Tacky Kitchen Design Mistakes: Avoid These Common Blunders

Jane Francis | October 16, 2023

Tacky kitchen design mistakes can be all too common in homes, as people strive to create a fashionable and trendy space but often end up with a kitschy and unappealing result. Here, we’ll look at some of the worst design blunders.

No TVs in the Kitchen, Please!

Kitchens are designed for preparing meals, engaging with family and friends, and providing a space for convivial conversations. Integrating a television into this environment can be distracting and even overwhelming. People often prefer meaningful interactions without the interference of news broadcasts or reality shows in the background.


Moreover, having a TV in the kitchen isn’t practical. If the goal is to create an entertainment area, it is advised to install a television on a closed-in porch for sports events and social gatherings instead.

Time to Say Bye to the Zigzag Pattern (Chevron)

Trends come and go, and one design that has overstayed its welcome is the chevron pattern. Often found in warning signs, chevron can give off a negative vibe in a space. Opting for timeless, solid colors ensures a classic look that will stay in style and create a welcoming atmosphere.

Kristin Lomauro Interior Design via www.yelp.com

As our pursuit of aesthetics evolve, chevron now appears slightly out of fashion, making solid hues a more favorable choice. Ensuring a cozy and inviting space in your home is key to enjoyable living. Replacing chevron with solid colors maximizes the satisfaction guests feel when visiting your residence.

Throw Out The Plastic Stuff

Everyone has fond memories of using plastic plates adorned with their favorite characters as children. However, it’s time to move past the plastic and invest in a proper set of white dishes. They are reasonably priced and help reduce plastic waste that contributes to Earth’s pollution problems.


Serving food on a superhero-themed plate might bring back childhood nostalgia, but considering the environmental impact and sending the right message to dinner guests, it’s best to dine using more appropriate adult tableware. This change not only promotes an eco-friendly lifestyle but also elevates the dining experience for everyone.

Fake Fruit Decor

Faux fruits, or imitation fruits, were once a popular decorative trend, but their time has passed. Real fruits and vegetables are a better alternative for countertop displays, as they are genuine and may encourage healthier eating habits. 


Additionally, having real fruits would avoid the unpleasant situation of children mistaking the fake ones for edible snacks, which could potentially result in bite marks on your inedible decor. Consider replacing faux fruits with fresh, natural produce for a more authentic and appetizing display in your home.

Don’t Keep Your Empty Drink Bottles

Worrying about giving the impression of a drinking problem? Displaying empty alcohol bottles might be doing just that. While it may have been trendy in younger years, it’s time to leave this habit behind. The collection of empty bottles usually ends up gathering dust on high shelves.


Instead, consider recycling those glass bottles. This solution not only keeps your space tidy, but also contributes to a healthier environment. So, go ahead and relish your occasional drink, but dispose of the empty bottles responsibly.

Mason Jars Aren’t Always Cute

Mason jars, when overused as decorations, can lead to a cluttered and tacky appearance in the kitchen. Although they serve their original purpose of canning food admirably and can function as practical drinking cups, they should not be used for every storage and decorative need, such as holding flour or suspending lights.


To maintain an elegant and organized kitchen, it is advisable to limit the use of mason jars for purposes other than canning food. Instead, consider alternative decorative items for holding flowers and lighting fixtures, keeping mason jars focused on their intended role.

Ditch the Rough Marble Look

Tumbled marble, designed to appear weathered, may be suitable for bathrooms but is less appealing in kitchens. Its intended look can seem dirty and damaged, especially when it comes to tiles. These tiles are challenging to clean thoroughly without risking harm to the surrounding grout.


Opting for a timeless, solid color is often a better choice for countertop spaces. In addition to appearing outdated, tumbled marble’s intentional distressed look raises the question: why would one want their kitchen surfaces to seem scuffed or worn?

Paper Plates Aren’t for Every Meal

Utilizing paper plates for events like picnics or outdoor gatherings is acceptable; however, they should not be a go-to choice for regular daily meals. As adults, it is important to portray a sense of responsibility by opting for regular dishes and maintaining proper cleaning habits.


In addition to their impact on personal image, paper plates pose environmental concerns. Choosing traditional dishes for small gatherings with friends proves to be a more sustainable option and demonstrates care for the environment. Washing dishes afterward may take some effort, but it is a small price to pay for making a positive difference.

