The Worst Mistakes In Kitchen Design

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I belong to a couple of Facebook business pages where my fellow interior design professionals share challenges, ideas and questions. They’re very helpful and I get to “meet” so many fantastic industry pros, such as Cheryl Kees Clendenon. Cheryl owns In Detail Interiors, a successful retail home decor store and interior design firm in Pensacola, Florida. She wrote a terrific blog post not long ago about kitchen design mistakes that I completely agreed with. I asked Cheryl if I could share her post with my readers and she graciously agreed.

Quick note - I wonder if the tired old stereotype about interior designers being snooty and catty with each other is still believed? It’s always been my experience that interior designers are actually incredibly supportive of each other and always willing to help and share their experiences.

Back to Cheryl’s post. Read on - this could save you a lot of time, money and heartache!

A few of my ‘just say no’ kitchen design mistakes- I rarely see these mentioned so going to just put it out there!

Multiple angled islands interesting or obstacle course?

Kitchen design mistake #1

Ok so just the other day I received a lovely advertising package for a new condo high rise with the most horrible flattened hexagon shaped island- for a cool 3million plus. I died. Maybe it’s just a show kitchen. I cannot bear to even post the plan because so much of it is beautiful- but the flat hex island is no bueno. I know sometimes it’s necessary to cut a corner here and there and we have done it too- but it’s a thing to avoid when you can do so- and always with a light hand. Think curvier than chamfered when possible and remember just how many laps you will do around an island like this and your hip bones will thank you too!


High-low cabinets – not for the attention deficit folks!

Kitchen design mistake #2

Just today I heard a few people commenting on this and was a bit surprised that so many thought this was an ok idea.  There is no good reason I can see to do this at least in the typical manner of a straight run going higher to just vary it for no real reason. Sure, mid level cabinets full height can be cool and done well by good designers but the idea below is a big NO in my book. This came about from big box retailers trying to make their non custom cabinetry look custom. They are not fooling anyone.


Raised Dishwashers

Kitchen design mistake #3

Raised dishwashers- I get the concept and why someone might think this is a good idea to save your back-but I’ve yet to see a layout that works.  The reason for this is simply because not only does it look weird as hell, it’s also a major encumbrance right next to your sink! Who needs a 6 inch raised ledge right there? If the reason for the rise is due to an ADA situation, we will make it work- but this “idea” died a while back and was even hard to find a photo to illustrate it!


 Tile creep- yes there can be too much of a good thing!

Kitchen design mistake #4

Oh lordy this one I see a lot and is an absolute no way in hell. Going above the hood with NO kill point is bad news. Tile transitions are a huge issue for us in any application and is one of the easy things to overlook for a diy-er or a novice designer. Heck, it took me many years to hone these skills but just recently in Destin, we had cabinets taken out and redone because the plan was not followed and the tile ran short of the edge of the countertop. This is serious business for my team.


Do not sacrifice the knees at the counter or bar!

Kitchen design mistake #5

This is another commonly made mistake by developers of “bigasshighrises” – and for the life of me I cannot understand it. If you do not have room for a few more inches- then redesign the space. Call me ya’ll- I can fix any layout- but sadly developers rarely get expert advice and it is so ridiculous for the price being paid for these units. Living on the coast- I see way too much poor design in high rises- why? Maybe they simply do not care or they are not paying top dollar for the Architectural design- who knows? The kitchen below is cute enough- but why even put stools there when you cannot sit? Regardless of your kitchen layout be kind to yourself and family- allow room for your legs!


No ventilation- zomg. This is a big deal!

Kitchen design mistake #6

Ventilation is key to removing toxins and grease from your kitchen. It is not healthy to have a non ventilated kitchen. Period. Unless your idea of cooking is calling for take out! The best ventilation is an updraft with an internal, inline or remote blower. Be careful on the coast as remote blowers can have a lot of rust quickly and if that flapper gets stuck and your home is cold and the air outside is hot- well, lets just say you may think you have a faucet running from your hood! Condensation can be a big deal. Been there done that!

No picture because well- how can I show toxins and grease?

Tile transitions- it matters!

Kitchen design mistake #7

This is a huge element of design in my opinion and am again shocked at how many beautiful kitchens are ruined by a lack of communication between designer ( or contractor/homeowner if no designer) and the various trades who execute a kitchen- and there must be communication or the project is doomed from the start. Often the contractor is too busy to pay attention to these sorts of problems and they can ruin a beautiful project. These examples below are from just typical remodels showing tile transitions and terminations gone very very wrong- but even on a budget, there is no reason why these mistakes must be made!

*Note from Anne - I recently did a blog post and a video on this one - right here!


Think of aging in place and also safety when working in the kitchen! No hinged microwaves under the counter!

Kitchen design mistake #8

Microwave drawers are great- they pull out. We have used them many times. But putting a microwave with a door hinging from the side is not wise under a countertop- if no else to place- call me. I can help reconfigure the kitchen to make it work. It just is too much bending to lift out or even look inside-and not ergonomic at all. I can see doing this in an ADA kitchen if dedicated to that person. But that is it. And before anyone says oh but you are not worried about bending with dishwashers- there are also dish drawers for those who have a need to limit bending- one on each side of sink right under counter will work great!


Happy Remodeling!

Live passionately, Cheryl

Thanks for sharing this post Cheryl!