Houzz Logo Print

What do you wish you would have done differently?

15 years ago

This is a re-post of an older thread that I found very helpful for those still in the planning stages.

Now that your kitchen is done, what would you do differently the next time?

Comments (25)

  • Buehl
    15 years ago

    Mostly, I'm happy with my kitchen. It's far superior to what it would have been w/o this Forum, that's for sure! But, as with the vast majority of us, there are a few things I wish had done differently:

    • I wish I had made all my upper cabinets at least 15" deep instead of just some. My current 12" ones I should have made 15" deep & the current 15" ones I should have made 18" deep.

    • I wish I had thought to order a Trash Pullout cabinet instead of a regular cabinet for my Pet Center Cabinet

    • I wish I had fought harder for an induction cooktop (DH didn't want it)

    • I wish I had gotten a different DW. Everyone seemed to love their KA Architect DWs, but ours is barely acceptable performance-wise.

    • I wish I had insisted on the Rev-A-Shelf 6" filler pullout rather than the Omega...the Rev-A-Shelf shelves are adjustable, the Omega shelves are not.

  • sam_b
    15 years ago

    Our kitchen isn't finished quite yet.... actually, everything is coming to a head right now. All the tradespeople are meeting up in our kitchen & are having to work collaboratively. Until now, their jobs seem to have been mutually exclusive.

    So, at this early stage, what would I have done differently?

    (1) I wasn't asked where one of the outlets should go and they put it on the opposite side of the shelf where the coffee-maker goes, meaning I will see the cord if I put the CM on the side I wanted it, or I could bump my elbow against a wall if I put the CM in a plug-hiding position. Grand scheme: oh well.

    (2) We pre-planned every (well almost every) detail with our cabinet-maker..... except for the design of the crown molding on our ceiling high cupboards. It's a bit too decorative for my liking. The house was built in 1854, so it's quite rustic. I would have preferred a plainer molding. Grand scheme: oh well.

    Everything else? So far so good!
    I wish everyone this much luck!
    (and I really hope I'm not speaking too soon!)


  • Related Discussions

    What would you have done differently


    Comments (7)
    I don't think the Thungergia is NEARLY as bad as wisteria, it just grows a whole lot bigger than the books and stuff I'd read indicated and I wish I'd known so I could have planted it in a better location. Don't think there are any runners anywhere, tho' it's wider at the base than it was, but I'd think that was reasonable after ten years or so. Others have taken it out because it starts blooming late and gets frosted, but in a mild winter I think it would bloom all winter long. (It may have, but I don't remember for sure.) But it is so beautiful, and full of bloom right now and has been blooming for months, just not so heavily. My neighbors have wisteria so I have to fight it all the time. Don't suppose I'll ever get rid of it, and like you say, Mike, it really takes over. It's lovely in bloom, but it's a much shorter bloom season.
    ...See More

    What would you have done differently -- Thread 2


    Comments (25)
    My island is 12'long and 49" wide. There are 3 heights - 42", 36" and 30". To me, the 42" height is useless although it is where DH sits when he is in the kitchen. It was his idea and he now admits that 36" would be better. SO--- I would have 8'at 36" and 4' at 30". I get to correct all my mistakes as I have 2 more kitchens to do - maybe 3. Not looking forward to it! I'll be around here for a long time. I made a lot of good decisions - the best being changing the layout to a galley from a square.
    ...See More

    What do you wish you had done differently? Part 2


    Comments (8)
    PLEASE DO NOT POST TO THIS THREAD ANY MORE! There are 2 other "Part 2" threads already going on, both of which are longer than this one. So please ... let this thread drop off quickly and keep one or both of the others active. The other two threads are titled: "What would you have done differently -- Thread 2" (started Jan 29 with 18 follow ups, last one on Feb 10) and: "What do you wish you had done differently? [Part 2]" started on Feb 5 with 15 follow ups (linked below). The original thread: "What do you wish you had done differently?" started on 7-23-07 and reached its 150 maximum on 1-23-08. At the current rate of new postings, it should drop off in about 6-1/2 weeks!! Not very much time left. I hesitate to say this (and hope no one takes offense), but the solution to keeping threads active longer is to limit new postings, if thats possible. Perhaps more use of the "conversations" side (see top of page) would help, but it seems not too many check in over there. Here is a link that might be useful: What do you wish you had done differently? [Part 2]
    ...See More