Avoid All-White Kitchen Appliances

All-white kitchens, specifically white appliances, can look quite dated and reminiscent of the 1990s. Additionally, their relatively low-cost appearance can be a drawback. One of the most significant challenges with all-white appliances is maintaining their cleanliness. Minor spills and dirt specks become easily visible, leading to stains that become increasingly difficult to remove over time.

Carolyn Franks/Shutterstock

Considering an upgrade for your kitchen? Choose stainless steel appliances for a more contemporary look and ease of cleaning. Opting for these, such as a new fridge or stove, will contribute to a more modern and polished kitchen aesthetic.

Skip the Boring Office Lights

Fluorescent lights may be common in office settings, but they aren’t the most pleasant option, even in workspaces. The harsh light emitted tends to create an unappealing atmosphere, especially in areas like kitchens where people socialize and enjoy meals. Instead, consider alternatives for better lighting solutions.


Updating the lighting in a workspace need not be expensive. Opt for task lighting or dimmers to adjust brightness and color intensity, enhancing work efficiency and the overall ambiance. In addition, include ambient lighting for a more comfortable environment. Investing in improved lighting can significantly transform any office space for the better.

Putting a Microwave Above the Oven

Placing a microwave above the stove is not a recommended kitchen layout for various reasons. Firstly, it exposes the microwave to continuous heat, steam, and grease from the cooking activity below, leading to frequent cleaning and the possibility of accelerated component wear. 

Peter Kim/Shutterstock

A more practical and suitable option would be to install a range hood above the stove. It efficiently captures and eliminates the airborne grease, smoke, and odors, promoting a cleaner and more convenient kitchen environment. This kitchen reno suggestion not only keeps your microwave in better condition but also improves traffic flow and overall functionality of your space.

Think Twice About Open Shelving

Open shelves can often be a source of frustration, as their contents tend to gather dust quickly, making cleaning a laborious task. Furthermore, the items displayed on these shelves are typically not of great significance; hence, there is little reason to showcase them openly. In comparison to open shelves, cabinets offer a better storage solution by protecting items from dust and providing additional space.


For those with extensive open shelving areas, it is advisable to consider installing more cabinets. Not only do they offer increased storage capacity, but cabinets also eliminate the need for constant cleaning. Investing in cabinets ultimately contributes to a more organized and cleaner home environment.

Shiny Metal Handles for Cabinets

Brass cabinet handles may not be the most stylish choice for kitchens, as they can appear outdated and draw more attention than desired. Over time, these handles tend to wear and show signs of tarnish, revealing the areas frequently touched by people. A more suitable alternative might be stainless steel cabinet hardware, which maintains a polished and discreet appearance. 


Additionally, stainless steel is considered equally, if not more, durable compared to brass handles. When considering faucets and other cabinet fixtures, opting for stainless steel can provide a unified, contemporary look without excessive effort.

Too Many Patterns Alert!

In considering a kitchen remodel, it’s best to avoid using multiple patterns for the design. Utilizing numerous patterns can result in an overwhelming look and contribute to clutter. 


Instead of experimenting with various patterns and potentially creating a chaotic atmosphere, it is advisable to employ a couple of complementary solid colors that harmonize with each other. This approach maintains a visually appealing, organized, and timeless kitchen design that suits the tastes of most homeowners.

Stop Hanging Pots Everywhere

Hanging pots and pans in a non-professional kitchen may not be the most practical choice. While they could contribute to a cluttered appearance, they could also give a pretentious impression if the food prepared does not match a professional standard. It is advisable to keep pots and pans in a cabinet, maintaining a neat and organized look.


Moreover, hanging pots may expose visible grease or stains that can be unappealing for visitors. Ensuring clean and tidy storage for your cookware contributes to an overall pleasant kitchen environment.

Avoid Old-Style Tiled Counters

Tiled counters may appear to be a suitable choice for kitchen countertops; however, this option has certain drawbacks. Firstly, tiled counters can give the kitchen an unwanted bathroom-like appearance. There are more visually appealing, versatile options like granite or hardwood which enhance the kitchen’s decor.


