Steal These Decorator Secrets for Faking a Full Kitchen Reno

You love your home, but you can’t continue to overlook the fact that your kitchen hasn’t been updated since the ’80s. But you don’t have to take out a second loan to bring it into the 21st century. We turned to Los Angeles–based interior designer Lindsay Pennington for some no-fail budget tricks to transform your kitchen from blah to beautiful. 

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Before: Dark and Dull

Before Kitchen Redfin 

Nothing says “yo mama’s kitchen” like dark stained cabinetry. Dark cabinets absorb light, and pairing them with lighter walls and ceilings can make a space feel smaller. This kitchen has so much potential, but also so much dark wood on the cabinets and floors. That plus cream-colored walls? Not a dynamic room.

After: Light and Inviting

New Kitchen Lindsay Pennington Inc. 

Sunny, bright and energizing, this showplace kitchen was transformed with a few savvy cosmetic changes that didn’t require any messy construction or expensive new appliances. Here’s how this Cinderella story came to be.

Painting the cabinets light gray opened up the space and highlighted the wood floors. Pennington’s pro tip: When selecting a color, check that it harmonizes with the existing countertops. “It doesn’t have to match exactly,” she says, “but it’s key, because saving countertops and appliances is the number one way to keep costs down. And you can save even more money if you paint the cabinets yourself.”

New Kitchen Hardware Lindsay Pennington Inc. 

Hardware and Lighting
Interior designers quip that hardware and lighting are the “jewelry” in any room: the little elements that bring the bling. Here, Pennington swapped out the traditional oil-rubbed-bronze cabinet knobs and pulls for more modern hardware in a champagne finish (who doesn’t love champagne?). She eliminated the sad little pendant light over the sink, replacing it with a recessed light that doesn’t interfere with the view outside or the sheer roman shade that adds a decorative touch. Have an island or table in your kitchen that needs directional light? She recommends a neutral-colored pendant for a clean look.

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Remove Dated Moldings
While the previous owners of the house may have vibed on the decorative molding affixed to the range hood cover and Spanish tile detail on the wall over the cooktop, the new owners wanted a more streamlined kitchen. “We simply removed the molding and tiles for an instantly modernized look,” Pennington says. “The best part? It was totally free!”

Make It Personal
At the end of the day, remember your kitchen is a place where you’ll spend a lot of time. It should be welcoming and warm, so invest in items that are both useful and attractive. If you’re short on cabinet space, make sure the pieces on your countertops (coffee maker, toaster oven, etc.) contribute to, and don’t detract from, the overall style.

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