Decorating & Design

October 10, 2012

Ask A Designer: Affordable Kitchen Update

Q: Help! I need some ideas on how to update my 1980s kitchen. Unfortunately, new cabinets are not in our budget, but we would like to replace the countertop, backsplash and appliances. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

— F.M., via email (To submit your own question, see our Ask A Designer™ page.)

A. I don’t think you need to worry about replacing your cabinets; they look to be in decent shape, have a simple design and offer you plenty of storage. And if you switch to stainless steel appliances, they’ll look like new. Then, just give your kitchen a quick-and-easy style facelift.

For a new backsplash without a lot of cost or effort, cover your existing granite one with stainless steel. You can easily go the DIY route with Ikea’s Fastbo wall panels. They’re made from a laminate finished with clear-lacquered aluminum foil for the look of stainless steel.

I’d keep your white countertops — the new stainless-steel backsplash will lend them a contemporary edge — and just replace your island counter with Carrara marble. Then, swap out your kitchen sink for the Vault sink (shown) from Kohler. It has an over-mounted restaurant style with a thin profile, so it gives the illusion of an undermount, but it can be installed without taking out the counter. Pair it with Moen’s 90 Degree Classic stainless steel faucet (shown) for a polished combo.

Then, to warm up all those sleek finishes, including your glossy white cabinets, switch to a wood floor. Torlys’s Summit Designer Hardwood collection features planks that are nearly 6″ wide for a slightly country look to contrast with the more modern upgrades. Go dark, as in our inspiration shot, with the Oak Tiramisu colour or lighter with Oak Biscotti (both shown); either will add an organic touch. The best part is you can lay the planks directly over your ceramic tiles!

Switch out your small pendants for two of Lightyears‘ Caravaggio lights (shown). They’ll have more impact in the room, and the matte finish will play up the new polished elements.

I’m a big fan of using brightly coloured tea towels to introduce pattern. Pehr’s Sullivan collection tea towels (shown) will bring the perfect punch of personality to your kitchen.

See more Ask A Designer responses. Plus, submit your own question, with instructions from our Ask A Designer™ page.

1. Caravaggio light, Lightyears. 2. Oak Biscotti (top) and Oak Tiramisu flooring, Torlys. 3. Tea towels, from left: Fleur de Lys, Leaf, Pehr. 4. 90 Degree Classic faucet, Moen. 5. Vault sink, Kohler.