When Bad Things Happen to Good Kitchens (And How To Avoid Them When Remodeling)

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Kitchens renovations happen when homeowners break down and just can’t handle their current spaces anymore. What’s making people so unhappy each time they cook and clean? They often boil down to the same universal problems, which pop up again and again. Know what triggers your dismay so you can better plan and not let them happen again in your next kitchen.

#1: Too Much Noise

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

The sounds we make as humans are bad enough, but when you add in slamming cabinet doors, humming appliances, and loud exhaust fans, you get full-blown kitchen cacophony. If you prefer your decibels down low, save yourself a headache and consider these things when remodeling your space:

  • Know that hard surfaces, like tile floors, will amplify sounds instead of absorbing them. Consider a softer material —like cork or wood — or prepare to use area rugs to muffle the noise.
  • Choose soft-close hinges and slides, door dampers and bumpers on your drawers and cupboards. They don’t add a lot to the cost of the cabinetry, and make a huge difference in the day to day.
  • Research noises levels, along with the other important factors, when you go to buy your appliances. This is especially true for open floor plans, when there are no walls between you and the dishwashing cycle.

#2: Hard to Clean

(Image credit: Julia Steele)

You want after-dinner tidying up to be easy and fast, so don’t let your kitchen make it harder for you. Choose materials that are conducive to cleaning, and that won’t hide or harbor little bits of nastiness. Here are some well-known problem areas to steer clear of:

  • Tile countertops tend to trap bits of food in the gaps. If cost is a factor, and you can’t afford a solid surface, use larger slabs of tile —instead of small mosaics — to reduce the number of grout lines.
  • Cooking is a messy job and grease loves to splatter everywhere it can. Keep this mind when choosing your backsplash. Glass and other smooth surfaces will be infinitely easier to wipe that, say, textured stone or anything porous.
  • The less you touch with your dirty fingers, the less you need to clean. Investigate hands-free faucets and garbage cans that are motion activated and don’t require human contact.

#3: Lack of Organization

(Image credit: Katy Cartland)

Here are some great ways to keep the things you need within each, and the things you don’t need out of your way.

  • When planning your layout, thinking about creating zones for each kitchen activity: cleaning, storage, prep, cooking, and putting food away. Store knives near the prep station, pots for cooking, etc… so that everything’s in reach and you aren’t overwhelmed by things that don’t have anything to do with your current task.
  • Mount or hang often-used items right in front of you, like knives or towels, so they are easily accessible.
  • Find clever spaces to keep all the things that wind up on the counters, from metal hooks for your car keys or appliance garages for your smaller blender, food processor and coffee maker.

#4: Too Little Storage

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)
  • Avoid awkward empty spaces with a smart cabinet layout that maximizes storage per inch: cabinets that extend all the way to the ceiling, or a kitchen island with built-in drawers or shelves.
  • For very little money, cabinets and walls can be outfitted with metal racks, pull-out shelves, drawer organizers, hooks, and towel bars. What storage you do have will become more efficient.
  • Consider drawers instead of doors in your lower cabinets. Instead of the latter jumbled cavernous space, drawers make it much easier to add dividers, which allows you to use every square inch.

Which pain point speaks to you?