Are you building a house soon or ready to take on that kitchen remodel? You will want to read these tips! I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time. It’s one of those posts that isn’t glamorous or full of pretty pictures. But it’s something I thought you would appreciate and find useful if you are renovating a kitchen or building a house. When we found our home almost 3 years ago, the builder had JUST finished it. Everything including the kitchen was 100% complete so we didn’t have any say in the finishes or in the building plans. After living in this house for several years, there are a lot of things I would do differently if we were designing a kitchen ourselves. So here is my list of “What NOT To Do When Designing Your Kitchen “.
What NOT To Do When Designing Your Kitchen
WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN DESIGNING YOUR KITCHEN
Bring your cabinets up to the ceiling
Now this is more of a design issue rather than a functional issue, but in our next home I would definitely take them up to the top, especially if you have taller ceilings to begin with. I think it makes the kitchen feel bigger, it gives you more storage space rather than having an awkward space above the cabinets and lastly, you don’t have a space that collects dusts and kitchen oils.
Don’t place your microwave over your range
This is one of my big ones for multiple reasons. I would definitely build out a decorative hood over your range for both practical and design reasons. For starters, every time we use the range, because the microwave is stainless steel, the heat rises and the handle gets SO hot. So if you are cooking something and want to use the microwave, you almost can’t touch the handle without getting burnt. Now from a design perspective, I think a beautiful hood over the range is the perfect design element to the kitchen. I really creates a big focal point. I’ve seen these done in stainless steel, reclaimed wood, and so many more styles.
Don’t place cabinets too close to your range!
This issue will probably affect white cabinets more than any other color, but because our cabinets are directly above our range, they are actually starting to yellow from the oils, yuuuuuuck. Every. Single. Day. I have to wipe off the cabinets above the microwave and the ledges of the lower cabinets and at this point they are actually starting to turn yellow. We will eventually have to have them repainted…. or better yet ripped out and we can put a big hood in :)
Don’t cut corners, put soft closet drawers in
I really wish we had soft closing drawers. It seems to be the standard now, but we don’t have them. With how much the kids seem to slam the cupboards and drawers, it would really help me from cringing every time I heard the sound!
Don’t buy a standard fridge, buy the industrial fridge
We are fortunate to have a large kitchen and we totally have space for a larger, industrial size fridge. But they only left us room for a small standard size one. There is SO much extra space on the wall next to the fridge and I wish they would have bumped the kitchen out a little further to allow for more food space. I know not everyone is a family of five, and not everyone needs the extra space. But in my opinion, if you have the space go bigger. I don’t think you would regret it, especially if you entertain a lot!
Double It – If you have the space, I highly recommend going for not 1 but 2 ovens, At least do a warming drawer. My mom has a set up like this as it is so convenient for holidays and large gatherings and it is amazing. It’s so nice for cooking large meals and baking at the same time.
I hope you found some of these tips useful! What are some of the things you wish you would have done differently with your kitchen?SaveSaveSaveSave
Our Kitchen Updates
We have since done a small renovation to our kitchen to help solve some of these issues, it’s at least a start! But I can’t wait to design our dream kitchen in a future home…. one day.
Ally Watson says
Taryn, you are amazing. I love following you and love your style. These are great tips. I live in North Seattle in an old 1907 home and want to remodle my kitchen in Taryn Whitaker style! You rock!
Taryn Whiteaker says
Oh wow you are so kind! Thank you :)
June Brown says
Oh, that would be cool! Hopefully we can see photos! Maybe Taryn will post guest make-overs? (Sorry Taryn for putting you on the spot!)
Gina Kleinworth says
I 100% agree with all these things – I wish our builder had given us more freedom to make more changes to the design in general. Or even just told us that it was an option. There were a lot of things that the builder told us we actually couldn’t do- then turned around & told someone else yes.
Yes on all points. Our builder installed the microwave above the range as well and like you I really don’t like it there. I guess it beats the alternative of being on the counter though. I would love to have the kitchen space to be able to reconfigure and have one of those drawer types. Then I could have a pretty range hood and still have the counter tops clear.
