How can I make my kitchen look better? Design experts prioritize these impactful methods

A kitchen remodel can completely transform the look and feel of your home. With so many options available, it can be challenging to decide which updates will have the biggest impact. Design experts recommend focusing on a few key areas that offer the best return on investment and dramatically improve the aesthetics of your kitchen space.

Optimize Lighting

Proper lighting is essential for making any room look its best. When it comes to kitchen design, both general and task lighting should be optimized:

Install Pot Lights

Recessed lighting, often called pot lights due to the can-like housing, casts even, ambient light throughout the kitchen. Pot lights are highly versatile and available in varying diameters, trims, bulb types, and finishes. Place them strategically over countertops or islands where focused task lighting is needed.

Under Cabinet Lighting

LED strip lighting or pucks under upper cabinets illuminate countertops beautifully. This type of lighting is perfect for safely preparing foods, reading recipes, and completing other kitchen tasks. Under cabinet lights also add depth and dimension to the kitchen.

Pendant Lighting

Pendant lights over islands or other surfaces draw the eye upwards and add style. Clustered pendant lights are especially popular for creating visual interest and defining kitchen zones. Add them over a dining table or bar area to distinguish the spaces.

Natural Light

Maximize natural sunlight through strategic window placement, sizes, and treatments. South and east facing windows allow the most light. Consider larger windows, skylights, or sun tunnels. Use sheer curtains, blinds, or other window treatments to filter and soften harsh glares.

Proper lighting can make a kitchen warm, welcoming, and highly functional. A combination of ambient, task, and natural light is ideal. Position fixtures thoughtfully to illuminate key areas. Seek varied fixtures that align with the overall kitchen design. The right lighting drastically enhances the look and use of any kitchen.

Select Expressive Cabinetry

Cabinetry plays a major role in kitchen design. The color, style, hardware, and layout of cabinets dramatically impacts the aesthetic. When selecting cabinets:

Choose Distinctive Colors

White and gray cabinets are popular, but bolder colors are on trend. Blues, greens, yellows, and even black add personality. Staining wood cabinets in darker espresso tones is also eye-catching. Use color strategically depending on the mood you want to set.

Integrate Textural Wood Grains

The rich, layered tones of wood instantly provide warmth and flair. Stained, glazed, or painted cabinets with visible wood grains have lots of character. Distressed finishes are also on-trend for adding rustic texture.

Hardware Makes a Statement

Swapping out dated hardware for new knobs, pulls, and handles creates visual impact. Sleek, modern shapes like straight bar pulls provide contemporary appeal. Opt for ornate handles and knobs for traditional charm. Mix metal finishes for added flair.

Customize with Inserts

Glass-front cabinet inserts, beaded door inserts, or open shelving personalize plain cabinet faces. Backlighting in glass cabinets creates a glowing, decorative effect. The inserts and lighting add dimension, texture, and visual interest.

Cabinetry can make or break the aesthetic of a kitchen. Carefully curated colors, materials, hardware, and custom inserts create distinctive style. Work closely with kitchen designers to select cabinetry that reflects your unique personality and design vision.

Upgrade Countertops

Countertops see heavy use and make a big impact on the overall aesthetic. Durability and easy maintenance are essential, but style matters too. Popular options to rejuvenate kitchen counters include:

Quartz Countertops

Quartz is an engineered stone that outperforms granite in strength, durability, and maintenance. It comes in a wide array of patterns and colors from solid hues to faux marbling. Quartz is non-porous, resistant to scratches and stains, and easy to clean.

Marble Countertops

Marble is a classic and gorgeous natural stone with elegant veining. Honed marble has a matte look, while polished marble has an opulent sheen. Marble requires sealing to prevent staining in the porous surface. It adds timeless beauty to any kitchen.

Concrete Countertops

Poured or precast concrete delivers an edgy, ultra-modern vibe. The mottled color variations and matte finish are distinct and stylish. Concrete is durable, heat-resistant, and easily maintained. Integrate special finishes like metallic flecks or dyes for added flair.

