December 1, 2021

Get In The Kitchen! 

DesignWays by Beverley Jack

We continue to live through uncertain times but the warmth and grounding that our home gives us allows us to find certainty and strength from the very foundations beneath our feet, emboldening us to go forward and begin to live again; this strength also gives us the flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances we are all facing.

Now that summer is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner, looking back over the past 18 months or more, ask yourself: “What have we all achieved?” Well, the one thing that’s for certain is that we have spent a lot of time in our homes.

What is a home? Isn’t it our safe space, the place we love to be in? It’s also a refuge for when we are happy, when we are sad, when we are sick and where we spend time with our family and entertain our friends. If we look around us, whether you own your home or just rent, are you happy with what you see – is it a true reflection of you and your family?

We have to take an intelligent and considered approach to the way we live and focus on the rituals and emotional interactions of our daily lives and it’s this important concept that I want to emphasise.

Homes are not simply a collection of bricks, windows, rooms and a random assortment of decorations and furniture. Without people in them, they are just vacant spaces. It’s all about searching out the human angle. As ever, when it comes to our relationship with where we live, it’s about how it makes you feel. Striking a balance between function and fantasy is how to bring your home to life.

I know you are all going to say “To have a beautiful home, it’s going to cost a lot.” But does it have to? I am going to show you over the coming magazine issues, just how you can make changes in your home without spending a fortune. So, where do we begin?

Firstly, let’s think about your lifestyle and then make some positive choices that will affect you and your family. Identify areas in your home that need attention and then put them in an order of priority. Always remember it’s better to work on one area at a time and complete it. Oftentimes, people do bits and pieces in several rooms and then complain that they have spent a lot of money but it ends up looking disjointed, not very noticeable and it’s made little to no impact. Let me help you to decide where you can begin.

I believe that one of the most important rooms in your home is the kitchen; it’s very much “the heart of the home.” Many years ago, the kitchen was just a small functional space for cooking and washing up behind closed doors, but now it has become so much more. Architects incorporate this room into our living spaces with beautiful large open-plan designs where your family can interact and you can entertain.

To refurbish a kitchen is a very costly business. In fact, it’s the most expensive area in the home to design and refit from scratch. If you are not totally enamoured with your kitchen, I’ve got 18 great ideas to help you give it a bit of a makeover and facelift. Each idea is seriously easy and inexpensive to do (especially compared to a total renovation). Of course, you don’t have to do all 18 – you can just pick and choose from the list to suit your pocket and soon your kitchen will be a more attractive space and look up-to-date.

1) HANG SOME ART: I am a huge fan of kitchen wall art. Whether you have some blank walls, room to rest a frame directly on your counter, or even have a giant gap between your upper cabinets and the ceiling, I say you should add some art! Framed pictures belong in the kitchen just as much as they do in in your dining room or other living areas. The style is really up to you, but think along the lines of info and decorative pictures of herbs, spices, fruits, exotic coffees – the ideas are endless. 

2) ADD A RUG: A rug does so much for a kitchen. It hides ugly floors, adds colour and makes for a softer surface for your tired feet.

3) PAINT SOMETHING: Maybe paint a single accent wall or the ceiling the same colour as your walls, with the cornice in a contrasting colour – the choices are numerous.

4) ADD SOME WALLPAPER: There are so many great peel-and-stick vinyl-based washable wallpapers available that can be used as a feature wall. Geometric or botanical designs look amazing and pick up your kitchen colour scheme.

5) LIGHTING: We don’t want to start dealing with messy and expensive chasing of walls to change the lighting in your kitchen, but there are many things you can do without going to those extreme measures. Lighting is vital in any room, especially in a kitchen where you need good “task” lighting, so consider inexpensive under-cabinet lights that are easy to install. We must also consider the aesthetic appearance in the room; by removing those dated traditional fluorescent strip lights, you can make a real difference. They can be replaced with a row of LED energy-saving decorative hanging pendant light fittings or a strip light with spotlights directed over specific areas in the kitchen (there are so many to choose from). This can all be done through the ceiling without too much trouble.

