Quick and instant ways to update your kitchen

By Katie Levell, Houzz Contributor

Investing in a new kitchen is very costly and involves an awful lot of upheaval. Instead of embarking on a huge project, consider these snappy ideas and indulge in a little low-stress kitchen refreshment.

Photo by Studio Morton

Make a feature of your handles

It’s not always possible to change handles without leaving unsightly marks on the doors, but if you have the option, a new set can give your kitchen a fresh new look.

Here, the turquoise door knobs add a quirky element to the plain white units and tie in perfectly with the patterned tile splashback.

Photo by Torie Jayne

Renew your worktop

The tone of your kitchen can be changed completely with a different work surface. You might like to upgrade from laminate to wood, stone or a solid surface. Alternatively, you could just swap one colour laminate for another.

Think about the light in your kitchen, and whether it would help to go darker as a contrast, or lighter to brighten the room. Most granite or quartz suppliers will make a template and fit the worktop for you. All you’ll need to do is remove the old surface and order the new one. It’s important to provide an even and well-supported base for these heavy slabs, so check with your supplier on the installation requirements.

Even the simplest-to-fit laminate surfaces need the right tools for the job, so if you’re planning to tackle the fitting yourself, make sure you have the appropriate equipment to make joins and cuts. Alternatively, call in a professional to do the job for you.

Photo by Hillarys

Spruce up your window treatments

Take a quick look at your kitchen windows and ask yourself whether those curtains have seen better days. Why not refresh your scheme by bringing in pattern and colour with a new Roman blind, like these red and white toile de Jouy ones?

Alternatively, consider updating to a more hardy material. Kitchens produce a lot of heat, dust, grease and humidity, so wood-effect Venetian blinds can work really well. They’ll give the room a Scandi look, but won’t have the warping tendencies of real wood.

Or consider sleek-looking roller blinds, which come in wipe-clean materials for ultimate kitchen hardiness.

Photo by Dovetail Workers in Wood ltd

Integrate some nifty storage mechanisms

Corner cupboards are notoriously hard to access, especially those that have a door on one side only. However, there are a few different mechanisms on the market to make this task a doddle.

Most of them consist of shelves or racks that are fitted on separate rails and pull in and out as the door opens. Here, the shelves sit next to each other inside the cupboard, then slide forwards smoothly when the door is pulled out.

It’s possible to fit these mechanisms after the kitchen is installed, and most conform to a universal size and scale. However, do measure your cupboard and access door before investing.

Photo by Harvey Jones Kitchens

Splash on the paint

One of the easiest ways to update your kitchen is to introduce a new colour scheme on the walls. Bold, dark shades, like this moody blue, work well as a contrast against white cabinets. For maximum effect, these homeowners have taken the colour right down to the skirting board.

Alternatively, a bright yellow or orange can liven things up considerably. Often painting just one wall will be enough to revamp the room.

Photo by Roundhouse

Install a shelf

If you have space on your kitchen walls, consider putting up one or two shelves. They would be the ideal place to house excess items that are cluttering the work surface, or to display attractive tins, potted herbs or beautiful crockery.

Make sure your fixings are strong enough to take the weight of the items you wish to display. Some floating shelves, for example, can’t take the weight of cookery books or bowls. Look out for interesting brackets, such as ones made from old pipework, which can give a room a striking industrial focal point.

Alternatively, if you have an unused shelf unit elsewhere in the house, a lick of paint could help it fit in with the rest of the kitchen.

Photo by Sustainable Kitchens

Re-grout the tiles

Kitchen surfaces are prone to spatters and grime, and while tiles themselves are easy to wipe clean, the grouting around them tends to hold on to the stains in a most unattractive manner. In fact, someone once observed to me, “I’m surprised they don’t do an orange grout and cut to the chase.”

If your kitchen tiles are looking shabby, it may be worth re-grouting. You could choose a fresh white, or go for something more forgiving, such as an on-trend grey.

The process is not too complicated, and involves carefully scraping out the old grout, reapplying the new, and then wiping the tiles clean. There are antibacterial grouts on the market, which are said to stay whiter for longer.

Photo by Neptune

Reassess how you use your storage

Sometimes, a good clear-out can be just as refreshing as introducing new elements to your kitchen. A really useful method of achieving this is by reclassifying what you have.

I tend to group items by use – cutlery, mugs, saucepans, baking ingredients, cereal packets, and so on. Then I look at how they’re being stored right now, and whether that’s the most accessible or practical place for them.

Anything on the heavy side shouldn’t really be stored up high, as it’s so much harder to lift those items down safely. Big bowls, pans and large appliances work best in pan drawers or base-level storage, whereas stackable and lighter items (baking trays and cake tins) aren’t as cumbersome to lift and can go higher.

Maybe you have spices jumbled on a shelf in a wall cupboard. How about moving them into a drawer where they can easily be seen and don’t waste as much space?

Photo by Farrow & Ball

Wheel in a trolley or butcher’s block

If it’s more worktop space you’re after, a superb flexible solution is the butcher’s block. Perfect for a little more chopping space, it can be moved around the kitchen, and even offers additional storage beneath it.

You don’t have to get it to match your existing units – there are numerous designs available. A popular choice is the traditional model with a wooden surface and painted legs, as seen here. For a more modern approach, you could consider a hostess trolley in glamorous metal, or a stainless-steel version for a no-nonsense, pro-style kitchen.

Photo by threshold interiors

Update your kitchen linen

A spot check of most tea towel collections will reveal at least one souvenir from friends or relatives (ours include Australia and Mallorca), and a motley assortment of colours and designs.

Task yourself with a kitchen linen revamp, and choose some new towels and cloths that actually fit with the rest of the room. Perhaps colour-match them with a vibrant feature, such as a splashback, or go for a set of classic white striped towels, as here.

Add an armchair

There’s no reason why you have to stick to hard and upright seating in the kitchen. It’s fun to play with convention, so if you have the space, consider including a slouchy, comfy armchair. Guests can relax into it while you potter, or you can use it as a spot to peruse recipe books or simply curl up with a cuppa.

It’s probably not wise to introduce expensive or delicate fabrics into the atmosphere of a kitchen, so perhaps plump for something more forgiving. Incongruous as it may seem, in a kitchen environment, this sort of feature furniture could end up being a highlight of the room.

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