Kitchen Cabinet Chic: Styles & Design Tips

Whether your kitchen is recently updated or has maintained the same style for years, everyone desires a space that appears expansive and clean. The kitchen is a crucial area that sees daily use, so it’s important to keep it modern and inviting. Also, when selling your home, consider that potential buyers often scrutinize this room closely.

Examine the overall design of your kitchen first, then pay attention to particular details. The color of the walls, the quality of lighting, and the amount of clutter all influence its appearance.

To improve your kitchen’s appearance, here are some clever tips to consider.

Related: Organising Wardrobe Ideas: A Quick Guide

Table of Contents

7 Things That Make Your Kitchen Look Cheap

Fluorescent Lighting

Old fluorescent tube lights with yellowed plastic covers can make a kitchen less inviting, often producing a greenish tint reminiscent of dreary office spaces. You definitely don’t want your kitchen to resemble an office.

Updating your kitchen’s lighting does not have to be expensive. You might consider swapping out old lights for a budget-friendly chandelier or pendant lights. Another choice is to install recessed lighting, with the addition of accent pendants for a contemporary flair.

To bring in more natural light, you could place a small lamp on the kitchen counter or remove curtain valances from the windows.

Outdated Linoleum Floors

Many kitchens that lack appeal feature linoleum flooring. Replacing it with hardwood can be quite costly. To solve this problem without spending too much, consider using a colorful rug to cover the linoleum. Such a simple addition can add style and warmth for less money.

For those seeking a more lasting change, choosing decorative tiles over hardwood offers an economical choice. It requires less investment but can still improve the room’s elegance and visual appeal.

Cluttered Countertops

Cluttered Countertops

Clutter never looks appealing, regardless of its location. Countertops cluttered with old mail and various small appliances can cause your kitchen to appear untidy and disrupt its overall harmony. A good strategy is to put away items you do not use daily. Make it a habit to manage mail and catalogs right when they arrive.

Also, try not to store platters and inexpensive baskets on top of kitchen cabinets. Instead of outdated decorations like teapots or dried flowers, consider a more modern decorating approach. Opt for a minimalistic style and clear away such items.

Old and Damaged Drawer Knobs

Chipped or scratched drawer pulls, and knobs can largely break the appearance of your kitchen. Replacing these fixtures is a low-cost DIY project that can instantly uplift the room’s look. Consider them as the kitchen’s jewelry, adding that finishing touch to enhance its style.

Overuse of Artificial Plants

The overly perfect potted ivy on your refrigerator isn’t fooling anyone. Artificial plants often look cheap and can reduce your kitchen’s appeal. It’s better to avoid plastic greenery and opt for a vase of fresh flowers or even leave the space empty.

If you want to add some natural elements to your kitchen, consider placing potted herbs on the windowsill. They can be used in cooking, and their vibrant presence can enhance the overall feel of the space.

Related: Cabinet Hardware: The Essential Guide

Overuse of Artificial Plants in kitchen

Inconsistent Appliance Finishes

For a cohesive kitchen look, it’s best to have appliances with the same finish. Even though design trends are moving from stainless steel to black appliances, replacing mismatched items might not be practical budget-wise.

Another solution is to camouflage the inconsistent appliances. You can use peel-and-stick tiles or stylish wallpaper cut to size, held in place with strong magnets. This method can effectively integrate the appliance into your kitchen’s overall design without the need for expensive replacements.

Overuse of Plastic Items

For items like freestanding garbage cans, choosing metal over plastic can create a big difference. Although metal might cost more than plastic, it is worth it for the improved appearance it gives your kitchen.

If buying a new metal trash can isn’t possible at the moment, think about finding a way to conceal your current one. Hiding it can help keep your kitchen looking cleaner and more organized.

How to Make Your Kitchen Look Bigger

Maintain a Light and Unified Color Scheme

The colors you select for your kitchen have a strong effect on how spacious it seems. Light colors, particularly those with white tones, naturally reflect light and prevent the room from feeling small and dark.

While bright white or cream is a popular choice, you can also explore light shades of green, yellow, blue, and even grey. They can be equally effective.

It is important to maintain consistency in the color of your cabinet doors and walls. The method removes visual interruptions, allowing the eye to move smoothly across the room, which makes the space seem larger than it actually is.

Choose Open Wall Storage

When you need more storage in your kitchen, it is important to use wall space effectively. Rather than choosing solid cabinets that can make the space feel crowded, you might want to consider open storage options.

Shelves can be ideal for keeping lighter kitchen items and appliances, which helps to make the space look larger. Cabinets with glass doors provide the practicality of closed cabinets while maintaining the openness of your kitchen.

