8 Kitchen Design Choices You'll Live to Regret, According to Interior Designers — and What to do Instead

We asked designers — what are the biggest regrets people have about their kitchens? Here's what they told us

a modern kitchen with beige interiors
(Image credit: Studio McGee)

No matter how much you plan and prepare for a kitchen remodel, there are always going to be compromises to make, or ideas that slip through the net. Is any kitchen ever 100% perfect after all?

Working with an experienced kitchen designer will help you avoid the most common causes of post-kitchen-remodel remorse though — they're more familiar with the potential pitfalls of a modern kitchen and delivering practicality you might not have ever even thought of before. Many of their clients come to them to help with a kitchen when their old one isn't performing as it should, after all.

Who better, then, to let us know what the biggest regrets most people have about their kitchens, and the key things you should consider, add or change if you want to avoid buyer's remorse?

1. Playing it too safe

a modern apartment kitchen

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Husband.Wife)

The most common regret that the designers we asked mentioned was that they played it too safe with their choices when remodeling a kitchen. 'I genuinely believe that many homeowners may rue the missed opportunity to step outside their comfort zones and play it a bit too safe and traditional when it comes to kitchen design,' says San Francisco-based interior designer Lexie Saine. 'Striking the right balance between functionality and aesthetics is key in design, and both elements are pivotal in ensuring a kitchen's success.'

2. Or being too trend-led

a modern kitchen with a marble countertop

(Image credit: Benedetto Rebecca. Design: Charles Cohen Designs)

This balance isn't always easy, especially if you're trying to straddle both timelessness and personality with your design, but chasing kitchen trends can also lead to regret, according to Mélanie Cherrier and Laurence Pons Lavigne of Blanc Marine Intérieurs. 'Choosing something that is ‘’now on trend’’ can always be dangerous as it is not a timeless choice,' the designers explain.

'My advice is for homeowners to embrace that one distinctive element that might initially seem a tad bold but holds a special allure for them,' Lexie Saine adds. 'By designing the entire kitchen around this standout feature, they not only avoid any regrets but also infuse the space with a unique character that makes the design truly unforgettable. It's all about seizing the chance to make a statement and creating a kitchen that resonates with individuality and personal style.'

3. Storage

a deep drawer for dish storage in a kitchen

(Image credit: Stacy Zarin Goldberg. Design: Unique Kitchens and Baths)

Not getting your kitchen storage right is, of course, one of the major regrets people have about their spaces. 'Not strategizing enough on the storage needs is a big regret,' says Casey Keasler, founder of interior design studio Casework. 'People are often overwhelmed with all the choices, they forget to sit back and make sure the function is also right for them.'

Of course, the needs of each kitchen remodel depends on who it's for. 'We give our clients homework… we print out elevations or 3d renderings of all the cabinets and ask them to take postit notes and write down their items (like plates/bowls or silverware or rice cooker) and place them on doors/drawers,' Casey tells us. 'This ensures they are getting exactly what they need AND where.'

4. "Zero Radius" Sinks

marble worktop and sink with cover in the same material

(Image credit: Ryan Garvin. Design: Brandon Architects and Brooke Wagner Design)

For a practical takeaway, interior designer Valerie Lush of Toronto-based studio Viola House says that people often regret choosing so-called "zero radius" kitchen sinks.

The radius of a sink may not be something you've thought about, or even heard of before — so what does it mean? Well, a zero radius sink refers to one that has sharp 90° angle corners, as opposed to rounded corners. They're a more modern look that have become popular in recent years, but are they as practical?

'These sinks, while visually appealing, can be a challenge to clean due to their sharp corners,' Valerie explains.

5. The smaller details

a modern kitchen with an island and extractor

(Image credit: Unique Kitchens & Baths)

'The biggest regret I always hear is clients wishing they'd thought through the minor details a bit more,' says kitchen designer Gabrielle Fabbri. 'It's easy to make a kitchen beautiful. It's challenging to make it beautiful and highly functional. One of my favorite things with clients is discussing how they plan to live in the space. How many cooks are in the kitchen? Do they see it as a place to entertain? The goal is to create functional and beautiful areas in the space.'

6. Backsplash materials

a kitchen with a bold marble backsplash

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Le Whit)

Generally, when you buy your kitchen countertops, you understand the qualities and drawbacks of each material, and it's often a case of getting what you pay for when it comes to durability.

However, kitchen backsplashes can be more decorative, yet they still need to hold up to much of the same wear and tear as your counters. This is where you'll often find material regrets in your kitchen, according to Valerie Lush. 'Materials like limestone tile, mosaics or glass/mirror backsplashes can be difficult to maintain and may quickly look dated or worn.' the designer explains.

7. Not investing in the right places

modern farmhouse kitchen with statement oven by Amy Sklar Design

(Image credit: Amy Bartlam. Design: Amy Sklar Design)

Choosing where to spend and where to save in a kitchen remodel is tricky, and may be a source of regret further down the line. 'Another aspect could be choosing poor quality materials,' Mélanie and Laurence of Blanc Marine Intérieurs agree.

Often, savings are made in areas like appliances, but according to Valerie Lush, people often regret scrimping in this area when it comes to actually using a kitchen. 'Opting for lower-quality appliances might save money initially, but often leads to more expenses and headaches in the long run due to maintenance and efficiency issues,' Valerie says.

8. Lighting

a kitchen with a large vaulted roof and hanging pendant light

(Image credit: Joe Fletcher. Design: Laney LA)

'People often regret not investing enough in the lighting fixtures,' Mélanie and Laurence also suggest. Kitchen lighting is the jewelry of the space, and though it's a finishing touch to some degree, cheaping out on lighting can make the whole space feel inexpensive.

And it's not just about looks, either. 'Underestimating the importance of good lighting in a kitchen can result in a space that's not only less functional but also less inviting,' Valerie explains.

Luke Arthur Wells
Freelancer writer

Luke Arthur Wells is a freelance design writer, award-winning interiors blogger and stylist, known for neutral, textural spaces with a luxury twist. He's worked with some of the UK's top design brands, counting the likes of Tom Dixon Studio as regular collaborators and his work has been featured in print and online in publications ranging from Domino Magazine to The Sunday Times. He's a hands-on type of interiors expert too, contributing practical renovation advice and DIY tutorials to a number of magazines, as well as to his own readers and followers via his blog and social media. He might currently be renovating a small Victorian house in England, but he dreams of light, spacious, neutral homes on the West Coast.