    What do you wish you had done differently? [Part 2]


    Comments (25)
    hmmm, let's see - so far I would change: - the hybrid radiant/induction cooktop to full induction. There really is a difference. I'm afraid I'm going to weare out the induction part since I try so hard to use them over the radiant ones. - the kitchen layout. It wasn't until AFTER the granite was in, did I realize that it would not have been that difficult. - kept the sink order with Galaxy to get the sink I wanted. I was done to the midnight hour and would have had to pay an extra $90 for overnight shipping. I used the sink that my fabricator found - builder grade. It's OK, but it scratches a lot. It replaced a then top-of-the-line Elkay that didn't scratch nearly uas much. I like what I have, but think the extra $$ would have been worth it. - planned!! I didn't plan on doing this - just replace one appliance. That turned into having to add this, that or the other as I moved along the way. - different faucet. I have Kohler (don't remember model), and don't like it at all. It's too expensive to just switch out, but if I can find a taker, I'll make the change. All-in-all, I'm very happy/satisfied. I ended up with some very good new toys, but I just know if I had planned, I would have done some things very differently.
    ...See More
  • pcjs
    15 years ago

    I wish we were finished a year later but we're really happy with how it came out given what we wanted to spend - had I wanted to spend more, I probably would have gotten some fancier end panels, but I couldn't do much more given the size of our space/house - I would have liked decorative things like around the sink base but there was absolutely no room for anything. So, with that said, no regrets, everything has worked out well - just need to paint, put on the basement doors (they just need to be painted/hung), make some panels for the cabinet glass (2) and then jump for joy and keep going on the rest of the house. Given we were DIY, I did all the picking out, designing, etc. and pre-finding garden web and had no clue what I was doing, I think I did pretty good. But, some things, like the fridge, we got a year earlier that I love are pure luck and fit perfectly.

  • redroze
    15 years ago

    We're not finished yet...probably 70% there. But a few things I would have done differently so far:
    - I would have gotten our cabinetrymaker to draw the design of the painted range hood cover. Given it is such a focal point and that the island is centred to it, I should have given more direction and signed off on the design instead of letting him improvise on an inspiration photo I provided.
    - I should have taken our designer's advice to close off the small entry leading to the basement/laundry room/powder room. There's a larger entrance that most guests use anyway. Closing off the smaller entrance would have given use more cabinetry space and I never realized how ugly the view was as it frames the basement door. The one bonus about it though is it gave a natural transition point for our dark wood desk/pantry area and our white cabinets.
    - I probably would have gotten an induction cooktop instead of an electric one. I think we'll probably move to induction anyway, and at the time the price difference seemed significant but in the long run it wouldn't matter.
    - I would have gotten a dishwasher with controls on the top, rather than the front, for a cleaner look. Again, we could switch it out later but the price difference again motivated me to stay with the front buttons.
    - I would have given more thought to the Silgranit sink colour choice. We went with biscuit and I think white would have been better, as the biscuit's looking quite yellow and everything else in our kitchen is high-contrast (white and dark wood). I was influenced by the white being "dirtier" but I doubt it would have been much harder to clean than the biscuit.
    - I would have done all pullout shelves for the floor to ceiling pantry cabinet, rather than just the lower shelves. I thought this would keep costs down, but now it is so hard to get things in the back of the upper shelves.
    - I would have gotten a sample of our hardwood stain, and been there the day they laid down the stain. We had to redo all our hardwood on the main floor as the colour was too light the first time. BIG headache and has pushed our timeline back by about a month (as the guys were already booked for other projects and are now trying to fit in ours). Given how crucial the floors are to the look of a home, we should have been more careful with this.
    - Been more open to my husband's input, especially on the technical details. His ideas that he had to convince me of - getting a lighting plan from our designer for both the kitchen and attached family room, designing a hidden wall pipe for both the family room tv and kitchen computer monitor so all the wires and peripherals were hidden, even being open to the idea of getting inset cabinets which I loved but worried we couldn't afford (and that the cabinetrymaker might not be able to do, as it isn't common) - all ended up being amazing ideas. I shouldn't have been so opposed to them.