Moreover, tiled counters pose hygiene challenges. The grout between tiles is susceptible to wear and provides a hiding place for bacteria. To maintain cleanliness, one must scrub the grout vigorously, which further damages it. Therefore, it’s recommended to opt for alternatives for a cleaner and more attractive kitchen space.

Don’t Go Crazy with Fancy Lights (Chandeliers)

Installing multiple chandeliers can result in excessive glamour, especially in smaller kitchens. It is advisable to use only one chandelier, regardless of the size of your living space. Chandeliers, while visually appealing, can also be challenging to maintain. 


Regular cleaning or dusting is necessary to keep them in pristine condition, and it becomes cumbersome compared to other lighting options. Hence, exercising restraint when using chandeliers is crucial to maintain a balance between elegance and practicality in your kitchen.

Replace Your Old Floors (No More Linoleum)

Linoleum, once a popular choice for surfaces like tables and tiles, has lost its charm in recent times. It looks outdated and feels cheap, particularly if you have linoleum tiles. The tiles create an unpleasant sensation when walking on them, similar to stepping on a thin rubber mat atop a concrete slab. Moreover, they’re prone to deteriorate when exposed to water damage.


If you’re fond of your linoleum’s design, you might be able to find a comparable design in actual tiles. Alternatively, consider switching to hardwood floors. They offer a more durable, long-lasting, and refined look, all while staying within your budget. Talk to a contractor to explore options and determine the best way to replace that outdated linoleum.

Get Rid of Strange Chairs

When choosing chairs for your dining room, it’s tempting to mix and match for a unique look. However, avoid going overboard with quirky or uncomfortable chairs that merely act as decorations. Your guests will not enjoy their meal while seated in discomfort.


It’s crucial to have chairs that match or, at least, bear a similar color and style. Imagine coordinating chairs like you would while matching clothes. Be confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear in your choices, ensuring the dining experience remains enjoyable for everyone.

Old Wood Cabinets are Out

Over time, kitchen cabinets made of wood can start to look outdated, especially if they haven’t been painted or refreshed in a while. The wood type and stain used during the initial installation may no longer be in vogue, affecting the overall aesthetic of your kitchen.


To give your wooden cabinets a new life, consider applying a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint. This approach is not only more cost-effective but also simpler compared to refinishing the entire kitchen, which can be quite expensive and yield inconsistent results depending on the wood type. A fresh coat of paint on your cabinets will revitalize your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Old-School Window Decor Needs to Go

In today’s modern era, window valances, though not inherently tacky, are difficult to find with a contemporary touch. Moreover, their impractical aspects make them less favorable for use in homes. Valances, being made of fabric, require frequent washing, which adds to homeowners’ chores. The risk of fire associated with their fabric nature, particularly in high-heat areas like kitchens, further adds to their drawbacks.


Opting for alternatives such as blinds or tinted windows provides a more sensible solution. Both options offer shading while allowing sunlight to enter when desired, without the need for constant washing. So, say goodbye to window valances and embrace more practical window treatments that are better suited for modern times.

Say No to Overly Industrial Kitchens

Industrial kitchens may have an appealing modern appearance, but they can also come across as over-the-top. Large appliances and excessive stainless steel aren’t necessary for those who don’t host large gatherings frequently. Moreover, industrial-style seating tends to prioritize design over comfort, which isn’t ideal for a kitchen setting.


To create a more welcoming space, consider avoiding oversized kitchen islands resembling factory equipment, hanging pot racks, and steel barstools. Opt for a more comfortable and functional design instead.

Enough with the Fern Plants

While a couple of plants can enhance the ambience of a kitchen, an excessive number of ferns may create an undesirable effect. Instead of overcrowding the space with ferns, consider placing the majority of them in a garden or on a porch. There are numerous other decorative alternatives to achieve a similar result without the clutter.


Moreover, ferns can accumulate dust and have the potential to shed leaves indoors, making the kitchen appear more outdoorsy than intended. Maintaining moderation and variety in plant décor can lead to a balanced and visually appealing kitchen.

Tuscan-Style Kitchens are Outdated

Tuscan style kitchens have been frequently incorporated into homes over the past decade. These designs attempt to emulate the appearance of kitchens found in the region of Tuscany. However, they may not be the most suitable choice for those not residing in the area.


