Kitchen Layout Ideas

7 of the most common kitchen design fails

Don't let your dream kitchen turn into a disaster.
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Renovating or building a kitchen is a big, expensive job, so you want to make sure that whatever changes you make avoid common kitchen design mistakes and add value to your home to have everlasting style.

While many of us have our own ideas about what we like and how we want things to look, there are a few mistakes many people make when designing a stylish kitchen.

Here’s a list of 7 common kitchen design fails to avoid.

Mistake 1: Not thinking about the backsplash early

The right backsplash can really make a kitchen pop.

Think about it early on in the design phase so you can decide if you’re going for a statement material, an experimental finish or tiles, and if you want it to be tall, short or cover the entire wall.

Grey and marble kitchen with square tile splashback
A blacksplash can make or break a kitchen, so don’t leave it to the last minute. (Photographer: Dave Wheeler /

Mistake 2: Too much colour

Having a colourful kitchen isn’t a bad thing, but it can date quickly. You’re better to go with neutral permanent fixtures, cabinetry and appliances, then inject colour via lighting, stools, art and accessories.

These can be changed out and updated easily and without great cost.

White Hamptons style kitchen with dark flooring
A white kitchen is a classic for a reason. (Photographer: Ryan Linneagar /

Mistake 3: Choosing the wrong benchtop

Marble and natural stone are luxurious and gorgeous options for kitchen benchtops, but let’s be honest, who has time to clean up every spill as soon as it happens to stop it staining a marble bench top?

On top of that, natural stone will quickly show signs of wear and tear if it often has bowls, plates, pots and pans sitting on top of it. Try laminate, granite or engineered quartz materials instead.

Modern kitchen with green marble island bench
This kitchen features a stunning island bench topped with ‘Ice Green’ marble from Signorino. While natural stone and marble will always look elegant, they may not be suitable for a young family or those looking for a low-maintenance kitchen. (Photographer: Armelle Habib /

Mistake 4: Not allowing enough space

If you’re installing a new kitchen it’s important to allow enough room between drawers, doors and appliances to cater to handles and knobs, as well as how much space you need to open a fridge or dishwasher drawer.

Ideally, you want enough space that every drawer and door could be open without any one hitting the other.

Modern black and timber kitchen with marble benchtops and terrazzo flooring
It’s important to have enough space between kitchen counters. Ensure all doors and drawers can open freely. (Photographer: Martina Gemmola /

Mistake 5: Not extending cabinetry to the ceiling

Leaving a gap between the top of your cabinetry and the ceiling is one of those age-old kitchen design mistakes that not only creates a space that gathers dust and dirt, but can make your ceiling feel lower and the room more cramped.

For a more polished look that won’t create dust-catching nooks, extend your cabinetry all the way to the ceiling.

Black and white kitchen with marble benchtop and splashback
Extending kitchen cabinetry to the ceiling (or bulkhead) will instantly make the room look more polished. (Photographer: Kristina Soljo /

Mistake 6: Poor lighting design

Kitchens need excellent lighting for cooking and cleaning, so don’t skimp on it. If you’re going for a pendant light, bigger is better.

If your kitchen doesn’t have a window (like some apartments) or is poorly lit, invest in some bright LED downlights or strip task lighting.

Hamptons kitchen with large pendant lights over kitchen island
Task lighting is an essential part of a functional kitchen. (Photographer: Ryan Linneagar /

Mistake 7: Going overboard with the open shelving

While open kitchen shelving is a wonderful opportunity to showcase a beloved stoneware collection or colour-coordinated teaware, it isn’t particularly practical when it comes to the everyday use of the kitchen.

A good kitchen has an even mix of concealed and open shelving and storage, so all the things that are used often then hastily stuffed back away (often in a mess) can be hidden behind doors, while the things that are used for special occasions and easily kept tidy are left on display.

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