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Avoid These Pitfalls as You Plan Your Kitchen Remodel

Gearing up to remodel? Don't start before reading our list of common kitchen mistakes.

  • Your kitchen is an island. Be sure to consider the way your kitchen's look will gel with the rest of your home. An ultra-modern kitchen in a 19th-century farmhouse will stick out like a sore thumb. Keep architectural integrity in mind.

  • You're a skin-deep thinker. Remember that selecting beautiful cabinets is only half the battle-and, in a lot of way, the less important half. Make sure you have enough storage for all those plates and pots-and the accessories like tray dividers and pull-out shelves that will make them a snap to find.

  • You think orange cabinets could be fun. While personality is important, the cabinet isn't the best place to go hog-wild. Choose fun pulls, colorful countertop appliances and unique accessories, but select a cabinet that you-and your family-can live with for the next 15 years. And if resale is in your future, be sure to favor the sound choice over the sizzling one.

  • You playing head honcho. A kitchen remodel is a massive undertaking. Unless your daytime job is as a, say, general contractor, you may want to leave this one up to the pros. Assistance from kitchen designers, contractors and architects is invaluable, but be sure to partner with licensed and insured professionals you get along well with.

  • You forget that tomorrow is another day. Sure, lowered countertop seating may be the perfect play space for your kids...but in 10 years that petite spot will be worthless. Design with the future in mind, and not just that of your kids. Ergonomic choices like raised dishwashers will keep you kitchen functional as you grow older.

  • You pooh-pooh lighting. It may not be the most thrilling part of the project, but invest some time and money in coming up with a solid lighting plan (earmark about 10 percent of your budget for it). It'll keep your kitchen safe, set the appropriate mood and keep creepy shadows from turning your honey-colored cabinets a stale shade of brown.

  • "It's My Prerogative" is your theme song. Go ahead, change your mind in the middle of the process-just be ready to handle the additional charges and delays that making that that slightly larger pantry incurs. And if your changes means other carefully measured things (like countertops or appliance panels) are altered, that cost goes way up.

  • You don't budge an inch. Sure, remodeling is about replacing that countertop and sink-but it's also the best (and only time) when you can truly play with the room's layout. If you're tired of always walking across your kitchen to get to the refrigerator then move it!

  • You've watched too much Extreme Home Makeover. Going at your old kitchen with a sledgehammer may sound like fun, but your space may not need to be entirely gutted. Do a thorough inventory to decide if anything-from your appliances to your cabinets frames-can be saved...saving you money in turn.

  • Keep those Martha Stewart dreams realistic. If you've never baked a souffle, made a plum-stuffed pork tenderloin or tackled Spanish paella, don't expect that an $8,000 range is just the thing you need to go from microwave queen to gourmand. Be realistic about your needs-professional appliances may pack more power than you need.

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