Ever wondered what not to do when designing a kitchen? A new kitchen is a huge but worthwhile investment for any home. Looks and functionality wise, it will always add value to your property. But one thing you don’t want to do is forget the finer details.

It’s often the most obvious things that we simply forget when thinking about kitchen layouts, such as where the bins go or how accessible the fridge is when you’re cooking.

The primary function of a kitchen is to cook and prepare food, so it has to be highly functional. It’s therefore important to always start the design process by looking at how you use the space when preparing and cooking meals.

But who says functional kitchen ideas can’t be stunning? Thanks to smart design, from space maximising U-shaped kitchen ideas to multipurpose islands, these days our kitchens can be the best-dressed room in the house.

We’ve got our own tips, but have also asked experts to help us. Between us, we’ve compiled a list of nine things not to do when designing the kitchen of your dreams.

What not to do when designing a kitchen

1. Don’t forget counter space

When it comes to planning a kitchen, making the most of every inch of useable space is a must. A very common mistake in kitchen design is not including enough counter space to work with.

‘Remember to include enough space to prepare meals, display all your appliances, wash up, and potentially space to eat and socialise if that is how you plan on using the kitchen,’ advises Hayley Simmons, Head of Merchandising for Magnet.

2. Never underestimate how much storage you need

Plan accordingly and allocate a space for every single thing, from spice jars to cutlery-separating drawers. Although the temptation to keep adding to the list can be great, a clear initial index will keep you on track. By sticking to a clear plan you also avoid the temptation to overcrowd your brand new kitchen.

Thinking outside the box again he goes on to suggest: ‘For bulkier items, you should also consider pull out corner storage. Designed to easily fit into the cabinets, pull out storage helps efficiently store away items and make them easy to access when needed.

‘Finally, don’t forget to utilise floor space by considering a trolley which creates extra space when you’re preparing food, or could even be used as a drinks trolley when entertaining.’ All worthwhile considerations when it comes to creating a kitchen that works its hardest to cater for all your needs.

3. Don’t neglect ventilation

Image credit: Optiplan Kitchens, Napoli collection in Metallic Blue. Prices start from £5,175

Good ventilation is key for any kitchen, especially in one where you’re cooking up delicious dishes day in day out. Cooking, especially on the hob, can leave lingering smells that if not ventilated can drift throughout the home. While the smell of home-cooked food is delicious in the moment, you don’t want the rest of the house to smell and ruin the atmosphere.

The experts at Optiplan Kitchens advise, ‘Invest in a proper ventilation system that is efficient at capturing impurities, circulates air and, overall, keeps your kitchen clean. Try not to go for inexpensive products that only recirculate the flow of air and use up lots of energy. There’s always a solution that keeps the noise levels and energy use to a minimum.’

4. Avoid rubbish piling up

A pink bin next to a striped towelView colours

It sounds completely obvious, but when it comes to the rubbish, because it’s the least glamorous part, bins are often overlooked. Given waste is totally unavoidable it should be factored in as a priority. Even more so given we now require separate recycling, food and general waste disposal.

The best solution is integrated bins, or at least cupboards to conceal freestanding bins. Hiding not only the presence of waste, but also helping to contain odours. When the dedicated space isn’t allocated at planning stage the only viable option is a free-standing bin on display.

Thankfully you can buy stylish solutions now. But if this wasn’t part of the plan it won’t please you when you realise waste disposal has been overlooked.

5. Skimp on lighting

An open plan grey and white kitchen with a large island and wooden bar stoolsView colours

Like most rooms, it’s important to get the lighting right for the functional use as well as the aesthetic look. Prepping food will require more direct, brighter lighting than that of a dining area within the kitchen.

Smart kitchen lighting ideas such as spotlights concealed under wall cabinets and in the ceiling are still the most popular, practical choice to use throughout. They can be grouped according to tasks, and used with dimmer switches so you can change the atmosphere in an instant.

You might also want to consider plinth lighting. Strips that run along the base of your cabinet can provide a subtle light that will illuminate your kitchen after hours. Handy if you should sneak in for a midnight snack!

For areas of the kitchen where family and friends gather, consider living-room style lighting. Pendants add a more focal light source and create ambience, as do table lamps on a sideboard.

Overhead spotlights can be switched off or dimmed low when you want those statement lights to take the focus.

6. Don’t avoid expert advice

A cream and white sink area with green plants and open shelvingView colours

Often the temptation to DIY is so great that we forget the level of expertise involved in planning any major home project. Especially with a kitchen where complicated wiring, plumbing and ventilation systems all feature heavily. These are not to be messed with if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Seeking the help of registered tradespeople can lend a hand with planning and project managing, too. You need to know when to carry out each stage of the work. There’s no point tiling until the electricians have been in for example.

‘Looking at the bigger picture, a smart investment at the beginning of the project can prove to be more cost-effective in comparison to an amateur take on such a complex task,’ explain the experts at Optiplan Kitchens. ‘There’s no shame in getting some expert advice, especially when undertaking a massive project, such as a kitchen renovation.’

‘Complicated wiring, plumbing or ventilation systems are not to be messed with unprofessionally. Plus, having a registered tradesperson to lend a helping hand can relieve the pressure of thinking about every single detail. Looking at the bigger picture, a smart investment at the beginning of the project can prove to be more cost-effective in comparison to an amateur take on such a complex task.’