Decide on a colour scheme. Knowing where to start a project can feel overwhelming, but I like to get the creative juices flowing with a good old scroll on Instagram & a Pinterest board. I also flick through old decorating books (particularly the-out-of-print 1980’s ones, that you can find cheaply on EBay and Etsy), for less well-thumbed ideas. For our current kitchen, it all sprang from one photo of a navy blue kitchen, and then for a touch of warmth - I added terracotta and cream to the palette.
Keep your cabinets. Save your pennies and keep your makeover sustainable by sanding and repainting your existing cupboard carcasses. We did this recently, changing the hardware and then making a few shelves in the same paint colour. They felt completely new. For a farmhouse feel, I love rich warm tones for cabinets, like the aforementioned navy (Fired Earth’s Carbon); a lichen green (Sage Green by Little Greene Paint Company), rust, burgundy or dusky brick tones (Sang de Boeuf by Edward Bulmer). Decide on the colour for your cabinets, and expand the palette from there.
Know your grout! I love the effect of vintage or handmade tiles on a backsplash. They’re imperfect, and I adore that. For our kitchen, we replaced a soulless stainless steel backsplash with blue hand painted Milagros Mexican tiles - which are a total bargain by the way - and then added terracotta grouting for a rustic Mediterranean feel. We kept the original hob and hood, but the aesthetic transformation was next level.
Replace chrome with rattan, wood and other natural materials. I found a vintage bamboo hand towel rail; displayed my Sharland England rattan bowl and tray full of fruit, and softened the wooden floors with a vintage runner. (Extra tip: vintage rugs can cost a fortune in shops, but if you use precise search terms on second-hand sites, the bargains appear! I look for ‘flatweave Oushak’ and ‘Aubusson’
Plates aren’t just for the table… Hang your ceramics! Display them on shelves or a Welsh dresser. They add a beautiful layer of colour to the room and it’s a shame to keep them all hidden in drawers. You can use circular sticky backing or wire hangers from Amazon, which I find more reliable. I am addicted to seeking out old French oyster plates online; they come in a rich caramel brown and every time another arrives, destined for the wall, my husband rolls his eyes! Don’t forget about hanging art too. I found two cheap oil paintings on canvas at a local flea market recently, removed the frames, and they have added a very rural feel to our London kitchen.
Steal a lamp from the living room. Kitchens need good, bright light of course, so you can see what you’re cooking, but that doesn’t mean the ambience can’t be more tranquil once the sun sets. I made sure our down-lighters had dimmers when we moved in; there’s always a candle burning come the evening, and to create the biggest impact of all - I added lamps. Most people don’t consider placing a lovely lamp with a pleated shade on the kitchen counter or island, but they bring cosy warm layer to the room, instantly cancelling out any starkness.