Remodel Like a Pro: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When DIYing Your Kitchen

Posted September 11, 2019 by Katlyn Droke

From the actual design to installation, we’ve gathered the top 10 most common mistakes DIYers face when remodeling or renovating their kitchen. These are the most common elements that can pop up when re-doing a kitchen in any way, and they’re the ones that our design consultants make sure to help customers avoid. 

Keep your dream kitchen from turning into a nightmare by keeping these in mind:

Open dishwasher rack
Don’t forget to leave room for appliances and other large items when measuring space.

Not thinking about how appliances will fit.

This is an issue when you discover (after installation) that an appliance interferes with your kitchen operation in some way. Like not being able to open a cabinet drawer because the oven handle is in the way. When designing the layout, make sure doors have enough room, appliances can be removed or replaced without fuss, and that the kitchen hotspots (stove, refrigerator, sink, and pantry) are spaced away from each other so that people aren’t bumping into each other constantly. And don’t wait till the end to pick out your appliances.


Open drawers under an island stove filled with plates bowls cutlery silverware wooden utensils
Don’t let dead space go to waste – make drawers out of it!

Not adding enough storage. 

There are two general rules for kitchen storage: (1) add more than you think you need, and (2) take advantage of every available space. Thinking about storage is especially crucial when replacing cabinets, and you definitely want to make sure you get the most out of them. Installing a new island, for example? Make sure that island space is actually space you can use, as some islands may end up being just for looks and the inside of it becomes unutilized dead space. We tend to dream about a clutter-free kitchen without really remembering all the stuff we actually have. After all, we don’t live in a design magazine. 


Man in green overalls fixing an open oven with a screwdriver
Take extra care when handling old pieces during the remodel process.

Accidentally damaging pieces you’re trying to save.

Demoing a kitchen is fun when it’s no holds barred and everything goes, but what if you’re trying to save parts of your kitchen to reuse or restore? That increases the difficulty of a renovation by quite a bit. So make sure you know what you’re getting into before you start. Know what it takes to restore old pieces and how to protect them from damage during demo and installation. 


Man measuring a wall with a tape measure
Once you make that first cut, there’s no going back. Triple check your work to avoid any miscalculations!

Forgetting to measure twice, cut once.

While you may or may not be doing the actual cutting, you’ll want to double-check that everything is exactly how you want it BEFORE you whip out the power saw. Maybe even triple check. Get a second opinion if it helps. Your goal is to make sure everything works well together. Imagine yourself using the kitchen design before you start work. Like making sure the aisle between islands and cabinets is wide enough for two people. Or like opening your wall cabinet door and smacking it into a low-hanging light fixture that should have been installed farther away.


Woman holding a paper looking discouraged with a drill and tape measure
Expect the unexpected by budgeting in time to handle crises that you can’t plan for.

Creating a timeline that’s too tight.

Expecting the unexpected is how you can have a low-stress reno, and many first-time DIYers don’t account for the random chaos that can happen. Maybe you’ve ordered tiles online and half show up broken. Maybe you didn’t order enough flooring. Maybe your appliances don’t fit. Or maybe even the permit to do the work hasn’t been approved yet. Whatever it is, random wildcards like these will add time to your renovation, as you’ll have to re-order, replace, or spend time fixing things that didn’t go perfectly. 


Couple sitting on a couch with a laptop, calculator, and blueprints on the table.
Plan for more expenses than you think you will have – there will always be more than expected to pop up!

Not giving yourself some wiggle room in the budget. 

It’s very, very easy to go over budget with a kitchen renovation (which is why we work extra hard to protect customer’s budgets at Cabinets To Go), which is why is a good plan to give yourself a buffer. Plan for more than you think you’ll actually need. Your wallet will thank you later. And if it turns out that you don’t need it, well then you’ve just saved up for some nice new kitchen accessories!


Woman shaking hand with a construction contractor holding a toolbox
Sometimes it is necessary to bring in a professional to get the job done right.

Not making sure contractors are bonded and have insurance. 

Not all kitchen renovations are 100% DIY. Often times it’s a good idea to get an expert involved for the harder parts (like cabinet installation). If you’re involving some contract help with your renovation, make sure it’s someone who’s professional. A professional will have all the right documentation in place, and it will be someone who you can get along with. 


White kitchen with dark hardwood floors with bright industrial overhead lights
Adequately light up the room by ensuring the right light fixtures are chosen.

Not installing enough lighting.

One of the biggest things we counsel homeowners on in a kitchen redesign is the sheer amount of lighting that many kitchens require. Kitchen are active, vibrant spaces that need more light than arguably any other room in the house. Lighting is especially important if you have dark-colored fixtures, like dark cabinets, dark countertops, or dark flooring. Daylight through windows is often not even enough, and many decorative lighting fixtures don’t actually provide a lot of light. 


kitchen electrical outlet plugged in modern kitchen
Keep your kitchen connected with a sufficient number of power outlets.

Not enough power outlets. 

Power outlets might not look pretty on your kitchen walls, but they’re crucial for cooking. Most home cooks use several countertop appliances to bring meals to life, and it’s incredibly frustrating to have only a couple of outlets to choose from. Think about all the things you need to plug in: the coffeemake, the toaster oven or toaster, the stand mixer, the blender, the crockpot, the instant pot, a phone charger, or even your helpful cooking assistant (Alexa or Google Home). That’s a lot — and you’ll find yourself having to plug in many of those at once. 


kitchen cabinet flooring free samples
The more supplies you equip yourself with, the better!

Not ordering more supplies than you need.

Don’t stress out over trying to order the exact right amount of flooring, tile, or paint. It’s easy to miscalculate amounts, and you never know what kind of surprise circumstances will require you to buy more. Ordering more and having leftovers doesn’t mean you’re being wasteful — you can save the extra pieces for repairs years down the line or even use them to make decorative pieces that match your style. 

Those are the top 10 mistakes that fresh DIYers learn from when re-doing their kitchen — have you experienced any of them before? Are there any others that you’ve learned so far? Let us know on social!