By Stephen Saint-Onge
One of the biggest questions I get as a designer is how to be creative on a budget. One of the best rooms to do that in is the kitchen. You can make changes easily and inexpensively now, whether you are looking to sell your house or need to simply freshen it up for yourself.
If you are planning to sell, kitchen improvements have one of the highest returns on your investment in terms of getting a good price for your home.
Uncovering the Good
When you start any redesign – think about what is good in the space and what is not. Are the wood floors in bad shape and in need of a few layers of room brightening porch paint? Are the windows covered in dated window treatments that block out natural light? Are the countertops nice but simply covered with too much stuff? Be honest with yourself about the space.
Work With What You Have
Once you know what works well in the space then you can work from there and take the focus away from what is not working by literally removing it or making it less of a focus.
In the space below, I had several good things to focus on: nice floors; great countertops; cabinets were in good shape; windows had clean; classic lines and the appliances were new. If the windows were not so great or if the view was not to your liking, then you could add some inexpensive bamboo shades to draw your eye away from what you do not want to focus in on.
One easy fix is changing the wall color. By changing these walls from a dark green to a sunny yellow, the kitchen now has a more uplifting feel.
If the cabinets were dark wood or very dated, I would have primed them and painted them white. Fortunately in this case they were already white and in good shape. So I changed the drawer pull and knob hardware to give an instant new look, which is something you can do yourself.
Lighting is a big thing for me. I replaced the dated fixture over the sink to a schoolhouse pendant light that I bought on sale. Then, over the island, I found a halogen spot track unit that would work well into the style of the space but could be used to add the warmth to the overall space. Lighting truly makes good design come to life.
When you do a cosmetic makeover, you don’t have to rip everything out and start over – you make what you have better. In this kitchen, the stainless steel sink was good, but to give it a more updated look I simply changed out the faucet with a new one.
If your kitchen has beat-up upper cabinets, you could remove them and install open shelving that gets painted white and displays only your everyday dinnerware and glassware. Something as simple as that can truly give a space or wall a facelift.
The appliances in this kitchen were new, so that saved money. If you need to buy new ones for your space this is where I think it is wise to invest your money. Yes, stainless is still trendy, but white is always classic and works great with various styles and is always a good selling point on a home. Fortunately you can now get the high-end look without the big price tag. Shop around and compare prices.
The last visual change in this room is the styling. By removing the clutter from the countertops and creating views that I like to call “moments.” A tray that holds cooking spices and oils by the stove, a basket of fruit, simple canisters, a few matching props, a new cutting board and some flowers. You can set a stage for your everyday living that says “welcome home” to your family, friends and potential buyers. The kitchen will always remain the heart of the home no matter how much or how little Money you spend to make it better. Be creative with what you have.