Kitchen Nightmares and Design Mistakes Part 2


It happens in all cabinet shops. Every once in a while there's a kitchen that jumps out of the bushes and scares the tar out of everyone involved.  Some you can see coming, some look innocent enough until a single kitchen design mistake snowballs into a full blown catastrophe.  Here are some kitchen design mistakes we've seen that you'd do well to avoid.




In Kitchen Nightmares and Design Mistakes Part 1 I talked about some different things that will cause headaches during either a new kitchen install or a kitchen remodeling project, as well as some workarounds. Picking up right where I left off…


Spice Racks Hold No Counters

Some people like their spices right next to the stove. Unfortunately, the pull out spice racks made by most manufacturers are designed to sit between two other cabinets. There may be other types of cabinets that will fit in according to the manufacturer’s catalog, but not in practice. Check these out thoroughly before ordering the cabinets. A better option in these cases would be narrow cabinets (6”-9”) for cookie sheet and pan storage next to the stove, and spice racks on the other side of those. Even better would be spice storage in a wall cabinet pullout.  

Are the Cabinet Options Ducks In a Row?

What if your kitchen cabinets arrive with regular drawer glides? This is fine, unless you wanted soft-close and full extension undermount glides.  It’s a pain to change things afterward, and it costs more, especially if you’ve hired a contractor for the kitchen installation.  Make sure everyone is on the same page with these details.  Finished sides are another GOTCHA that trips people up on occasion; a cabinet on the end of a run should have a finished side.  If there are two identically dimensioned cabinets in the plan though, be sure to look for finished sides when unpacking them. One may have such a finished side and belongs at the end of a run, while the other cabinet may be intended for sandwiching between two other cabinets.  Between looking at the plan, and the labels on the boxes, you should be able to figure out where the cabinets belong.  

Are the Walls Plumb?

This is a problem that plagues many older houses, but it can also be present in a poorly built new house. If the walls are leaning in or out, it may cause problems down the line. In such instances, use the NARROWEST measurement and block out cabinets (a bit of finagling with filler strips) that are part of the longer measurements; this should get you through.

Nearly all of the problems outlined in both parts of this article are really breakdowns in communication somewhere along the line.  If the customer is informed by designers about finishes and options (and this requires the designer to be informed by the manufacturers) heaps of trouble can be avoided. If the customer is clear about what he or she wants, and the designer is receptive, things should go smoothly. If whoever measures is precise and takes imperfect construction into account (it will happen by default if they are precise) then there shouldn’t be any calls to Houston. Rather than placing blame when there is trouble, remember that there are often workarounds for even the biggest problems; focus on that instead of whose fault it is and you may still have an enjoyable experience.


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