The kitchen is central part of what makes a home, a home. A gathering place for family, friends, and everything in between, so much of one’s time is spent in the kitchen that it practically defines what it means to be at home. Whether you’re a master chef or a first-time homeowner looking to show off your good taste (pun intended), remodeling the kitchen in ways both big and small can have a big impact on a house (and home). In this guide, you’ll find a mix of inexpensive tips and tricks for making your kitchen the best it can be, combined with some bigger projects not for the faint of heart. This list will offer everything from ideas for entertaining, seasonal and holiday decor ideas, and more permanent changes to your kitchen, such as cabinet or countertop renovations.
There are a few things to consider before embarking on a kitchen remodeling project. The first is your budget. If you’re looking to increase the value of your home, updating a kitchen can have a big impact on your listing price. The return on investment can be much greater than the upfront cost, though depending on your needs, renovating a kitchen can be a big commitment. Sometimes, all your cooking space needs is a facelift, which can be done on a smaller budget: for example, replacing wallpaper with fresh paint, or changing kitchen countertops are much smaller projects than a complete remodel. It could even be as simple as updating your dinnerware or swapping out a standard light fixture for something more elegant.
The next thing to consider is how permanent you want your kitchen remodeling project to be. Are you someone who likes fluid spaces, change, and the flexibility to experiment with different design aesthetics? Or are you someone who would rather invest in classic, timeless, equipment with the functionality and style that will last for generations to come? There’s no right answer, but if you’re still unsure of what you want your dream kitchen space to look like, it might be a good idea to start small and build your vision from the outset.
Lastly, think about the occasions for which you most frequently use your kitchen. Does your family life revolve around the kitchen, with kids running in and out between after school activities? Are you an entertainer at heart whose dinner parties are legendary? Or do you prefer a quiet evening at home with popcorn and a nice glass of wine– things that do not require any more effort than a microwave and a corkscrew? Depending on your lifestyle, a kitchen remodeling project will look very different for an entertainer versus a master chef.
This guide will cover 101 ideas for every budget, lifestyle, and design aesthetic. In ways both big and small, we’ll show you some easy tips and tricks for remodeling your kitchen, whether that means finding the best microwave for your favorite popcorn or giving you some new decorating ideas for your Fourth of July BBQ. Read on for 101 Kitchen Remodeling tips!
Best Kitchen Appliances With Style
Kitchen appliances are a central part of any kitchen, whether you choose to use them for cooking or for storing shoes. Ask yourself: how fancy do you want to get? If you’re an expert chef, then you may be more willing to justify the expense for a restaurant-quality cooktop or oven. Alternately, if cooking isn’t really your thing, you can get some high quality mid-range appliances without the high price. In this section, you’ll find some options for any budget or type of chef, from stoves to ovens and everything in between. Experts suggest that you choose your kitchen layout first, before falling in love or committing to any one appliance.
If you’re not super enthusiastic about the idea of picking out a new refrigerator, fear not. There are some fun things to consider when you select your appliances, including design choices and layout options. There are also plenty of experts at Home Depot or Lowe’s to help you navigate the process, so all you really need to worry about is price and look!
This section covers all the nuts and bolts of selecting everything from an oven to a freezer. These are some of the most costly elements of your new space, and we want to make sure you’re fully prepared going into the remodeling process. Before getting too excited about a particular model, make sure to measure your space and understand what hookups — pipes, electric, etc. — are needed, especially if you’re doing some reconfiguration. Often, if you’re working with a contractor, that’s something they can help you with, however it’s best to know what you’re getting into before the actual remodeling work begins. Curious how to find a good contractor? Check out a site like Angie’s List for trusted reviews from other people who have recently done a remodel. Meanwhile, here are some of our favorite tips when it comes to revamping your kitchen appliances.
Built in Ovens
Built in ovens can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, or an addendum to a fabulous kitchen. If you’re one for storing your shoes in an oven rather than baking cookies on a winter night, then maybe skip the fancy convection oven for something a little more practical. Here are some things to consider when looking for the right oven for your new kitchen:
Try adding a wood-fired oven. Maybe not in your kitchen, unless you have a ton of room, but adding a wood fired oven is a great addition to an entertaining space. Plus, pizza.
