If you could do it again...what WOULDN'T you do

repaintingagainMay 30, 2009

I am working on my kitchen and soliciting great advice so far on what I can possibly do.

But here is another thought...what shouldn't I do?! I would welcome any thoughts on the subject of, "If I had only known..." in the whole realm of kitchen countertops, kitchen cabinet paint and/or layout.

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If I used plugmold again I would also incorporate some strategically placed outlets to avoid dangling cords

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 3:38PM
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Biggest regret: Not putting a soapstone top on my hutch instead of the wood top I chose which scratches much too easily.

2nd biggest regret: Didn't pay more attention to where the electrician was placing recessed lights and outlets. A few of the recessed cans should have been moved elsewhere, and I should have had him place the outlets lower on the backsplash.

Also, I wish I had written some of my requirements down and given them to the GC and electrician instead of just verbalizing them. A few things slipped through the cracks because of that.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 5:21PM
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I did too many drawers on the bottom. That being said, my cabinet maker made them much more shallow than I was expecting. If they ended up being as deep as I expected, I am sure I would like them. It was not totally his fault, though since my KD does hand drawings. She hadn't worked with this guy before, so he didn't know how to "read" her drawings. In other words, he interpreted them differently than she and I expected.

I am not in my kitchen yet, so that is all for now...

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 5:59PM
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I have a blind base corner pullout that looked inconvenient when I specified it, but I thought...I can always change it to a better pullout later. I should have just left it a big open blind base and not paid for their pullout system. I don't use the cabinet that much (and its not like I have tons of storage in my tiny kitchen). But, I also don't want to pay twice for the pullout system.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 6:16PM
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I wouldn't have put a pony wall on the back of my peninsula/desk, and would have modified deep Ikea cabs instead of using the shallow cabs. The pony wall violated my kitchen principles, because pony wall = wasted space-- what was I thinking? I may change it one day, as I can reuse my Ikea drawer fronts at least.

Also, I would have asked the electrician to put a can light right in front of my pantry. There are other lights near enough, but that one extra can would have been nice. In general, think carefully about the lighting scheme and maybe even hire a lighting designer.

I would have learned how to post pictures early in my kitchen process. I didn't take the time to post a picture until I had a bona fide crisis! You can get lots of great advice and head off problems if you post.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 6:30PM
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I wouldn't have rushed into it as quickly as I did. We had company due and we wanted it finished before the craziness of our summer schedules.

I went in with definite structural plans, but without a solid color design. Now I am struggling to pick which backsplash would go best, which color to paint the walls and trying to tie in a granite that reads cool and a floor that is definitely warm.

My mom started her kitchen weeks after we did and she is pretty much done. All colors and design elements picked ahead of time. What can I say, I screwed up :)

Oh, and I should have had a light wired into the pantry ceiling while my electrician was doing the other recessed lights........

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 6:50PM
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1. Lighting design is very important. A big, and sometimes not so big, lighting supply store will design and give tips for free without any contract stating that you will buy from them. Maybe it is something about lighting people that they are so into what they are doing that everyone I've spoken to is willing to talk about various technologies and products and theories because they want to share. I wish I had gone to a lighting designer instead of just relying on our architect and builder.

2. Our KD explained to us the mechanics of using matching panels on refrigerators but I so wanted our beverage fridge to match all the cabinetry on that leg of the kitchen that I ignored his advice. What he said was that dishwashers with a tilt out door or any appliance drawer worked well with putting on an overlay panel. However, when a panel is applied to a side hinge appliance apparently not all hinge systems are equally well adapted to working well. If I had it to do all over again I would have done the beverage fridge with a stainless door rather than the glass door with cabinet trim after all my main fridge is a Samsung stainless. We have a U-line bev fridge and the cabinet trim is maybe 1/8" off from the line of the rest of the cabinets just because this is the way the fridge is made. This may not sound like a lot but it makes me nuts. I also know it's not just a poor job of installing the matching trim because when I was complaining to a friend she told me she wished she had known I was doing a U-line b/c she would have warned me about this quirk.

Also, as a side issue, we had a problem with getting the a/c working properly for a few days and the glass portion of the bev fridge door formed a lot of condensation that dripped on the wood floor. No permanent damage but annoying. Again, this would not have happened with a stainless door. Oh well, the glass door and cabinet trim look beautiful if I ignore that 1/8" and I could just order a stainless door if it really starts to bug me.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:14PM
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I would NOT buy my appliances too far in advance! It took me almost a year to complete my renovation- my appliances were one of the first things that I bought (GREAT sale !). I didn't anticipate that it would take so long to complete the renovation. By the time the appliances were installed, the warranty was almost up! So, now if there is a problem, I'm outta luck!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:49PM
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These posts are so helpful. Especially about the lighting. I haven't given that much thought yet and it sounds like I really need to.