  • rmkitchen
    15 years ago

    -When the plan was still on paper, carefully thought of where my countertop appliances would live and coordinate undercounter light switches so the two wouldn't interfere with each other. (as it is, my toaster oven sits right in front of a light switch)

    -NEVER EVER have done more than one pantry pull-out. We have three of them and hate all three. You cannot open all at once, so you have to go from pull-out to pull-out to pull-out to find for what you're looking. We also dislike the pantry pull-out unit in general because they waste more space than shelves or roll-outs, they are not truly adjustable (as they claim), and it is hard to stack things (like cans atop one another). This is probably the biggest regret of our kitchen.

  • cat_mom
    15 years ago

    We absolutely LOVE our kitchen, but there are some things I'd change:

    ~seating area/tabletop at the end of our island; had we known how cramped we'd be, how far into the adjacent room the end counter stool would sit, and how much the tabletop would overhang the island (because of the size they made it and our desire to prevent it from sticking out into the next room), we might have made some changes to the overall island size or the cabs within, or the island's exact placement within the kitchen (placing it a few inches closer to the range wall might have made a world of difference without impacting the aisle space too much).

    ~I would have insisted that the granite in front of the sink measure no more than 3"-3 1/2" in width; that 4" width prevents me from standing close enough to the sink as I'd like (to prevent straining my lower back). It also would have prevented the problems we had at install with our granite window sill above the sink and our Grohe faucet handle clearance.

    ~Might have made the cab between the range and the fridge all drawers rather than a cab with pull-outs. It was made that way to provide a sense of symmetry with the cab on the other side of the range. I don't mind the whole opening the door and then pulling out the pull-outs to access stuff (to me it's not a big deal) but the fridge panel right next to the cab prevents the door from opening very far and if it's not fully opened, I end up hitting it with the pull-out. Regular drawers would have avoided that.

    ~TV location/prep area/space next to range; I don't think we could have done anything different, but there are times I wish those were different somehow (e.g. DH stands on top of me while I'm cooking so he can see the TV, I'm at right angles to the range while prepping, rather than directly next to/in line with it which really would be my preference but the counter space to the left of the range is only 12" or so wide).

  • amck2
    15 years ago

    I chose my cabinets before I found GW - and while I was still trying to stay within my budget...While I go back and forth over my choice, I think I might have preferred having my cabinets go all the way to the ceiling.

    My kitchen is open to the living/dining areas, so having the painted wall above them does help integrate the spaces, but I think it might have looked really nice to have an upper portion glassed with grills that match the French doors in the adjacent rooms.

    I have a walk-in pantry that offers all the storage I need, so more cab space would have been just for looks, not function, though it would eliminate having to dust the top of the cabinets. I think if I were to do it over, though, that's how I'd go.

  • lightlystarched
    15 years ago

    I wish I would have chosen stainless appliances instead of black. Luckily, we kept our old fridge (for now) so I just have to wait for the dishwasher and wall oven to die. The black induction cooktop rocks.

    I also think I would chose a different countertop if I were chosing today. I installed soapstone thinking I would like it oiled. I actually prefer it natural and its a bit more work to maintain that look.

  • gailrolfe
    15 years ago

    Thanks to all who have posted here...I'm still early enough in the planning stages to hopefully learn from your comments! I have two questions: one for redroze and one for lightlystarched.

    Redroze: I love the idea of the hidden tube for the cords. One of the driving forces behind our remodel is the ultimate goal of DH to get one of the new wall tvs and we already have tons of computer cords all over the place. Can you tell me more about what you did? Did you do it all yourselves or was the electrician the one who installed it?

    Lightlystarched: I'm very curious about your comment that unoiled soapstone is harder to maintain...why? I had the impression the oiling was simply an esthetic choice. I too am interested in soapstone and still considering whether I would oil it or not.


