Do We Have Any Kitchen Renovation Regrets?

In last week’s Break Room post, I mentioned how we had the talented Margaret Rajic come shoot photos of our new kitchen at the beginning of January. Even though I shoot all of my own content here on the blog, I really wanted to hire a professional photographer to shoot the space. Plus, I figured it would be a good way to get some nice photos of our family enjoying our new kitchen.Our kitchen renovation reveal and renovation regrets

Today, I’m sharing all of her gorgeous photos with you, but I didn’t want this to be a post with just her pretty photos – although that could definitely still be a good blog post! The main thing I wanted to do is to answer a question I’ve gotten quite a few times since I first revealed our new kitchen.

Do we have any kitchen renovation regrets?Do we have any kitchen renovation regrets?

Kitchen Renovation RegretsKitchen renovation regrets, what would we do differently?

While I already shared the lessons we learned from our kitchen renovation in this blog post, today’s topic is a tad different. What would we do differently with the design and function of the kitchen if we could go back in time?Our kitchen renovation

First, I would say that we’ve really only lived with a completed kitchen for about three months now. You can see the big reveal in this blog post. I think it’s hard to tell what works and what doesn’t in that short amount of time. That’s why I always recommend that people live in their homes for a while before making big changes or renovating. I know people often want to just dive into a project, but living in a space is the only way to know how you use it day in and day out.What would we do different in our new kitchen?

If we would have renovated our kitchen immediately after we bought this house, it absolutely wouldn’t be what it is today. I’m sure I would have made a lot of different choices since I wasn’t yet used to how we would actually utilize the space. Waiting also gave me so much time to sit in the room and think about the flow, the function, the aesthetics. When I’m working on a space, I often just sit in that room and stare, trying to envision the new design. Finn usually catches me doing it and thinks, “Uh oh…what’s going on here and how much time and money will it cost us?” Ha!Figuring out our new kitchen layout

When it came to figuring out this kitchen layout and design, Finn and I spent so many hours –  heck, days – planning. We spent an insane amount of time overthinking the project! Because my brain is usually thinking about how things will look, and Finn’s brain is thinking about the functionality of a space, we make a pretty good team when it comes to projects.Do we have any kitchen renovation regrets

But, even with all of our planning and overthinking, I still have a few minor (like very, very small) kitchen renovation regrets. Let me preface this by saying that I’m not looking for anyone to help me solve these “problems” because I really don’t see them as problems at all. These are just things I would go back and change if I had a do-over. So I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m pointing out things I would do differently, in hopes that you can learn from me for your next project.

Lighting LengthChoosing longer pendants in our kitchen

I had to order everything for the space before we even demo’ed the old kitchen. That meant that all of the lighting was ordered long before any kitchen cabinets were in. Because we were redoing the ceiling to make it all the same height, I wasn’t totally positive what the new height of the overall ceiling would be. That made it a tad difficult when I was ordering the pendants and chandelier. Of course, the lighting I chose came in a custom length, which meant I had to choose the exact length and there wouldn’t be a way to adjust it once it arrived. The pressure was on.Choosing kitchen lighting

One of my biggest lighting pet peeves is when lights are hung too low and they interfere with the way you use a space. A too-low chandelier can obstruct your view when you’re chatting with someone across the table. If a kitchen pendant is hung too low, you can bump your head when you’re working at the countertop. I wanted to avoid these scenarios at all costs, so I think I went a little shorter on the lights, just to be safe. When it comes to lighting, the rule of thumb is to hang it so the bottom of the fixture is 30-36″ above the table or countertop. Choosing kitchen lighting

I ended up buying a 24.5-inch chandelier which put it 36 inches over our table. The globe pendants are 24 inches in length and there are 34 inches between them and the kitchen island. So technically, it still follows my 30-36 inch guidelines, but I think a little longer would be more pleasing to my critical eye.

