HOPKINS, Minn. - Kitchen renovation is a common theme of home improvement shows, and it's typical for the host and designer to talk about removing interior walls and "bumping out" exterior ones in order to gain more space. Everyone wants a big, beautiful kitchen, but changing the footprint of yours isn't always practical, especially if you lack the budget of a home improvement show!
You can make your snug kitchen feel bigger and fresher with a few smart improvements that don't involve wads of cash and tearing out walls. Here are four ways to create a brighter, more expansive feeling in any kitchen, no matter how small the square footage:
Increase Natural Light
Everything looks bigger and better in the daylight, but if your kitchen has just one small window over the sink or no windows at all, it can look dark and feel even smaller. Adding windows isn't always possible in a kitchen where you need to reserve wall space for cabinets and appliances. Skylights can be a cost-effective and quick way to bring more natural light into a kitchen — even if it doesn't have direct roof access.
By adding Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered, fresh-air skylights, like those from Velux America, you can greatly increase the amount of natural light while keeping functional wall space. For times when you want less light, the addition of solar-powered blinds, available in designer colors and patterns, allow you to attractively shade your skylights. Operated with a programmable touchpad remote control, today's skylights also feature a sensor that will automatically close them in case of rain. And there's a 30 percent federal tax credit available to the homeowner on solar powered skylights, blinds and installation costs.
As a cost-effective and easily installed alternative to traditional skylights, Sun Tunnel tubular skylights deliver natural light to spaces that don't have direct roof access. Optional light kits make them functional both day and night. To learn more, visit www.whyskylights.com.
Take control of cabinets
Who doesn't want more cabinet space? Storage is essential in a kitchen, but too many cabinets or too dark cabinetry can make an already small kitchen feel downright miniscule.
Take a long, hard look at your kitchen cabinets. Do you really need all of them? If you decide you can make more efficient use of fewer cabinets, consider removing some to make the kitchen feel larger.
If you just can't give up any cabinet space, you can still make your kitchen feel brighter by painting or staining them a lighter hue and using bright, reflective hardware in modern styles. Glass cabinet doors can also visually open up a kitchen — and inspire you to greater organization so that the inside of your cabinets always look guest-ready.
You may fantasize about a six-burner professional range or a massive built-in refrigerator, but appliances that are too big for a room fail on multiple levels. They not only make the room look smaller by virtue of their dominating size, they can hinder usability by obstructing other work areas like cabinets, counters and other appliances when the doors are open.
Fortunately, appliance makers offer products in multiple sizes and finishes to fit any space and design preference. Before you appliance shop, be sure to measure the spaces where the new pieces will reside in your kitchen. Further, keep in mind the overall scale of the room, too. If your kitchen is small, a massive refrigerator will overwhelm the space, even if designated cutout for the fridge is big enough to accommodate a large one.
Choosing lighter colors and finishes is the easiest, most cost-effective way to make any space look bigger. If you've already addressed the cabinets, you can further expand the visual feel of the kitchen by painting walls a light color. Replace dark floors and counters with brighter colors and upgrade faucets, cabinet hardware and light fixtures to be brighter and more reflective.
Finally, try adding under-cabinet lighting above work spaces. Not only will task lighting put more illumination where you need it most when working in the kitchen, but when combined with abundant natural light from skylights it will enhance the overall effect of a lighter, brighter and bigger space.
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