Butcher Block Countertops

Wood countertops like butcher block add natural warmth and dimension. The classic crisscrossed pattern has rustic charm. Butcher block is naturally antibacterial but requires regular sealing. Rich stains in various tones allow for customization.

With endless options from natural stone to engineered composites, it’s easy to find countertops that upgrade kitchen style while performing under pressure. The colors, patterns, textures, and finishes selected for counters define the overall aesthetic.

Open Up with an Island

A kitchen island provides expanded counter space, storage, and seating while visually opening up the kitchen. Islands create flow and functionality. Consider these tips when adding an island:

Size and Placement

The ideal island size depends on room dimensions and layout. Allow for at least 42 inches of walkway clearance on all sides. Placement perpendicular to cabinetry or as a room divider maximizes work area.

Seating vs. Workspace

Determine how the island will function. For dining space, allow 25-26 inches of counter depth for comfortable seating. For extra prep space, keep depth under 42 inches for movement. Include overhang for casual seating.

Storage Solutions

Incorporate storage space like shelving, cabinets, and drawers tailored to your needs. Enhance access with pull-out shelves, rollout trays, and drawer organizers. Include power outlets for convenience.

Personalize Details

Customize the island to your style with decorative legs, skirting, contrasting countertops, pendant lighting overhang, and unique shelving. Open shelving on the end panel adds flair.

A thoughtfully designed kitchen island enhances beauty and functionality. Evaluate traffic flow, storage needs, and counter space when planning. Incorporate personalized elements to maximize style. An island allows you to truly make the kitchen your own.

Refresh Flooring

Updating kitchen flooring can instantly modernize the space. Timeless, on-trend options include:

Wood Flooring

Hardwood with inlay borders, patterns, and varying stains adds warmth and dimension. Durable engineered wood floors are moisture-resistant options. Distressed grey and wire-brushed white oak are trending.

Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

Waterproof LVP provides the look of real wood or stone with greater durability and easier maintenance. Install throughout kitchens and pair with carpeting or tile in adjoining spaces for stylish flow.

Porcelain, Ceramic, or Stone Tile

Natural stone like marble, travertine, and slate have timeless beauty. Varied sizes, patterns, textures, and colors of porcelain or ceramic tiles are also available. Use mosaic tiles or Ultomato Porcellanato for a modern look.

Concrete Flooring

Concrete floors offer smooth seamless appearance. Staining and etching concrete creates varied looks from modern polished to rustic matte. Embedded heating coils provide in-floor warmth.

Flooring should reflect your personal style while enduring everyday use. Balance good looks, easy maintenance, and comfort underfoot. An updated kitchen floor brings the whole space together.

Infuse Personality with Color

Don’t be afraid to incorporate vibrant pops of color when designing your dream kitchen. Bold hues on focal points and accents personalize the space.

Paint the Walls

An accent wall in a saturated hue makes a dramatic statement. Navy blue, emerald green, and blood orange are eye-catching options. Muted earthy tones like sage green also add subtle flair.

Add Vibrance with Appliances

Retro appliances in fun colors like mint, baby blue, and bright yellow inject playfulness. More subdued appliance hues like slate grey and matte black create modern edge.

Vary Cabinetry Colors

Use color strategically on both upper and lower cabinetry. Try muted blue lowers with crisp white uppers. Accent one wall with citron yellow cabinets. Mix it up.

Paint or Stain the Island

Make the island pop by selecting a contrasting color or stain from surrounding cabinetry. Fresh coatings rejuvenate existing islands affordably.

Complement with Accents

Tie the color scheme together with accessories. Colored glass lampshades, barstools, rugs, curtains, and ceramic knobs reinforce the tones.

Color melds personality with aesthetics in the kitchen. Boldly integrate palette preferences on focal points like cabinetry, islands, and walls. Complimentary accents and accessories create cohesive style. Vibrant kitchens energize.

Design with Texture

Layering textures and materials adds depth and dimension for endless visual interest. Play with varied textures in your kitchen upgrades:

Mix Countertop Textures

Combine smooth quartz, rough concrete, or matte laminate counters with the warmth of real or engineered wood. Granite, marble, and lava stone also deliver varied texture.

