10 Things That Aren't Worth The Money When Renovating Your Kitchen

A kitchen renovation may be the most significant improvement a homeowner will undertake, and it's one with immense impact on the daily function of the household and the equity in the physical home structure. If you're facing a gut job or updating a kitchen that hasn't been changed in decades, most likely, you're starting from scratch — creating an altered floor plan and installing everything new. But in most cases, a moderate kitchen renovation could be more beneficial. Per HomeLight, a minor remodel delivers a better return on investment and can be extremely cost-effective; replacing countertops, refacing cabinets, updating appliances, and freshening light fixtures, for example, dramatically impacts function and appearance.

According to Forbes, a great improvement renders an updated and practical kitchen with quality appliances and cabinetry, plentiful storage solutions, and a logical flow. It should also be aesthetically pleasing. There are ways to ensure your decisions afford the best possible outcome, such as hiring a professional designer and reputable tradespeople. However, there are as many ways to put your investment at risk — either regarding resale or, just as importantly, your level of satisfaction with the finished product — like spending in the wrong areas and creating a design that's too personalized. Below, we take a look at 10 common kitchen remodeling mistakes and offer insider advice for avoiding them — a recipe for renovation success.

1. Being too trendy

While updated kitchens are a driving factor in home sales, classic, as opposed to overly trendy styles, is always a safer bet. Choose timeless options with staying power and a wide appeal, particularly for more permanent and high-investment elements such as appliances, cabinetry, and countertops.

2. Dramatic lighting fixtures

Highly stylized and dramatic lighting fixtures fall under the same umbrella as a design that skews excessively trendy. Though they can be switched out easily by a professional, they're often a set-it-and-forget-it element, and they can be pricey as well. For style longevity, choose moderately sized and well-crafted fixtures on the simpler side. 

3. Going overboard with appliances

It's tempting to choose large and luxury appliances during a kitchen reno. However, do you really need a six-burner range or a commercial-sized refrigerator? How frequently will the second dishwasher and wine chiller be used? Practical kitchen design features functional, rather than show-off, pieces. Save the money for other upgrades unless comps in your area support high-end options.

4. Cheap appliances

On the other hand, appliances and countertops are the workhorses in the kitchen, so they shouldn't be skimped on. Cheap appliances will devalue a thoughtfully designed space.  For instance, stainless steel is a favorite across the board with consumers for its clean and modern appearance; plus, the finish is both widely available and affordable. 

5. Busy backsplashes

While a backsplash can create an effective focal point, anything overly trendy or bold may not be something you'll want to draw attention to in a few years. It's best to stick with neutral-toned tile, classic white subway tiles, or an extension of natural stone countertops (aka a counter splash).

6. Open shelving

Open shelving is a great way to keep the room light, but it should be reserved for kitchens with a ton of storage space because storage is king in this room. Additionally, open shelving usually equates to visible clutter, so it's best for the minimalists among us.  

7. A style that doesn't match the exterior

If you're considering selling your home, one of the worst things you can do is confuse buyers, whether regarding a room's function or style. To that end, the interior should feel compatible with the home's exterior and age. For example, a rustic industrial kitchen in an elegant period Tudor would be jarring.

8. Wallpaper

Wallpaper is a personal design element that can add color and interest to a kitchen. Yet since it's style-subjective, it's not the best wall treatment for a room that sways potential buyers so strongly. In this case, the wallpaper is sequestered in a separate eat-in area, adding flair while allowing the main kitchen to appeal to broader tastes.

9. The wrong countertops

Engineered quartz and natural stone such as granite, quartzite, marble, and soapstone are preferred choices for countertop materials; choose a neutral color with subdued contrast and movement. Their practicality and perception of luxury make them a logical investment. To that end, avoid bargain materials, like laminate and tile, which are considered shoddy and outdated.

10. Over-renovating in general

A minor kitchen remodel realizes one of the biggest returns on investment (ROI) among home improvement projects, with a major renovation trailing not far below. Spending more doesn't always net more; for the same ROI, cabinets can be refaced for 1/4 the cost of replacing them, while good quality standard appliances are far less expensive than luxury models.