Kitchens With Personality

Greetings!

Is it your New Year’s resolve to get a kitchen make-over? You definitely want your kitchen to function better for you, but you also want to pull all the elements together into a design that is pleasing visually. Read further for some ideas on how to do that.

Are you wanting to remodel your kitchen because your existing cabinetry no longer provides the storage or function you need? Or perhaps you want to update your kitchen with efficient appliances and fixtures to save on energy and water bills. Either way, you would also like your kitchen to be beautiful and feel inviting to your friends and family. This last aspect may feel very elusive, because you aren’t sure how to pull it off. You want your kitchen to look fresh and original, but not to the extreme. How can you know when your kitchen design is too bland, or when it is too elaborate for current aesthetics?

Today’s look is clean and simple, but definitely not cold and sterile. Perhaps you are like many other homeowners who are entertaining more at home these days, and you want spaces that feel welcoming. Soft matte finishes and artisan finishes, like bronze, copper, and brass give warmth to sinks and faucets. If your preference is for traditional style cabinetry, think minimal ornamentation and lots of white. Old World Tuscany features, such as high cathedral arches on cabinet doors and heavy corbels, are being traded for simpler elements like picture rail and painted bead board. Craftsman style cabinetry that emphasizes natural materials and honest craftsmanship, is currently the most popular look.

Clean and simple does not mean plain vanilla — pay attention to the details that will give your kitchen personality. One idea is to vary the color of your cabinets in sections, mixing natural wood with paints or stains in delicious new colors, such as raspberry or grass green. Another possibility would be to juxtapose smooth and rough textures, matte and shiny finishes, or light and dark shades throughout your kitchen — in your cabinetry, countertops, and flooring. Cream and chocolate brown is a current favorite, but black and white never goes out of style. The layered glazes that were so popular a few years ago are being replaced by texture and depth, such as visual brushstrokes and surfaces with an aged look. Just remember to exercise restraint, allowing enough space for a dramatic item to shine, rather than compete for attention.

If you are concerned about the long term, and you want to make trendy choices only in areas that can be changed easily and inexpensively at a later date, try selecting just one focal point to emphasize in your kitchen. It might be a kitchen window with a stunning view, an island, or a unique ventilation hood. By highlighting that area with an unusual color, a contrasting finish, uncommon hardware, or special lighting, you can make a distinctive design statement without a big expenditure. Choose neutral finishes for the larger, more permanent items.

1) DEDICATED SPACE — Are you an avid gardener, a craft-enthusiast, seamstress, or woodworker? Dedicate a space in your house to your hobbies. Often a guest room can be repurposed into a study or hobby room that would be used on a regular basis. Install a Murphy bed on one wall that can be used pulled down for guests but remain out of the way 90% of the time. Purchase storage furniture or install built-ins with drawers and cabinet doors that conceal office or hobby items when not in use. An innovative and pricey alternative may be this Zoom Room Murphy bed that rolls into the wall rather than being pulled down. It’s so attractive and innovative that the price may be worth it.

2) OPEN SPACES — One housing trend that is here to stay is the open floor plan. Opening up small rooms helps to make your home feel larger (long views trick the eye into perceiving a larger space) and brighter, because light can travel unimpeded throughout the house. Taking out walls, parts of walls or even creating openings in walls to allow views from room-to-room will make your home feel more spacious and up-to-date.

Wrapping and decor armoire tucked in a living room corner

3) REPURPOSE WASTED SPACE — We often become unaware of the wasted spaces in our homes because we’re used to things as they are. Carefully examine how often each area in your home is used. Most formal living rooms and dining rooms are used only for entertaining. Consider repurposing these areas for other uses or incorporating a new function into an existing space.

A corner of a living room can become an office area. Furniture-grade cabinetry with doors that hide the office equipment will make it unobtrusive, or a privacy screen can be used to separate the areas. A dining room can become a craft room and gift wrap area with the addition of an armoire to house craft and wrapping supplies. Or, purchase, task-specific storage furniture that can be easily moved out-of-the-way for the 4-5 times a year the room is used for dining. Extra space in an entry can be used to create a “launch pad” with cabinets for jackets, backpacks, or sports equipment and hooks for keys, umbrellas, and hats. A mudroom or laundry room may be able to house a potting bench and gardening nook by adding a table with drawers and installing some shelves and/or cabinets on the wall.

4) CREATE A RENTAL UNIT — An idea for empty-nesters may be to create a rental unit within your current home. If the kids have moved out and your house is nearly paid off and in a fantastic neighborhood, but you feel like your space is too large, it may make more sense to stay put and create a separate rental unit. By reconfiguring your house to accommodate a small rental unit with its own exterior entrance and kitchenette, you’ll earn extra income and have a built-in house sitter if you travel.

Read more on this topic at Mother Earth News.

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