Blend Floor Surfaces

Polished concrete floors next to the coziness of wood-look tile creates contrast. Or couple easy-maintenance LVP with the plush softness of carpet. Transition striping emphasizes the change.

Natural Wood Cabinets

The organic grains and knots of real wood provide instant texture. Mimic wood with textural melamine or thermofoil cabinet finishes. Rough open shelving gains more appeal.

Subway Tile Backsplash

The ridged, handcrafted look of authentic subway tile adds tactile appeal behind sinks and stovetops. New subway tile-look porcelains replicate the effect.

Embossed Metallic Wallpaper

Metallic finishes and embossed textures create visual depth on accent walls or backsplashes. Flock wallpaper with velvety feel provides contrasting softness.

Varying tactile surfaces keep kitchens exciting. Mix and match materials with contrasting textures like smooth quartz, nubby linens, glossy tile, and reclaimed wood. Texture adds depth, dimension, and interest.

Upgrade with Specialty Appliances

Specialty kitchen appliances provide functional flair. Innovative and ultra-sleek additions that ramp up aesthetic include:

  • Double wall ovens for serious cooks to bake and roast simultaneously
  • French door refrigerators with adjustable smart shelving
  • Pro-style ranges with flashy finishes like frosted glass and polished chrome
  • Built-in coffee stations for the ultimate convenience
  • Glass-front beverage centers for storing and displaying stemware
  • Undercounter wine refrigerators to keep whites and reds at proper temperature
  • Cutting edge ventilation like downdraft systems or retractable hoods
  • High-tech instant boiling water taps for tea, cocoa, and instant meals

Splurge-worthy specialty appliances make a statement. Carefully incorporate must-have items that align with your cooking and entertaining habits. Focus on appliances that maximize functionality and aesthetics.

Warm It Up with Natural Finishes

The beauty of natural materials enlivens kitchens with inviting warmth and comfort. Integrating earthy metals, stones, and woods lends organic nuance.

Natural Stone Backsplash

A stone mosaic, marble slab, or rustic fieldstone backsplash over the cookspace adds authenticity. Let the variations and striations shine. Accent with greenery.

Exposed Beams & Columns

Revealing architectural supports like weathered barn beams visibly grounds the space. Similarly, exposed brick chimneys boost nostalgic charm.

Raw Edge Live Wood

Tables or shelving with live edges play up the uniqueness of salvaged slabs. The organic shapes interact beautifully with stone and brick.

Wrought Iron Accents

Hand-forged iron light fixtures, wine racks, table bases, or skillets above the range boost old-world appeal through imperfection.

Natural Pops of Greenery

Wood accents, simple white dishes, and woven textures feel brighter and livelier when paired with trailing plants, fresh herbs, or earthenware pottery.

Rustic, natural details comfort and soothe. The inherent craftsmanship and uniqueness of raw materials like weathered wood, forged iron, and stone resonate. Their grounded elegance enhances any kitchen.

Refresh with Paint

A fresh coat of paint provides an affordable kitchen facelift. Beyond just walls, think outside the box for elements to paint:

  • Cabinetry – custom color or stain over existing finish
  • Island or peninsula base – contrast color from cabinetry
  • Interior cabinetry – bright white for an illuminated glow
  • Window trim and molding – glossy for contrast against flat walls
  • Ceiling beams – white-washed or gray washed wood
  • Backsplash – muted tones like beadboard blue or sage green
  • Dated tile – matte spray paint conceals flaws
  • Shelving – crisp white for clean, light feel
  • Hardware – modern metallics like bronze, silver, and matte black
  • Floors – stencil patterns or freehand shapes

Paint is transformative. Strategic applications revamp cabinets, walls, ceilings, floors, and accessories. Updated color schemas feel clean, purposeful, and curated. Don’t overlook the power of paint for affording kitchen renewal.

