Home Improvement Ingredients for Your Kitchen

home improvement

Home improvement design tips for your kitchen from The Design Cookbook: Recipes for a Stylish Home by Kelly Edwards.

I once heard that people are judged on two areas of their home: their bathroom and their kitchen. With that said, I believe the kitchen is the heart of the home and should be given extra attention to be at its best. It’s the room we gravitate toward and end up spending the most time in. Whether you’re a gourmet chef or a killer peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich maker, having a great kitchen just makes everything taste better.

Think about how you’d like your kitchen to function. What do you need most? Maybe it is storage, better lighting or a paint refresher. Even on a budget, you can give your kitchen the face-lift it needs. Do your research and figure out what’s realistic. Look through books and magazines and find styles and colors that speak to you.

Dallett Closet Doors Pantry home improvementPantry with Bedroom Closet Doors. Design by Lloyd Dallett. Brian Lahiere Photography.

It’s helpful to start with the cabinets because they are the biggest focal point in the room. A fresh coat 
of paint can do wonders! Going with a semigloss will work with any décor. However, if you’re set on a modern lacquered finish, opt for a high gloss. In addition, consider painting the lower cabinets a different color than the top cabinets. This will intensify the overall look and anchor them. In consideration of your budget, opt for inexpensive cabinets and splurge on the countertop instead. No one but you will know the difference.

If you are satisfied with the configuration of your cabinets but the outward appearance needs updating, opt for new fronts and then have the bases professionally sprayed. The coat will be even, and it will save you time and money in the long run. Other additions to consider are molding and glass. The molding will add a decorative element, while the glass will open up the space and make a small kitchen seem more spacious. If you’re looking to really expand the space, remove the upper cabinets altogether and add open shelving. The look is marvelous, but you will need to be diligent to keep everything neat and clean.

Brooklyn Home home improvementUrban Farmhouse. Design by Fitzhugh Karol & Lyndsay Caleo, Brooklyn Home Company. Emily Gilbert Photography.

For a simple transformation, a fresh set of hardware on your cabinets can give them a refresher with the least effort. You can opt for knobs and pulls or add new hinges. Always bring the cabinet to the hardware store to ensure the proper fitting and save yourself from having to make a second trip.

When it comes to changing out your countertops, you can choose from a variety of options, such as butcher block, marble, ceramic, stainless steel, manufactured stone, concrete, and laminate. With your budget and desired level of maintenance in mind, do your research and choose something with longevity. Not only do you want materials that will last, but you also want to pick a style that you will love 10 years from now. Consider choosing a few different materials instead of just one, and mix and match. For instance, maybe you want a butcher block surface for your island and marble for your countertops.

Appliances play a big role in the overall design of a kitchen. Stainless steel is a foolproof choice. If possible, choose energy-efficient appliances, which will help save you money over time. If your current appliances need a pick-me-up but you aren’t able to invest in new ones, consider using appliance spray paint. For $10, you can turn a dingy old refrigerator into one that looks brand-new.

Simply updating your sink and faucet can make a big improvement in your kitchen. I always recommend letting the style of the kitchen dictate the style of your faucet and sink. If you are going for a more streamlined look, select a sink made of the same material as your countertop and go with chrome or brushed-nickel finishes. If you’re looking for something a bit traditional, try a trough or stainless steel sink with a stainless faucet. Also take into consideration how you will use your sink. Do you own a lot of large pots and pans? If so, a single basin versus a double basin would be a better choice. For a more consistent look, choose a finish similar to that of your cabinet hardware. And always—and I mean always—splurge for a sprayer.

Amber Lewis home improvementWell-Balanced. Design by Amber Lewis, Amber Interiors. Jeffrey Moustache Photography.

Think of backsplashes as the backdrop of the kitchen. They’re where you can inject color, pattern and texture. Choose bead board for a rustic look, subway tile for a classic finish, glass tile for color, or even wallpaper covered with a piece of Plexiglas for a budget-friendly DIY option. With hundreds of options to choose from, this is where you can make a color statement in your kitchen. For an even bigger impact, extend the tile all the way to the ceiling.

Floors ground the whole room, literally and figuratively. For instance, a really deep floor color can be a beautiful contrast to white cabinets, whereas concrete can make a home feel more modern. Before you purchase any flooring, think about its durability as well as its style/appearance. Not only do you want it to look good in your home, but you also want it to hold up to spills and foot traffic. Ceramic tiles are great for easy cleanup and come in a variety of textures and colors. Wood brings in warmth and coziness. There are also green options, such as eco-friendly cork, bamboo or linoleum.

Lighting can make or break a good kitchen design. Focus on task lighting and ambient lighting. It’s always nice to incorporate some glamour or architectural detail, such as a lantern or a chandelier. For task lighting, think how you use the space and focus on lighting there. Under-cabinet lighting works well for cooking and prepping. It can also create depth in a small kitchen by allowing light to reflect off the backsplash. Your eye will focus around the room instead of in the center. And don’t forget the dimmers. You’ll need these to turn the lights up to cook and down to entertain.

LightingKitchen Chandelier. Design by Fieldstone Hill Design. Life in Grace Photography.

I love, love, love what I call stove-to-table kitchens, meaning you literally have your dining table in the kitchen and everything moves directly from the stove to the table. My favorite designer, Windsor Smith, accomplishes this with ease. The kitchens she designs are perfect for entertaining. She once told me that the best dinner conversations happen in the kitchen, so why not put the dining table there?

If you don’t have room for a dining table, maybe you can add an island with built-in storage. An island is a double-duty piece that gives prep chefs an added space to work on and guests a place to pull up a stool while you cook. For an inexpensive version, add some casters to a small cart and pull it out when needed. end

 

The Design Cookbook home improvement

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  • Ann M. Ros’a

    I’ve redesigned my kitchen 6 times now. I can’t figure out which cabinet style or colors I want. It’s gonna be a big transformation when I get gone, circa 1994- cramped configuration is getting old and I’ve been in my condo for ONLY 10 years! The budget will stay low by keeping the plumbing and electrical in the same spots… If I can’t make it bigger, by building out, I’m going make it spacious by taking over the dining area!

    • Brigitte Shepard

      Great ideas. Love the photos. Thanks for sharing.