Shades of Green
Color takes the lead in making this kitchen look fresh, through freshly painted cabinets and walls, and contemporary glass pendent lights. The island, once a plain base cabinet, has a new surface — beaded-board paneling embellished with decorative trim and a butcher-block top.
Decorative brackets dress up open shelving edged with molding to keep items from falling. Home centers and online sources sell a variety of similar brackets. Or try brackets made from cast iron, painted to match or accent the shelves.
Let There Be Light
Cutting through the wall to add a window does more than create a view and a focal point above the sink. An exterior window in the adjoining utility room now shares its light with the otherwise windowless kitchen.
Hard to Choose
If variety is the spice of life, then display an assortment of drawer pulls in the kitchen — just for fun. Combine antique glass knobs, pewter pulls with vegetable motifs, or even ones you’ve made by painting wooden pulls in different colors. The more kinds, the merrier.
Professional chefs hang their favorite cooking utensils within easy reach, but stainless-steel systems are often expensive. Make a copycat rack with a short metal curtain rod, using steel S-hooks to hold spoons and ladles.
New Found Storage
Put that sliver of wall to work with a stack of shallow shelves to showcase a favorite collection. These natural-finish shelves have brushed metal brackets to complement stainless-steel appliances. Or try contemporary "floating" shelves with invisible brackets, available at home centers. If your style is more traditional, choose shelves with wooden supports, finished to match or accent the cabinets.
No matter how dismal outdated cabinets look, there’s nothing a little paint won’t cure. These formerly blah cabinets have a new finish — cream-color paint sanded on the edges to give an old-world appearance. Granite tiles, less expensive and easier to handle than thick slabs, create an attractive natural-stone countertop.
The quickest way to rev up the style quotient is to roll a fresh coat of paint onto the walls. With so many yummy color choices available in wipe-clean paint, there’s no reason to live with drab kitchen walls. Pale gold gives a sunny wake-up call to all-white cabinets, tempered by a darker floor and door pulls.
A shallow glass shelf runs the width of the window to hold a collection of colored glass and trailing plants. Place supports at each side and also in the middle, if possible. The wider the glass, the thicker it should be for safety, depending on what it will hold.
Sleek is the word for this tiny kitchen with a minimum of clutter and a maximum of style. Circa 1950s metal base cabinets have been refurbished for contemporary use. Instead of upper cabinets, the kitchen has a "floating" box, built from medium-density fiberboard covered with plastic laminate. The shallow plate-ledge, built from the same materials, becomes a gallery for art.
Add variety to boring base cabinets by removing a door and adding roomy baskets atop each shelf. The baskets slide out easily to allow access to contents. Pretty linens are a charming embellishment.
Capturing the feeling of a natural-stone hearth is as easy as a trip to the tile or home center. Slate tiles come in a variety of sizes, including 2-inch squares that don’t require much sawing. A do-it-yourselfer can install a tile backsplash over a weekend, especially if the design is uncomplicated (shown).
Serving Up Plates
A dedicated plate collector often can’t find enough display space — unless it’s overhead. The soffit above the cabinets, often unused, is perfect for a shallow ledge grooved to hold plates securely. Support the shelf with decorative brackets like these, or attach it from the top with metal angles screwed into the wall studs. With plates along the shelves, the angles won’t show.
A kitchen with windows offers an opportunity to incorporate storage in the window treatments. Install shelves directly over the window trim and paint them the same color for a unified look. This blue-and-white kitchen also has beaded-board wainscoting, simple and inexpensive to apply because it comes in panels that are already cut to the right height.
Save the expense of buying new floors by painting what you’ve got. Add a couple of coats of polyurethane when your paint is dry to help preserve the finish. And keep in mind that scratches can add to the character, particularly if you’re aiming for a country look.
A beaded-board panel goes a long way when cut into narrow strips to cover a backsplash. Go a step further and insert a tile border for decoration, or set in a horizontal strip of stained wood to match kitchen cabinets. Or cut beaded board to fit the interior panel of cabinets for an updated look.
An Arm’s Reach Away
There’s more than meets the eye to this metal pot rack — everything hangs above eye level. Make it from a sturdy curtain rod or strengthen a hollow rod by inserting a wooden dowel into it. Install the rod above a window and use it to store pots or hang sun-loving plants.
Need a kitchen island but don’t want to spring for one? Any table or chest can be enlisted as an extra work surface, provided it can be made the right height. This vintage dresser, painted and outfitted with paper towels, utensil hooks, and a new marble top, is now a baking center with roomy drawers for ingredients and pans.
If windows look out onto a less-than-desirable view, or the neighbors can see in, cover the window with colorful stained glass. Buy or make a custom-fit window to fill the opening. If you’re on a tighter budget, simply lean framed colored glass against the window. Here, sunlight comes through the translucent window, casting a golden glow.
Small blue tiles add waterproof color to the often-damp area behind the sink, where wallpaper or paint might become a problem. Tiling a backsplash is an easy DIY job, particularly with tiny tiles that eliminate the need for a tile saw. The tiles come pre-attached to sheets of mesh to assure proper spacing.