Maximizing Storage Solutions

No matter the size, every kitchen needs ample storage to contain cookware, serveware, gadgets, dry goods, and more. Maximize kitchen functionality with storage solutions like:

  • Pull-out base cabinets with roll-out trays for easy access to contents in deep corners.
  • Lazy susans in corner cabinets to spin food items within reach.
  • Drawers with built-in dividers to neatly organize utensils and tools.
  • Tall pantry cabinetry with narrow pull-out shelves to store a range of ingredients.
  • Deep drawers with vertical dividers for optimizing pots and pan storage.
  • Upper cabinets with slide-out shelves to ensure items in the back are accessible.
  • Pull-down shelving under upper cabinets to access small appliances.
  • Appliance garages to conceal stand mixers, toasters, and other bulky items.
  • Freestanding kitchen carts or islands with extra storage space.

Customized storage ensures everything has a handy home while keeping surfaces and spaces clear. Work with designers to build in specialized storage for maximizing every inch.

Complement with Metallic Finishes

Metallics add hints of glamour that lift kitchen designs. Incorporate shimmering metals in finishes:

  • Polished chrome kitchen faucets, cabinet hardware and light fixtures shine brightly.
  • Matte black hardware and appliances lend modern edge with muted luster.
  • Rose gold and champagne bronze finishes warm up the space with soft glow.
  • Aged copper or brass develops an antiqued patina over time.
  • Stainless steel appliances inject industrial vibe with silvery sheen.
  • Hammered metal range hoods or kitchen sinks provide artisanal appeal.

Metallic elegance mixed into kitchen details catches the eye. Use judiciously against natural wood and stone. The liquid shine of fluid metals brings warmth, polish and luxury.

Embrace Unique Materials

Unique materials, textures, and visuals create one-of-a-kind style in the kitchen. Consider these unconventional design choices:

  • Exposed brick backsplashes or feature walls add gritty urban edge.
  • Weathered wood planks behind sinks or stoves deliver cozy rustic flair.
  • Tin-look ceramic or metallic tiles on backsplashes reflect light beautifully.
  • Columns or open shelving wrapped in chicken wire mesh for an industrial feel.
  • Chalkboard paint on islands for handy memo writing space.
  • Bold use of color like a fire-engine red island or teal lower cabinets.
  • Wallpaper or murals as artsy backsplashes full of visual interest.
  • Barn door style hardware on cabinets and sliding pantry doors.

Embrace materials and visuals that express your distinct personality. Photographic wall tiles, brightly colored cabinets, salvaged wood partitions, or galvanized metal accents make the space uniquely you.

Upgrade Kitchen Workflow

A kitchen with optimized workflow boasts better efficiency, movement, and functionality. Enhance how you circulate and cook by:

  • Positioning the sink between the fridge and stove for fluid food prep.
  • Clustering main appliances in a convenient triangle pattern.
  • Designating prep, cooking, cleaning, and storage zones.
  • Ensuring good lighting over key workstations.
  • Incorporating landing areas like islands and side counters.
  • Maximizing below-counter storage for go-to items.
  • Using drawer organizers for efficient cooking utensil access.
  • Displaying frequently used ingredients on open shelving.
  • Planning workflows that limit crossover and backtracking.

With mindful planning, the kitchen workflow feels intuitive. You glide seamlessly from task to task. A kitchen tailored to your habits and movements cooks and entertains with ease.

Add Architectural Interest

Unique structural elements add architectural flair that defines the overall kitchen design:

Open Shelving

Floating open shelves lined with cookbooks, dishes, or plants create visual lightness. Staggered shelving increases dimension. Add undercabinet lighting.

Exposed Beams

Revealing solid wood ceiling beams adds structural appeal. Whitewash or stain beams to contrast the ceiling. Extend beam textures onto open shelving.

Vaulted Ceilings

Cathedral or vaulted ceilings make rooms feel more expansive. Skylights enhance openness and flood spaces with natural light. Vary ceiling finishes like wood planking.

Textural Ceiling Tiles

3D tiles with convex and concave shapes add nuanced dimension. Faux tin tiles, embossed patterns, and metallic textures enliven plain ceilings.