the appliances and it will improve the air quality of your entire home.



Don’t Get Too Trendy

Being up to date is one thing, but being over the top in terms of the trend du-jour could be a big mistake. Granted, tangerine tango or pink flambé may be this season’s in vogue colours amongst the chic designer set, but the odds are that these heavenly hues won’t stand up well to the test of time. In just a few years, those once fashionable tints are more than likely going to be passé, if not altogether hideously garish. Due to the relatively short shelf-life of most seasonal trends, its best to stick to the relative safety of stainless steel, natural wood and stone, and colours and prints that are considered to be timeless. Just because rose smoke has, and always will be your favourite wall colour, doesn’t mean that a potential buyer—should you ever sell—will share in your delight.



Don’t Exceed Your Budget

This is probably the one area where most kitchen redesigns go awry. Before you even begin, you should be aware of the fact that the total cost of the kitchen upgrade should never exceed 20 per cent of your home or condo’s value. Estate agents claim that approximately eight per cent of what you spent will be recovered when you sell. There’s no doubt that a freshly-redone kitchen will add dollars to your home’s overall price tag, but some caution should be exercised when you contemplate a kitchen makeover for the purpose of a quick sale. The budget of each kitchen’s remodel will be different, but the average breakdown of expenditures will be:

  • Cabinets: 35%
  • Labour: 20%
  • Appliances: 20%
  • Windows: 10%
  • Fixtures: 5%
  • Fittings: 3%
  • Miscellaneous: 7%


During any kitchen renovation, there are going to unforeseen surprises. Therefore, regardless of how big or small your budget may be, you must set roughly 20 per cent of the total amount aside to cover any such emergencies.