Revamp your kitchen

Want to update your kitchen but can’t afford it? Try this technique that updates how your kitchen “looks” instead, which after all is pretty much the point of a makeover anyway. So start checking out those impossibly expensive kitchens in magazines and showrooms. Because you’re not going to be buying any of them, but it costs nothing to look… and recreate some of the key ideas.

A common feature you’ll notice is how they’re always free of junk and clutter. A less obvious feature is the use of lighting – great kitchens are always carefully lit, which is not at all the same as brightly lit. There are good reasons for these two common aspects and if expert kitchen designers invariably use them, shouldn’t you too?

A kitchen has to, well, look like it’s a kitchen and not another lounge or a hall or anything else. If you clear everything out you wouldn’t immediately make that implicit association, and equally if it’s buried in stuff you can’t pick up the clues either. A kitchen needs to be furnished with appropriate accessories that are located in logical places, and whatever doesn’t belong in that picture needs to be found a home someplace else.

When it comes to lighting, note carefully how many of those designer kitchens thatyou saw were lit just by central ceiling lights. If your score is above zero then you’ve been looking in the wrong places, or not paying attention. Contemporary kitchen lighting uses a lot, an awful lot, of individual lights that each target a particular function or space. So you will see pendants suspended above islands and/or tables, LED strip lights used for under-cabinet task lighting and wall-wash mood lighting, and spotlights of every kind illuminating specific areas.

The reason behind this is partly because modern kitchens are multi-functional spaces and it’s important to adapt the lighting to each function and/or area, and also to control the various light levels as required. But another, more straightforward reason is that it enhances visual appeal. Kitchens are full of different surfaces and materials that not only produce different effects when lit, but tend to appear brighter, fresher, and newer. In short, lighting an area well can make it seems more up market (and expensive) than it might truly be. Which is why shop window displays, for example, typically use shed loads of tiny spotlights.

So, to get that top of the range look for a bargain basement price tag, sort out and arrange the space first, then invest a bit of time and money in fitting contemporary kitchen lights, because how things appear is invariably closely related to how they are lit.