Planning Your Kitchen Cabinets: 10 common mistakes

1. Top cabinet doors do not clear a ceiling light fixture

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Often there are issues when installing cabinets tight to the ceiling with hitting existing light fixtures. Many homeowners and interior designers alike overlook this crucial detail which can add hundreds of dollars to a project. Recessed can lights are a great solution to these situations and they can often be mounted in the same hole as the existing fixture.

2. Appliance doors allow for free movement of adjacent drawers and doors

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Oven doors and dishwashers in corners often pose problems for adjacent cabinet pulls. I have had to shorten drawers for clients who couldn’t open them after installing a new appliance! Apron sinks or “farm sinks” come with their own clearance requirements. Plan ahead!

3. Adequate venting for vent hood or microwave hood combo

There are recirculating options for venting, but nothing is quite as effective as a true vent stack in reducing smoke and grease in a well-used kitchen. There are many venting options, but often the cheapest is to vent directly out of the side of the house on the same story. If you plan for this, the vent could be hidden either on top of the cabinet or hidden within the cabinets for a cleaner look.

4. Valves and traps are already in place on sink plumbing

When the valves are already installed on sink plumbing, your cabinets need to be cut significantly to allow for these services to be connected. You also risk damaging the valves or gathering sediment in the exposed supply lines during your remodel. Ask your plumber to “stub in” your supply lines and drain instead, allowing you to cleanly install plumbing fixtures with minimal damage to your brand-new cabinets. Here’s what not to do:

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5. Dead corners are not utilized

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In a row of kitchen cabinets that turn a corner, at each turn there is the potential to waste space, commonly referred to as a dead corner. By using “lazy susan” fixtures you can reclaim some of that dead space and make it useful. Sometimes, facing the cabinet backwards into an adjoining room can even be a solution. Once, I installed a backwards corner cabinet that the client intended to use as a hidden litter box for their cats!

6. Top cabinet height is set without checking the ceiling and floor for level

You can run into a significant amount of additional expense fixing a wavy floor or ceiling when you’re budgeting for a cabinet install only. Trim carpenters charge a premium for “scribing molding” where they cut away parts of crown molding where it abuts a low point to create a seamless look. Wavy floors can result it abnormal toe-kick appearance or gaps over a long run of toe-kick on top of a sloping floor. Use a laser level to measure points along the run to spot any potential issues while they’re relatively easy to fix!

7. Not allowing clearance for your chosen faucet style

Many faucets are situated in front of windows with casings that may not allow free range of motion for the faucet style to rotate from hot to cold completely.

8. Covering floor registers without redirecting

Build a box that redirects the vent toward the toe kick and cut in a vent.

Build a box that redirects the vent toward the toe kick and cut in a vent.

Redirecting HVAC registers can cut down on your heating and cooling bills while keeping your living space more comfortable. Box around floor registers that are being covered and install registers in your toe kick to keep air flow at it’s peak efficiency.

9. Setting the footprint of the cabinets before addressing flooring issues

You may find that your new cabinets hide defects in your old flooring, or that your new flooring needs to run closer to the wall to not show a gap.

10. Not providing adequate space for appliances.

Built in ovens in particular need an air gap surrounding the appliance that is specified by the manufacturer. It’s important to keep these dimensions. Wood too close to extreme heat never ends well.