One of the easiest ways of upgrading an older home, bringing it up to the requirements of modern family life and increasing its overall appeal, is by renovating the existing kitchen. Kitchens in older homes were separate rooms, cut off from the dining and living areas, which had both advantages and disadvantages. The cook necessarily worked in a room isolated from the rest of the family during meal preparation and clean-up, but the great advantage was that the door to the kitchen could simply be shut if unexpected visitors called whilst the kitchen was in less than pristine shape. Older kitchens were also not the most attractive areas of the home, and many of the appliances were not visually appealing. Wall and flooring tiles were often highly patterned, giving an overall impression of darkness to a kitchen, often in contrast to the furnishings of the rest of the home. Modern kitchens are more streamlined, designed for ultimate efficiency, are brighter and merge seamlessly into the overall design of the living and dining areas. New houses are aimed at making the most use of all living and working areas, using all available space to the best advantage whilst still being pleasing aesthetically. Dividing walls are being replaced by open-plan living, food preparation and eating areas which flow easily into one another and provide a more open, family-friendly home.
Simple ways to renovate your kitchen
Replace tiles and countertops
If you live in an older home with a separate kitchen or simply have a kitchen which has become dated and worn or is not as functional as you would like it to be, the answer is to renovate to bring it up to a standard which works for you. Sometimes it is simply a matter of replacing the wall tiles or backsplashes with a more modern, bright and easy to clean tile, or replacing old laminate countertops with more hardwearing stone, granite, marble or cement, all of which are available in a wide range of colours.
Rethink your flooring
If the flooring is old, scuffed or too dark, laying new flooring will bring in a fresh touch which will also have the advantage of being easier to keep clean. Whilst many floors are now laid to tile, there are other options, such as modern coloured concrete, cement or colour screed flooring, which is both hardwearing and slip resistant. Along the same lines, there is the option of stone chip flooring, which has stone, marble or glass chips mixed into the cement which is then polished to a high gloss finish. Some people prefer wood for its warmth underfoot, and although solid wood is not considered an ideal choice for a kitchen, there are now options available through engineered, laminate or bamboo wood flooring which is hardwearing, easy to clean and resistant to spills.
Restore or change cupboard doors
A simple way of bringing your kitchen up to date is to replace old cupboard doors. Many older kitchens boasted cupboard doors made with a wood veneer or laminate, some of which had a raised centre or frame which has now gone out of fashion. Whilst they can quite easily be painted in more pastel colours or even given a faux-antique appearance, many homeowners prefer the modern trend for plain doors in more hardwearing materials. A high-gloss door reflects light, looks more streamlined and is easy to clean, as well as presenting a highly modern finish with minimal effort. Sometimes it is not necessary to replace more than the doors themselves, as the inner cabinets are usually fine. The only time the entire cupboards would need replacing is in cases where the design of the kitchen has changed completely and the cupboards are being removed or relocated.
Old appliances are often a huge drain on electrical power and water, look old-fashioned and, even in the most careful of homes, ultimately show signs of wear and tear, such as natural discolouring , cracking or rusting on the outer casing. Many of them are, quite simply, not as efficient as more modern appliances and are out of place in updated kitchens. From an economics point of view alone, it pays to buy new items which are more frugal with power and water, are easy to maintain, and have the added bonus of good looks which fit seamlessly into modern kitchens.
Replace old window coverings
The trend for easier maintenance and clean lines does not stop at the windows in a kitchen. Whilst it used to be the fashion to have full curtains, cafe curtains and sometimes nets at kitchen windows, it is now more common to find simple vertical, Venetian or roman blinds in their place. Curtains have little place in an area which attracts moisture, steam, grime and oil on a daily basis, whilst blinds can be cleaned quickly and easily.
Kitchen renovations may be simple and quick, or more complex and time-consuming, requiring the services of a builder, carpenter, glazier, tiling or floor specialist and designer or architect. A structural renovation may involve the removal and rebuilding of walls, repositioning of windows, a completely new floor layout and the manufacture of new cabinetry. Internal walls may be removed to open up the space into one open-plan living area, or external walls may be pushed out to enlarge the kitchen into a more family-friendly kitchen/diner. In cases such as this, it is wisest to ask for help from a knowledgeable and experienced kitchen designer or architect to ensure that the end result meets your needs and achieves the overall look you want. Be prepared to listen to advice and try not to stick rigidly to your own ideas, which may not achieve the best use of the space and overall efficiency.
Renovate according to your budget
Always renovate according to the budget you have available, even if it means doing it in smaller steps. A simple fix like painting the walls or cupboard doors a different colour can make an amazing difference, and re-tiling the backsplashes need not be a hugely expensive undertaking, if careful choices are made. The kitchen is very much the hub of your home, and should be a pleasant and efficient space in which to cook rather than a depressing prison-like room which does not get your creative cooking juices flowing. Make the changes you can afford, and enjoy your kitchen. It will always be worth the effort.