  • boysrus2
    15 years ago

    Well the biggest thing I'd change is who I hired to do the remodel. Think twice before you hire a friend! We went into this remodel way too casually. Secondly, our friend brought the custom cabinet maker on-board who lives out-of-town and is less experienced than we originally believed. Don't hire people who aren't local unless you want your job to drag on forever, like mine.

    I would not have my stained cabs finished on-site. I'd buy pre-finished cabs or have custom cabs finished by an experienced cabinet refinisher in their shop.

    I wish I had insisted on Blum undermounted glides. I have side mounted Diamond glides. Some are smooth as silk and some are not.

    Two years prior to our remodel, we replaced our fridge. If I had known then that we take on a complete remodel a few years later, I would have waited and purchased a larger fridge. My side x side is always crammed full and things get lost in there.

    My double ovens are GE Profile. The convection fan is noisy and runs a long time after you turn off the oven. Had I known this, I would have selected a different brand.

  • lightlystarched
    15 years ago

    Gailrolfe: Every drop or smear of anything greasy - peanut buttter, olive oil, butter, overspray from the Pam, etc, will leave greasy marks on the counter. And you can't just wipe them off - you need soap or alcohol. So every night I wipe the whole thing with a Clorox wipe and once a week or so I clear off the whole counter and soap it up with a scrubbie. Rinse and let dry.

  • arc1017
    15 years ago

    Kind of depressing to think about it... but here it is: As cat mom mentioned, the 4-inches of granite before sink is a killer on the back...I will have a farm sink in my next life and/or kitchen for this reason...coupled with a 10" deep sink, it really bugs me daily. Generally I would have changed the layout to have the range on an outside wall rather than the island. Venting up through an eave closet proved to be a nightmare and the height of the hood off the cooktop was a huge issue...the hood had to be cut so now it has imperfections which irk me. Lastly, I would have thought more carefully about the glazed finish on my custom cabinets. I should have kept the sample finish he made and studied it for many days to decide, as I feel that it's a bit too glazed.

  • coolmom1
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your lessons learned. Hopefully it will help our fellow GW'ers during the planning stages.

    I agree with arc1017 and cat_mom about the 4 inches of granite before the sink. 3 inches would have been better. My problem is that my faucet handle hits the window sill and backsplash. Same with my hot water dispenser. Not a huge problem, but it kind of bugs me.

    Also, I would be more careful next to time position the faucet so the water flows directly into the drain instead of in front of it. Would help to prevent the splashing in my 8 inch deep sink. Perhaps one day I'll get another faucet.

    My other lessons are merely cosmetic, like my boring backsplash, my amber-colored pendant lights (should have gone with white) and a paint color which could have been a shade darker. These are things are all fairly minor that I could change later when the budget allows. The lesson learned here is to go with your own gut feelings about what you truly like instead of making your choices based on what you think others would like.

    Anyone else wish to share their thoughts?

  • Buehl
    15 years ago

    boysrus2...try leaving the oven(s) open a crack (like when broiling)....the oven cools down faster & the fans(s) shut off fairly quickly. The reason wall ovens have longer fans is to protect the electronics built in to the oven panel. In a range, the electronics are generally in the "backsplash" area so the oven heat is less likely to affect them. There is no "buffer" area for a wall oven.

  • redroze
    15 years ago

    Gailrolfe - Man, you have made my husband's day!! ;-) These are old pics when are cabinets were dusty.

    The monitor will be mounted on the wall. The keyboard and mouse will be hidden in the flip-down drawers. This hole runs piping all the way down...
    {{!gwi}} the bottom drawer of my pantry so all the computer stuff is hidden. Note the electrical outlet to the right, which will have one of those "power bars" with multiple outlets.

    The result is a nice clean look with no wires shown, no ugly clunky computer showing (or laptop). All you see is a wall-mounted monitor which you may mistake for a television even.