Taryn Whiteaker says
I wouldn’t mind having it in the walk-in pantry! I’ve seen that done before and I think I would do that instead, or under the counter.
We moved into a 14 year old home about 16 months ago and there is a lot I’d like to change about the kitchen, but that will have to wait for another year or so. First is the black granite countertops – unless I buff it dry every time I wipe it, there are streak marks. The pull out trash can cannot be utilized when the dishwasher door is down – that’s just plain silly! And I too would move the microwave from above the stove top. Mine is so low that when I cook soups or anything in a large pot, I have trouble removing the lid!
Thanks for the other thoughts – I will certainly refer to your list when the time comes to redo our kitchen!
If the bottom of the microwave is that low it is probably against the building code.
I’m worried about hitting my head on the one I plan to do.
I completely agree with all of these tips! We built our house in 2003 and we have most of these same issues, except I have wood cabinets not white. I would definitely take cabinets to the ceiling and put in a hood instead of a microwave hood. Soft close drawers would have been awesome as well!
All great tips! I built my 1280 sf home with HFH and the only choices I could make were linoleum, carpet, and countertop laminate. It’s a great home and after the first 5 years, I started to learn how to diy and make it my own. Redoing my kitchen is on my list! I don’t have a problem with the microwave above the stove as it’s also my exhaust fan ducted to the outside, but would like to reconfigure so it’s on a “bookshelf” on the end of an island.
I agree with everything except #1. You must be tall!
My SIL, who is 5’8″, has her microwave over the stove. She raised it higher than the bottom of the cabinets. I, being 5″2″, cannot even open the door. So when I want to make a cup of tea at her house, she has to help me. It’s funny and frustrating.
My husband and I installed “after-market” soft close hinge adapters for our cabinet doors. They are very inexpensive and they work like a dream. We have had them in our cabinets for several years now and I absolutely love them. Regarding the microwave underneath the counter: A family member has this set-up in her house and it is the most awkward placement to most people that use it. If you aren’t familiar with the microwave buttons, you have to kneel down so that you can use it or really bend over. It might be OK for kids to use. I love the idea of putting it in the pantry!
Sharon B says
We totally gutted our old and dated kitchen a year ago and I was able to do many of the things you mentioned. I love my new kitchen! Instead Of SS appliances I chose a “no finger print” dark gray line GE has, put the range and microwave in a separate area, ran gas to the kitchen and my husband got his dream 6 burner gas cooktop. Also, don’t think that you have to shop the big box stores for appliances bc you think the speciality appliance stores are more expensive-often they aren’t -especially if you’re purchasing multiple items. Always shop around-and look at your choices more than once. We actually had the store bring out pots and pans to try on the cooktop which made us change our minds on our choice-the pan handles interfered with the control knobs which wasn’t good. Our range hood is fantastic and yes-we had it vented thru the roof. Soft close drawers and doors were a must because my husband has a slamming problem ? And choose finishes with thought. What’s in vogue today could look like a hot mess in 10 years so go for a style that can stand the test of time -unless of course you have $40k plus to spend repeatedly on new cabinets, counters, etc.
All great advice!
I am in the process of starting to remodel my kitchen and appreciate all your advice. Thanks
Best–insert microwave into a wall at whatever level pleases you and have a pull out shelf just below for spills and heavy dishes.
Ditto for the dishwasher raise that thing up about a foot and put a water proof drawer under it.
I am putting a large rolling white wire drawer 1″ high next to the sink in the lower cabinet instead of using a dish drainer on the counter. When pushed in it will be at the top of the shelf area. This will force me to dry dishes, put them away and push the thing back into the cabinet. Only takes up an inch of the shelf. Microfiber pad in it for dishes to drip onto. Did I say LARGE?
Put in rolling shelves or drawers everywhere. especially the top ones so you don’t have to lean over the counter to get to them and bottom ones so you don’t hurt yourself or have to call 911 for help to stand up.
I must be older than you are.
there should be pull out shelves in each lower cupboard to step on so you can reach the high up shelves. I have a dropped ceiling and still cannot reach the top shelf much less lean over the counter to get to it. retrieving a step stool every time has gotten very old. very very old after 43 years of it.