Erikanh - you mentioned you would do more soapstone. We are considering butcher block island and soapstone everywhere else. Do you think I'll regret that in terms of care?? I have heard soapstone was difficult to maintain and showed fingerprints, etc. Am I mistaken?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 9:40PM
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I would have taken longer than a week to design the whole kitchen! And inspected it better after the house was built. So many things wrong with this house...

sweet313 - I bought my appliances in March 2007, had them delivered in Sept after we got the CO, Sears started the warranties the date they were delivered. Call the manufacturer(s) and ask them to go by delivery date - store can verify that for them.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 9:51PM
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I wouldn't have put in such short windows over my sink. I found this forum after we had already laid out the kitchen (for the most part) and after we had ordered our windows. I wish my windows went all the way down to the counter. I don't hate how they look, but if there was one thing I could change that would be it! My contractor loved how I said "Wow I wish we had put in taller windows," every time I walked past him!

Kat :)

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:25PM
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To add more information to this thread, here are similar past threads:

Things I would NOT recommend or things I dislike!: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0413285931465.html

RE: Things I would NOT recommend or things I dislike! #2: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg061407013201.html

Now that I have [X], I think I could have lived without it.: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0719430319398.html

What do you wish you had done differently?: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0722355328974.html

What do you wish you had done differently? [Part 2]: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/kitchbath/msg0220533912060.html

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:52PM
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We had decided to replace our cabinets/counter/backspalsh, had interviewed cabinet guys and hired someone before I ever found this forum. We were just looking for a basic update, although we'd decided to change from cherry to white cabinets just to 'brighten up the space'. (never saw the movie "Somethings Gotta Give" either! LOL!)

After finding this forum and looking at what other people were doing, we were fortunate to still have some time to make a few changes. And I think it turned out a little better in the end. It doesn't help you though to say "I wish I'd found this forum sooner!"

Although I'm happy with how mine turned out. I DO wonder what we would have ended up with if I'd gone to a kitchen designer? Or asked people on here for layout advice? If I ever do ANOTHER kitchen, I will spend much more time up front planning it (before I BUY or hire anything!).

Don't worry about how long it takes to make all the decisions and think you have to 'pick something'. There are SO many options for EVERYTHING (lighting, knobs, tiles, sinks, whatever) that you need to take the time to carefully consider the whole picture you are painting.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:17PM
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If I could do it again, I would go look at someone's kitchen and talk to the people about the cabinets. I may have chosen someone else if I would have researched the cabinetmaker more.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 11:36PM
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My cabinets aren't even installed yet and I already know I have made some mistakes.
1.) Do not buy until you are ready. I was a little pushed into placing my order and I know there are some things I would have done differenty.(More drawers, applied moulding on the drawers, and transom doors for my uppers.)
2.) DO NOT let yourself get talked out of something you know you really want. A lot of times the cabinet maker or KD talks a customer out of something so the manufacturing of the cabinets or install is easier for them.
3.) Paid more attention to the electrical and placement of recessed lights.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 12:00AM
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this is a great thread! i'm going to read the others listed and then read this one again and make notes to put in my folder.
i'm not doing anything until next winter but have already started planning, looking at things, building my folders and reading on here. What a great help this board has been!

michelle - what are transom doors on the upper cabs? glass at the top I'm assuming? I've thought that I might do that - and then use the top shelf for decorative items (I have a lot of them) since I can't reach that shelf anyway. I'm lucky to reach the 2nd shelf up...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 1:04AM
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I agree with the others in that I wouldn't have rushed. Overall, I am very happy with my layout and I expect to be very happy with the cabinets, granite, windows, hardware, etc. But I wish I had taken more time to research, especially people, and how the whole process works. Personally, I wouldn't have chosen my GC if I could do it over again, although I'm happy with others on the job.

I think you can get better quotes if you've really done your homework and know more or less EXACTLY what you want. Then, when you compare bids, you are comparing apples to apples, and the contractors can't later upcharge you for everything you do.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 6:50AM
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I wish we had spent more, made my kitchen larger and found
GW sooner.

I know many on this site are just the opposite and find
they are over budget. But, my DH and I are TOO Careful! We
only pay cash for things (including our house) and we live
in the one of the wealthiest towns in our state. Issues
scared me in the process of my reno. The economy, my own
job, losses in the stock market Yet, this was the time to
hire eager workers.

I realize I should have consulted this site sooner. I
should have posted my house floor plan and gotten some
great ideas from some intelligent people on GW. Finding it
too late. When I see Remodelfl, Buehl, Bluekitobsessed,
Rhome410, Erikanh, livewireoak, sweeby, mamadadapaige,
Chloe'smom and many more share ideas on layout, kitchen
functions and design. I wish I could gotten their help
on my own place.

