Yes, I know. You want to gut your kitchen, but it’s simply not in the budget right now. so what can you do in the meantime? These are my three simplest ways to provide instant lift to a tired kitchen. Best of all, they don’t cost obscene amounts of money (unless you have that natural talent for selecting the most luxurious of goods). If you plan it right, two of the ideas can even transfer when you’re ready to remodel.
Every designer says it, because it’s true: a good paint job can freshen and brighten, and can really provide a quick facelift when you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck. Whether you’re planning on painting walls or cabinets, consider changing beige walls to brighter tones, or lightening up a dark tone for a lighter one--especially if your cabinets are dark.
For walls, see:
- Houdini: How to choose kitchen paint colors (video)
- Decorating by Donna: How to add color to a white kitchen
- HGTV: 10 Colorful Kitchen Designs
Painting the cabinets: This one isn’t as easy as it looks; I don’t have the patience and tend to look to an experienced painter for this, but I know others tackle it with enthusiasm. Be sure to check what finish is on the cabinets now – not all of them will accept a new paint finish due to the chemicals and/or stain properties already on wood.
For cabinets, see:
- Houzz: From the Pros: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
- Young House Love: How to Paint Your Cabinets
- The Inspired Room: My Kitchen Makeover (Before and After Cabinets
Adding or changing out handles on cabinets can add a bit of zing and can be a subtle update, especially if the existing knobs are looking a bit worn or scratched.
Simply Knobs: Adding a back plate if you want to switch from handles to knobs
Adding a touch of color such as the glass or bronze knobs above
Adding a couple of custom pieces where you’ll see them most or to add extra sparkle to a cabinet with glass doors
Just A Girl: How to Install Cabinet Hardware
Last week, I was in an older 1950s home. The single ceiling light was original and dim,dim,dim.
For simple “let’s increase the brightness level”, I might suggest a swap-out to an LED lighting fixture: its light spread is similar for fluorescent but its color rendering is more like incandescent lighting. As a bonus, it can be matched with a dimmer, but be careful as not all dimmers works with all LEDs.
I surprised you, didn’t I? You thought I would go for some designer-y type light? In this case of the 1950s home, if the homeowner couldn’t remodel, this one change would lighten and brighten.
Think of it like lighting design in movies or onstage. What do set designers want to do when they want to convey depression and sadness? They dim or darken the lighting.When they want the big finish or the happy ending, they bump up the lighting.
We’re creatures with moods that are strongly affected by light. This is why I would go for altering the lighting levels first instead of a fancy designer light that would stand out by its newness. This light would make kitchen would feel bigger for relatively little cost, and the general lighting would be more than sufficient for the space. Best of all, for this fixture would disappear into the ceiling…for now.
If your kitchen is not that dark, then of course you can look for a little sparkle.
Chris Loves Julia: The New Kitchen Lighting (or Fluorescent Be Gone!)
Making it Lovely: Kitchen Lighting Options