Figure out what kind of oven is the best kind for you. There are so many options to choose from: here’s how we break them down.
- Gas: gas ovens are more efficient than electric ovens and will heat up food faster than other options. The other benefit to having a gas oven is that it can often still be used when the power goes out. Cons? You need a gas connection as well as an outside venting option to install a gas option.
- Electric: electric ovens tend to be less expensive and you should find a much larger range of options for an electric oven. They tend to be bigger, but as a result take more time and energy to heat up than a gas oven.
- Convection: one of the fastest ways to cook your food, these ovens are also more expensive and much smaller.
- Steam: not a commonly used option, steam ovens boil water using a built-in reservoir to cook food and retain moisture. Serious chefs believe that this cooking tool helps retain more flavor and texture to your food. However, you won’t be able to use a browning technique for your meat that many traditional recipes call for.
Know what bells and whistles you need. Some ovens come with the ability to program a delayed start time or an oversized window that offers you an easy view of your cooking food. Some models also have electronic controls that allow you to set precise temperatures or lock the door against curious or impatient children.
Hate cleaning your oven? Look into the pros and cons of either a pyrolytic or steam oven. Pyrolytic ovens heat to 900 – 1000 degrees to reduce baked grime to ash. Meanwhile, steam ovens use an enamel coating to release dirt when activated by steam and low heat.
Do you need two ovens? Sometimes it’s easy to think you do if you’re doing a remodel around the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. Be realistically, unless you’re a big entertainer it can be a mistake to design your kitchen around one or two big holiday meals.
If you’re a big-time chef (or aspire to be), consider the proximity of your oven to your stove. Design your kitchen so that it’s easy to transfer dishes from stovetop to oven.
Keep your health in mind. Carrying a heavy pot away from the oven can do a deal on your back and knees. Consider a wall oven if you’re not into doing squats for your dinner.
How much are you willing to shell out? Ovens are expensive. Expect to pay up to $3500 for a double oven with convection heating.
Make compromises. If you’re not a big baker, consider saving your cash for something like a cooktop. If you’re aspiring to be the next Cake Boss, then go wild on your oven– it will pay for itself in time and happiness.
Gas and Electric Stove tops
One of the most important parts of any kitchen, the stove is something you don’t want to skimp on. Whether you’re planning to make ramen on a gas or electric stove top, having the right sized cooking stove is an important consideration. Take measurements of your kitchen before heading to find stoves for sale.
Know what you’re asking for. A kitchen range or just your basic stovetop? Ranges are the most common cooking appliance, and include a stove on top and the oven below. Check out this guide for selecting a kitchen range.
Consider what fuel type is right for your home. Are you looking for gas, electric, or a dual fuel model? Dual fuel models include a gas stove and electric oven.
Stoves with stainless steel tend to be harder to clean; while they look beautiful, beware of the extra elbow grease you’ll need to put into keeping them, well, grease-free.
True story: some models come with chicken nugget or pizza buttons. So, if you’re cooking-challenged, there’s still a stove for you.
Beware of hidden costs. Even during sales like Black Friday, retailers will try to make up their discount with added costs on delivery, taking away your old stove, or extended service warranties. Read the fine print!
What’s a BTU, and why is it important? BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and it tells you basically how hot your stove will get. The most common configuration of a gas-powered stove is about 5,000 BTUs from one small burner, and then one or two medium power burners of 9,000 BTUs and one or two large burners with an output of 15,000 BTUs.
Want to get fancy? Though many stoves come in basic black or stainless steel, some outlets will let you configure the trim or knobs of the stove for a custom look
Want to get fancy, but not expensive? Check out some of these range hood ideas for a way to bring together all the design elements of your kitchen.
Warming drawers can be installed under your stove for a way to keep dinner warm while you entertain guests. Warming drawers have their own temperature controls.
Refrigerator Sizes and Options
Refrigerators tend to be the appliance that wears out the fastest, so it’s likely that if you’re doing a kitchen remodel you’ll have to expect to replace your refrigerator again. Here are some tips on the different fridge/freezer models that are available, and read on for some special considerations.