I am happy my DH acted as GC. It gave us the A la carte
options rather than have another person accept those bids.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:36AM
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not bought appliances before starting to rebuild.
not had appliances delivered before starting to rebuild.
not waited to post layout here.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 8:17AM
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Circus Peanut

Wish I'd asked more questions of friends and contractors in advance, and learned about the processes & costs so I wouldn't have assumed that some things would be really expensive & difficult (moving electrical outlets, rewiring the lights, moving the plumbing) and some things would be really cheap & easy (refinishing the floors, finding faucetry, smoothing old walls) -- when the very opposite turned out to be the case.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 9:01AM
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One more thing... at the end of the day, hindsight is 20/20. It seems like almost everyone has a "would've, should've" experience. I think if you do the best you can under your particular circumstances, just know you've done your best, and that is good enough.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 9:14AM
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Just wanted to add one more thing. Like boxerpups, DH and I have acted as our own GC. If you are able this gives you a lot more options. Try to set up accounts as a business to buy wholesale. ALWAYS ask for a bigger discount than first given. In this economy you will find suppliers and contractors willing to bargain. Let them know you are getting multiple bids. I agree with boxerpups in the regard to basically do it right the first time around. It makes no sense to have an unrealistic budget and then have to do it again 5 years from now because it isn't big enough, not enough storage, etc. If you are acting as your own GC, let that be known. You may be able to set up contractor accounts. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 10:48AM
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I wouldn't have hired the painter who said "wow, you are a much better painter than I am". I thought he was kidding. He wasn't.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 12:12PM
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LOL Somanyboys My regrets would be similar...I wouldn't have hired the first five contractors, first three tile guys, and the painter.

But you only learn about that after you get screwed so...

I wouldn't have paid in full in advance of receiving items (I don't normlly do this but we were leaving for a 3 month hospital stay and I don't like to have a contractor sit on my items for three months...two left town after being paid in full, taking my money and leaving nothing).

I would have inspected even harder than I did. An inch here and an inch there can be disasterous. The doorway into our kitchen was half an inch smaller than spec'ed. That half inch was the difference between getting the range in the kitchen or not.

A pocket door was 2 inches too big...so it never closed right (now it does because I got the right size door).

A wall jutting out into the entry hall was two inches too big...two inches that impeeded the stair entry and had to be completely rebuilt because we couldn't get the sofa's in the library.

The hood is an inch off of the specs. That inch cost me about a grand after I had to order new cabs to fit in the space on either side (since we had to center the range below the hood).

I trusted my contractor to review the cabinet order after a light review by me. I didn't think to look for structrual issues (past the first few boxes because they were all perfect). He installed one with the back coming off which wasn't discovered until it was in place under a granite countertop with finished subway tiles above it...tiles that were custom made so to break one would have cost me a fortune (having it matched etc). We had to take the cabinet out (it's 36" and that's the majority of the run). I had to bring in 3 guys from the granite place to help and while were fortunate that it didn't break (granite or BS) the fact that we had to take the risk was entirely avoidable if the GC hadn't been such a freaking lazy idiot.

He also installed a cabinet without a back in another run. He was in a rush to finish the job at the time (then came back to stall because he lost a job while doing mine).

Oh and that brings up another BIGGIE!!! I will NEVER NEVER NEVER use a contractor who isn't exclusive to ME at all times during construction of my kitchen. And I mean that...it will be in all contracts. You get these guys bouncing between three jobs and they don't remember which house said do X so they forget it...or they leave and don't return for the day after saying it was a five min consult etc. Exclusive work ONLY for me. (I'd probably add an "allowable with my approval" clause so they could bid out jobs near the end if necessary during day time hours)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 2:14PM
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Let the marble installer and hood installer scratch the cabinets. I should have taped paper along the cabinets they were working next to.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 3:11PM
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Igloochic, you poor thing! It sounds like you had your fair share of problems. Someone should write a book about this--what not do to when remodeling.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 3:30PM
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I love my kitchen, but... next time would I totally skip the plugmold under the upper cabs in favor of regular outlets. The plugmold outlets are hard to get to and result in a "how to hide the dangling cord" issue as someone else mentioned. And believe it or not, I would skip the under cab lighting as well. I do all my prep work on the island and there's plenty of light in the kitchen - I really could have used that money for other things.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 4:01PM
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Next time I will check criminal records of GC and subs, including outstanding warrants. I will take photocopies of drivers licenses of anyone working on the house (I have already started doing that, I tell people that I am going to do this before I ever meet them. Had quite a few no-shows as a result, but I call it good if it means it weeds out the unreliable and untrustworthy early on). I will buy ALL significant materials myself and store them on my premises.

