5. The Regret: I hate the floor
My architect seemed very smitten with bamboo flooring, and it sounded like a good earth-friendly choice. But the bamboo showed dents and signs of wear almost from the start. If I had to do it over, I would go for oak. —Danita Geltner, New York, New York

Better Bet: Research more, redo less
Choosing the "perfect" flooring material is one of the most challenging aspects of a kitchen renovation. It's important to factor your personal needs and preferences into your decision, along with cost per square foot. For many owners of older homes, only wood will do. It's beautiful and long-lasting, but even the coats of poly­urethane used to seal it are prone to scratches. Ceramic tile is durable and generally easy to maintain, but harder on the feet: If you spend lots of time standing at the prep station, you may want something more forgiving underfoot. For color and comfort, many homeowners are returning to good old linoleum: It's resilient, splinterless, seamless, made from natural materials, and self-heals when cut.

But bamboo (actually a grass, not a wood) has its merits too. "Bamboo is a good sustainable product for a kitchen floor, but to ensure hardness, stability, and clarity, you have to be careful to choose bamboo that has been harvested at maturity, after five or six years of growth," says designer Dana Jones. "Immature bamboo will not stand up as well to the demands of a kitchen." She recommends manufacturers like Teragren that offer a palette of prefinished colors that are sealed with a water-based, solvent-free, scratch-resistant topcoat.

6. The Regret: Foiled again!
My major regret is choosing cabinetry with ther­mofoil doors. If you put them next to an oven, toaster, or microwave, the foil veneer will melt and curl! —Madelyn Feuerstein, Boynton Beach, Florida

Better Bet: Check your specs—and your warranty
"The big culprit here is the heat and moisture," says Charles Testa, a kitchen designer in Patchogue, New York. "It's important to do whatever can be done to rid the area of steam quickly." That's one of the reasons why it's recommended that range hoods be installed 6 inches wider than the cooking area (3 inches on each side), and that exhaust fans be appropriately sized for the rate of air that the cooktop requires. Adjacent cabinets should be at least 18 inches above the countertop. If the layout is right and the veneers still can't stand the heat, get them out of your kitchen. Good quality cabinets should be backed by a manufacturer's guarantee for full replacement if the materials do not stand up to normal use. Make sure the maker stands behind their product's performance before you plunk down your money: Cabinetry is one of the top three expenses of a remodeling job (right up there with labor and appliances), and you want to be happy with your investment for a long time.
Ask TOH users about Befores and Afters

Contribute to This Story Below