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Mini Makeovers

Rustic Arts & Crafts kitchen with oak cabinets.

The square forged knobs on these oak cabinets enhance the kitchen's Arts & Crafts style. Photo courtesy of American Woodmark.

Sometimes a full kitchen remodel is neither practical nor possible. This month in Sensible Style, we'll focus on kitchen makeovers: Not the kind that take months to plan and execute and thousands of dollars to cover, but rather small, reasonably quick and affordable ways to make over your kitchen.


Get a handle on it

If your cabinets don't have knobs or handles on them, adding hardware will liven them up enormously. I recommend handles for drawers and knobs for doors, but you can do all one or the other. Think of cabinet hardware as jewelry for your kitchen and dress it up! Choose a brushed nickel, chrome or pewter finish to coordinate with stainless appliances. Bronze looks beautiful on painted white or black cabinets. Glass can give you a lovely retro look. Black is a nice choice, too, especially if you have black appliances and want a rustic look.


Rustic Arts & Crafts kitchen with oak cabinets.


Crowning achievements

I love the look of crown molding on cabinets, even contemporary ones. To me, they look more finished that way. Ideally, you should have space between your ceiling or soffit and cabinet tops to accommodate crown molding. However, if your cabinets extend all the way up to a soffit, you can paint or faux stain the soffit to match the cabinets and put your crown at the ceiling. This will make your cabinets look taller, your kitchen ceiling look higher, and really pull an upscale look together.

Be sure to choose a molding style that works with your cabinetry. If your door style is contemporary slab, a bullnose or square molding will accentuate, not muddy, its contemporary aesthetic. For cabinet doors with a traditional raised panel, classic crown looks elegant. Transitional, Shaker door styles coordinate beautifully with cove or angle moldings.


Kitchen with cherry cabinets and crown molding

Photo courtesy of American Woodmark.

Traditional door styles, like the American Woodmark Richmond shown here in cherry wood, look nearly naked without crown molding.



Island fever, bar shopping

Upgrading your countertops can cost thousands of dollars for an entire kitchen. It often also requires changing out your sink, faucet and drain, and runs the risk of damaging your backsplash. For an easier, more affordable update, change just the top on your island or raised dining bar.

The new top should color-coordinate with the surrounding surfaces to give the space a pulled-together look. If, for example, your surrounding counters are laminate with flecks of gray, you could opt for a solid gray quartz top for the island or bar. If they're a solid white Corian, a recycled glass top incorporating bright colors into a white background can look great. Maybe you have wonderful oak floors, but old, chipped white tile counters. A dark wood top on your island or bar in the same color family as the floors will become a rich focal point.


Vetrazzo recycled glass countertop

Photo courtesy of Vetrazzo.

Top just the island in a different material, like the recycled glass composite shown here, to add a dramatic focal point to a kitchen.




Light the way

Many of the older kitchens I've redesigned either have big, ugly, cracked plastic light boxes or one dated fixture in the middle of the ceiling. Removing that light box or replacing that fixture is a quick, relatively easy way to update the look and functionality of your kitchen. There are numerous lighting options for kitchens, including pendants, chandeliers, pot rack lights, island fixtures, track systems and recessed cans. (This Gold Notes guest post by lighting designer Vicky Lodge could be useful for you in considering new kitchen lighting.)



Kitchen with monorail pendant lighting system

Photo courtesy of Tech Lighting.

Enhance the style and functionality of your kitchen by replacing outdated light fixtures with new versions, like this monorail system with pendant and track lights. 




Fabulous faucets

Don't underestimate the aesthetic power of a good-looking faucet to give your kitchen a style boost. There are hundreds of looks and price ranges to choose from, so look for one that works with the overall style of your kitchen. Some new models also provide water-saving opportunities. If you have an extra hole in the sink or counter to cover, consider buying a companion soap dispenser, too. Getting the soap bottle off your countertop is an added aesthetic upgrade!


Kohler black Simplice faucet

Photo courtesy of Kohler.

The right new faucet, like this Simplice high-arc pull-down in a matte black finish, can give your kitchen a mini makeover. The coordinating soap dispenser gives you added convenience with more style than a bottle of dish soap. 




Visit my blog for more mini makeover ideas.


Kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg

© 2009, Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS. Excerpted from Gold Notes: Nuggets from the World of Residential Design. Jamie is an NKBA-certified designer of kitchens and baths in San Diego, CA, and offers Sensible Style for Home Seller consultations around the country. She can be reached at (619) 796-2217 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.









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