Next time I will be a b*tch. Their sob-stories are not my problem.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 5:29PM
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I'm with Igloo on the measuring thing. Our kitchen was designed to the 1/4" inch but we lost inches here and there because no one else understood the effort that went into every inch of our design. We paid an architect over $2000 in site visits to ensure that the GC was following the drawings and neither they, the building inspector nor myself noticed that the doorway for the mudroom was framed for a 32" door not a 36" one. It was noticed by me after the door was in. Replacing it wasn't trivial, especially since we used spray foam insulation. Other measurements were off causing many more problems, including one of my wall cabinets not fitting. Measure EVERYTHING they do and if you ask them to fix it, measure it again!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 6:57PM
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I would not get a French window ever again (I think that's what it's called)---it's a casement window with 2 separate crank out windows with no divider between the 2 windows when they're open. The window was expensive and we've had a lot of problems with it (it has different working parts than a typical casement since there is no center for the windows to close against.) I rarely fully open both sides at once so it usually looks like 2 regular casements. The screen has to span the entire opening and is huge. I know people generally try to stay away from double hung windows in a kitchen since they are awkard to open while leaning over a counter but I'm really happy with ours since the screen is on the outside and is less noticeable to me than an inside screen.

And I feel the same about undercabinet lighting as honeyb2. I rarely use it and it seems like wasted money that could have been used elsewhere.

We have our mw on the bottom shelf of an open upper cabinet. We did think to put an electic outlet there but I wish I had thought to put the outlet above the mw instead of behind it. I think rhome410 mentioned doing this and it makes so much sense because it allows the mw to be pushed back closer to the wall. We had to change out the standard plug on our mw for a flat, wall hugging plug (I think it cost $40 for the part) so that our mw wouldn't stick out too much. We'll have to do this with all our mw's from here on where a higher plug would have solved the problem.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:13PM
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I would either do exactly as I did or 100% differently. No middle measures for me. Had I gone 100% differently, I would have purchased a La Cornue Grand Palais, stone hood surround, a couple of antique armoires/storage units, a La Cornue rotisserie, an antique pastry table, and created an unfitted, French kitchen. This would have resulted in wasted space, far less storage, and a less practical, less functional kitchen, but one with fabulous atmosphere for my personal sensibilities and fantasies. Instead, I probably spent 1/4 the $$$, made a kitchen that functions fabulously, and acted "practical," for about the first time in my life.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:20PM
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Glaze my beautiful custom creamy, applied-moulding cabinets. I kept saying to myself that in the long run I would be unhappy with a WHITE kitchen, but I wanted a white kitchen- so I went with what I thought was a happy medium- white, painted and glazed. It's still beautiful but I knew the day the cabs were installed that I should not have done glazing. Def. too late!!
ALSO: I would have done a farm sink instead of the undermount SS...we have had enormous (and unusual) problems with our undermount application of a franke 36" wide double SS undermount. In short the sink is not staying attached to the granite- botched installation, botched attempts to repair- now it bugs me every day. Make sure your SS undermount is installed properly!!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:47PM
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I wouldn't get such fancy crown molding...it ruined the cleaner look I was going for...

I also wouldn't have done such fancy countertop supports for the island for the same reason...

Lastly, I think a solid dark countertop is beautiful...BUT it SURE looks dirty ALL of the time!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 8:17PM
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Wouldn't have been so agreeable about letting the contractor make the door and window frame styles so different from what I originally spec'd, or letting him get away with a wood window sill when I wanted stone.

Overall, wouldn't have assumed he knew what he was doing.

Would have tried harder to find frameless cabinets in a finish I liked. (The only color I could find I liked was in Kraftmaid, which is framed.) And would have paid attention to how deep the drawers would be in reduced-depth cabinets - I assumed they would be reduced proportionately to the cabinets, but it turns out they come in fixed increments. Lost of LOT of storage space there (in a tiny kitchen).

Oh, and not sure in retrospect I would have bothered with undercabinet lighting... Never had it before, and almost never use it now. Maybe when the rest of my house gets finished and I start entertaining, I'll figure out a use for them. (I had this fantasy of using the undercabinet lights instead of the overheads for a party when the bar is set up on the kitchen counter.)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 8:39PM
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Not sure I'm allowed to post on this thread since we haven't even started demo but here goes.

I wouldn't have stuck with white appliances. It's not the color or the look that I object to. In fact, I prefer white but I've found that staying with white has really hampered my appliance search. I knew we wanted SS for the cooktop and downdraft because they would blend better with our granite choice than white but I wanted the rest to be white to go with our 5 yr old DW that works great and looks like new and 4 mo old fridge. But after pouring over CR reviews, on-line reviews, and reliability ratings, it looks like we'll end up with a SS wall oven because it's not offered in white.

It can't be helped but we're making it work by using white and pewter colored tiles in the backsplash.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 8:44PM
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