Not sure what refrigerator size to buy? According to most refrigerator manufacturers the standard size for a family of four is 19 – 22 cubic feet of storage space.
There are many ways to add a design element to your refrigerator. Though many sold at big retailers are black, white, or stainless, you could find a 1950s retro style at a specialty retailer in a color like red, orange, or green.
Make sure the refrigerator you select has a specialty compartment for your veggies!
Some refrigerators have alarms that beep if you’ve accidentally left the door open, a great feature for kids and sleepwalkers.
Pro tip: save some dollars by unplugging the second fridge in your basement or garage. Older refrigerator models tend to be energy-sucks and could be costing you up to $100 on your energy bill.
Speaking of energy, the Department of Energy’s new standards require top-freezer, bottom-freezer, and side-by-side freezer/refrigerator models to be at least 20% more energy efficient than models of years past.
Know how much room you have…and how much room you need. Not only does the fridge/freezer need to slide into the right space, but you need to account for the depth of the unit as well as how far the door needs to open. Most refrigerators require an inch of clearance on all four sides to account for the danger of overheating.
Do you need a waterline? If your fridge comes with an ice or water dispenser, keep in mind that to use it you need a special hook up.
Take care of your refrigerator, and it will take care of you. Cleaning your fridge and not just the inside, (but the seals as well) will ensure that it lasts a lot longer. Also do you best to take extra care of your fridge door handles.
A New Built in Dishwasher
There’s nothing worse than opening your dishwasher after a cleaning up from a dinner party and realizing that most of the food is still stuck to the plates. Dishwashers are supposed to make your life easier, not harder. Finding the right one can save you a lot of time and agony. Good news: Consumer Reports has a very comprehensive guide to choosing a dishwasher. We scoured the net for our favorite tips for selecting the right dishwasher for you and your family.
Look for a model with soil sensors. This handy add-on will adjust the wash cycle depending on the load’s soil level, customizing time and water depending on the dirtiness of your dishes and improving efficiency.
Another great feature: dishwashers with rinse/hold cycles. This tool lets you rinse the dishes and then wait to start the full cycle, so if you prefer to wait until you have a full load to run the cycle you will avoid odors and crusty residue.
Do you need a dry setting? Many models these days give you the option to head your dishes dry, but keep in mind that this setting also uses more energy.
Like refrigerators, dishwashers are one of those appliances that needs to be replaced more frequently. Keep in mind that the average lifespan of a dishwasher is 9 -12 years.
Truly, dishwashers are among the least sexy of kitchen appliances. But, they can make their presence known: if your family life revolves around the kitchen, consider the noise level of your dishwasher. You can reduce the sound by improving insulation around the unit or by selecting a model with a quiet motor.
Wondering how much space you need in your dishwasher? Take a couple dishes or glasses with you when you shop around to see how they size up against different floor models.
What do you want your dishwasher to look like? You can decide whether you want your dishwasher to blend in with your cabinetry (and you have the option to supply your own front panel to the dishwasher) or go standard with a black, white, or stainless front.
Think about the whole installation process: you may fall in love with a particular brand, but make sure that brand has service professionals in your area before going all in.
Will it fit? The perennial question that comes with all kitchen appliances. Experts weigh in, and say to keep in mind the height of the opening. Things like layers of flooring or extra-thick countertops can mess up your dimensions.
Other Kitchen Essentials
Appliances are among the biggest decisions you have to make when planning your kitchen remodel. They can take a lot of time and research to find the right quality and size for your custom kitchen. Good news is that doing a remodel can mean that you change as much or as little as you want; if you just want new appliances, then stop here. Alternately, if you’re looking for just a cosmetic remodel — adding new paint color and kitchen floors without the hassle of going without an oven for weeks, for example — changing your kitchen sink can be a simple solution. Even changing out your old countertops for new ones can take as little as a day of remodeling.
