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10 Upgrades for a Touch of Kitchen Elegance

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“Elegant” “sophisticated,” “simply beautiful” — are these words you would use to describe your dream kitchen? Even just adding a coat of paint, new lighting and carefully chosen decorative details can bring your current kitchen a bit closer to that dream. Here are 10 upgrades to consider.

1. Roman shades. Covering the window with a classic Roman shade gives the kitchen a finished look. Go with a color and a pattern that coordinate with your cabinet and wall color, or stick with natural linen, which goes with everything.

2. Topiary. A pair of topiaries flanking the sink is an elegant finishing touch. Use a vintage champagne bucket as a cachepot, or wrap a simple pot in burlap and tie on a velvet bow. If your kitchen gets a good amount of natural light, by all means get real plants — but if not, there’s no shame in picking up a couple of high-quality fakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Pendant lighting. Swapping out a plain ceiling light fixture for something with more style can be done quickly — and your new pendant light can become the focal point of the room. Don’t be afraid to go big; even in a small kitchen like the one shown here, a sizable pendant looks striking, not overpowering.

4. A rich cabinet color. Whether you paint your cabinets or stain them a natural wood tone, a rich color is a high-impact, low cost way to change the look of your kitchen. Try a saturated hue like the blue-green shown here, or a chic gray or slate on just the lower cabinets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Wall paint. If you don’t want to repaint or restain your cabinets, another way to bring in color is by painting the walls. With all of the appliances and cabinetry, kitchen wall space is often fairly limited — which means not only is it quicker to paint, but the color is less likely to overwhelm than in, say, the living room. Try a smoky blue, rich “greige” or warm mocha.

6. Upscale counter stools. There are so many options when it comes to kitchen counter seating that there’s no reason to stick with plain bar stools, unless you want to. Try classic bistro stools (like the ones shown here), sculptural wooden stools or sleek Lucite ones.

Also notice the pendant lights in this kitchen — if you have a long counter, placing a row of three large-scale pendant lights above is a great way to bring focus to the space. Glass pendants like the ones shown here are elegant and maximize light.

7. Glass cabinet fronts. Update old cabinets by having several of the doors replaced with glass fronts. This costs far less than replacing full cabinets and can completely change the look and feel of your kitchen. Remember, whatever is in the new glass-front cabinets will be visible at all times, so choose just a few cabinet fronts to replace and commit to keeping the interiors orderly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. A chic rug. If you’ve shied away from using a rug in the kitchen for fear of spills and stains, try a chic indoor-outdoor version. These rugs come in beautiful colors and patterns now, and no one has to know about the stain-fighting powers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re not frightened of spills, lay down a beautiful (but not priceless) Oriental carpet. Rugs made from wool and other natural materials are quite forgiving when it comes to stain removal, as long as you act promptly.

9. Branches in a tall vase. Branches last far longer than cut flowers — but more than that, they exude elegance. An armful of seasonal branches plunked in a tall vessel is an easy way to instantly boost the ambience in your kitchen.

10. Decorative details. Framed artwork on the wall — and not just “kitchen” art but art you could just as easily hang in another room — can add polish to any kitchen.

Mirrors are unexpected in the kitchen, and just like in other spaces, they can be a wonderful way to boost light. A small table lamp tucked onto the counter brings a warm glow that makes a kitchen feel more welcoming.

Not a Big Cook? These Fun Kitchen Ideas Are for You

Kitchen design tends to be centered around the presumption that you will be spending loads of time in your kitchen cooking. Not so earth shattering, right? But the fact is, not everyone loves to cook. Not everyonecould really use a supersize fridge, dual ovens and an enormous island. So what do you do when it’s time to think about a kitchen design, when all you’ve used your oven for is storage? While it makes sense for certain basics to be in place (sink, stove, dishwasher) even if you rarely cook, there is plenty of room for creativity. From wine storage to a library wall, here are a few ideas to consider.


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Wine storage. If you don’t have a large collection of cookware to house, it makes sense to shift some of that storage space to something you do use. 

Oenophiles may want to add a temperature-controlled wine cellar cabinet for bottles that need to be aged, in addition to open shelving for ready-to-drink bottles.


