5 Kitchen Reno Upgrades You’ll Regret Splurging on, According to Interior Designers

published May 30, 2024
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A general interior view of a large grey fitted kitchen with wooden breakfast bar island, grey velvet bar stools, black oven and microwave, induction hob, stainless steel extractor fan hood, wine beer cooler, chiller fridge, tiled floor.
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Your kitchen is the workhorse of the home: It’s where you cook, eat, entertain, and gather with loved ones. It’s also one of the most expensive spaces to renovate, even if you’re working with a tighter budget. Because of this, it’s likely that any major design decision you make now will stick around for a while. So which kitchen renovations are actually worth the splurge? To help guide you, I asked some pros who help people with kitchen updates every single day to share the upgrades they don’t think are actually worth the splurge — that you might even regret.

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1. High-Tech Gadgets

“Some high-tech items like smart fridges or Bluetooth coffee makers can be really useful to some people,” admits Courtney Cole, interior designer at Yabby. “But many homeowners don’t use the features that warrant the extra cost.” Consider how you use your current kitchen and what you feel like is missing before getting caught up in all the hottest tech trends. Plus, as Jen Nash, head of design at Magnet, points out, “these days even ‘standard’ appliances are far more technologically advanced than they used to be.” As you shop, you might find there’s actually no need to allocate extra budget to appliances.

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2. Oversized Islands

Extra-large kitchen islands look gorgeous on Pinterest and Instagram, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily functional for the size of your space. According to Paul Dore, managing director at County Stone, “your island should take up no more than 15% of your overall kitchen area.” Think about it: You may have more counter space, but will you have the floor space to easily reach it? If you have a small kitchen but want the island look, Dore recommends butcher block. “It gives you more preparation space and a central point, without taking up precious square footage.”

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3. Fancy Lighting

Statement-making (aka expensive) pendants have definitely grown in popularity, but that doesn’t mean you need them to achieve a beautiful kitchen. In fact, Cole says “sometimes they take away from the look of your kitchen by being the singular point of focus.”

Nash recommends strategically placed spotlights or can lights instead: “Focusing on the main tasks you conduct in your kitchen and placing lights accordingly, rather than using a grid system, gives your kitchen a bespoke ambiance and an opportunity to keep spending lower.”

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4. Luxury Materials

It’s tempting to splurge on nicer materials, and depending on your budget, it might even make sense. That said, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better. “I’ve found that some luxury items like marble countertops might make your kitchen feel more high-end, but they can be prone to chips and scratches easily, especially in a high-traffic area like the kitchen,” Cole explains. “This is where a cheaper material like quartz might be the better option.” The backsplash is another space you can save, Nash says — there’s truly something out there for every budget, from classic white subway tile to artisanal Zellige tile.

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5. Anything Trendy

To be clear, kitchen design trends aren’t inherently risky — and, as Dore points out, some can truly stand the test of time. “If you’re looking at upgrading your kitchen, it’s a good idea to really take your time and think about what you’ll want in 5 or 10 years’ time,” he says. If you’re head over heels for scalloped edges and fluted finishes, go for it — but resist the urge if you just like that it’s current. If resale value is a consideration, he recommends future-proofing your kitchen with classic styles and colors.

Is there an upgrade in your kitchen that you regret splurging on? Let us know in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: 5 Kitchen Upgrades You’ll Regret Splurging on, According to Interior Designers