Over the last 18 years I’ve had the pleasure of designing many kitchens. From complete remodels, extensions, and even simple facelifts – I’ve worked on it! Each new space brings a new challenge to work through and problems to solve.

With each client brief and meeting, I ask questions to better understand how they use the current space and how they want to be able to use it when it’s complete. Taking all of these things into account – and budget of course! – I start working design magic to transform the space.

From these projects and experience in the field, I’ve seen a number of design mistakes! Whether it’s been an existing space that could have been easily rectified or simply an afterthought – I want to share the 5 Common Kitchen Design Mistakes!

Are you ready for these common kitchen design mistakes? Let’s take a look!


1 – Drawers or Doors Not Able to Open Fully


This design mistake may seem pretty obvious, but you would be surprised at how many times I’ve seen this!

Drawers not being able to open all the way in corners is typically poor craftsmanship, oversight, or poor planning. Not only that, it results in homeowners not being able to use their kitchens fully! 

Whether you have drawer or cabinet storage, you need to be able to fully open them without them knocking into something else. There should be appropriately sized filler panels at the end of cabinet or drawer runs to prevent this from happening. 

You may also enjoy reading about Kitchen Lighting and White Kitchens – Everything You Need to Know!


2 – Poor Dishwasher Placement


This is a personal “pet-peeve” of mine! You should never position a dishwasher randomly in a kitchen design. But I see this in so many of them!

Thinking about dishwasher placement in a kitchen layout emphasizes the importance of looking at how people use a space. Simply thinking about when a homeowner normally uses the dishwasher, and where would be best placed for this time of day or at meal times, instantly answers the question.

A dishwasher should be placed next to the main sink cabinet. This ensures there is plumbing for the appliance and is positioned conveniently for loading it. It will be particularly noticeable for those that do a mixture of hand washing up and using the dishwasher, as this can all be done within the same vicinity.

Please don’t install your dishwasher on the other side of the kitchen from the sink!

Always position your dishwasher next to your sink! Not only is this beneficial for plumbing purposes, but it’s also logical when thinking about how you use the space.


3 – Not Enough Clearance with Cabinet Heights


Another very common kitchen design mistake I have seen in a number of my clients’ “before” kitchens is the clearance between the countertop and upper cabinets over a sink. 

It is very important to stick to recommended clearances and not deviate from them. Not having enough space between the countertop and upper cabinets creates a poor workspace for cooking and preparing meals. Not to mention the higher probability of hitting your head on an upper cabinet!


My client’s existing kitchen had the same height upper cabinets throughout the space! And when it came to the sink area, it was awkward to do the dishes or clean. When we re-configured the kitchen, I ensured the upper cabinets had enough clearance from the countertop!


4 – Not Enough Task Lighting


Lighting is extremely important to the success of any interior design project, but even more so in kitchens. Without adequate lighting, you increase the risk of injury during meal preparation or cleaning up.

This is where task lighting comes into play! Task lighting is focused lighting that is specific to a task, and in this case (a kitchen design) it’s to illuminate countertops to help with preparing food.

Use LED strip lighting at the back of the underside to upper cabinets so they shine down the backsplash and onto the countertop, or use puck lights to create a similar effect! Add pendant lights to your island or peninsula to illuminate these surfaces too.

Top Tip – Put your under cabinet lighting on a separate circuit to your main ceiling lights so you can leave these on late into the evening, or only use the under cabinet lights for dark wintery mornings.

Add as much task lighting as you possibly can in your kitchen. There is nothing worse than a dull and dark kitchen to prepare food in. Under cabinet lighting helps to illuminate your countertop perfectly!


5 – Appliance Placement


I’ve already touched on dishwasher placement, but this common kitchen design mistake relates to the other appliances you use in a kitchen. Your refrigerator, stove, range, etc.

It’s important to have your cooking appliances placed close together so you don’t need to move around the whole kitchen to prepare a meal! Having your refrigerator on the opposite side of the kitchen to your stove or range is really unhelpful and can easily add to the stress of cooking.

For this kitchen re-fresh project, the existing appliance layout didn’t need to be changed to maximize the space. The range, refrigerator, and sink were within close proximity to each other.


So there you have it! The 5 common kitchen design mistakes! Have you experienced any of these design mistakes? Or have one to add to the list? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!