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You could even create your own home wine bar experience with wall-mounted bottle storage, paired with a “tasting bar” attached to the wall.


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Fancy coffee station. Love your morning latte or cappuccino? Splurge on a top-notch espresso maker so you can whip up your morning beverage of choice at home. Since you’re not spending as much on fancy knives and cookware, why not?


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When less work is what you want, look into a fully automatic coffeemaker. With the push of a button, you can have a cup of delicious coffee or even an espresso drink, depending on the model you choose.


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Library wall. If books are one of your great loves, consider dedicating a kitchen wall to bookshelves. You can house a good portion of those books that seem to multiply when you’re not looking, while keeping kitchen storage options flexible. As long as the shelves are large enough, a future owner could just as easily use them to store dishes, cookware or cookbooks.


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Cover (but rethink) the basics. Even those who rarely cook should include a few basic appliances in the kitchen. You never know if you may one day decide to cook at home more often, and even if you don’t enjoy cooking frequently, most people occasionally need a kitchen stocked with the basics. 

A fridge and freezer, a stovetop, an oven, a sink, a dishwasher, a toaster and a microwave are the bare bones for most kitchens. That said, these pieces do not need to be massive to get the job done. In fact, going overboard on appliances may just make cooking in your kitchen seem more intimidating.


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If your kitchen is small and you rarely cook, one alternative to the classic big oven is a separate cooktop paired with a compact oven, or even a convection toaster oven, for cooking (or warming) food.


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And if you really have no use for a giant fridge and freezer, consider instead a few handy fridge and freezer drawers. They can be tucked into small nooks and don’t overwhelm a space like a full-size fridge can.


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Delightful seating area. When you don’t need to worry about maximizing cabinet space, some fun possibilities open up; a lovely little seating area in the kitchen is one great option. After all, even if you don’t spend hours cooking, you likely do want to be able to sit down in a comfortable space and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, or a simple supper (even if it’s takeout) after a long day.

10 Creative Ways to Give Your Kitchen a Boost

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After the flurry of holiday decorating and baking is over, the kitchen can seem a bit forlorn — but if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to eat healthier or cook more meals from scratch, it’s important that your kitchen supports and inspires you. These 10 doable project ideas are meant to revive your kitchen and make it an inspiring space that you can’t wait to spend time in. 

1. Use a found branch for hanging storage. If you have open shelving in your kitchen that rests on brackets, as shown here, extend their usefulness by sliding a thoroughly cleaned branch through the base of the brackets. Use simple S-hooks to hang small pots, spoons and other implements from the branch. You can even hang a small vase or a mason jar filled with flowers — just wrap the mouth with twine or wire to form a loop, and hang it from an S-hook. 

2. Try a pegboard in the kitchen, à la Julia Child.Julia was onto something when she designed the now-famous pegboard pot rack on the wall of her Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen. You can do the same by hanging basic pegboard on your kitchen wall and using S-hooks to hang cooking tools. Paint the pegboard to match your walls for a seamless look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Paper the interior of a glass cupboard. This is the perfect place to use up any wallpaper scraps you may have lying around. If you don’t have wallpaper, pretty shelf paper or even quality gift wrap can be used instead.

 

4. Glam up your shelving. Another easy way to spice up basic wall shelves is by coating the brackets with gold paint. Or, for a similar effect with less fuss, pick up a roll of copper tape at the hardware store and carefully apply it just to the edge of your shelves — this works best if your shelves are the same thickness as the tape, so measure first. 

5. Bring in fresh blooms. You probably buy fresh flowers for other rooms in your home from time to time; why not snip a few for the kitchen? A vase with slots for individual blooms, like the one shown here, is ideal because it is so easy to fill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Add a splash of unexpected color. Transform a plain step stool with a lick of vibrant color, paint the interior of your pantry, or line your drawers with polka dot paper. A bit of color or pattern where it’s least expected is especially welcome when it’s gray outdoors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Give a plain basket a neon makeover. French market baskets are some of the most useful little accessories to keep around the house. Spruce one up with a simple painted-on star or heart in a neon hue and use it as a mini hamper for dirty dish towels and cloth napkins. For an even easier (and temporary) take, simply cut and stick on neon-colored tape.

