I love how my kitchen turned out (you can see the before and after here if you missed it), but you know what they say…hindsight is 20/20. And there are certainly a few things I’d do differently if I were just starting today, but had the knowledge I had right now. And since I know that many of you are in the midst of your own kitchen remodels, I thought I’d pass these along to you just in case you might need to think through some of these things as well.
So here are the nine things I would do differently on my kitchen remodel.
1. Different paint
Y’all remember the fiasco I had with the paint, right? I just couldn’t get the finish right because everything I tried ended up way too shiny. I wanted a very satin finish, and I finally got exactly what I wanted by topcoating everything with Rust-Oleum Polyurethane in a matte finish.
The finish is exactly what I wanted. So what’s the problem? Well, before discovering the matte polyurethane, I had tried Benjamin Moore Advance paint in a satin finish, which turned out semi-gloss on my cabinets. (Not sure why, but perhaps it’s because of the deep color.) So I polyurethaned right over that Advance paint. Once I got the look I wanted, I repeated that process on the rest of the cabinets. I ran out of paint, and had to get more.
The issue is that BM Advance paint is expensive, especially compared to my usual go-to paint, Behr from Home Depot. And since I topcoated with polyurethane, there wasn’t really any advantage in me purchasing the more expensive Advance paint. In hingsight, I wish I would have just used Behr paint, and then topcoated with the polyurethane. In the end, that would have saved me about $60. That’s not a whole lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but those $60 savings here and there can add up quickly.
2. A dark spot
When it came to my lighting, I thought, and planned, and contemplated, and planned some more. And one of my absolute favorite things about my kitchen is the layering of light that I have. I have a main ceiling light, two areas of recessed lighting controlled by two different switches, undercabinet lighting, in cabinet lighting, and sconces. As a side note, I really thought I’d never use the sconces, and that they’d mostly just be decorative. Boy, was I wrong! I use them all the time, and especially at night. I leave those on, and turn off everything else, just to have a little glow of light in the kitchen. They’re my favorite.
But back to the point. As much as I planned, thought, contemplated, and planned, I still overlooked an area. I have this dark corner in the kitchen right by the fridge.
I have no idea why it didn’t dawn on me to put a recessed light right there also, but it never occurred to me that it would be needed. Sure, I can always go back and add one, but it sure would have been easier to add it when all of the others were going in! So I’ll probably just end up living without it. That’s fine, but it sure would have been nice to have a recessed light to light up that corner by the fridge.
When I was adding the undercabinet lighting on that section, I did try adding a strip of LED tape light to the bookshelf above the fridge to see if that would help. It didn’t. I hated how it looked, so I removed the lighting. Oh well.
3. Wrong lights, wrong placement
And speaking of lights, I also wish that I had done my in-cabinet lighting a bit differently. I used the little puck lights, and was completely unsure of where I should place them. So I ended up placing them about 2.5 inches from the front of the cabinet. They’re not in the middle, and they’re definitely closer to the front of the cabinet, but they’re still plainly visible when they’re on.
I wish I would have installed them as close to the front of the cabinets as possible. Actually, if I had to do it all over again, I’d forget the puck lights and go with the LED tape lights. That’s what I used for my undercabinet lighting, and those things are awesome!
4. Forget the stainless steel
I never even contemplated stainless steel appliances. I don’t like how cold and institutional stainless steel looks. Plus, most of it is a nightmare to keep clean. But I do have some stainless steel in my kitchen because of the handles and knobs on my appliances, so I decided to get a stainless steel range hood to match.
I love mixed metals in a room, so the look of the stainless steel with all of the gold and brass really appeals to me. What doesn’t appeal to me is the fact that I cleaned, buffed, and polished that range hood until I couldn’t clean, buff, or polish any more, and it still had streaks on it! A small appliance in stainless steel that just sits on a countertop and rarely gets used might be fine. But I cook in my kitchen twice a day, and I can already tell you that this stainless steel range hood is going to drive me crazy.
Fortunately, when I was selecting a range hood, I specifically bought one that had the controls on the bottom rather than on the front, so that if I decided to build a range hood cover (is that what it’s called?) to match my cabinets, I would still have easy access to the controls. At least I did think ahead on that. So I can already tell you that at some point in the future, I’ll be building a cover around this stainless steel fingerprint and streak magnet of a range hood. It’s not high on my priority list right now, but it’s on the list.
5. Let the pros tape and mud
As much as I hate paying people to do things for me, I do wish I had at least payed someone to do the taping and mudding on my ceiling. I have two ridges that I just couldn’t get rid of, and they taunt me every time I walk into my kitchen. You can see one of them here, about two feet from the back tiled wall.