A lot of the items covered in this section are easily customizable based on your lifestyle. If you’re part of a large family, you may need to prioritize functionality and go with something like a wood floor in place of porcelain, which things break on easily when dropped. If you’re someone who likes to cook each night, allocate a portion of your budget to a sink with all the bells and whistles – and a lot of extra room. But, if you’re someone who just wants their kitchen white and serene, we recommend swapping out old countertops for the timeless elegance of carrera marble.
So, if you’re halfway through your remodel planning and ready to go all in – including new floors and a new sink – check out some of our tips below for sinks, floors, cabinets, and more!
The Kitchen Sink
The kitchen sink you choose can add a lot of character to your kitchen. It should work well with your other appliances, material-wise, but as this is one of the more utilitarian parts of your kitchen, make sure that you have the space you need to recover from a dinner party or just your average Monday pizza night.
The farmhouse kitchen sink is a very popular style right now. They are also very functional.
Match your sink to your countertop. Experts suggest that if you have a solid surface counter, such as one of granite or stone, match it with a stainless steel sink.
Is stainless really right for you? Stainless steel sinks can be a bit noisy, unless you’re willing to shell over some extra cash for sound absorption technology.
How many sinks is too many sinks? Depends on your cooking needs, really. If you’re washing a lot of hand-wash-only pots and pans, choose one oversized sink bowl. If you tend to throw things in the dishwasher, then an oversized bowl and smaller side bowl combination should be just right.
You could be paying everything and the kitchen sink if you’re looking for a kitchen sink with some color to it. Though adding a pop of color to your kitchen is great, keep in mind that you could be shelling out 15 – 40 percent more for something other than a white kitchen sink.
If you’re replacing your faucet with the sink, you’ll need to set aside a few additional funds for this outlay. Single-handled faucets are en vogue at the moment.
Do your research: do you need a self-rimming sink or an undermount sink? Here’s a good resource for learning the pros and cons of each.
When you’re choosing a new sink, don’t forget to throw a sink drainer in the basket at the same time!
Once you pick your sink, start accessorizing! Pick out a soap dispenser and spray nozzle, or add a bar on the side that can cut your prep time down.
Best Flooring For Kitchen
Often if looking for kitchen remodeling ideas, you will soon come across kitchen flooring ideas. If you’re going all in on new cabinets and new countertop, consider updating your flooring for kitchen at the same time. It can bring the space together and instantly makes a room look more modern and fresh. Kitchen floors come in a variety of materials, and we’re here to break it down for you.
It may not be your sexiest option, but sheet vinyl is a good floor material for people who want something cheap and easy to maintain. It can be tough to maintain, but the initial investment is comparably low. You get what you pay for!
Porcelain floors will last the longest in your kitchen. However, if you’re disaster prone, beware: things that fall on porcelain floors don’t often stay in one piece. This is your most low maintenance option.
Hardwood kitchen floors are very in style at the moment, especially if you want to add a natural feel to your kitchen. They’re often easy to clean and easy on the legs if you’re going to be standing and cooking for long periods of time.
Our favorite kitchen floor idea? Black and white tile. Classic but unique.
Trying to be eco-friendly? Experts suggest going with bamboo. Make sure you’re sourcing from a reputable brand with the longest warranty possible, because bamboo can dent easily.
For wood floors, keep climate in mind. You may need an extra coat of finish to make sure the wood is sealed, and if you live in a place with high humidity, select narrow boards to avoid warping over time.
If you decide to go with tile, don’t try to do it yourself. Tile floors get complicated fast unless you’re a master constructor.
Another option we like is a brick kitchen floor: it’s easily customizable by the size, shape, and color of the bricks, and you can pick a pattern that suits your space.
If you have kids– or just a very rambunctious pet — consider concrete kitchen floors. Concrete is very durable and resists almost all stains and water damage. It takes a lot to chip, scratch, or break a concrete kitchen floor.
Types of Countertops
Your countertops are the real focal point of your kitchen, and choosing the right one to go with your cabinets can be very fun. There are a plethora of materials to consider, and even new colors to keep in mind. The kitchen is really the heart of the house, so whatever your heart wants, let it roam free with your countertop desires.
