Avoid These 7 Kitchen Design Disasters
Courtesy of: Anytime Presentations

Kitchen designers may be trained to help customers avoid mistakes, but they all have war stories of being brought into projects only after big problems arise. What are the kitchen-planning gaffes designers for Decora Cabinets see most often?

1. Appliance Fever
This commonly occurs when clients insist on having a 72-inch Viking range in an 8- by 10-foot kitchen. They may have six burners, but nowhere to store a pan. This problem can usually be fixed by choosing appliance options like double oven ranges, dishwashers that are incorporated into the sink, counter-depth refrigerators, and even under-the-counter refrigerators.

2. Door Smack Syndrome
Have you ever been in a kitchen where you've been working at the counter, only to get banged by someone trying to get into the pantry or coming in from an outside door? Consternations such as planning a dishwasher beside a corner sink, or placing the range right in a narrow walk throughway, can be corrected by allowing at least 3 feet of elbow room on either side of each primary work area, and putting key appliances in protected areas.

3. Embellishment Mania
Corbels, columns, and decorative molding make a kitchen distinctive…unless you've overdone it. "I was in a kitchen recently that literally had fluted columns between every cabinet," says award-winning Decora kitchen designer Neal Luck, owner of NHL Kitchen Designs in Long Beach, Calif. "Not only was it gaudy to look at, but they wasted a staggering amount of space."

"Columns and corbels should only be used at the end of a run of cabinets, or to offset a major design piece, like an island or a farmhouse sink," he says. "The same principle should be applied to molding. It can run around the top of the cabinets, or offset an important design feature."

4. Habitual Code Breaking
A surprising number of people plan kitchens with dangerous building code violations that can be very costly to fix. Common mistakes include poor or nonexistent venting above the cooktop, building cabinets less than 12 inches from the cooktop, using non-tempered glass in cabinets that require them and putting too many appliances on one circuit.

5. Cabinet-Induced Claustrophobia
"It never fails to surprise me when I walk into an open kitchen, and a client has put upper cabinets over the top of an open counter," says award-winning Decora cabinets designer, Tracy Foslein of Home Valu Interiors in Bloomington, Minn. "People are spending thousands of dollars to knock down the walls between their kitchens and dining areas, and they've just hemmed themselves in."

6. Wood Matching Disorder
Few things make customers crazier than trying to pick a wood for their cabinets, especially when they are trying to make an exact match with the furniture or the flooring.

"In a million years, you'll never get an exact match, and you wouldn't want to," says Luck. "Having that much of an exact wood shade can be very tiring on the eyes. Instead, plan your kitchen cabinets to be two to three shades lighter or darker than the wood tone you're trying to match. It will coordinate, without being too 'matchy-matchy.' "

7. Investment Dysfunction
Is your kitchen really ugly, or just not working for you, yet you refuse to admit it? "I see clients come in all the time who just hate their cabinets, and have a poor kitchen layout, yet they think they can fix all that by getting a new granite countertop," Foslein says. "Or even worse, they've already ripped out the cabinets and only want to spend half what it would take to do the job properly. When you're planning your kitchen, remember, it pays to get a good, well-made cabinet. They're the one thing you can't remove, and you can't fix so easily later."

For more information on kitchen design, visit www.decoracabinets.com.