Kitchen upgrade open timber shelves black base cupboards white backsplash



I don’t know about you, but nothing gets me into action quite like the prospect of visitors coming over.

You know how sometimes a remodeling project gets shifted further and further away until eventually it’s only a vague idea and you hardly notice anymore the things that were once so obviously wrong?

Until the day you get that call – hmm, the one that informs you that the family is coming to stay for a few days, including your sister-in-law who just recently got a sparkling new kitchen.

You scan your kitchen with a critical eye and feel a wave of panic moving in as you notice how dreadfully outdated it actually is. Something needs to be done!

This is more or less how it happened for a dear friend who, when they moved into their house some years back, didn’t have the energy or budget to do the renovations they wanted. Now, with looming visitors on the horizon, she was anxious to know if there was any hope for a quick fix.

Yes, pour yourself a cup of tea – it’s going to be OK. There are a number of things you can do to give your kitchen an instant fresh look – some with little effort.

We’ll tackle it from the easy way up. First is a small item with a big punch – your cabinet hardware.


This must be the easiest quick fix to update your cupboards. It’s inexpensive and easy – you can do it yourself even if you have five thumbs, AND you can really go to town choosing something special without breaking the bank.


With handles and knobs you can have so much fun – crystal, glass, trendy metals and unique shapes  – there are stacks of options available.

Nothing like a new set of jewelry to brighten things up. You know what they say – it’s all in the small details.

Talking of new jewelry – the next almost-as-easy step to a fresh, new look:



I still want to kick myself when I think that we sat for more than a year with the stupid faucet that came with our house.  When we eventually got around to replacing the thing, the entire kitchen just perked up and looked so much more hip. And not only that, with the new faucet I can actually fit a deep pot under it, and the pull-out spray function makes life so much easier. I don’t know why it took us so long to make this simple change.


Moving from plumbing to light fittings.


The light fixtures over your island play a big role in the overall look and feel of your kitchen. When they’re not used as task lighting, they are fabulous as mood makers when softly dimmed. A good height for pendants over the counter is about 28″-34″ above the counter top.

Don’t be shy to be bold with the fixtures you choose here – in size, color, shape and new materials. We see a tendency in larger pendants making a bold statement, and also fun materials like woven fiber and rattan. There are so many gorgeous options out there.

Remember, light fittings are fairly easy to replace, and a fabulous way to spark up your kitchen. It doesn’t have to cost the world either – in fact, choose something that you wouldn’t mind terribly to replace a few years down the line when the mood for a change hits again.

Kitchen upgrade large rattan pendant and french bistro chairs


Woven finishes are definitely back in a big way. How delicious is this kitchen with the large cane fitting? Can you tell what also adds to the mouth-watering effect? Those French bistro chairs. YUM!

Which brings us to the next point.


Kitchen remodel with large white and gold pendants open timber shelves and stained wood chairs


We’re certainly moving towards lighter chairs and stools for the kitchen – both in materials and design, and we’re picking up quite a lot of wood, rattan, metal and combinations of those materials.

The shape of these chairs is striking, and together with the white and gold pendants above, make a pretty picture.

This kitchen also has another element that’s very popular at the moment. Did you pick it up?


Just look at the twin set of open shelves next to the range. It opens up the kitchen and is great way to add texture, and show your style.

The secret is to keep it simple and pick items for their shape and visual contribution. Don’t overcrowd your open shelves.

Kitchen upgrade with open shelves on white backsplash and black painted cabinets


The styling of these shelves is well done – there are books, vases, bowls, and artwork. There’s contrast and color, variation in height and scale, and very importantly – some empty space.


Allowing for some areas that are purposefully left empty is one of the most valuable design elements to use, and one that is often overlooked. It takes a bit of practice to get it right – but like an artist who knows just when to stop – it’s the crucial difference between mediocre and master piece.

While we’re on the topic of styling, let’s go to softs.


Sometimes I feel one should just start all over, especially with decor items that doesn’t have special meaning to you. The mere action of letting go feels so good.

I have a client who, every year upon return from their annual holiday abroad, re-evaluates all her decor items – pillows, throws, ornaments, fruit bowls, the lot – and then just take a load full of stuff to her local thrift store. A visual spring cleaning if you wish. Sometimes it’s just to take some weight off, sometimes to make space for something new – what a marvelous excuse to hit the stores! I love how she explains that it makes her feel alive and on top of the world!

Kitchen upgrade open timber shelves black base cupboards white backsplash



Is there space in your kitchen for a new framed artwork – on the wall or to stand on a shelf? What about new jars and fruit bowls, and kitchen towels? Is it time to replace the shades?

Here’s another small trick that will do wonders for your kitchen:


I’m a strong advocate for table lamps in the kitchen – it creates a welcoming atmosphere, and is of course super practical – providing much needed task lighting where we work and/or read. Often I get a blank stare when I suggest a lamp for the kitchen counter – like I’m suggesting something inappropriate. It’s such a simple thing, and once it’s done, there’s no turning back. It looks and works beautifully.

Kitchen quick upgrade painted cupboards good lighting table lamp black white metal


Just look at the elegance this lamp brings to the kitchen. So pretty.

And this brings us to the last point, perhaps not quite as simple to do as the points above, but absolutely well worth the trouble.


Not something you haven’t heard before, but a trusted way to radically upgrade your kitchen.

In our own house, that was the number one change both my husband and I instantly agreed on. The oak cupboards needed to die. Due to time restrictions and my own impatience, I did it myself – and worked my fingers through. There were moments that I wished I never started, but looking at the transformation now – I’ll do it again and again and again.

Of course, one doesn’t have to paint all the cupboards, sometimes painting only the wall units will make all the difference.

Kitchen upgrade painting upper wall cupboards white with timber base units


Or just the island.

Kitchen quick upgrade painted island and table lamps on the window counter


How open, light and stylish is this kitchen with the island painted in a different color to the rest?

Ha, and what is there on the window counter flanking the sink? YES – a pair of beautiful table lamps!

It’s time to stretch your legs and have a good look at your own kitchen. Consider this list – I’m sure there’s something you can do to refresh your kitchen. It will make you feel alive and on top of the world. : )

If you need some help to make it happen, or just want to bounce your ideas off an expert – drop me a line.


What do you wish were different in your kitchen right now?

OR, what changes have you made that instantly updated your kitchen?

As always, making space for you…


interior design information




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