Pick a stone, any stone. But how to pick the best stone? And maybe you don’t even want a stone countertop? The six most popular surfaces include natural stone, solid surfaces, plastic laminate, ceramic tile, wood, and concrete. Here’s a handy guide on how to pick a kitchen countertop.
Planning a kitchen island? Ask yourself what the function of the island will be. If you want to cook and eat at the island, make sure to plan enough space for the stove to be separate from the eating area.
Make sure to leave room for kitchen activities. Experts say to allow 15 inches of countertop on each side of a cooktop and refrigerator. You’ll also likely want room near the microwave.
Looking for something timeless and classic? Try carrera marble. It’s been used in homes for decades and will never go out of fashion. Be warned, it can stain somewhat easily.
Looking for something a little more low maintenance? The material for you is probably quartz or manufactured solid surfacing. Quartz looks a whole lot like natural stone, but unlike granite, you don’t need to seal it.
Looking for something you can DIY and save some dollars? Tile or laminate is your friend. These are relatively cheap, especially if you opt for larger tiles and minimize the grout lines. Of course, these options are, shall we say, vintage?
Want to go a little rogue with your countertops? We suggest something like stainless steel or a butcher block. Easy to clean and with a lot of personality, going interesting with your countertop is a great way to make the kitchen yours.
Keep in mind that whatever material you select, your cabinets need to be strong enough to hold the stone or steel!
Go bold: try a countertop in a lively color, like yellow, orange, or lime green to contrast with white or black colors in your kitchen. This is one space where vibrancy can feel natural and not overwhelming.
Kitchen Cabinetry Designs
Cabinetry can make or break a kitchen. Both utilitarian and decorative, cabinets can define a space and make it feel really personalized. Here are our tips for installing your cabinets and adding a little creative flair to your kitchen.
Think about how high your microwave should be. If you’re planning on embedding your microwave among the cabinets, take some quick measurements to make sure it’s at the right height for your family. For adults, the standard height tends to be 15 inches above the countertop. For kids, consider a below the counter position so your wee ones can reach their snacks.
Watch out for knives. Consider adding a drawer to your cabinets dedicated to knives. It makes it easy for you and your sous chef to grab the right tool, while making sure the kiddies don’t cut themselves by accident.
Go green! If you’re tearing out old cabinets, don’t just drive a sledgehammer through them. Be more intentional about your remodel and unscrew your cabinets from the wall so then can be used by someone else.
Consider adding decor details to your cabinets. Having a glass door or display shelving for your dinnerware can add a lot of personality and openness to your kitchen.
Installing new cabinets yourself? Remove all the doors and drawers from your new units to make them easier to install and save yourself from damaging your nice new hardware at first go.
If you’re not sure what you want out of your cabinets, try going to a cabinet retailer or wholesaler that also offers design services. Often, they will help you measure your space and help plan your kitchen layout.
Ready to start hanging your cabinet? Start with the upper cabinets first, and work your way from the corners in. Not sure whether you’re at the right height? Mark your upper cabinets in relation to the base cabinets. Do some simple math: add the height of the base cabinet to the thickness of your countertop. Then add a standard 18 inches for the space between the lower and upper cabinets. This is where the bottom of the cabinet will sit.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for whether or not your cabinet is level. Check the levelness of the unit before fully tightening the screws.
Get creative: try disguising your cabinet as ordinary drawers, or add metal to your kitchen for something unexpected.
Decorating Ideas for Kitchen
Decorating ideas for your kitchen is among the most unique set of options you have for your house. Unlike other rooms, you can be a bit more bold in your kitchen and play with interesting textures and themes to make the space your own. Now that you’ve remodeled your counters, cabinets, appliances, and more, you’ll need to pick a theme that matches the rest of your design choices. From a tile backsplash to the colors on your walls, this space is yours to curate to your specific tastes.
