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Millions of homeowners choose to do some sort of remodeling project every year. Out of all those projects, the most popular is the kitchen remodel. Though most kitchen remodels go very well and homeowners are satisfied with the outcome, there are the same handful of horror stories related again and again about the remodel that went horribly wrong.

Paying attention to the worst decisions can help ensure you make the best ones. Learn from those who have made the mistakes so you don’t have to! Here are seven of the most common terrible ideas for your kitchen remodel.

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1. Choosing a material without testing it first

Want to do a cabinet refacing with laminate? Go to the store and see how it feels under your hands. Look at laminate in other kitchens to see how well it holds up over time. Want that gorgeous soapstone countertop? Get a piece of soapstone and use it in your home as a trivet for a few months.

2. Not being around for the complete remodel

Don’t plan a remodel during a very busy travel time, such as the holidays. Don’t walk away from the remodel, either. Going on vacation right in the middle of the job leaves the contractor with no one to oversee the work, and that can lead to results you might not like. Though it isn’t easy to plan your whole life around the remodel, it is the best thing to do to ensure you get it done right and on time.

3. Choosing unconventional designs

Though going with an unusual design can be suitable for some situations, it can also create problems you didn’t expect. For instance, moving your kitchen sink to a corner instead of giving it open space near a window can lead to a blowback of steam when you pour hot liquid out of pots. Consider every possible use for that area of the kitchen to determine if an unusual design makes sense.

4. Skimping on the appliances

Though it might seem like a good idea to save money by choosing that smaller refrigerator or the noisier of the dishwashers, keep in mind that the appliances will get the most use of all the elements in your kitchen. Spending a bit more money on those can make your remodel a much more comfortable investment. Remember too that newer kitchen appliances are held to more efficient energy use. So, new appliances can save you money in the long term, too.

5. Budgeting to the last dollar

Keep a little wiggle room in your budget for the things you didn’t expect. For instance, cabinet refacing cost might be less than you anticipated, so it seems you can budget even more for that high-end countertop, right? Not so fast. What if something goes wrong with the flooring and you need more than you anticipated? That little cushion of cash in your budget can be a financial lifesaver.

6. Rushing the plans

When you rush the plans, you are bound to make mistakes or go over budget. Telling the designer to simply “add that in” without doing the homework can lead to sticker shock or a look you really don’t want. Take your time with the design, envision it, and learn to live with it before it becomes reality.

7. Choosing the lowest bid contractor

Though the lowest bid might be tempting, choosing a contractor should mean more than the bottom line. This is a person who will practically live in your house for several weeks, so keep in mind that you must be able to get along, and you must have a level of trust in their work. Sometimes that doesn’t happen with the lowest bid, and it is worth spending more for peace of mind.

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Avoiding these mistakes now can save you a great deal of money, time and frustration in the long run. Before you start any remodeling project, make sure you are as well-prepared and realistic as possible.

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.