Opting for a more local design could offer a better alternative, as Tuscan-themed kitchens can sometimes appear overdone or out of place. Additionally, they tend to be pricey, with their high costs potentially outweighing their aesthetic appeal. Choosing another layout may provide both a more fitting and cost-effective solution.

No More Travertine Tiles

Travertine tiles share similarities with tumbled marble in appearance, but unfortunately can make your kitchen feel dated, as though it hasn’t evolved since the early 2000s. Despite the nostalgic appeal of that time, modern kitchen design should progress beyond those influences. One downside of these tiles is their ability to absorb water, creating a potential breeding ground for bacteria.

terekhov igor/Shutterstock

Additionally, travertine tiles may evoke memories of beach resort aesthetics, which may not appropriately align with your kitchen’s style unless you’re aiming for a coastal-inspired theme.

Skip the Spotty Granite

Among the various countertop surfaces available, speckled granite is one to avoid. Its appeal has waned over time, and its appearance can give off a dirty impression, often concealing stains. This hidden dirt makes it easy to miss areas when cleaning, which is undesirable for maintaining a hygienic kitchen environment.

YouTube / Blinds.com

Additionally, imitation speckled granite is even less desirable. Not only is it outdated, but it also lacks the durability of genuine granite and appears blatantly artificial upon closer inspection.

Little Kitchen Figurines? No Thanks!

Kitchen figurines are generally not considered essential or beneficial for a well-organized kitchen. Similar to garden gnomes, these little decorations simply occupy space, potentially making the area appear cluttered and less aesthetically appealing. If you have received one as a gift and don’t want to offend the giver, consider stashing it in a cabinet to display when the person visits.


However, for a cleaner and more streamlined kitchen appearance, consider removing these little sculptures, be it a miniature chef, cat, or bird, to create a more uncluttered and visually appealing space.

Desks in the Kitchen? Nope!

Kitchen desks may be promoted as an appealing aspect in multi-functional kitchens, but their practicality is questionable. The kitchen, typically a bustling and noisy environment, is not the ideal place for a workstation. Instead, it may be more beneficial to utilize that space with something that complements the kitchen’s core function.


Opting for additional countertop space or incorporating a liquor cabinet are just some examples of alternative uses for that area. Reconsider having a kitchen desk, and explore other options that can enhance your culinary experience and the overall functionality of your kitchen.

Let’s Forget About Doilies

Doilies, often associated with an outdated, cluttered ambiance, do not serve any practical purpose in a modern setting. In fact, their presence can detract from a contemporary home’s aesthetic, giving it a resemblance to your grandmother’s house.


Instead of using doilies, opt for alternative solutions, such as coasters, to protect your furniture and countertops. Embracing these updated options will help to maintain a refreshed look and prevent the unnecessary accumulation of decorative items.

Say No to Lace Stuff

Lace, first created in the 16th century, may be ill-suited for contemporary kitchen settings. This delicate fabric can pose a fire risk, as it is easily flammable and may be placed near cooking surfaces or heat sources. Furthermore, lace tends to accumulate dust and is challenging to clean, making it less than ideal in a space where hygiene is crucial.


While lace may offer decorative value, modern kitchens can benefit more from practical and visually appealing alternatives. In today’s design landscape, utility and aesthetic coexist to create a better overall experience for homeowners. Thus, it is essential to seek out decorations that not only beautify but also contribute functionality.

Stop Sanding Down Your Cabinets

Cabinetry serves as the foundation of your kitchen, similar to how wall paint impacts the ambience of your entire home. Distressed cabinets, which were popular five to ten years ago, now appear outdated and may even evoke feelings of anxiety due to their chaotic patterns. 

Gordon Swanson/Shutterstock

While incorporating a single tastefully distressed furniture piece is fine for other areas of your home, the kitchen benefits from a more serene atmosphere. To maintain a harmonious and visually appealing environment, opt for clean and crisp kitchen cabinets rather than those with chaotic and overly aged textures.

No More Wine Decorations

Incorporating wine-themed decorations into kitchen spaces can sometimes give off an undesirable impression, as if the homeowner may be excessively indulging in alcoholic beverages. To avoid the unintentional appearance of a struggling individual, it is essential to be mindful of the type of wine decor chosen.


