10 Kitchen Layout Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

10 Kitchen Layout Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

A lot of life happens in the kitchen. No matter how different our lifestyles may be, a lot of activity revolves around the kitchen: Cooking , preparing a quick snack, eating breakfast or a 3-course dinner with family or friends. Not only do we socialize in the kitchen, getting together with family and friends over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, the kitchen is one place that needs to be both beautiful and functional. This raises a double challenge of do’s and dont’s in kitchen layout and design. Regardless of the kitchen design styles, organization and layout are essential in your kitchen design. Because of this specialists warn us about the 10 mistakes we should avoid in order to achieve both practical and elegant kitchen design.

1. Don’t obstruct access to the kitchen triangle.

Specialists refer to the sink, stove and refrigerator as the kitchen triangle, the area of greatest activity which requires careful planning and unobstructed access. Of the three, the sink will see the most action and should have easy access to the stove and refrigerator, as well as your countertop workstations.

Sinks need to be installed in close proximity to the plumbing, but often kitchens are designed with the sinks installed right above the plumbing or in a poor location. Instead of making this kitchen design mistake, consider hiring a plumber to relocate the drains and the plumbing to accommodate the best placement for the sink.

Regardless of kitchen size or layout (L-shaped kitchen, galley, U-shaped or Island style), the sum of all the legs in a work triangle should not be less than ten feet and greater than twenty-five feet. If the sum of the legs in the work triangle is too small, people will be tripping over each other and if too large, food preparation could be a very tiring task.

2. Don’t waste storage space.

Kitchens typically contain lots of stuff. Not only that, but items often concealed behind modern kitchen cabinets can be oddly shaped and require a lot of space, such as food processors or stand mixers. Finding a home for your kitchen stuff while keeping it easily accessible can be a tricky proposition. Because built-ins are expensive and the overall size of the area you’re working with may be limited, one big design mistake is not including enough storage.

Almost every kitchen design has wasted space, but this can be minimized with adequate planning and forethought. If the kitchen is small, consider installing extra long upper cabinets with molding for extra storage space. Place lighting or greenery along the molding to draw the eyes up. Also remember to always install cabinets over the refrigerator. Not to fully utilize the space above the refrigerator is a waste of potential storage space for large or seasonal kitchen items.

Install shelves across the backs of the lower kitchen cabinet as they will save you nearly a 2 foot by 2 foot or 4 square foot potential storage area. Otherwise, the kitchen will feel smaller than it is because you will constantly be trying to find more storage space.

3. Don’t ignore counter-top work space.

One of the biggest complaints about kitchen design is the lack of counter-tops. Consider all the kitchen activities that require a counter-top, as well as appliances that are permanently located there, you might want to fit as much open horizontal surface areas in a kitchen as possible. This may be achieved by adding an island or breakfast bar to an L-shaped kitchen.

4. Design mistakes – Poor lighting.

The kitchen is one room where you can’t afford to have poor lighting. It’s not only a matter of design and atmosphere, but also a safety matter when it comes to handling sharp kitchenware. Rooms generally need three types of lighting: general lighting for overall illumination, task lighting, and accent lighting. For the kitchen you especially should evaluate the work areas and focus on how you can provide each spot with the light it needs. Consider adding lighting directly above all the main working areas, use pendant lights or a series of mini-pendants in areas where these can enhance the lighting and beauty of the kitchen. Pendants look great above kitchen sinks, while a series of mini-pendants enhance the appearance and lighting of breakfast bars and kitchen islands. Also, install under-cabinet lighting as an additional way to ensure that the counters have sufficient lighting for common kitchen tasks. After all, the more light you have in the room, the better you can show off all of those amazing design elements you’ve added to the space.

5. Don’t forgo a back-splash.

While budgeting or designing a new kitchen or kitchen remodel, sometimes the backsplash considerations slip to the end of the list. Occasionally, the backsplash area is completely left out of the plan. This is one mistake that saves you money on the short term, but on the long run costs you a lot of time and effort. Imagine the steam, high humidity and grease content in the kitchen and you will understand why installing a backsplash behind the oven and extending it above all the counters throughout the kitchen is a smart idea. It is much easier to clean grease off a backsplash made of tile, metal, or plastic, than wall paint or wallpaper.

6. Don’t forget to ventilate.

The best of kitchen design fades in the presence of bad smelling air. If you’ve ever walked into someone’s home and smelled last night’s fish&chips lingering on the stale air, you’ll understand the importance of good ventilation. Inexpensive range hoods simply circulate dirty, stale air, while a good ventilation system will help improve the quality of your indoor air and also help keep your kitchen cleaner.

