Try these ideas for a kitchen that punches above its weight
Houzz Contributor. I’m a London-based journalist with years of experience writing… More
We can’t all afford to spend thousands of pounds on a brand-new designer kitchen, but there are ways to improve what you have, or, if you’re planning a makeover, to make things look expensive without breaking the bank. Let these ideas help you to give your kitchen that crucial style lift.
Use interesting tiles
If you want to add something special to your cookspace, statement tiles could make all the difference. These slim, slate-effect tiles elevate the simple cabinets into something with real presence.
To keep the cost even lower, try using just a few tiles as a splashback behind the cooker and team with painted walls.
Painting existing cabinets in a darker, ultra-matt shade, such as grey or black, helps to create a feeling of sophistication. Choose heritage shades with deep pigmentation for a high-quality look – more expensive paint might feel like a luxury, but those few extra pounds spent will usually be worth the investment.
It’s best to remove handles and hinges to avoid painting over them, and this will enable you to get a good finish. You’ll also need to sand back the units and use an appropriate primer before you use your chosen colour; ask in your local DIY store for advice. Paint with a brush or a roller, but for a really even finish, spray paint the cabinets.
Source great dining chairs
If you have an eat-in kitchen or open-plan kitchen-diner, creating a super-stylish dining area can be a way to distract from a budget kitchen. Choose good-looking, standout chairs – they don’t have to be designer, like these Tulip chairs, just something that you love and that makes a statement.
Pick wood veneer
Can’t afford handcrafted solid-wood cupboards? Wood veneer, like they’ve used here, can be just as good-looking as solid wood, but often less expensive. It can also offer a sleek, retro look that’s very on-trend.
When choosing veneer, look at the grain and think about in what direction it will run in your kitchen. Also avoid ‘wood clash’ – if your floor is wood, this might not be the finish for you.
Work elegant wallpaper
We might not automatically associate wallpaper with kitchens, but it can add an upmarket feel that looks subtly more expensive, especially if everything else is ultra-plain. In this kitchen, the geometric wallpaper makes the space feel more considered and elegant.
Hang some pendants
Metallic pendant lamps are a modern favourite in kitchens, and it’s easy to see why. A pair, or trio, of cool, of-the-moment metal pendant lights suspended over an island unit (or counter or table) adds a little bit of industrial attitude. It doesn’t need to break the bank, as there are plenty of affordable designs out there. Here, the copper finish stands out against the plain white units.
What to consider before hanging pendant lights
Style an island
If you can’t afford a high-end kitchen all around your room, consider making your island the star. Fit a worktop that contrasts with the rest of the kitchen, such as this wooden number, for look-at-me appeal, and invest in stylish bar stools and lighting for a break-out dining area with star quality.
Find a super splashback
A luxe looking splashback can help give a standard kitchen a pricey feel. In this compact space, marble-look porcelain tiles add a luxury edge to plain white and wood cupboards. Consider what will work in your space: glittery mosaic tiles, back-painted glass or patterned ceramics can all draw the eye and add a more sophisticated feel than the usual white tiles.
Fit new cabinet fronts
Is your kitchen looking a little tired but you can’t afford a complete makeover? A smart way to update shabby units on a budget is to fit new doors. Look online for companies that sell these relatively cheaply. Many are designed to fit standard frames, but made-to-measure doors are available, too. These doors come in a variety of finishes and colours, or can be painted to your requirements (or you can paint them yourself to save money). Shaker style is a good choice for doors, as it’s a look that never seems to date.
Switch your fittings
Think about those crucial finishing touches. Fitting alternative handles to a DIY-store kitchen can help it feel more expensive. Vintage-style metal cup handles have a pleasing period look that is classic and understated, while leather straps like these give an individual, contemporary look.
Similarly, it’s always worth spending on good-quality taps – not only will they add a subtly more expensive finish to your kitchen, they’ll be far more pleasurable to use. You don’t necessarily have to go top-end, but opt for a mid-range model, rather than budget one, if you can afford it.
How to get your kitchen handles right
Accessorise in style
A simple white floating shelf used to display storage jars and mugs can look stylish and chic, while hardly costing anything. Losing wall cupboards for an open shelf (or shelves) generally adds a sense of space and lightness to kitchens, and shelves can also help make a space seem more stylish and on-trend. In this kitchen, for example, simple but quirky accessories add a cool edge.
How have you made your kitchen look more expensive? Let us know in the Comments section.