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Top Ten Kitchen Disasters

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Most homeowners dream of an elaborate kitchen, with gorgeous counters and plenty of cabinets. However, designing a kitchen can be full of traps, pit-falls and epic errors unless you know what to avoid at the onset. Here are ten disasters you should be aware of so you can end up with the kitchen of your dreams rather than your nightmares.

1) Form Overriding Function: Yes, cathedral ceilings with tall cabinets make a dramatic statement, but what if you stand five-foot-two? Perhaps the designer has convinced you to move the dishwasher out of view from the family room, but the appliance is now in an awkward spot? The best kitchen design is one that has everything within easy reach--food, tools, and convenient clean up when you're done.

2) Abusing the Work Triangle: The stove, refrigerator, and sink are the most important elements of your kitchen, if you cook a lot. You'll want to keep those in close proximity, using what's called a work triangle. The sides of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet (1.22 to 2.74 meters) long, with a total perimeter of 12 to 22 feet (3.66 to 6.71 meters). You'll want to keep the path of the triangle unobstructed by cabinetry or traffic, allowing you to work more efficiently.

3) Only Fools Rush In: Unfortunately, remodeling a kitchen takes time. Rushing into a kitchen design without thought and consideration could cost you more and take more time because you're going to have to fix mistakes made along the way.

4) Money Talks: Not sticking to a budget will net you the most fabulous kitchen on the block, but can you afford the price tag? A custom kitchen with new, state-of-the art appliances and custom cabinets can cost $100,000 easily. Unless you're willing to pay that amount, you'll need to set a budget and then make concessions to stay within that limit. Your budget may only be sufficient for new appliances and updated cabinet doors, or perhaps you'll be happy with only new countertops and a work island.

5) Failure to Design for the Cook: It could be disastrous to not take into consideration the needs of multiple cooks in the kitchen, if a household is sharing cooking responsibilities. You'll want to plan the kitchen design around the 'hand' of the primary chef. For example, a left-handed person may want the dishwasher located on a different side than a right-handed person.

6) Island Woes: Bigger is better, right? Well, no. An island larger than 4 feet (1.22 meters) wide by 10 feet (3.05 meters) long is very hard to clean, hard to use, and hard to maneuver around. Consider going with a smaller island that is easier to move around and keep clean. An island can break up the flow of the work triangle, so plan carefully.

7) Poor Lighting: Good lighting is a must in a kitchen, yet many people overlook this element. You'll not only want lights above island countertops and cooking areas, but you'll want to recess lights under your cabinets to illuminate the dark counter space beneath them.

8) Failure to Ventilate: If you've cooked bacon before, you know the importance of good ventilation to remove smoke and odors from your kitchen (and prevent overflow into the rest of the house). Make sure the ventilation system over your stove is big enough and is properly vented to the outside of the house rather than re-circulated back into the kitchen.

9) Cabinet and Counter Woes: You want to make sure you have enough cabinets and counter space, and that they're placed so they're functional. A good rule of thumb is a minimum of 13 linear feet (3.96 meters) of cabinet space. Pull-out shelves and Lazy Susans help to make awkward spaces useable. You'll want a minimum of 11 linear feet (3.35 meters) of counter space in your kitchen for ample work area and appliance placement.

10) Failure to Control Traffic: The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the house. Everyone gravitates to the kitchen for a snack at some point, and people often pass through on their way from one area of the home to another. Make sure the flow of traffic doesn't interfere with the work triangle, keeping your kitchen easy to work in.

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