Think about colors, textures, and patterns when trying to determine what theme is right for you. A contemporary kitchen, for example, might pair stainless steel with a black-and-white subway tile used for backsplash. Bold colors can also unite elements of a kitchen, from tile to wood floors and brass faucets. Think through what your kitchen style and layout means for the choices you make for texture and color: if you have a small kitchen, sticking with lighter colors can make the space feel expanded, for example. Or, if you want to keep the theme consistent with the rest of the house, include small touches like artwork or antiques that carry through the elements of other parts of your living space through the kitchen.
Lastly, some homeowners like the idea of honoring the history of their home or family through their kitchen space. You may decide to not do a full remodel or to pick a space that has vintage appliances or themes that you’ll carry through. For example, penny tile for a backsplash or floor may pair well with vintage advertisements or black-and-white family photos.
At the end of the day, pick elements that speak to your design aesthetic and use of the space. We’ve assembled a list of tips from the experts for everything from dinner parties to just your average Sunday evening. Read on for our favorite design and decor ideas!
More Decorating Ideas for the Kitchen
Chances are you’ve naturally been thinking about your decor the minute you started imagining what your new kitchen will look like. Picking out appliances is great and all, but deciding what colors and textures will fill your space makes the whole process worth it. Here are some tips from the experts on making sure your remodel comes to life exactly how you imagined it.
To make your tiny kitchen seem magically bigger, use light colors. Darker shades will make the small space feel even more imposing, so try a softer shade on your cabinets and walls to take advantage of any natural light in the room.
Black and white doesn’t have to be boring. Adding a zig zag pattern in black and white to your backsplash can add character in a way that’s both graphic and unexpected.
Want color but don’t want it to be overwhelming? Pale blue paint on your cabinets can be calming and very natural looking.
If you want to go neutral without going boring, try adding some textures to your kitchen. Play with different table settings and floor mats to offset the grays and whites.
Mix and match: if you’re going for a black and white color scheme, pair the pattern with a unique piece of wood furniture to give it some personality.
Mix and match, part 2: an assortment of unmatched chairs is a fun way to make your guests comfortable.
Bring out the elegance with brass. Adding some brass accents and pendant lighting can make your space look chic.
Make your kitchen look cheery with open cabinets painted on the inside with a bright color.
Leery about pairing stainless steel with wood? The combination actually looks great and is very low maintenance.
Go big on light fixtures: these silver spheres add a modern touch to an otherwise classic kitchen design.
You probably spend a lot of time in the kitchen, whether cooking or just eating other people’s cooking. Choose art for the space that really showcases your personality and makes you feel at home. Things like vintage signs and advertisements and pop art look more natural in the kitchen than in other rooms of the house.
Dinnerware and More
Dinnerware is a fun way to add color to your kitchen without the full-time commitment of a paint selection or new backsplash. Plus, you can change out your dinnerware or table settings depending on the season.
Go rustic: add texture with a burlap runner, layered atop a wicker charger with light colored plates. Pair with linen napkins, and depending on the season, add some fresh flowers or pinecones to the tablescape.
Choose dinnerware that’s both functional and fashionable. For example, if you like to keep food warm in the oven while waiting for guests, get plates that are oven-safe and microwavable.
Add flowers to the mix. Flowers make any dinner feel fresh and fancy, even it’s just you and your frozen pizza.
Mix patterns for a more relaxed setting. Keep the color consistent – blue and white, for example – but mixing with solids and patterns can make the meal feel more special.
Skip the scented candles (but keep the unscented ones). Scent is a major part of your meal, and linked closely to taste. If you want your guests to fully appreciate all your hard work, opt for candles that look nice and smell like nothing.
Also skip the vase. Flowers in empty glass bottles look casual and effortless, but still unique and beautiful.
Combine your glassware. Start with full sets of white wine, red wine, tumblrs, and other glasses and then mix them all together. Make sure they are all the same color crystal, otherwise it just looks like you forgot to do the dishes.
Be unexpected: your tablescape doesn’t need to be limited to just flowers or candles. Try adding photo frames, fabrics for pretty napkins, fresh fruit, baskets, books, or tea trays for some unexpected elements to your dinner table.
Play with height. Your eye naturally gravitates to varying heights, so stack a few books and add a decorative plate. Or, for something cozy, put a lamp on your table as one of the centerpieces.