  • coolmom1
    Original Author
    15 years ago


  • daki
    15 years ago

    The only thing I can think of is I should have paid closer attention to the elevation drawings, namely, the height of the double ovens. They look great and symetrical as they are the same height as the fridge on the same wall and aI have a nice deep drawer for all of the baking pans. However, I'm only 5'3" and feel like a little kid accessing the controls and upper oven :). It's still quite usable, but something I would look out for nex time (hopefully I won' have another next time for quite a long time)

  • janefan
    15 years ago

    I have to echo rmkitchen on the pantry pull-outs. I loaded mine last night and was frustrated and wishing we had just done cabs with pull-outs shelves. It's a real pain to adjust the shelves and they just don't seem to hold as much stuff. Plus, they're not flexible--not a good place for large bags of chips, etc. I'm having to now re-think my food storage plan.

  • flatcoat2004
    15 years ago

    Sigh. So many things.

    1. Perform a warrant check on all contractors. That would have saved me a lot of money and heartache and frustration.

    2. Be home AT ALL TIMES while work is being performed. I can't count the number of things that aren't quite right, but I have had to let them slide because they can't be undone by the time I get home. For example, I have had to give up on the idea of a trash pullout I planned under the sink, because (even though I told him repeatedly) he did not position the waste outlet correctly, and most of the sink cabinet it taken up with jerry-rigged plumbing.

    3. Use specialist tradesmen. Jailbird Contractor was a very good framer. He was an OK finish carpenter. He built fabulous fences and his roofing (I think) is good. He had excellent electricians and drywallers. But he and his "plumber" left a lot to be desired, and despite telling me what a good tiler he was, his handiwork makes me sad nearly every day. Plus, while refinishing my original 100-year old softwood floors, he may have ruined them, and may have made it worse by trying to "fix" his mistake. I am having a specialist evaluation done this week.

    4. Move out.

    5. Make contractors fix things RIGHT AWAY. Apparently Jailbird Contractor would work on one project until he ran into difficulties, then would abandon that project and move onto another, saying that he would "come back at the end and fix it then". Uh-huh. That worked real well. This meant that the new contractor had to come in, figure out what was wrong, un-do a good chunk of each project, then finish it. This would not have happened if I had cowgirled-up and been a hardas* in the first place, making him finish each project.

    6. All materials that I have paid for should have been ON MY SITE as soon as they were paid for. I lost all my expensive trim for the whole house (plus other materials), because Jailbird Contractor was storing it in his rented space (I don't know where that was). He maintains that it was taken when his storage unit was cleared out (presumably because he disappeared and hasn't paid storage fees for some time, since he is in jail). Either that, or he never bought it/sold it.

    7. Job cards and inspection records STAY WITH THE PROPERTY OWNER or ON SITE AT ALL TIMES. My paperwork is in Jailbird Contractor's truck. Lord knows where that truck is.

    8. Your contractor is not your friend. Jailbird Contractor liked to pull the paternal approach on me, and I will admit to playing along with it, just to humour him and shut him up. Never again. This is a professional relationship, even though you are in my house and my intimate spaces every day. I will be much quicker to call contractors on their cr*p in future. In fact, I plan on having one such conversation with the current contractor this afternoon ... the painting crew came through last week, and I was horrified to discover that they helped themselves to sodas, beer and icecream out of my kitchen. That is NOT...

  • cabmanct
    15 years ago


    #8 Really got me. I am a cabinetmaker and If I ever found someone messing around in my house I would take one of my many sharp tools and do something rather unpleasant.

    If the contractor feels free to raid your fridge, he will not think twice about your valuables.


  • bayareafrancy
    15 years ago

    Drawers, drawers, drawers!!! (For the lowers, that is.)

    I'm restoring a vintage kitchen (with most original cabinetry already in place), so I wasn't able to install drawers on lowers. I have a few. WOW--they are a million times easier on my back to access. Also, I'm in the midst of painting, so my doors are off the cabs. I just installed a few pull-out baskets. I love being able to quickly slide them out, and lift out appliances (food processor), and food items (baking supplies). Once the painting is done, I will reattach the cabinet door (have to put it on for design/aesthetic reasons), and it will become a 2-step process (open cabinet, slide out basket).