Installing soft lights inside these cabinets or beneath the shelves can also help to make the kitchen feel more open and welcoming, creating a pleasant space.

Choose Glossy Features for a Spacious Feel

glossy Countertops

Just like mirrors are useful for making hallways and bedrooms seem larger, glossy features can achieve a similar effect in kitchens.

Choosing cabinets and countertops with a gloss finish, along with stainless steel accents on taps, handles, and appliances, can reflect light and create an illusion of more space.

To maximize this effect, aim to let in more natural light. Keep your window design simple, with minimal treatments on the glass and clear windowsills. More natural light enters the room, which then reflects off the glossy surfaces, improving the spacious feel.

Avoid Clutter for a Neat Look

Clutter can quickly make a small kitchen feel cramped and disorganized. To combat this:

  1. Maximize storage space with drawers and a narrow larder. Such a strategy helps to conceal ingredients, utensils, and crockery, keeping countertops and shelves clean and clutter-free.
  1. Although reducing clutter is important, some items can stay visible. Statement pieces like freestanding mixers can improve the room’s design. Daily essentials such as kettles and toasters are practical to keep out.

Also, displaying fresh flowers, herbs, and other small decorative items sparingly can add a homely touch.

Choose Simple and Bright Lighting

Simple and Bright Lighting in kitchen

In a small kitchen with a high ceiling, a statement light shade can be a stunning addition to the design. However, for standard or low ceilings, it is better to avoid overloading the room with unnecessary light fixtures.

Integrated lighting can be a lifesaver in small kitchens. These lights might be subtle in the overall room design but they provide ample bright light, creating a more open and airy atmosphere throughout the day.

While ceiling lights are essential, you can improve your space by adding lights beneath cabinets and spotlights on your worktop. This soft, layered lighting improves your prep space and adds to the overall appeal of the kitchen.

Small kitchens can be just as charming as larger ones when you use these design tips to maximize the space and create an inviting environment where you’ll enjoy spending time.

Use See-Through Elements

Creating unobstructed sightlines in your kitchen can make it appear more spacious. Clear plastic chairs, floating islands, transparent bar surfaces, backless barstools, or glass pendant lights can all contribute to this effect.

Choose Slimmer Cabinets

Slimline base cabinets with reduced depth can create the illusion of more floor space while maintaining a standard cupboard appearance. While you may not be able to store bulky items in these cabinets, consider hanging pots and pans from the ceiling or utensils from hooks underneath cupboards to maximize storage efficiency.

8 Kitchen Cabinet Styles and Trends

Shaker

Decorative Style: Versatile, fits well with both traditional and modern aesthetics.  

Cost: Budget-friendly.

shaker-sand cabinet

The Shaker furniture trend, which dates back to the 18th century, has recently experienced a revival. Shaker-style cabinetry has become a fundamental element of contemporary kitchen design. A key feature of the modern farmhouse look includes white Shaker-style cabinets combined with a farmhouse sink, evoking a sense of nostalgia for a picturesque, pastoral past.

Shaker-style cabinet doors are noted for their lack of excessive decoration and a simple recessed panel, making them adaptable to various kitchen styles. If white is not your preference, consider options like navy, forest green, or matte black.

Pros:

Highly adaptable; suitable for a range of decor types, including traditional and modern aesthetics. They work well with different types of woods, stains, paint colors, and hardware, accommodating various budgets.

Cons: There are no specific disadvantages associated with this style.

Slab or Flat Panel

Decorative Style: Generally modern or contemporary, yet adaptable.  

Cost: Variable, with many cost-effective alternatives available.

slab or flat kitchen cabinet

The slab or flat panel cabinet is a common choice in kitchen cabinetry today. They are distinguished by their sleek lines, easy maintenance, and understated visual appeal, commonly made from MDF and finished with melamine, laminate, or Thermofoil in large-scale production.

Yet, these contemporary cabinets also appear in kitchens with vintage or mid-century modern influences, often crafted from solid wood. Modern slab or flat panel cabinets are available in various finishes, and affordable, prefabricated models can be easily tailored to suit personal tastes.

Pros:

  1. Smooth, clean lines that enhance a minimalist aesthetic.
  1. Ideal for highlighting unique colors or finishes.
  1. Perfectly complements contemporary or streamlined modern designs.
  1. Lacking ornate details, which makes them budget-friendly, although available in upscale versions at many cabinet retailers.

Cons:

Without careful execution, the simplicity can cause a plain appearance. Color, finish, and hardware are essential, as these doors do not feature decorative embellishments.