 

8. Borrow baskets from the living room for produce storage and display. Have some lovely woven baskets just hanging around with nothing in them? Put them to work storing long-lasting produce like potatoes and onions, or colorful piles of lemons and limes.

9. Hang food magazines on a painted ladder. If you refer to your favorite food mags for recipes and menu ideas, keep them handy. A short ladder leaning against the wall is a perfect spot for stashing a rotating selection of your favorite foodie magazines — and in a pinch, even smaller cookbooks could get slung here, too.

 

10. Paint your breakfast-table chairs in a rainbow of pastels. Love pastels? I say, go for it. After all, why shouldn’t your breakfast nook be the cheeriest spot in the house? And if you don’t feel up to painting the entire chairs, even giving just the legs or seats a dip in pastel hues would make a big impact.


12 Great Kitchen Styles – Which One’s for You?

Style is easier to recognize with your eyes than with words: You know it when you see it, and the photo that inspires you most can often surprise you. Think you know your kitchen style? Check out these guides to a dozen favorite kitchen design themes, then tell us which one takes the cake.

#1 – Farmhouse Kitchens

Warm and homey farmhouses anchored a life on the land, and they still offer great functionality and comfort. Their open shelving, wide sinks, classic flooring and big kitchen table make them easy to work in and easy to love. 

#2 – Rustic Kitchens

“Worn”, “distressed” and “rough hewn” may not be the first words that come to mind when we think of kitchens. But today rustic kitchens rival the classic white kitchen in popularity – thanks to their timber, stone, brick, vintage appliances and fireplaces. 

#3 – Modern Kitchens

Definitions of “modern” vary widely, but when we think of modern kitchen designs, we often think of frameless cabinets, sleek and simple hardware, strong horizontal lines and a lack of ornamentation, with the natural beauty of the materials shining through. 

#4 Traditional Kitchens

Traditional kitchens are defined by their details, which can include arches, decorative moldings and corbels, raised-panel cabinets, a mix of antique finishes and furniture-like turned legs – even a chandelier. Whether they have a classic American or old-world flavor, they still carry the stamp of their owners’ personal style.

#5 Contemporary Kitchens

Contemporary kitchens can be very sleek, but while a purely modern kitchen often celebrates structure and grid, a contemporary kitchen is often more playful in form and finishes, including elements of other styles and creating its own reflection of the times.

#6 Transitional Kitchens

Think of a transitional kitchen as the great moderator. With the warmth and welcome of traditional design and the clean, simple lines of contemporary style, transitional spaces project balance and harmony. Because they offer a great deal of flexibility, they’re a great choices for homeowners whose taste spans the two.

#7 Craftsman Kitchens

Craftsman style arose in the early 20th century as a reaction to the mass-produced fussiness of the Victorian era. Its rich woods, built-ins, handcrafted tiles and well-made simplicity continue to charm us.

#8 Cottage Kitchens

Cozy, happy and unpretentious, a cottage kitchen harks back to simpler times and evokes a sense of easy, carefree living. Beadboard, soft colors, vintage hardware, wood floors and colorful accents and curtains will infuse your kitchen with cottage comfort. 

#9 Paris Bistro Kitchens

If you long for a sugar-laced café au lait on Rue Monmartre, why not bring a little Parisian style into your house? Intimate kitchen lighting, pretty cookware on display, tile floors and a striped awning ought to do it.

#10 Classic Kitchens

What is classic? The answer is as varied as cooks are. Still, white or cream kitchen cabinets, simple architectural details and black accents offer a blank slate that homeowners can personalize with contemporary, traditional and eclectic touches as they see fit.

#11 Mediterranean Style Kitchens

Flared hoods, hand-painted tile, warm wood cabinets, beamed ceilings and arched cooking alcoves are just some of the features that put Spanish revival kitchens on the most-wanted list.

#12 Eclectic Kitchens

Do you rebel against styles and refuse pigeonholes? It’s your housel you can mix and match for your own distinct kitchen style however you please. The trick: be a rebel with a cause. Get ideas for a very personal kitchen, with touches of modern and rustic styles, well-traveled flair, humor and irreverence.