Displaying empty wine bottles as decor may inadvertently send a negative message about one’s drinking habits. Instead, subtler options, such as tasteful artwork or culinary-themed items, can showcase a love for wine without insinuating excessive consumption.

Additionally, avoiding the use of oversized lettering or text-based decorations can help create a more sophisticated and elegant atmosphere. Elegant wine-themed decorations can transform a kitchen from tacky to fancy without compromising one’s passion for wine.

Reusing Old Food Boxes and Tubs

Old tin containers may hold nostalgic charm but can disrupt a kitchen’s visual flow. Often boasting unique branding, their colors and patterns might conflict with chosen kitchen themes. Functionality as storage also suffers due to the absence of lids, limiting their practicality.


It’s advisable to repurpose these containers in other parts of the home, such as in the garden or pantry, where they can serve a function without clashing with the kitchen workflow. Keeping them off the kitchen counters helps maintain a cohesive and efficient work environment.

Bright Fridges Can Be Too Much

Avoid brightly colored fridges in your kitchen. A mismatched color palette can make the space look odd, while the right one could overly emphasize the fridge’s location. Focus on balancing the kitchen’s visual appeal instead.


Opt for stainless steel appliances for a timeless and versatile appearance. This advice not only applies to fridges, but also to other large appliances like stoves and microwaves. Reserve the retro-inspired, colorful appliances for those who enjoy a more daring edge in their kitchen design.

Forget About Sliding Doors

Sliding doors, frequently referred to as barn doors, draw their inspiration from those typically found on farms. Unlike pocket doors that slide into walls, these doors move along the outside of a wall. However, since most homes are not situated on farms, sliding doors may appear out of place in their settings, similar to Tuscan-style kitchens.


Incorporating barn doors in a kitchen may seem incongruous and give the impression of yearning for a farm-like atmosphere. Therefore, opting for a standard door for pantry requirements is advisable in most homes.

Make Sure Your Paint Colors Match

When choosing paint colors for your kitchen, bear in mind that less is more. Avoid using too many colors as it may appear cluttered and unappealing. Keep in mind that colors and patterns also influence people’s emotions. So, opt for a couple of neutral shades that will create a timeless and pleasing ambiance, reducing the need for constant remodeling. 


By matching your paint choices with your personal style, you can create an inviting space that will continue to captivate your guests and maintain its charm throughout the years.

Avoid Half-Complete Wall Decor (Backsplashes)

Half-done backsplashes may appear as a cost-saving measure, but they can give an impression of cutting corners during remodeling or construction. A complete backsplash not only looks more aesthetically pleasing, but also enhances the value of the property.


In terms of practicality, insufficient backsplash coverage can leave areas above prone to dirt and require frequent cleaning. Opting for a full backsplash ensures a more polished appearance and a cleaner kitchen environment.

Too Many Appliances on the Counter!

Having numerous appliances is not the issue; it’s the constant display on countertops that contributes to clutter. Most appliances are not used frequently enough to warrant permanent counter space. Putting them away after cleaning the kitchen or washing dishes is a practical solution.


Leaving one or two appliances out is acceptable, but it’s advisable to store the rest, especially if they don’t match aesthetically. Maintaining a tidy countertop fosters a more organized and visually appealing kitchen.

No Need for Signs that State the Obvious

Decorative room signs may appear charming in magazines, but they serve little purpose in reality. Such signs occupy valuable space and point out the obvious, such as labeling a kitchen when the sink and stove are clearly visible. Although these signs might evoke an industrial or farmhouse ambiance, chances are, that isn’t the current setting.


A more effective approach would be to replace room signs with practical items or simply maintain open wall space, which would automatically accentuate more striking features of the room.

Forget About Farm Signs

Farm-inspired signs combine elements of descriptive signs and barn door posts, but they also have their drawbacks. These signs may feel like a charming touch at the moment, but they are likely just a passing trend. Eventually, you may want to remove them during a kitchen renovation.


Instead, consider leaving that area uncluttered for a clean and open look. If desired, seasonally-appropriate decorations can be a more adaptable option. By opting for neutral, minimalist décor, the space can evoke a sense of simplicity and harmony for everyone to enjoy.