6) BUY COLOURFUL SMALL APPLIANCES: Small appliances are basically like accessories throughout your home, but are more useful. There are so many amazing fashionably-coloured toasters, kettles, coffee machines, mixers, etc., made by leading brand names in the gorgeous and fun hues of lime, red, orange, purple, yellow, royal blue and even pink!! 

7) NEW WINDOW TREATMENTS: Firstly, if you still have wooden pelmets, get rid of them immediately!! Not only are they impractical dirt and dust collectors, but they are also so old-fashioned. Curtains are also not a good idea in a kitchen. (A kitchen sink window gets continually splashed with water…so unhygienic.) The options are window blinds that are all locally available and come in so many different designs and finishes that it’s hard to choose. 

8) ANOTHER ORIGINAL WINDOW CHOICE: If you prefer a more minimalistic look for your kitchen window, especially if you have an unattractive view, decorative vinyl transfers that completely cover the window with an attractive original landscape scene of your choice look amazing. 

9) PUT UP SOME NEW SHELVES: Even if you’re not a fan of the full blown open shelving look in the kitchen, a few modern “floating type” shelves add extra storage and give you a space to add some cookery books and decorative touches.

10) CHANGE YOUR TAP FITTINGS: You’ll be amazed at the difference new faucets will make (lookswise) and also fittings with filter attachments are excellent in making sure your water is clean and hygienic.

11) REDO YOUR COUNTERTOPS: Replacing all your countertops is probably a bigger job than you realise, but it can have an incredible impact on the look of your kitchen. Depending on what you choose, always make sure that the framework of your cupboards can take the weight of the new tops, especially if you are using stone, marble or granite. Often, reinforcing the cupboard structure is necessary.

12) PAINT YOUR OLD APPLIANCES: Instead of having to buy a new fridge or cooker, try painting your old ones in a funky new colour in one of the new heat-resistant paints. If you are lucky enough to have one of those rounded corner refrigerators, you will end up with a trendy retro style look that everyone will envy.

13) PLANTS: Bring the outside in with pretty pots of herbs on the windowsill and grouped on well-lit countertops. Not only are they useful to have close by when you are cooking but they are fragrant as well.

14) GIVE YOUR CUPBOARD DOORS A MAKEOVER: If budget permits, new cupboard doors for your built-in cabinets makes a huge change, but if not, a lime wash distressed finish is easy, inexpensive and very on-point at the moment. This finish can be applied in any colour giving the doors a very attractive, hard wearing “shabby chic” appearance.

15) HARDWARE: Don’t forget that even if you are not doing a door makeover, new handles and doorknobs will also make a difference.

16) FLOORING: There are so many choices these days for flooring in kitchens, from ceramic or porcelain tiles in every colour and design imaginable – even some that look like distressed timber – to sealed and tinted concrete finishes that are stylish and durable. Always remember for safety, make sure that whatever you choose has a non-slip finish.

17) OPEN SPACES: If your kitchen has the space, adding a table and chairs or even a higher table with stools around is a huge plus, even if you already have an island. It’s great for extra seating and, of course, an added work surface is something you can never have enough of.

18) DÉCOR IN GENERAL: Kitchens should be as attractive decoratively as the rest of your home, not left as a neglected and clinical space. If you’re going to put things on your countertops, make sure they add to the atmosphere of the kitchen. Ugly plastic containers should be away in the cupboard or pantry. Interesting colourful storage canisters are a must, including pretty mugs hanging together on a mug tree or maybe a small wine rack plus any kitchen bric-a-brac you can find. There are some amazing inexpensive things out there in the décor shops, so have fun looking for unusual items!

So, there we are – that’s how you can start revamping your kitchen without having to completely start from scratch. Hopefully, some of these ideas will inspire you to make some changes and maybe you can use this as your “to do” list. Until next time, start surrounding yourself with positive energy, beautiful things and begin learning to live in harmony with your surroundings. It’s really worth it!

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