Effective ventilation systems also help extend the life of your appliances and although they can be an investment, if you have a kitchen that opens to a living area or family room, they will make life easier, cleaner and more pleasant for everyone.

7. Don’t choose a wrong kitchen island.

When it comes to  kitchen islands we generally think of additional storage, preparation and serving space in the kitchen, but the fact of the matter is that kitchen islands can waste a lot space. Choosing the wrong island or placing it in the wrong spot can be a disaster, especially in a work area that can get over cluttered. Islands that obstruct the flow of traffic to and from the sink, refrigerator, stove and primary workstations will create bottlenecks and major hassles. At minimum, an island should be 4 feet long and a little more than 2 feet deep, but it must also have room for people to move and work around it. Specialists recommend that unless the kitchen is at least 8 feet deep and more than 12 feet long, one shouldn’t even consider an island.

8. Don’t ignore your recyclables.

These days, with the advent of recycling, dealing with trash in kitchen design has gone beyond sticking a bin under the sink. As recycling is here to stay, be prepared to manage your trash efficiently and incorporate trash sorting bins into your kitchen design.

9. Design Mistakes – Going too trendy.

Although it’s not necessarily a mistake, choosing the latest kitchen designs and high-end equipment may not be the best of choices. The most stylish colour of the season and trendy designs have a short half-life, and you may never get your return on large investments in the latest kitchenware. Look for kitchen innovations and appliances that are timeless.

10. Avoiding professionals.

Taking over a kitchen design project on your own to save money is a common mistake which can waste more money, time and energy. There are some jobs where, for safety and quality work, a professional is not a whim. Kitchen designers possess the latest trends, ideas, and manufacturer’s details, help you identify your specific needs and translate those details into an efficient plan according to your taste.


  • Tom October 23, 2012 at 18:23 PMLogin to Reply →

    I always find these posts confusing because I can’t tell if the images are highlighting the mistakes (which I can’t see) or showing how to properly execute the issue described (which, if so, they seem subtle). For example, #9 seems like an example of “too trendy”, while #4 seems to be relatively well lit for a “poor lighting” example.

    Which is it?

  • Samantha October 25, 2012 at 13:51 PMLogin to Reply →

    Loved the Post!
    Very helpful!


  • Kunchu MP December 7, 2012 at 10:38 AMLogin to Reply →

    very nice

  • shaz January 28, 2013 at 08:26 AMLogin to Reply →

    My heart got stuck with the 7th Don’t choose a wrong kitchen island.and going the prepare the same on my new home …….

  • Andrew March 18, 2013 at 16:27 PMLogin to Reply →

    Love kitchen #1! You don’t want to interrupt the traingle, but given the choice of the triangle or this kitchen, I can make do without the triangle.

  • Jerry Wilson June 6, 2013 at 20:05 PMLogin to Reply →

    Yeh! If these mistakes are avoided when remodeling your kitchen, I think the kitchen will be well remodeled without having any mistake that will make it non worthy.

  • Kristen Dockery March 5, 2015 at 15:44 PMLogin to Reply →

    Thanks for the great information and tips in this article about design and decorating tips not to make in your home. My husband and I are in the process of building a new home and this was a perfect time to come across this article so that I make sure not to make these mistakes. I can’t wait for our to be done and to see how everything turns out. Do you have any other tips or advice about what to avoid when designing a home?

  • Rose Henderson April 13, 2015 at 16:13 PMLogin to Reply →

    I don’t see how anyone could thing they could do an entire kitchen renovation on their own. There are so many factors to consider, like the electricity and the plumbing. You don’t want to risk messing up either of those elements in the process. They can be dangerous and cause major problems if not handled properly.

  • MFerguson May 28, 2015 at 23:53 PMLogin to Reply →

    Love kitchen #1, could someone please tell me what the color of the cabinets are, and what color the
    granite is. I am remodeling my home and I really like the colors. If anyone knows please tell me.

  • Alexis Webber June 10, 2015 at 13:08 PMLogin to Reply →

    This is so helpful! My husband and I are renovating our kitchen and we have a decent amount of space to work with. I didn’t know about the kitchen triangle, but now that I’m aware of it, it totally makes sense. The last place I lived in had hardly any counter space so I’m thinking maybe we can put in an island. Awesome advice!