Few areas of a home get people salivating more than the kitchen — and not just because of the food.
Homebuyers almost always assess the kitchen first: it is the heart of cooking, entertaining and family life. It’s also a place full of shiny bells and whistles: induction cookers! Soapstone Counter! Behold, a WiFi-enabled wine cooler that texts you when the rosé is running low!
But first-time buyers and homeowners should beware: this heart of the home can be right or wrong. And it’s not always easy to spot potential pitfalls.
So before you move in and start decorating (or renovating), check out what these professional home designers have seen in new kitchens and dining rooms that will whet your appetite.
1. Cereal boxes on the fridge
Photo by Epiphany Design Studio
OK, we’ll start with a really simple one.
“I’ve seen new kitchens ruined with clutter like cereal boxes on top of the fridge, which is very valuable property in this space,” he says Kara Harmsa lifestyle expert at Whimsy Soul.
Sure, it takes a while to organize an unfamiliar space, but don’t start life in your own home with a hot mess in that place. (Everyone can see it!)
“If you put supplies up there, the whole room feels chaotic,” says Harms. “So get a big basket to secretly store items in here and add a few plants — and suddenly your fridge top won’t just work for you, you’ll change the feel of your kitchen.”
2. A huge dining table that no one uses
Photo by Petrina Construction INC
“You may think you want a fancy table for your kitchen, but wait and see what your family prefers,” Harms warns. She’s seen these pieces sit idle in the homes of first-time buyers, collecting dust because people tend to rush their purchases.
“Ultimately, it’s the high bar where a lot of people actually spend all of their time in their new home, eating, doing their homework and just hanging out,” she says.
3. Not adding enough light
Photo by Drury Design’
“I am shocked when I enter a dimly lit kitchen. Neglecting lighting is a big taboo here,” he says Marco Bizzley, interior designer and consultant at HouseGrail. And without the right task and environment setup, your new space won’t sing.
First-time home buyers often focus on appliances and counters, but as Bizzley explains, “When designing your new kitchen, you need proper lighting throughout the room that not only refreshes you but makes cooking a lot easier.”
4. Exaggerate with decor and color
Photo by HUTTON WILKINSON-TONY DUQUETTE INC.
“Please approach certain interior concepts with a clear plan and plenty of thought, especially maximalism,” he warns Mona Bavaria, the voice for design and lifestyle at Dlish. This “anything goes” style has been around for ages, although “it’s not necessarily a belief in excess, but more about combining colors, textures, patterns and tones to create an over-the-top environment,” she explains.
And while your kitchen and dining room don’t need to be as quiet as the bedroom, it’s not a bad idea to channel a clean, restful vibe into that area, if only for a sense of calm (and easier digestion).
5. Overcrowding of space
Photo by Garret Cord Werner Architects & Interior Designers
“I can’t take black and blue knees anymore, so please create a floor plan or lay out templates in your dining area for the large pieces so you can fill the space properly without overcrowding,” she says Pamela O’Brien by Pamela Hope Designs.
Also, take a critical look at your space to decide if you really need a sideboard, rolling tea trolley and china cabinet along with your dining table and seating for eight.
The same applies in the kitchen. If you find yourself awkwardly shimmying around your chosen counter stools, they’re too bulky for your island. If you can’t part with the look, remove a pair, knowing that four people probably won’t sit together at once.
6. Inspire with special orders
Photo by Bruce Norman Long Interior Design
“A new homeowner I knew saved a scrap of very expensive fabric—$1,100 a yard—for years! – because she always dreamed of using it for dining room curtains,” she shares Debra Blade the color consultation of the same name. But when the time came to finally hang the curtains, she decided to go it alone and try to find enough material herself.
“She wanted to save money, but when the fabric finally arrived from a faraway discount store, it was faded in places and the studs didn’t match, so clearly not from the same batch,” she explains.
To fix this problem, Kling had to backorder the embroidered silk for her at 70% more than the customer would have paid if she had used Kling’s services.
“It really pays to hire a professional who uses the services of a vendor sales representative,” says Kling.