Facelifting a Kitchen for a Fresh Look

Tracy Kaler September 17, 2023

Make an older kitchen feel modern and updated without breaking down walls
Kitchens are undoubtedly the heart of the home and often the most exciting phase of any house makeover. 

“Few renovations are more rewarding for the homeowner than updating a kitchen,” said Roy Marcus, brand ambassador at Artistic Tile in New York. Whether a revamp includes replacing cabinets, regrouting tile, or trading out knobs and pulls, there are numerous ways to upgrade a kitchen without altering the footprint. 

Mansion Global turned to four design pros who weigh in on facelifting a kitchen for a fresh look while leaving the walls intact. They shared their thoughts on the process.

Paint the Cabinets

“Updating your existing cabinetry is an easier way to give your kitchen a facelift without removing walls or gutting. If your door style is relatively modern and is not a laminate material, paint will make a world of difference. A modern door example is something that has squared profiles and preferably, not knotty wood. 

“A lot of times, we see crown molding and light rails with really intricate detailing that can date your space. You can easily replace those details with a squared profile that will elevate and modernize your kitchen. Replacing or adding finished end panels to a run of cabinets that do not have them is another way to elevate and finish the space.

“The kitchen in our Storm Meadows project [below] preserved all of the cabinetry, but we updated the hardware, plumbing and countertops with a fresh coat of paint on the cabinetry, creating a completely different look and feel.”

—Morgan Blinn, interior designer at Rumor Designs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Reuse and Refresh the Appliances

“Lighting is often thought of as a secondary detail, but it should be a top design consideration. Accent lighting can also be used to highlight open shelving or under cabinets to brighten dark corners.

“Reuse as many [appliances] as possible to help with the budget. For this kitchen [below], we reused the existing range top, double ovens and replaced the wood panels on the existing refrigerator. We also reused the decorative hood surround and refreshed the look by removing some of the excess molding and painted it to match the new island. This allowed for a simpler style and cohesive look for our focal point in the kitchen.”

—Designer Lisa Carrothers of Sandifer Design Build in Jacksonville, Florida

Add an Island with a Decorative Element

“If you have room for a kitchen island, it’s absolutely worth considering. The island is the central station in a kitchen that provides a multifunctional area for such things as food prep, entertaining friends, a morning cup of coffee and a homework station, plus the added storage and room for more appliances if needed. Definitely add a prep sink with a faucet and spray attachment, and if you have room, a second dishwasher, undercounter microwave and fridge.

“The island is typically in the middle of the room, and the best way to make that focal point stand out is with a hanging pendant or decorative element above the island. This could be a hanging pot rack, dried flowers, or some cool fixtures, but it all depends on ceiling height and the styling of the kitchen. I always like to use oversized, big and bold light fittings if I can, and lots of color with metallic or reflective interiors that really bounce the light.”

—Christopher Peacock of Christopher Peacock Cabinetry in New York

Transform with Tile and Stone

“Stone tile––used on both walls and floors–has equal potential to transform a kitchen. Intriguing tile shapes, such as trapezoids and chevrons; curvilinear mosaics created via water-jet cutting; classic rectangular tile installed in herringbone format; all of these bring freshness and flair to kitchens.

“The area behind a range and under a hood is frequently a place of significant focus, a true ‘feature moment.’ If the majority of the backsplash is, for example, a rectangular natural stone tile, it can be very satisfying to install a mosaic of the same stone as the feature. 
“When natural stone such as marble, quartzite and onyx replaces counters of laminates, agglomerates, or dated granites from decades past, magic happens. The vivid color of onyx and natural quartzite, the classical grandeur of marble and travertine, the subtle chic of slate and soapstone all update, minus the upheaval of a full reconstruction.

“One stunning stone among many that will utterly transform a kitchen is Tiger Lily onyx. Sourced from ancient Persian quarries, it features magnificent veining, in a shade of intense orange found in the flower that lends its name to the stone.”

—Roy Marcus, Brand Ambassador at Artistic Tile in New York

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