It’s one of those things that probably nobody else would notice or even pay much attention to if they did notice it. But it definitely bothers me.
6. Level the ceiling
And speaking of ceilings, I wish that I had taken the time to level the ceiling before installing the drywall. Honestly, I didn’t even realize that leveling a ceiling was a thing until I read about Daniel at Manhattan Nest paying the pros to drywall his ceiling, and they leveled it. Until reading that, it never dawned on me that that was even a thing. And really, by the time Daniel wrote about his experience, it was way too late for my kitchen.
But my ceiling was as issue. It’s about an inch higher on the wall of cabinets side than it is on the wall of tile side. It probably wouldn’t have been so much of an issue if I hadn’t gone and tiled all of my walls. Painted drywall would have camouflaged the unlevel nature of my ceiling. But the tile kind of accentuated it since, you know, there are lines.
I did my best to camouflage it when I attached the trim along the ceiling. I kind of split the difference with the trim, and then ended up with a large gap between the trim and the ceiling that I filled with a ton of caulk and then painted the ceiling color.
It didn’t turn out so bad considering that I had a whole inch of space that I had to camouflage. But if I had just leveled the ceiling to begin with, it would have saved the headache, and it would have prevented the eye twitching thing that happens to me every time I look at this area with the tiny bit of tile peeking out from underneath the trim that disappears as you move to the right towards the wall of tile. Ugh. Oh well. It’s waaaaay too late to do anything about that now. But at least I know for the future — ceilings can be leveled!
7. Tile liner
When I tiled my walls, I know many of you were disappointed to see that I didn’t do the herringbone on the entire walls. Instead, I did the herringbone about 2/3 of the way up, and then did a running bond on the top part. I personally love that design, and I’m very happy with how the walls look in my finished kitchen.
What I’m less thrilled about is the fact that instead of using an actual tile liner to separate the two sections (because Home Depot doesn’t carry them in stock, and they cost about double), I used a quarter round tile. The problem is that that quarter round tile curves towards the wall on the top and bottom, so it doesn’t completely cover the cut edges of the tiles above and below.
If you really study the tile up close (and really, who does that?) you can see that the cut edges are not exactly smooth. Again, it’s one of those things that probably no one else would notice, but I notice it. And I decorate my home for me, not for other people. In hindsight, I wish I would have just ordered the liners and paid the increased cost. It’s not like I needed that many anyway! But sometimes I get in too much of a hurry and don’t want to wait to order things online. This is one time where ordering the correct product, waiting the additional time, and paying the additional cost would have definitely been worth it.
8. Measure once, measure twice, measure ten times
I honestly don’t know if this could have been avoided, because I really did measure about ten times to figure the placement of everything on the fridge/range wall. I think perhaps my design plan changed as I went along. But for some reason, even with all of my measuring, my outlets on this wall didn’t end up where they were supposed to be.
They were supposed to both be the exact same distance from the range. Instead. the one on the left is about four inches away, while the one on the right is about two inches away. In fact, the one on the right is so close that I even had to cut a corner of the outlet cover so that it would fit around the corbel. I hate that, but I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn’t going to leave the corbels off just because of one stupid outlet cover!
So I ended up having to make a special trip to Home Depot specifically for wood outlet covers, just so that I could cut the corner off of the one on the right. That’s a huge annoyance for me, not only because I’m a perfectionist in general, but because I measured so many times to be sure I had those right. To end up with them that off the mark was quite a disappointment.
9. Appliance-specific outlets
When it came to appliance-specific outlets, of course I thought of things like dishwasher, range, range hood, and refrigerator. I got those covered. What I didn’t think of were the small things that would sit out all the time, like our coffee maker. We use this every day, so I don’t ever put it away. I originally thought I’d put it on the peninsula in the corner by the dishwasher/wall of tile. But that area has become my main prep countertop, so I don’t want things in the way there.
So an out-of-the-way place on the wall of cabinets was the perfect place for it. It’s easily accessible, while not getting in the way in the main prep areas. But I didn’t plan for an appliance-specific plug for the coffee maker, so the cord is always out, and always visible.
It’s a small thing, but it’s one that could have been avoided had I thought things through a bit better.
So those are the things I’d change if I had to do the whole thing all over again. They’re all things I can live with, but they might help those of you who are in the midst of your own kitchen remodel to avoid some of the mistakes I made.
I’m still figuring costs, and I’ll have a final cost breakdown, as well as a list of sources, sometime soon.