How to transform a builder-basic kitchen.
Q. I've just moved into a new condo and desperately need to update the kitchen. I don't mind the cabinets, but the countertop needs to go. I need a spot for a microwave, but there doesn't seem to be room. I'd also love some new stools, as I don't have room for a dining table.
— J.L., Toronto (To submit your own question, see our Ask A Designer™ page.)
A. Replace the countertop.
Install a new, lighter-coloured countertop in a material like Bianco Carrara or Bianco Statuario marble, or a quartz surface like CaesarStone or Hanstone in a similar tone. Extend the counter out 9" to 12" to square off the rounded overhang — doing this will allow you to accommodate four bar stools.
Switch up the fixtures.
Replace the sink with an undermount style. Since the faucet is visible from the rest of the space, choose a good-looking model like Delta's stainless steel Grail single-handle, pull-down faucet (shown).
Make space for a microwave.
The best location for a microwave is over the cooktop, so you will need a combination microwave-exhaust fan. The GE Café over-the-range microwave (shown) has a sleek look. As your budget allows, you can consider replacing your other appliances with stainless steel versions to give your kitchen an updated, cohesive look.
Update the seating.
Contemporary stools, like the white Air stool (CS/58) from Calligaris (shown) will make your cabinets feel current.
Refresh the wall colour.
A cooler wall colour will balance the warm wood tone of the cabinets: try Elder White (SW7014) by Sherwin-Williams (shown).
Accessorize with colour.
Bring in colour and personality with whimsical Birder tea towels from Anthropologie (shown), a bright blue kettle (shown) and graphic green countertop canisters (shown).
1. Café over-the-range microwave, GE. 2. Okura tea caddy canister, Jonathan Adler. 3. Air stool (CS-58), Calligaris. 4. Ogive kettle, Le Creuset. 5. Birder tea towels, Anthropologie. 6. Elder White (SW7014) paint, Sherwin-Williams. 7. Grail faucet, Delta.