The living room may the front window of our home, but the kitchen is the heart of it. It isn’t just the place where we cook and eat. It’s the natural gathering center. From the bedrooms to the rec room to the dining room, all roads lead to the kitchen. It’s not only the family that gets together here. Our best and dearest friends join us there for coffee, laughter, and tears.
But what if this most special of rooms is in need of a facelift? What if you don’t have the time and money to tear it up and rebuild it? That’s still no reason to live with a tired and uninspiring kitchen. Here are 25 tricks for bringing some new life to that old room, and none of them requires a wheelbarrow full of money.
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1. Lighten It Up
Get out the paint can; a bright kitchen feels bigger and is more cheerful. Whites, creams, and pastels open things up, especially if your kitchen is small or doesn’t have much in the way of windows. With a larger room, you can choose from a more extended palette. A fresh coat of paint equals a fresh coat of brightness. What else can add so much delight to every cup of coffee?
2. Pick an Accent Color
If your walls are neutral, a bright and assertive accent color lifts your spirits every time you come in. Think of turquoise with white or a vibrant blue or red with cream. You know what colors you like, so surround yourself with them. Your accent might be painted on a door or on trim, or maybe you’ll pick small appliances and decor in your chosen color. Bowls, tablecloths, place settings and backsplashes are all candidates to execute your color direction.
3. Spruce Up Cabinet Doors
Replacing the cabinets may not be in the cards in the next year or two, but changing the cabinet doors is always an option. There are two ways to do this: buy new doors or renew the ones you already have. You can certainly restain with something similar to what’s already there, but for a quick shot of liveliness, why not paint? The doors will pop when they’re a contrasting color to the rest of their background. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, how about choosing two colors and alternating them on your doors.
4. New Handles
Even if you leave cabinet doors alone, new hardware will bring a sparkle. And it’s a crowning touch for refinished or repainted doors. Pick a finish and a style and use matching new hardware for the drawer pulls as well. It may be the biggest transformation you can make in an hour.
5. Hanging Metal Shelves
If you have to push all your glasses in to close your cupboard doors and your spice collection is outgrowing its rack, add some capacity with these wall shelves. Metal shelves aren’t only for an industrial theme. They work with homey and rustic design as well. It’s a double win: an attractive addition to your walls and a practical organizational tool.
6. Hang Your Pots and Pans
Expand your homespun look by installing some wall hooks for your cookware. Space individual hooks at appropriate intervals or install a kitchen pegboard. It accommodates not only cookware but also spatulas, ladles and other small kitchen tools.
7. Plates As Wall Art
In many rooms, photographs and prints are the best things to hang on walls, but in the kitchen, there’s another choice: you can display dinner plates. Use the same kind you set on the table or pick some that are only for show. Change your look with new plates as often as you like. It’s like a rotating art exhibit for your kitchen walls! Choose functional plate hangers or ones that are as artistic as the serving ware you suspend with them.
8. A Shadow Box for Collectibles
If you have favorite glass animals, organize your menagerie in a shadow box. Display tiny keepsakes of treasured vacations. Your collectibles may be happy enough on a dresser top or even in a drawer, but a shadow box is where you and everyone else can admire them every day.
9. Wicker baskets
Any basket, bowl or tray will keep items organized, but wicker containers not only promote orderliness but establish a repeated theme throughout the kitchen. Small wide shallow baskets hold spices. Taller ones are a repository for recipes, coupons and miscellaneous notes. But where these really show their mettle is on a floor stand. That’s where several baskets reside stacked with a wooden framework. Think of all you can keep here: aprons, recipe books, spare towels, paper products.
Maybe you’d love new countertops but you just can’t take the financial plunge at the present. There’s still a way to give your kitchen counters a new feel: add a backsplash. If you’ve been dying to try out a new color or pattern, this is your chance. If you don’t feel up to taking on a tiling job, there is easy to use peel and stick backsplash pieces.
11. Lights under the Cabinets
Nothing changes the look of a room like some fresh lighting. A bright kitchen is easier to work in and feels better too. But if you’re not ready to rewire your kitchen, try some battery operated under cabinet lights. Stick them on the bottom of your cabinets and get rid of the shadows in the far reaches of the countertop. There are models with both disposable and rechargeable batteries.
12. Dress Up Your Windows
Many kitchens have small windows if any windows at all, and they need to let as much light through as possible. In that case, sheer curtains tied back from the windows are best. However, if you have plenty of windows and light you might use a colorful stringless shade. A suncatcher or two adds a nice little glint. Children’s art, such as watercolor on thin paper, can sit in a corner of a window and direct sunlight into your kitchen in more ways than one.
