We all have a vivid idea of what we want our dream kitchens to look like. From beautiful farmhouse sinks to a marble-clad kitchen island, most long for a kitchen that looks straight out of a Pinterest feed.
But while aesthetics could be your number one priority, getting too caught up in it could leave you with a list of problems you’ll only realise when you start cooking. So, for first-time homeowners who may have never had a kitchen to call your own, here are a few key things to avoid when planning for your new space:
1. Not factoring enough storage space
It seems nine times out of 10, the first thing homeowners mention they want in a kitchen is storage space. So if you have a lot of kitchen barang and your ID suggests open shelving, run for the hills. You won’t want the regret that comes with having an ugly toaster or airfryer cluttering up your countertop when you’re trying to whip up a meal.
Tip: Plan around the appliances you confirm plus chop cannot live without but don’t use often enough to leave on the countertop. These are usually the bulkier appliances from the likes of rice cookers, juices, food processors…the list goes on. Start by planning your kitchen storage with these appliances in mind before moving onto cookware and dishes, followed by utensils and cutlery.
Image credits: @kosysmodularcabinet
Pots and pans aside, storing our dishes can be a headache. To make your life easier, install sliding drawers instead of swing cabinets so that you can fully utilise the depths of your storage space and access all the items you need in a jiffy.
2. Not planning for enough sockets and plugs
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From refrigerators and rice cookers to microwaves and water purifiers, there are 101 appliances in the kitchen that run on electricity. But a lack of planning could create a power plug hotspot. These in turn could lead to power outages and worse, small fires.
Bearing this in mind, it’s good to plan ahead, not just for sufficient sockets, but for sockets in easily accessible and not glaringly obvious areas so as not to ruin the look of your dream kitchen.
Just as you plan your storage around your appliances, mark out the areas where you intend to put bigger appliances like your fridge and induction stove top before carving out dedicated space where your smaller home appliances will sit.
This way, you won’t have wires strung across the countertop or near the sink. You’ll also want to be 100% certain about the placement of these sockets as changing the position or adding a new socket post-reno process can require some extensive rewiring in the future. Note: If you choose to have a socket near your sink for kettle purposes, do remember to get a waterproof socket cover.
3. Not adjusting for countertop height or space needed
To know if the countertop is a suitable height, ensure that when you lift the frying pan or when you’re working, your hand rests at your hip level.
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One might think that kitchen counters come at a set height, but there’s an actual formula to how tall your counter top should be. Yup, it’s called cooking ergonomics. Technical jargon aside, this basically ensures that using the kitchen won’t put a strain on your arms or back in the long-run.
Fun fact: the standard working height for a countertop is 90CM, which is great if you’re part of the average height of around 160-170CM. But for those of us who are either smaller than average or on the lanky side, you might want to work with your ID to customise a working height that is well-suited for your build.
It’s important to leave enough countertop space for kitchen prep work
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Hawkers might be able to cook hundreds of bowls in the tiny confines of their stalls, but at home, you’ll want ample space for all your cooking prepwork like chopping, or mixing. Again, this is subjective to your needs and whether you’re one to cook many things at once.
Pro tip: For the heavy duty cooks, a large kitchen island will never fail you.
4. Not considering the way the fridge door swings open
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Most HDB and condo dwellers are familiar with the struggle of the tight kitchen, and often the only way into the service yard is through a small walkway from said kitchen. When speaking to new homeowners,one revealed that the way her fridge door opens requires her to walk into the service yard before being able to comfortably open her fridge.
Moral of the story: Shortlist your big ticket items during the reno process and check on each item’s suitability before dropping $$$ on your purchase.
If you’re in need of a bigger fridge to satiate your immense hoarding appetite, double door fridges are a good alternative to help you save space in narrow kitchens.
5. Not ensuring proper ventilation
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Many of us may view hoods as optional and only for those who do heavy cooking but what many may not know is that they also contribute to the longevity of your cabinets too.
Hoods mainly work to remove the excess oil and moisture produced from heavy-duty cooking, which saves you from being exposed to too much oily smoke. But other than ensuring that you don’t look like you’re still going through puberty, hoods remove the moisture and steam that may cause your overhead cabinets to rot and fall apart sooner than expected.
It’s important to match your kitchen hood to the type of cooking that you predict for yourself. For things like deep-frying or charring – or anything that requires heavy-use of oil – a chimney hood is probably ideal. Otherwise, a slimline hood is more than sufficient for light, day-to-day cooking.
6. Not going for a deeper sink or a built-in drying rack
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The space-saving option would often be installing a built-in drying rack into one of your kitchen cabinets and it’s something more IDs would recommend. But one thing to look out for is having a cabinet with proper ventilation or your dishes won’t dry properly and lead to mould infestation inside your cupboards.
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No one likes looking at a heaping pile of dishes – even if they’re clean. This is why most IDs will point you in the direction of an in-built drying rack if you’re looking to conserve countertop space. Just remember that any enclosed drying rack needs sufficient ventilation to prevent the growth of mould and to preserve the integrity of your cabinetry.
Even if an inbuilt drying rack isn’t in the cards for you, then you’ll want to opt for a deeper sink with a depth of at least 17.7-18.4CM so you can invest in a dish-drying contraption that sits in your sink out of sight instead.
7. Insufficient lighting or installing in the wrong areas
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Lighting is often the best way to dress up a space while adding a functional touch. But using lighting in the wrong areas or installing insufficient light can hinder your precision and efficiency when baking and cooking.
While pendant lighting or overhead lighting might seem sufficient, under cabinet lighting is vital for precision work in the kitchen, and you’ll also save money by not having to turn on the main overhead lights all the time.
On the flipside, it’s worth noting how accent lights can add a little bit of personality to your kitchen but it’s important to be tactful with its placement. Having an elaborate lighting piece highlighting areas like your kitchen sink can be a little unsightly. If you’re one of the few who have a kitchen island, consider sprucing it up with some pendant lights.
8. The use of high-maintenance materials in the high-moisture spots
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We love the rustic look of wooden floorboards, but looks aside, wood is often an impractical choice in high humidity areas such as the kitchen. Reason being that it’s prone to water damage, stains and bacteria growth if not properly varnished.
Instead of shelling out for parquet or the real deal in the kitchen whether for cabinets or flooring, opt for wood-looking ceramic tiles that have high durability instead. These can withstand both water and heat over long periods of time.
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Other materials to avoid would be kitkat tiles which consist of nearly 50% grout lines or marble and white tiles which are prone to scratches and stains. While it may look pretty as a backsplash, these tile designs easily accumulate oil stains and dirt, making it a chore to clean in the long run.
Kitchen renovation mistakes to look out for
There’s nothing more frustrating than realising you made a mistake during your home renovation and not being able to fix it without incurring additional costs. But factor these tips into your kitchen reno planning, and you’ll be well on your way to avoiding these painful consequences in your future home.
Cover image adapted from: Etsy, TheSmartLocal