Keeping it simple when it comes to a kitchen design may sound like a good idea at the time — after all, re-sale value is important, right? However, once you find yourself living with a typically re-sellable kitchen, you might find it's actually a little... uninspiring.
Whether it's a new modern kitchen or one you've inherited with your home, thankfully there are ways to make a space that feels bland, boring or just unimpressive feel a little more special, without ripping the whole thing out and starting again.
Looking for inspiration? We asked the experts.
1. Open Shelving
Filled with personality, open kitchen shelving is a playful way to add something extra to your kitchen while storing and showcasing items you want to display.
'Open shelving, when executed well, can turn everyday dishes into a vibrant display,' says New York-based Artem Kropovinsky, an interior design expert and founder of Arsight. 'Not only does it offer easy access, it also provides an opportunity to showcase beautiful ceramics, creating a lived-in feel that invites authenticity into the space. Just remember, open shelving demands regular maintenance to keep it looking its best.'
This is the place to position artwork, plants, pretty glassware and crockery. And pay attention to the type of shelf and brackets you choose, which are equally important details.
Using bold colors is playful and creates a unique personality, and it doesn't always mean repainting your entire kitchen.
‘We often worry so much about choosing paint colours, but it’s an opportunity to have some fun. It’s only paint after all, and it can be changed with a brush and a few days if you fancy a change,’ encourages Merlin Wright, Design Director of Plain English, which has New York and Los Angeles showrooms. Give it a go on something like a kitchen island, as shown here. Bright colors will only make you feel more vibrant day to day.
3. Add in a pantry
A slightly more substantial improvement is a pantry and a view through to one is even more interesting. Whether you have one already or not, Merlin explains, ‘making a room within a room enables a scullery area for dishes to be soaked away from the kitchen, a walk-in pantry with shelving for beans, pulses and dry foods.’
Consider a separate yet combined space - ‘dividing a room with glazed screens make for an interesting flow of spaces with shared light and a sense of focus. An area under the stairs perhaps or a dark corner which can be opened and better utilised.’ There’s no doubt this will add benefits to your home in more ways than you can imagine.
4. Using hanging Rails
Hanging rails are an interesting addition to a kitchen, adding a timeless design detail alongside a little extra kitchen storage.
‘I love nothing more than a brass rail and all the storage display options it gives me. Plants on the ceiling, tea towels by the sink, dried chillies above the range. The list is exciting and endless if you pick a subtle understated slim rail,’ Helen Parker, Creative Director at New York-based kitchen design studio deVOL urges. They are a timeless feature and allow for easy styling of details.
5. Consider your wall decor
Art in the home is an incredibly personal, individual piece of decor, you have to really love it for it to be a constant feature in your home. Yet, it can be the item which completes a room, therefore a highly important detail. It’s not just the image itself but the size, the frame, the colors, textures and even the message your kitchen wall decor puts across.
‘Art creates a more sociable feel to a room, akin to living spaces and lounges rather than working rooms, therefore it gives off a more calming and relaxed feel to the space,' says Helen. 'This change in the way people now perceive their kitchens has allowed for much more creativity, diversity and style within this once functional room. It allows the kitchen to become more than just a room for chores, but a room to relax in and enjoy, especially if you begin to add sofas and comfortable chairs and have a view to the outdoors.'
6. Bring in accessories
Updating accessories can completely transform a space. Gretchen Murdock, Design Director of Modtage Design, refers to it as adding ‘jewelry’ which is an interesting perspective to consider, and you can consider different kitchen hardware trends that will change the feel of your space.
‘Accessorize with interesting cabinet hardware and/or a beautiful faucet. In this project, we included two-tone cabinet pulls. The black finish on the pulls grounds the hardware, while the brass edges tie into the faucet assembly, pulling together the final details to polish off the space,' Gretchen says.
It’s attention to detail like this which creates such an immaculate and cohesive scheme.
7. Introduce mixed materials
You don’t always need to play it safe with wooden cabinets. Mix up materials to add layers of interest.
Gretchen suggests adding metal mesh panels to cabinets doors. ‘The mesh breaks up the continuous wooden cabinetry and brings in one of our favorite elements, texture,' she says. 'You can choose between various designs as well as a more open or closed mesh, depending on how much of the interior of the cabinet you'd like on display.’
And if mesh isn’t your vibe, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Whether it’s reeded or etched glass, a cupboard curtain, or a clean yet rustic mesh, combining different textures is what enhances a space.
8. Add a rug
Updating the decor in your kitchen is a never ending process, we’ll always naturally add things we find and love along the way. Rugs are a wonderful way to add some history and character and to soften the kitchen too.
’Adding vintage rugs are the easiest adjustment you can make to a kitchen and they can completely transform a space or add that final touch,’ says Gretchen. Merlin agrees ‘the addition of a rug is another exciting idea for colour and warmth.’ Place a kitchen rug alongside an island, or under a breakfast table and you’ll immediately feel a difference.
Consider these low maintenance creative ideas for a high impact. Work with the space you’ve got, and don’t be fooled into thinking small changes won’t make a difference.
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Portia Carroll is an interior stylist, writer, and design consultant. With a background in interior architecture and design, she has a plethora of creative experience in the industry working with high end interior brands to capture beautiful spaces and products and enhance their qualities.
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