    Seriously--having all drawers would make my daily kitchen work so so so so much more efficient. I'm a total drawer convert! I have a few that I will probably have to LOSE in order to finish my stove wall, and I am despondent! Will all my lower cabs, it is "squat and reach, squat and reach." I'm too old and creaky for that! Now that I've tasted drawers, I want nothing else!

    So, ideally, I'd pretty much never have a lower cabinet again! (And have as few uppers as possible--for aesthetic reasons.)

    Oh--and I wish we would have sprung for the Miele DW. We have a Bosch, and I'm just waiting for it to breakdown. The front panel support (the metal part that goes under my custom wood panel) has stripped screws, and is already loose and wobbly.


  • karenfromknoxville
    15 years ago


    I'm so glad someone asked this question! Here is what I'd do differently:

    1. Research, Plan and use the GW web site more
    There is a wealth of knowledge on this web site. The experience here trumps the best contractor or kitchen designer anywhere. I wish I found this web site sooner and planned more with more research.

    2. Buy online but look first at the product in person (size, color, etc. varies in catalog pictures or onscreen).
    I wish I purchased more online. I learned too late reputable online retailers that saved me quite a bit of money.

    3. Always remember that it is you that will live with the kitchen or in the house everyday once the workers leave. Consequently, I wish I spoke up more often and was adamnant in what I wanted. I wish I wasn't so focused on not causing too many problems and insisted that things be done the way I wanted. I was intimadated by the grouchy contractor and the snotty KD. I forgot who hired them and who was paying the bills.

    Already stated but very important suggestions:
    1. Be there (if possible) when any work is being done in your home. Contractors, subs, or workers don't ask any questions, they just do their work. If you are there, they are more inclined to ask you a question. Also, it is easier to correct them if they are doing something which is not the way you want it. Many mistakes were made that if I was there could have been corrected in time (i.e. tiling, sealing, damage to the floors, placement of outlets/switches, etc.).

    2. Tell the contractor where you want the electrical outlets. I agree 100% with another poster, the contractor doesn't ask where to place outlets or switches. I have outlets and switches in places that are not the most attractive (way too noticeable for me). In the case of the kitchen, I had the contractor move the outlet after much protest and debate. The contractor thought I would like the garbage disposal as close to the sink as possible. Hence, it was in the middle of the cabinet arch and backsplash behind my sink i.e. obstructing any tile art I would place there.

    Lastly, when you get burned out from making so many decisions, stop if you can and rest a while. I still need light fixtures but just couldn't make one more decision. Rather then get something I may regret later, I am able to wait until I am ready to shop again.

    I hope this advice is helpful to someone because that is the beauty of this forum, learning from everyone else's experience!


  • rosie
    15 years ago

    I'll underline something that's only been hit several times so far and needs a few more good whacks. If at all possible, stay home and watch, or come home repeatedly during the day, to make sure work is done just as you wish, including necessary changes. There's an excellent chance the pictures and lists you leave will be ignored or forgotten, some or all of the time. Your presence in another part of the house the same. A few workers may be slow to understand your instructions, a few just looking for the easiest way, some extremely conscientious but in love with the way they want it done, but regardless of where they come from, they'll all have their own preferences on how to proceed.

    If you're not working with a professional kitchen crew (and maybe if you are, too), be ready for input from people who'll amazingly often not even have heard of what you've wanted, much less seen it, and earnestly attempt to save you from these mistakes.

    Above all, time is truly money for these guys and every stop-work to check with you costs money. If it results in redoing, waiting for materials that'll be needed, rescheduling of this and other jobs, etc., it can become very expensive for them, which they've all learned from experience many times before they hit your site.

    And gird yourself for the need to be good natured but firm about craftsmen obviously feeling the need to take a firm line with you to keep work moving forward on (their) track. As already said, you're paying for the kitchen and it's you who'll be living with it. The electrician's advice is extremely desirable, but he doesn't get to vote.

  • iris16
    15 years ago

    I am just starting on the "facelift" redo of kitchen but already I would have insisted that the sink be moved closer to the front of the counter to prevent me having to lean into it so much and reach for the water. Definitely not worth the tip out drawers that the 4 1/4 inches of granite accomodate.

  • amela
    15 years ago