10 Kitchen Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

white black and brown modern kitchen

You’ve got your handy renovation checklist in hand, and you feel ready to start your kitchen project. But do you know what the most common pitfalls are, or how to avoid them? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s explore the most common kitchen renovation mistakes, so you can keep your renovation project on track and have it turn out just as you had envisioned.

1. Having an unrealistic budget

Your project expectations need to match your budget if you want to achieve the results you seek. Otherwise, you’ll end up cutting corners to finish your project or draining your savings trying to avoid compromising. To avoid underestimating costs, start by determining what funds you have available for the project, and then get quotes from contractors to see how they compare.

On average, full kitchen remodels cost around $25,000. Most of that is used for materials; labour costs rarely exceed 35% of the bill. So, you can control your costs to some degree by switching up the materials you want for your project. Although you never want to compromise on quality, there are many suitable options at lower price points for cabinets, countertops, and flooring.

kitchen with light grey cabinets

2. Lacking funds for unexpected costs

Even with a well-defined budget and project plan in hand, unexpected problems could still arise during the project. The demolition stage, in particular, may reveal areas in need of repair and reinforcement before the contractors can continue. These types of issues can increase costs, and you’ll need to be able to afford the extra work. Otherwise, you’ll end up stalling your kitchen renovation project until you can pay for it.

Luckily, you can avoid this kitchen renovation mistake by adding 25% to your budget. It’ll provide you with a safety net ranging from $5,000 to $6,400 (depending on the scope of your project) to cover unexpected costs. For each additional repair or replacement, be sure to complete a work order and to review the scope of service and costs associated with the project before authorizing it.

3. Overlooking ventilation requirements

Since you’ll likely change your appliances and cabinets, make sure that your ventilation system is up to Code. You don’t want your beautifully renovated kitchen filled with smoke and odours as you cook. Your kitchen contractors can help by replacing the ventilation ductwork and upgrading the range hood.

Skilled contractors can install the ductwork needed to fit your new appliances and have it direct smoke and odours outside. They can also help you choose the best range hood for your kitchen’s aesthetic. While ductless hoods are available, they aren’t recommended because they don’t perform as well (i.e., they don’t eliminate smoke or smells).

Here are a few range hood styles you can choose from:

  • Under cabinet
  • Downdraft
  • Island
  • Wall-chimney

4. Leaving out extra kitchen storage

The vast majority of the space in your kitchen is dedicated to storage – it’s where you’ll store your cookware, utensils, food, beverages, pet food and treats, countertop appliances, and so much more! As you plan your kitchen renovation, keep an eye out for storage opportunities so that everything has a place to go. It’ll help keep clutter to a minimum.

Avoid this kitchen renovation mistake by taking the time to consider where you’d like to store things in your kitchen. Look at how you can use vertical space increase your storage options, such as by using shelves, racks, or hooks to store kitchen tools and supplies. Embrace designated storage pieces like paper towel holders and spice racks for a personal touch.

5. Lack of lights and outlets

When designing your kitchen, don’t skimp on lighting. It greatly impacts the look and feel of your kitchen and also influences your ability to complete tasks. You don’t want to strain your eyes or be forced to bring in a lamp from another room to be able to chop your vegetables. So, take some time to map out your ambient, task, and accent lights around the room, from the ceilings to the cabinets.

Outlets play a major role in functionality, so make sure that there are enough to complete your daily tasks. A contractor can help you figure out how many you need and where to place them in your kitchen. The Canadian Electrical Code regulations help guide their decisions, but you still a lot of say. You can let your kitchen contractors know exactly how many outlets you want and where you want them. Depending on your preferences and current configurations, they may also need to upgrade your electrical panel or make other changes to accommodate the extra outlets.

6. Selecting the wrong materials for your lifestyle

Your lifestyle will play a major role in the materials that’ll best suit your kitchen. For instance, if you only use cast iron pans, laminate countertops would be a poor choice as they’d get worn down quickly. Think about what you do in the kitchen and how they’ll affect various materials. Some will be better suited to the task than others!

Also, consider cleaning and regular maintenance needs. If you have a busy schedule or health issues, you may want to opt for low-maintenance solutions that match your aesthetic. For instance, if you love the look of marble but can’t do the upkeep, you can opt for quartz instead. There are lots of kitchen countertop materials out there, so you can easily avoid this kitchen renovation mistake. Pick something that’ll benefit you long term!

7. Having a poor kitchen workflow

A good kitchen workflow helps you work smarter instead of harder. To maximize efficiency, you need to place your sink, oven, and refrigerator in a triangle with about four to nine feet of space between each one. As you prep and cook meals, you move back and forth between these areas a lot, so having their placement optimized will help prevent wasted movement and fatigue.

You can take this concept further by creating dedicated work zones for each activity you perform in your kitchen, such as food prep and rolling out dough. A kitchen designer can help you create the perfect space for your daily needs!

Kitchen Triangle

8. Failing to plan around your renovation

Living in a construction site is bound to increase stress levels, especially in the kitchen – you’re forced to find other ways to complete daily tasks! If you’re someone that cooks eggs and bacon on the stovetop each morning, you’re going to have to find another breakfast solution during renovation.

Take some time to plan out how you’ll manage meals and cleaning tasks during the project. After all, you won’t have access to your kitchen for 4 to 12 weeks! If you have concerns about disruptions to your daily activities, talk to your kitchen contractor – they’ll tell you what to expect for each stage of the project so you can plan ahead. Your Renovation Advisor can also help you better understand what to expect during your kitchen renovation.

9. Completing the kitchen renovation yourself

It may be tempting to save money on labour costs by doing your kitchen renovation project yourself, but there’s a lot more to construction than taking out the old and bringing in the new. You might need to reroute your plumbing or electrical, repair water damage, change ductwork, and much more, most of which requires a licence and specialized tools!

Kitchen contractors have to follow strict protocols to ensure that completed renovations are up to code and pass inspection. They also know which permits are needed and how to get them so that your project complies with the Ontario Building Code. This entire process is often overwhelming and complicated; trying to navigate it alone often creates a lot of unnecessary frustration.

kitchen renovation worksite

10. Choosing kitchen contractors that don’t meet your needs

The single biggest mistake you can make in your kitchen renovation project is hiring kitchen contractors that don’t meet your needs. Some just don’t have the right level of experience, while others just can’t see your project to completion. No matter the issue, they’re just not right for the job.

Finding the right contractor means checking licences, past client references, insurance validity, online reviews, and much more. And then there’s the interview process: you’ll want to meet them and ask questions before signing on the dotted line. It’s a time-consuming process that ultimately helps you determine if the contractor is trustworthy and can meet your expectations.

A stunning space without the kitchen renovation mistakes

Ultimately, kitchen renovation projects are stressful and time consuming. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way, but this guide should help you avoid the major ones to ensure a relatively smooth and stress-free renovation experience. If you’re just getting started, feel free to browse our completed projects or the latest kitchen trends for some inspiration.

If you’re ready to get started, reach out to one of our experienced Advisors and they’ll connect you with up to three Verified Contractors for your project. They’ll help you plan your project every step of the way, so you’ll be prepared for the process.

Marilena Tricarico has been a key figure in the interior design world for over 15 years. Her expertise and designs have been featured on the hit TV show Décore ta Vie for 10 years. Today, she shares her knowledge of the renovation industry with RenoAssistance as a video content producer and host.