5 Updates that Rejuvenate Your Kitchen
Does the heart of your home — the kitchen — need an upgrade or change of scenery? Here are five elements of springtime “fresh air” for your kitchen that can raise its (and your) spirits for months, or years, to come.
1. SPLASH SOME COLOR
It’s no accident that the first thing you’ll hear from many experts such as Diamond Kitchen and Bath is something along the lines of, “What are your colors?” Those deep wood grain cabinets add warmth and elegance to a kitchen, but they can also absorb light and darken what may already be a small, shadowed space, so lightening them with paint is both budget- and DIY-friendly. Wood cabinets are easy to paint, but even cabinetry made of other materials can be transformed with new finishes, so don’t be afraid to think in terms of a whole new palette if you like.
Cherry-red and white gingham curtains pair with deep tomato or berry-red walls, white floors, and white cabinets for an unmistakable “country” look that’s fetching and classic. The same can be said for true blue and buttercup or lemon yellow. But primaries aren’t the only way to go. Lime green, orange, and purple are popular colors for modern kitchens, each imparting its own special mood. And don’t forget those whimsical retro shades of avocado, bronze, and gold if you’re a child of the 80s!
2. ROCK THE HOUSE
If you’ve had it with old, chipped Formica or stained butcher block countertops, consider rock instead. No, we’re not kidding! And we’re not just talking about granite, either — although that’s a great upgrade for any kitchen. Solid counter surfaces range from concrete itself, a terrific industrial-chic look for lofts and minimalist decors, to laminates with customized edges, to the solidity and permanence of granite, marble, or quartz.
You can paint concrete for an especially unique effect, plan your kitchen complements around the vein pattern of a gorgeous natural stone…even gain extra light with sparkles from naturally occurring crystals! Granite and other natural stones harmonize equally well with stainless steel, ceramics, copper, and wood, and lend a subtle rustic touch that’s both warm and contemporary.
3. IMPROVE THE LAYOUT
If your kitchen’s traffic patterns have always been a nuisance, and your budget can bear it, think about repurposing the space with a different layout. There’s a reason professional kitchens have “triangle” workspace arrangements: they save steps, allow for more than one person to work in the space, and still keep things flowing so that you’re not tripping over one thing or another.
For dedicated cooks and bakers, very rare is the kitchen that actually has enough usable workspace. Under-cabinet spots are fine for small tasks, but if you need to spread out — or your kitchen lacks both enough work surface and enough storage — consider adding a center island. With the right design, an island can accommodate work surfaces, cooktops, storage drawers, and shelves, or even extra seating that turns it into a handy breakfast bar or snack spot. Center islands can “open up” space and give you extra entertaining and socializing options, too — an addition well worth a few extra dollars.
4. LET THERE BE LIGHT
Sometimes even a bright coat of paint still leaves your kitchen with a five-o’-clock shadow — all the time. In these cases, think about opening up part of a wall or ceiling to allow more natural light into the situation. Can you expand a window? Change a door around? Add a skylight? You don’t have to tear out whole walls, either; sometimes a very small change is all you need for extra sunshine.
If these aren’t viable options, though, don’t despair: under-cabinet lighting transforms dim, gloomy spots into sites where you can easily read recipes, measure accurately, and see what you’re slicing (an invaluable aid to avoiding the ER!). Pair energy-efficient white lights with dimmers and you can go from workaday bright to a subtle, even romantic glow. And don’t forget the value of reflective surfaces on accessories or appliances. Glass tile backsplashes, a polished stainless steel sink, and copper or bronze handles, pulls, or range hoods impart their own additions to the illumination at hand.