We all hear it - on every DIY makeover programme, from every incoming family member. The kitchen is the heart, the hub and the centre of the household. But how can you put your stamp on a tired kitchen and bring it back to life on a tight budget. It can be done, and here are a few suggestions on how to glam your kitchen.
Minimal can be phenomenal - first and foremost, tidy up!
A kitchen is often the dumping ground for a whole family's possessions. We all do it, we all see it. Shoes, books, school bags, toys....and that's not to mention appliances, nick-knacks, food containers, utensils.
So often I see kitchen work tops and dining tables completely overrun with clutter, and while some of this might have a use (that Saturday coffee machine that you treat yourself with after a lie in) a vast majority of material in the kitchen is useless and unnecessary. Imagine a small kitchen with very little storage space. Think about what is needed in that kitchen (realistically) and remove what isn't. Worktops do not need 8 different kinds of food processor to make your kitchen look 'used'. All these appliances do is hide dust, dirt and stains that you don't want others to see.
Pick 5 key appliances - and not all of these have to be on view - think kettle (key, for that quick cup of tea!), toaster and microwave. If you've got a larger kitchen - get the coffee machine out and maybe the food processor.
Kitchens nowadays are absolutely full of them, in drawers, cupboards, on the worktops. Again, cut unnecessary items down. If drawers have those old QVC kitchen utensil purchases from the early 90's, bin them or give them to charity. If they aren't used now they certainly won't be in the next 10 years!!!
Change Your worktops rather than entire units
We're looking at spending minimal budget here, and there are a couple of ways to completely change the look of your kitchen without being sucked in by Kitchen design companies overbearing sales pitches. Look at new work tops that fit well with your current units. You may have a standard cream coloured pine unit, so why not look online for laminate, granite or even concrete worktops? These will massively change the look of your kitchen; just think of the surface area that your worktops offer for view. Ebay or local small kitchen suppliers are a great place to look for work surfaces that might be nearing end of production and thus are hugely reduced in price.
Colour Scheme and repainted units.
Many kitchens still remain stuck in the mid 1990's or earlier. Wallpaper designs with salt and pepper shakers and vegetables just doesn't look good in the 21st century. The first decision you should make is the new colour scheme you want for your kitchen. Keep it bright and don't be afraid of white. Remember there will not be as much visible wall space in your kitchen as in other rooms in the house. Plus, your units and work tops can absorb the colour. If you choose a powerful colour like a burgundy or turquoise for some of the features, make sure to balance it with something paler like cream or even white in other areas so the new room does not get too overwhelming.
On that subject. Think about your units. Kitchen units are like old film sets, all the colour and design is on the doors, behind that the units are just plain white ply board or MDF.
With this in mind browse around for new styles of door units. Take inspiration from relevant magazines and websites. Use catalogues such as IKEA or the Next catalogue or of course on the web. Doing a bit of research, you will probably come across styles you like, pull the page out or bookmark it if you are doing your research online.
Spend wisely on one key feature
Its important in any kitchen to have a focal point, whether that be an appliance, a piece of furniture or a snazzy lighting centrepiece.
By appliance I'm talking big here, namely a really good fridge, SMEG fridges offer a vintage 1950's styling and can be found in half a dozen colours that really brighten up a kitchen. Make sure the colour though matches whatever unit style or look you are going for. Why not use a bit of budget on a new oven. The advantage of an oven is that it is almost always right at the centre of your kitchen area. It has a light so glows when its on. Look at smart looking brands like NEFF, Siemens, Bosch or Miele. Good quality ovens that won't date, and think chrome and glass - the best way forward.
If you already have an oven of good quality - keep it clean and don't be ashamed of it. Use a professional oven cleaning service who can truly reinvigorate an oven, and you need only have it done once a year!
Accessorise: to a point....
Look at your kitchen and say to yourself, what look am I going for? Again, pick 5-10 decorative items to help differentiate your kitchen and make it represent you and your family. Quirky kitchen items can be purchased from specialist shops. Look at vintage posters or product adverts - Marmite, Guinness, Bisto - all classic brands that produced antique design classics. Approach it in a ‘we do it all in one day’ way but if cost is an issue, you can spread it out over a few weeks as well.
Styling and renovating your kitchen doesn't have to be costly. The old adage "Less is More" apllies to your kitchen too, don't let it turn into a dumping ground for your family's daily gear - and keep improving, don't let things accumulate. I always think to myself, "How many wooden spoons do I need?" and the answer is; "One."
About the Author: Ben is a reluctant DIYer who looks for the easy option and the best look. He blogs for Oven Cleaners Sussex, an oven cleaning company based in Brighton and Lewes, and has seen dozens of bad kitchens through his work!