The kitchen is the pulse of the home. It’s where we pour our coffee, converse over meals, and begin and end our days. It’s no wonder the kitchen is one of the most frequently remodeled spaces in the home, falling second behind living rooms. But its costly must-haves also make it the most expensive room to freshen up.
Deciding on a kitchen remodel, however big or small, can be daunting and pricey. But fear not. Cue the kitchen facelift. No matter your budget or needs, the kitchen can undergo simple, budget-friendly design upgrades to leave you with a shiny new space for the fraction of a remodel price tag. The secret? We asked some of Sun Valley’s design experts for tips, what not to do, and where to begin.
Before you begin, never underestimate the power of a little tidying up.
“Try to organize your belongings and utensils and clear the clutter off of the counters,” principal designer Allison Connolly of Allison Paige Interior Designs says. “Or consider treating yourself to some new dishtowels and pot holders. How about a Mason jar filled with fresh tulips?”
Spend some time in the space and consider a bit of decluttering to open up counter space and lighten the room.
“Eliminate clutter! Nine times out of ten, removing excess items can be a major improvement,” says Sarah Latham, principal designer of Latham Interiors.
Plan and Budget
If your space still needs something to jazz it up, consult the experts.
“Even though a homeowner may be working on a budget, I recommend that they hire a quality design professional on an hourly consultation fee to give them perspective on their space,” says Susan Witman, ASID, of Susan Witman Interior Design. “The designer may recommend something the homeowner never even considered, and it’s amazing what a fresh pair of eyes can tell you about your space.”
Then, set budgets and do your homework.
“Shy away from jumping into a project without putting together a budget and get accurate estimates from local companies,” Witman recommends. “Make sure to get referrals based on quality performance of local contractors or subcontractors instead of shopping the Internet.”
Witman also recommends using Houzz.com for inspiration. “They have thousands of kitchen styles, sizes, and budgets,” she says. “Create an ideabook of the things you love.”
Keep It Simple
The kitchen is all about functionality and fitting its uses with your lifestyle needs. If staying organized is not your strong suit, shy away from open shelving that will cause you stress when left disheveled.
“As one of the most-used rooms in a house, if it doesn’t work for how you live in it, it won’t be worth a remodel,” Latham says.
Consider what’s already in place and ask what works and what doesn’t. “It can be as simple as updating the lighting,” says John McGuone, project manager with Five Star Kitchen and Bath. “Replacing old fixtures with new pendants or upgrading the bulbs to more efficient LED fixtures can give your space a new, brighter look. Play with different light colors like white light or yellow light to brighten the space.”
Like lighting, dated appliances can be upgraded, giving new life to the space. And although they can come with a hefty price tag, the increased efficiency can be worth it, and appliance sales are frequent around the holidays.
But properly functioning appliances might also be an unnecessary expense. If yours are in good shape, skip the new stove and look to refreshing your color palette.
“Could you paint your cabinets? Would new decorative hardware be a simple fix? How about new countertops? Some local shops sell remnants,” Latham says. “What about updating your faucet with a pull-down spray that will add convenience to cleaning up pots and pans? There are so many options to consider!”
While changing countertops and adding backsplash are go-to kitchen remodel projects, Sarah recommends looking first to the accents.
“It’s easy to change out a dated faucet or decorative light fixtures and give a new feel to the kitchen,” she says.
Add a thoughtful cohesive look with new dishes and cups in one color or style. This sleek look adds classic sophistication and is a quick way to tie in other colors of the kitchen. And when in doubt, keep it simple.
Steer Clear of Trends
That trendy tile pattern and unique hue of appliances might be all the rage right now, but when it comes to the kitchen, timeless is best. Each designer echoes the sentiment: say no to trends.
“Just because it’s hot now and you see it everywhere doesn’t mean it’s classic,” Connolly says. “I tend to take hints from history—what finishes have stood the test of time? Carrara marble always comes to my mind.”
Those cement countertops might attract attention now, but will they stand the test of interior design time, begging for another upgrade in a few years?
“Plain white subway tile and black slate go a long way and will look just as great in 10 to 15 years,” Connolly says.
And at the end of the day, the space should reflect your style.