5 Low-Lift Kitchen Updates That Will Completely Transform Your Space
The designer only changed three key things, and the space looks like new.
The problem with Amber Guyton’s kitchen wasn’t the layout, bones, or even the cabinetry — it was the color. The dull, builder-grade brown inherently clashed with the designer’s love of vibrant hues and maximalist design, and she made a mental note to update it before she even purchased the home. “It’s a new build, so the space was pretty cookie-cutter,” she explains. “As soon as I walked through the front door, I was like, I love it, but I’m changing the kitchen.”
Because the layout was already open and spacious, Guyton focused her efforts on three simple tweaks: cabinet color, light fixtures, and hardware. “I wanted high-impact, low-lift updates,” she clarifies. “These three design elements, in addition to decorations, really transformed the space.” Amber enlisted the pros for the paint job, and completed all other design tweaks herself, finishing the project in roughly a month and a half (factoring in pandemic shipping delays). Ahead, Guyton shares her expert modern kitchen updates, from selecting the perfect paint color to adding decorative touches.
1. Add soul with a dramatic yet neutral paint color.
Guyton’s first order of business was to paint over the builder-grade brown with a hue that complemented the rest of her home. “I have an open floor plan — the living room, dining room, and kitchen all connect,” she explains. “I wanted to make sure each room had its own identity, while still flowing together naturally.” She ultimately landed on Current Mood for the cabeintery — our alluring blue-green with a hint of drama. “It’s deep and serene, yet palatable and timeless — I feel like I’ll love it for the next 20 years,” she adds. She carried the green into her dining room via upholstered chairs from West Elm, and her living room via houseplants.
2. Pepper in a complementary accent color.
Guyton’s woven pink bar stools put the finishing touch on her modern-glam aesthetic and add a much-needed accent color to the space. “I had these in my old apartment in San Francisco, and I’m so glad I was able to re-purpose them,” she explains. “They perfectly complement the green cabinets and brass accents, and they tie into the fuchsia paint, artwork, and textiles in my living room.”
3. Swap out hardware for an affordable kitchen update.
To up the glam factor a notch, Guyton switched out her bronze builder-grade pulls for stunning matte brushed brass hexagonal hardware from CB2. “The original hardware really got lost in the cabinetry,” she shares. “I wanted to make a subtle statement — nothing too flashy — and the brushed brass looks perfect against the green paint.”
4. Warm up a utilitarian kitchen with natural accents.
Traditionally utilitarian kitchens can easily feel a bit stark, especially with stainless steel appliances and white countertops. To add a bit of warmth, Guyton peppered natural accents like wicker baskets, wooden cutting boards, greenery, and a honey beige runner throughout the space. “I sourced all the little decorative touches from Home Goods, and they really tied the space together.”
5. Make a design statement with oversized lighting.
While Guyton didn’t mind the color of the original pendant lights, she wanted something larger and more eye-catching for her forever kitchen. “I found these Hinkley Somerset Pendants in a 15-inch size, and knew I had to have them. They took two months to ship, but it was worth the wait!” she shares. “They add just the right amount of glam to the room, and make up for the fact that there’s only one small window in the kitchen.”
Related: Keep it Light! 5 Elevated & Approachable Kitchen Renovation Ideas