Remodeling Your Kitchen? A Few Tips From the Trenches

Kaycee Miller
4 min readFeb 4, 2021

A study from the National Association of Home Builders found that more than three quarters of people conducting remodels will be focusing on their kitchens, the second-most popular room behind bathrooms.

If you have a kitchen remodel on the docket, a little research and planning can save you from regretting any of your remodeling decisions and may save you some serious cash. A kitchen remodel can become one of the most expensive updates to a property, so mistakes can be costly. Here are some common issues I’ve seen first-hand and ways to avoid them:

Think infrastructure first

Before you get going on your dream kitchen, make sure that you have accounted for or fixed any big issues like plumbing or electrical work. While this isn’t the “fun” part of the job, it is crucial to the function and protection of your new kitchen. Is the plumbing updated to code and is it properly routed to where your appliances will end up? What about light switch and outlet placement? Map it out ahead of time or you may have to walk all the way around you gorgeous new island just to turn on your garbage disposal (yes, I have seen this happen).

Space it out

If your new kitchen comes complete with new appliances and new cabinets, you need to pay careful attention to the fit. For example, many standard refrigerators extend beyond cabinets and counters, which can look like a mistake. (A counter-width refrigerator may be slightly more expensive so be sure to budget for that in if it’s something you want.) I’ve seen corner cabinets that opened just beautifully until the range was installed. The protruding oven handle stuck out just a millimeter too far, making the cabinet unusable and impossible to open. Avoiding this problem is simple: measure carefully ahead of time.

La isla bonita

High on the list of anyone who enjoys cooking, entertaining, and spending time in the kitchen is a center island. But an island is not always the best use of your space. You have to consider the shape of the room, traffic flow and, of course, size of the room. If the island interferes with travel to and from the fridge, stove, sink and garbage, an island is not ideal. Remember that a standard walkway should be 42 inches wide or more. Measure your space and decide if an island will create a great area for prepping, displaying and enjoying food or if it will hinder it.

Top it off

Another common item to update in a kitchen remodel are countertops. Consider how you use your kitchen. If you cook a lot or have children choosing a hard surface such as granite may be a better choice than a porous material like marble, limestone, and slate that need to be sealed often. Granite or other harder stones are more durable and less likely to chip, scratch, and stain. (No one wants a big red Kool-Aid spill — like the one I grew up with — marring their countertop.) Choose materials that suit your lifestyle.

A fresh coat

Nothing says shiny and new like a fresh coat of paint. In order to get a top notch looking paint job you need to properly prep the surfaces you intend to paint. This includes; washing, sanding, patching holes, masking, priming and, last but not least, painting with an appropriate type of paint. In general in the kitchen you want a semi-gloss paint so that the surface is easy to wipe off if food or grease gets splattered on the walls.

Age appropriate

One last common mistake that DIYers or even professionals make is to completely ignore the design and era of the home. Putting a modern kitchen with sleek simple lines into a turn of the century Victorian style home will look out of place. While you may love your new modern kitchen it could negatively affect the resale value of your home. Keeping the remodel with the original style of the home can be an important selling factor for some people.

These are just a few of the things to consider when undertaking a kitchen remodel. I recommend consulting with a professional to make sure that you aren’t missing anything, even if you plan to do most of the work yourself. If you are a landlord, an updated kitchen can mean the difference between renting your rental property quickly (to the right people). If you are a homeowner, a new kitchen can help increase your home value in the long-term.



Kaycee Miller

Kaycee is a writer and the marketing director for Rentec Direct, specializing in real estate and property management. Learn more at