I think they all look just fine in the space, but if I had a do-over, I would probably add 1-2 inches onto each light. This would still allow enough clearance to keep them functional, but aesthetically it would be more pleasing for me.How to choose the right chandelier for your dining room

I know, that is super nitpicky, but if I had to name it this would be one of my kitchen renovation regrets.

Bench CushionChoosing a built-in dining bench cushion

Another kitchen renovation regret? The thickness of our dining room bench cushion. I think I’m finding that most of these regrets have to do with measurements and math, which is definitely not my strong suit. I ordered a bench cushion with a 4-inch thickness.  (It’s from Patio Lane and the color is “Capriccio Toast”.) My best tips to style shelves in a nursery

I made the decision on the thickness based on Rory’s window bench seat. I went in there and measured hers and it’s four inches thick and incredibly comfortable. Like sitting on a cloud! Therefore, I ordered a four inch cushion for our dining room bench.Our family enjoying our new built-in bench

It’s also incredibly comfortable (I could sit at our dining room table for hours working), but I feel a little high up compared to someone who is sitting in a chair opposite the bench. If I had to do it all over again, I would have chosen a three-inch thickness for the dining room bench. My guess is the cushion will deflate a bit over time and it will no longer be an “issue”, so I don’t plan to change it.

Recessed LightingOur biggest kitchen renovation regrets

I chatted all about our kitchen electrical plan in this blog post and shared a lot of information on how we figured out the placement of the recessed cans. I think we ended up with a ceiling that is 500 times better than before, when our ceiling looked like Swiss cheese! We ended up decreasing the number of canned lights substantially, but I still think we could have nixed one or two more. I think it’s easy to overdo it when it comes to recessed lighting. However, oftentimes more is not better! We have the pendants, under cabinet lighting, chandelier, and in-cabinet lights and we rely on those at night to light the space because the light is much more flattering than overhead lights. If I could do it over, I would remove a few more cans. You can read all of the kitchen lighting details in this blog post.

Flooring DifferencesFlooring differences in our new kitchen

When we bought this house, we had to replace all of the floors due to a rotting subfloor underneath the hardwoods. We ended up going with these white oak floors and I share more about them in this blog post. When we initially had the floors installed, we bought a lot of extra flooring, knowing that someday we would renovate the kitchen and we would want to put the new flooring underneath the new cabinets. I’m so incredibly happy that we did that.Kitchen renovation regrets

Our floors can be installed three different ways…floating them, gluing them, or nailing them down. When we installed the flooring, we ended up gluing them down on the first floor because this was the best option to eliminate any “bounce”. I didn’t relay this information to the kitchen crew and I believe they ended up floating them in the kitchen. I really wish I would have told them to glue down the floors. Where the “new” and “old” floors meet there is a tiny lip. It’s probably not noticeable by anyone else who comes to our house, but for me, I can see it. I’ve since used my brad nailer to nail down a few of the pieces, in inconspicuous spots, and this has definitely helped. But if I could go back in time, I would be sure to glue them!

Do we have any kitchen renovation regrets?Honestly, I really had to rack my brain to think of anything I would do differently in the kitchen and I’m very proud of that, although, let’s revisit this topic in a year or two! I think it just shows that we put a lot of time and energy into planning this space and making it work for our family. I would recommend the same to anyone doing a kitchen renovation project.

If you need any kitchen sources, please head to this blog post.

Rory smiling at the cameraAnd I must add a cute little story about some of these pictures with Rory. It only took us a few minutes to get each family shot because Rory was just about the smiliest girl in the world, unlike her deadpan mood for our holiday photos. Ha! My mom was over when Margaret was here taking pictures and she held up a framed photo of Rory behind the camera. For some reason, Rory LOVES seeing photos of herself. She grins and claps and cheers whenever she sees a picture of herself. My mom held up that frame behind Margaret and snap, snap, snap – we ended up with the cutest photos of our happy girl! Just thought I would share. So sweet.


*All photos from the very talented Margaret Rajic.

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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