Glass Front

Decorative Style: Adaptable  

Cost: Variable

Glass Fronted Cabinets

Glass front cabinets, often used in combination with solid cabinets, can feature lighting from behind to highlight items like fine china, vintage champagne glasses, or cobalt glass collections, adding an ornamental touch to your kitchen.

These cabinets can also break up the monotony of a solid wall of cabinets, providing a stylish contrast.

The transparency of the glass allows for easier visibility of contents, reducing the need to open and close cabinets repeatedly to find items. Unlike open shelving, glass fronts help to prevent the accumulation of dust and kitchen grime.

Pros:

  1. Displays dishware, glassware, or collectibles, adding a personal touch to your kitchen.
  1. Gives a sophisticated, open look to the kitchen space.
  1. Makes locating items easier and quicker.

Cons:

  1. Needs regular cleaning both inside and outside to maintain clarity and hygiene.
  1. More fragile than solid wood or metal doors, requiring careful handling.

Rustic Country-Style

Decorative Style: Traditional  

Cost: Variable

rustic style kitchen

Rustic country-style cabinets emphasize the natural characteristics of wood, often showcasing wood grain, a distressed look, and a simple design without elaborate details. This style is particularly well-suited to settings like mountain cabin getaways and authentic rural farmhouses. However, in modern environments, it might go outdated if applied too literally.

Pros:

  1. Creates a warm and cozy ambiance.
  1. Brings out the natural beauty of the space.
  1. Provides a unique and distinctive charm.

Cons:

  1. Can appear outdated in contemporary settings.
  1. Requires more maintenance than other cabinetry styles.

Urban Rustic

Decorative Style: A fusion of modern and traditional elements  

Cost: Generally pricier than some other styles

urban rustic kitchen cabinet

Also known as vintage urban, this design style blends the warmth and allure of rustic elements with the clean, streamlined features of modern design. This style is characterized by a mix of natural materials such as wood and stone, alongside modern finishes like glass and metal.

Urban rustic interiors usually use a neutral color palette accented with bold, saturated colors or metallic highlights. The style mixes vintage or industrial elements, such as reclaimed wood, exposed brick, and metal piping, which evoke a sense of history and nostalgia.

In this setting, old and new furniture pieces often coexist, with vintage or antique items providing contrast to contemporary designs.

Pros:

  1. Intriguing and versatile, attractive to different tastes.
  1. Robust construction and design elements.
  1. Adaptable to a various decor styles, making it easy to integrate.

Cons:

  1. Generally more expensive due to the use of diverse and high-quality materials.
  1. Requires more maintenance to keep the materials in good condition.
  1. May not be suitable for small spaces due to its often bulky furniture and rich design elements.

Louvered

Decorative Style: Adaptable  

Cost: Generally among the pricier options

louvered kitchen cabinet

Louvered kitchen cabinets have horizontal wood slats that add texture and visual intrigue. They also offer practical benefits such as ventilation, which is especially advantageous depending on what is stored inside and the kitchen’s location. This is particularly useful in high-humidity climates where mold is a concern.

Whether you prefer a few louvered cabinets to create a mini pantry for storing items like potatoes, garlic, and onions, or you want to incorporate them purely for their aesthetic appeal, louvered cabinets are a compelling choice.

Pros:

  1. Adds texture and visual interest, improving the overall look of the kitchen.
  1. Ideal for cabinets requiring ventilation, which is beneficial near radiators or in laundry areas.

Cons:

  1. Can collect grease and dust, making them difficult to keep clean.
  1. Tends to be expensive, reflecting the intricate design and material quality.

Open Shelving

Decorative Style: Adaptable  

Cost: Budget-friendly

open shelving kitchen cabinet

Open shelving is experiencing a resurgence as an alternative element in kitchen cabinet design, used to break the monotony of a wall filled with identical cabinets. In this setup, floating wood shelves with a rich stain add warmth and serve as a focal point in a sleek, contemporary, all-white kitchen.

Open shelving might be an excellent choice if you have a talent for arranging items aesthetically on shelves and do not naturally accumulate clutter. However, for those dislike visual clutter, it may be wise to reconsider this option.

As with all decor-related decisions, prioritizing function over form makes the most practical kitchen design.

Pros:

  1. Expands storage possibilities, making the most of available wall space.
  1. Creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere for guests.
  1. Simple to maintain and clean.

Cons:

  1. Items on display may cause visual clutter if not meticulously organized.
  1. Dirt and dust are more visible on open shelving, requiring frequent cleaning.

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