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The 8 Most Common Kitchen Design Mistakes

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Kitchen renovations: If you’re anything like us, you could fantasize about them all day long. But when it comes time to do your own, are you thinking with your head and not just your wild, Pinterest-obsessed heart? Here, eight of the most common mistakes people make when starting a redesign—and what you can do to avoid them.

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1. Mistake #1: Too much open shelving

Open shelving is gorgeous. But be honest with yourself: Do you want every novelty mug and bottle of generic-brand ketchup on display?

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2. Solution: Open shelving in moderation

Think about items you’d be proud to display, and that you can realistically keep organized. Put these things (say, your wedding china or that funky bowl you got in Kenya) front and center—and hide your ugly stuff behind closed-door cabinetry.

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3. Mistake #2: Too much stainless steel

While it’s totally fine to choose fridges, ovens and dishwashers with a shiny chrome finish, keep in mind that once you add in stainless hardware, sinks and lighting fixtures, your cozy hearth might start to look a little like a morgue.

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4. Solution: Mix in other materials

Call us crazy, but we like a little variety. (How sleek is this kitchen with flat-front cabinets and matte black design details?)

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5. Mistake #3: Things that open into other things (or the wrong way)

If you’ve got two cabinets that can’t both be open at the same time… you’ve made a mistake. Same goes for a fridge that opens away from the heart of the kitchen.

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6. Solution: Measure twice

When designing your kitchen, imagine opening every single door at the same time. Is there anything that might come into contact? If you’re not sure, break out the measuring tape.

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7. Mistake #4: Not including enough electrical outlets

Hey, guess what? Everything you love in life—from your KitchenAid to your iPhone—plugs into the wall. You’re going to need more than two outlets, lady.

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8. Solution: Load up on sockets

Strategic and ample placements are key.

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9. Mistake #5: Forgetting about the trash

Compared to backsplashes and countertops, trash is so not sexy. Make sure you carefully consider its placement—or risk being the woman with a big, hulking eyesore in the middle of her French farmhouse kitchen.

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10. Solution: Pull-out drawers (or stowed cans)

Treat yourself to separate bins for regular, paper and plastic. Spring for soft-close cabinetry while you’re at it.

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11. Mistake #6: Not having enough types of lighting

Psst: You’re technically supposed to have three types of lighting in your kitchen: overhead, spot and accent. (If you’re missing the latter two, chances are your kitchen looks sterile.)

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12. Solution: Vary your lighting types, sources and wattage

In addition to overhead or high-hat bulbs, illuminate prep areas with pendant or track lighting. And can we talk about under-cabinet lighting for a minute? Yeah, you’re gonna want that to show off your sexy backsplash. (P.S. Go for LED bulbs. They last 15 years!)

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13. Mistake #7: Not having proper ventilation

Smell that? That’s the homemade marinara sauce you cooked two days ago.

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14. Solution: Install a hood or ceiling fan

Oven hoods don’t just look pretty (although: swoon), they also work crazy well to vent smoke, heat and smells to the outside world. Don’t have the space or budget for a hood? Even a ceiling fan or vented microwave can help with your smoke show.

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15. Mistake #8: Playing it too safe

Yes, you have to think about resale. Yes, you need a kitchen that won’t look dated in ten years. But c’mon people: Live a little.

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16. Solution: Add in subtle design elements and pops of color

This is the room in which you will arguably spend most of your time—make it reflect your (non-boring) personality. Take a chance on interesting features, like rustic stools or glamorous lighting fixtures.