13. Your Table Top As a Blank Canvas
You can keep the kitchen table clear when you’re not using it, but you can also turn it into an artwork. There’s no reason for place settings to be boring. They can be brightly colored or have nature scenes or replicas of famous paintings. Go as bold as you like with plates and bowls and keep them on the table between meals. Bright colors with fruit and flowered patterns are so much more exciting than white plates with subtle designs. Get complementing glasses and mugs. If your table is an attractive wooden one, consider a glass tabletop to make all the detail stand out.
14. Decorative Cutting Boards
There are plain wooden and hard plastic cutting boards, and they’re perfectly functional. You can push them into a corner or stash them away after use, and nobody will ever notice. But why not get a cutting board that demands to be left on display. There are marble look boards and intricate tile patterns. There are ceramic boards in the shape of animals. You might want a matching pair for both sides of the sink.
15. Cover That Small Appliance
Toasters, blenders and food processors can be a bit clutterish when they sit out on the counter. Give your kitchen a cleaner look by cloaking those little kitchen helpers under a cover that’s made just for a small appliance. These come in several colors and cover not only the less conspicuous items but also heftier ones such as slow cookers, mixers, and countertop microwaves.
16. Or Let That Small Appliance Shine
Many toasters, coffee pots and so forth are gray or beige and uninteresting. One beautification choice is to hide them with a cover, but an opposite philosophy is to buy a brightly colored one and let it serve as an accent. This works especially well if the appliance matches a theme color used in wall trim or kitchen decor.
17. Brazen Bar Stools
If you have a counter that people can sit up to, it’s a situation that practically screams for some bar stools. A lot of them are wooden, with or without padded seats, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but how about something you won’t find in the average kitchen. For example, a set of four plastic bar stools in four different bright colors. They’re sure to wake you up when you come out for your morning coffee or pull up for an afternoon snack.
18. New Seat Pads
If you’ve been looking at or sitting on the same chairs for as long as you can remember, you might not even notice what the seats look like. If you add some seat pads or replace the current ones, you won’t have that problem. Whether your chairs are wood or metal a new pad can reinforce your theme colors, and you’ll be glad you made the switch each time you pull up to the table.
19. Different Faucets
If you’ve replaced your cabinet handles and drawer pulls with a favorite metal such as polished chrome or brushed stainless steel, continue that theme into your kitchen faucet. And check out some of the more contemporary styles. The high faucets look stunning sitting way up there, but they’re popular for more than their good looks. Once you’ve become used to the clearance for washing your hands or getting a drink you won’t want to go back. Doubly so if you choose a touchless faucet!
20. A Magnetic Bottle Opener Collection
The last time someone asked you for a “church key,” did you have to fumble through your drawers to find one? Did you make a can opener awkwardly do the job? You’ll never be at that loss again with an assortment of souvenir bottle openers magneted to the side of your fridge. Browse gift shops and scour the internet and create the collection that reflects your tastes, or pick a new one up everywhere you travel. The next time someone needs a bottle opener, give them an entertaining choice.
21. Never a Boring Bowl
Everyone uses lots of bowls in the kitchen, for everything from bananas to apples to the family stash of candy. Make them big, make them bright, make them beautiful. On the counter, on the table, up the top of the refrigerator, demand that each one carry its weight in making your kitchen everything it can be.
22. Jars and Cannisters
Your ground and powdered herbs and spices are fine in little containers on your spice rack, but what about the fresh herbs? When they’re displayed in a row of Mason jars, they speak of a cook who knows what they’re about. Jars can also contain sugar, flour, and grains as well, but those are better in canisters. Use handwritten labels to identify the contents of each one.
23. Don’t Treat Your Rags Like Rags
Dishrags are a necessity of kitchen life, but they don’t have to be an unsightly one. For a kitchen improvement trick, you can do in an hour, throw away those mismatched rags and buy some nice and colorful new ones. Pick up some complementing dish towels while you’re at it. And add an attractive holder, either wall-mounted or countertop, to hold them when they’re not in use.
24. Colorful Rugs
You may not be ready to replace your kitchen floor, but you can liven it with some rugs. For example, a happy striped rug under the sink gives you a comfortable place to stand while you do dishes. A throw rug at the entryway delineates the kitchen from the hall or dining room and keeps food or dirt from getting tracked out or in.
25. Shall We Have a Spot of Tea?
Rather than dig out the teatime fixings, keep a tea sitting on your table or counter as a form of decor. Match it to the overall kitchen ambiance you’re establishing. Maybe you like one that’s traditional and a bit frilly, or perhaps you’ll choose modern with a contemporary shape and bright colors. Even if teatime hasn’t been your thing, the right setting might convince you to give it a try.