Adjustable shelf heights, I have no shelf that will take an oil bottle except up at the ceiling. another half inch would do it.I’m ready to cut a little hole in the front of the shelf.
Have a couple pull out lower cabinets to be used as an extra lower counter for us who are shorter. These would live under the regular counter.
Make your blind corners left or right handed. I am right handed and can only reach 3″ into my left handed blind corner. With my left hand I cannot even tell what I am grabbing even though I can reach way in.
Keep the garbage disposal away from the blind corners so you can actually get your arm in there. I had to use a camera and take a picture to tell what was even in there. I moved the garbage disposer to the other sink.
get a ‘one-holer’ sink . double sinks are a pain and the fry pan won’t fit. Soup pot fits but cannot wash the sides of it.
get a high faucet for the sink rather than using a deep sink.deep sinks here won’t drain up to the house drain.
After visiting the store about 4 times, I got a new stove last year with a shelf on ball bearings. my pumpkin pies no longer spill on the way in(just about the only reason for me to have an oven), I just move it a couple inches in and it rolls the rest of the way itself very slowly and smoothly. At the stove store I call myself the ‘pumpkin pie lady’ on the phone, they then know who I am.
I will cut through the back wall and put in an access door to the worst blind corner. 24″x24″ of unusable space with plumbing blocking it.
I’ll put in rolling drawers in the other blind corner which was built for a left handed person with a small access door. no way to use all the space also 24″x24″ They could have had it a right handed corner and the other cabinet has a very wide door. a large lazy susan could have been put in.
I extended the shelves in the pantry to make a counter and deeper shelves below . I added shelves above.
they make battery operated lights that turn on when THEY move. should last a couple decades anyway. LED. attach to back of a drawer that doesn’t come all the way out, it will turn on when you pull the drawer out. They are about the size of half a pencil. very dark 24″ back on a shelf. I’m putting in drawers everywhere possible.
Paint insides of cabinets white , bugs don’t like that,they like it dark. or a light color you like.
Thanks for the advice. I’m also in the process of planning a kitchen remodel. I currently have flat-front wood cabinets that were built on-site when the house was built in 1959, and am being steered towards light gray or white cabinets from the designer. Are you happy with your white cabinets, or would you do something different if you had it to do over again?
Taryn Whiteaker says
YES! I love having white cabinets, I haven’t had any issues with mine at all in terms of getting too dirty or staining. The only issue is that the grease from the range comes up and that part really bugs me, but otherwise I would totally do them again. I would just put a big decorative hood instead of the mircowave and close cabinets.
We did remodeled our kitchen totally 8 years ago and I’m so happy we didn’t do the don’ts you just listed. We had white previously and now I just love my hard wood ones, they’ll be forever.
Your kitchen is gorgeous ! I love it.
Thank you Taryn, I will remind my daughter who is building her new house.
I would put in as many drawers as possible in lower cabinets . Big deep drawers for pots and pans. Drawers for dishes, spice rack drawer, etc. it’s so much easier to access everything and to see what you have. In cabinets it’s hard to access items at the back. I also have a microwave over my smooth top range. The exhaust fan is useless and the top of my stove is always messy from drips from things being removed from the microwave. And everyone sets the items on top of my stove. I also agree with taking the cabinets to the ceiling and buying a commercial size refrigerator if you have the space. Also, include an island if you have room. Great for prepping meals and serving buffet style dinners or setting out appetizers when entertaining.
CMR Constructions says
Those are awesome tips and advice. For some others that are not really sure what to do. It’s best to consult a contractor about it.
Jan Slimmer says
Totally agree with all you said. We did a remodel in 2016 and put the microwave in the island and lovely hood over the stove. I love, love the soft close drawers, and so glad we did LOTs of large drawers. One thing we should have done is a larger fridge. My biggest design error was the pantry. Only had a limited space but wish that instead of pull out shelves, we had done a full length pullout with multiple racks so items are visible. Everything in the pantry pullout is hard to find. We also did open shelves on either side of the range/oven and that is a dust catcher, although it looks stunning. I’d advise anyone who is going through this to spend at least a few hours consulting with a kitchen designer. The number of great ideas you could come up with are well worth the money spent.