7 mistakes to avoid when designing a kitchen

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I'll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.

Designing a kitchen can be quite challenging. There’s so much to take into consideration, from norms and standards to the personal requirements of your clients. And while there is no perfect recipe (pun intended) for creating one, there are several mistakes to avoid when designing a kitchen. If you want to amaze your clients and ensure they think fondly about you every time they move around smoothly and find everything just right where they need it while preparing something delicious, read along to get to know the 7 most common mistakes you never want to make when designing a kitchen. Oh, the order is random.


1. Planning the kitchen layout too late

If you’re designing a whole house, the amount of work might force you to prioritize staying on track. Designing a kitchen as soon as possible should be on top of your list of importance. As we said, there’s so much to take into consideration. It shouldn’t be planned out by the end, while you feel the breath of time pressure on your neck. Instead, sit down to design a kitchen while you have fresh eyes and lots of energy to tackle this important task. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later that you started with it first. Also because producing all the furniture takes time, you’ll be sure it’s all ready when you’re supposed to give the keys back to the owners.


2. Not considering the work triangle

Now that you are ready to plan out the kitchen, the first thing you should do is establish the workflow. Your clients’ habits and expectations are obviously relevant but bare in mind the standards and ergonomics as well. One of the most common and at the same time bad mistakes is not considering the work triangle.

If you don't know what it is - read this article.

Basically, you should plan out the position of the most important kitchen elements - the fridge, the sink, and the stove, so that they form a triangle. This makes them easier to reach and saves time while performing various tasks. Think about it - you first take things out of the fridge. Then, you most likely need to wash them. And then, they go into a pan. There you go, a basic workflow, featuring the work triangle.


3. Poorly distributed electrical sockets

Each appliance that we put in a kitchen needs an electrical socket. Duh, isn’t that obvious? Thanks, Aleksandra.   But, while most of them remains invisible, it doesn’t mean we can place them wherever without considering their position.

The electrical scheme for a kitchen is quite an intricate piece of design and should be well thought through. A big mistake often made is positioning sockets right behind the appliance it will power up. It might look good on paper but in reality, every cable head has its thickness. And with most of the in-built appliances being exactly the depth of the kitchen cabinets, there might not be enough space behind them to connect the cable. A much better solution is to place the socket in the cabinet next to the appliance (pay attention to the length of the cable), where it will also be much easier to reach in case of a problem.


4. Not enough workspace

If you are designing a small kitchen, carving out enough workspace might be a difficult task. Well, sometimes even with a big kitchen it might not be easy if there are doors and windows all around (do you need all of them doors, by the way?). But not providing enough workspace in certain, strategic parts of a kitchen is a big mistake. Consider all the tasks your clients might need to perform (you can always ask them about their cooking habits!). Then try to provide at least a little space for each of them on the countertop. The part of the workspace you shouldn’t omit is the one between the sink and the stove where the preparation happens.


5. Wrongly positioned lighting

If you stay on my website long enough, you’ll notice that lighting is something I really like to talk about. Heck, I even wrote a whole ebook about it! If you’d like to get your copy of “Everything An Interior Designer Should Know About Light”, go ahead and click on the banner below!

or click here

And if you'd like to read about light layers and how to use them in interior design - check out this article.

Back to the subject - not thinking strategically about kitchen illumination is one of the mistakes that would cause lots of inconvenience for your clients and make cooking quite bothersome. In a place like a kitchen, where various tasks are being performed, the main light layer you want to use is… the task light. In this case, think function over form. If you use only ambient light, placed in the middle of the kitchen ceiling, chances are your clients will cast shade on the countertop.

So as much as the general lighting is important, you should always illuminate the workspace separately. Don’t forget to put some pendants over the kitchen island/peninsula if you’re planning one, too. There are other places you might need specific illumination for as well. So if you don’t want your clients to mutter under their breath cursing you, make sure to always keep the workflow and your client’s preferences in mind.

6. Wanting too much

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an advocate of wanting a lot and more from life. Dream big and all that jazz. Yes! But! Sometimes you just need to embrace what you have and stop trying to fit EVERYTHING into a space that is not the magically enchanted tent from Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire. In simpler words - if the kitchen is small, don’t try to squeeze in a kitchen island just because the clients dream about one. They hired you because you know better. And you know that if there is not enough space to move around it or to easily open the cabinets and dishwasher doors to a full 90 degrees angle - there should be no island. Or a peninsula for that matter. Remember the minimum of 39 inches/100 cm of space between two cabinets that are in front of each other.

7. Badly chosen materials

A kitchen can be a real battlefield sometimes. A splash of water here, a blotch of spaghetti sauce there (my Italian husband would probably look at me disapprovingly for writing spaghetti sauce)… Let’s not forget the wine spills and coffee stains. Unless the kitchen you’re designing is purely for eye pleasure and not for cooking (eating out and takeaway is a thing for some people), choosing materials badly might result in your clients losing money and the willingness to recommend you to their friends. The keyword here is durability. You should design a space that will serve for years to come and endure all the cooking adventures your clients will undertake. Watch out especially for countertops and backsplash as they are at the highest risk.

Are you ready?

Feeling better prepared for your next kitchen design? You probably realize that those are not the only mistakes you can make while designing a kitchen. But if you avoid those, you’re likely to provide a well-functioning space for your clients. If you’d like to learn about 18 more, download the freebie I prepared - 25 mistakes not to make when designing a kitchen. It comes with a simple checklist you can use with your next designs.

Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed though, making mistakes is human. I’m sure that with a little practice, you’ll become a pro and none of those mistakes will bother you anymore. For now, focus on what’s most important for your clients, ask a lot of questions if needed, and design away!

or click here

hi there!

I'm Aleksandra, an interior architect with multinational experience, on a mission to help beginning or self-taught designers gain confidence and create systems that will help them bring their businesses to the next level.




take a look!

what might interest you as well...

8 Things That Will Make You Feel More Confident About Your Work

6 Boundaries You Need To Set In Your Interior Design Business

Why Having A Website Is Important For Interior Design Business


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

hi, I'm Aleksandra!

I will help you create an organized interior design business with systems and processes, and to gain confidence to bring your career to the next level.

All content copyright ©aleksandranorman and ©organizedinteriordesignbiz (unless stated otherwise). All rights reserved.


Scroll to Top