And as I've been living and breathing kitchens for the past year-and-a-half, I've come to form a little list of what I think is outdated, just vintage, or right-on-trend, and how to update those things in just a few minutes and with a few dollars. So, here's my opinion of the top ten list of things that are outdated in most kitchens, and some on-the-cheap solutions to whip them back into shape if you're looking to spruce yours up with a little elbow grease.
Top 10 Things that Outdate a Kitchen
10. Window Treatments
Window dressings have evolved over the past couple years. If you still have something that's frilly with fruit all over it, or something that little 'ole Grandma might sport, it might be time to think about tossing it for something a little more updated. Wood blinds, plantation shutters, and the ever-popular roman and bamboo shade trends are still going strong. If you're looking for a little softness or a color-boost, try out some floor-length drapes in something graphic, like solids or a modern print. If you're on a budget, consider making your own roman shade or scoping out stores like Walmart for good deals on a dime.
If the flooring is worn and the material and design is outdated it might be time to change it up. Wood in the kitchen is really popular right now, as is wood throughout the entire home - even including the bathroom. Tiles in the kitchen are always in style, although tile type, design and grout color and width play into whether or not it will stay trendy. Laminate flooring is a relatively new flooring option, and the new ones are made to be more resilient to everyday wear-and-tear while more closely resembling that of natural wood (click here for our post on the pros and cons of laminate flooring). Linoleum is a good and easy choice, as is peel-and-stick vinyl. If you are really on a budget and need a new floor by yesterday, becoming increasingly popular is the option to paint your floors. Black floors, white floors, patterns - the options are endless with a little creativity, planning, time, a steady hand and a gallon of paint.
One thing that was ever-so-popular in the 60's and 70's was soffits. Essentially they visually extend the cabinets up to the ceiling with drywall, but I feel that nowadays they just serve to date the kitchen and make it feel closed-in, which is usually the opposite of the goals current kitchens are trying to achieve. This is one of the biggest things I believe dates kitchens, and it is cheap and relatively easy to remedy or just remodel. We have removed ours, and as a result our kitchen opened up, felt bigger and brighter, and looks more updated. And guess what? Removing our soffits cost us nothing. The only tools required for the job was a sledgehammer, gloves, mask, eyewear, drywall mudd, drywall tape, drywall spreader/spatula, and some good ol' fashioned muscles. Oh, and a little music helps, too (click here for more info on how we removed our soffits DIY-style). But if you aren't feeling like superman, you can dress up the soffits to make them appear like they are part of and the tops of the cabinets. Just paint them the same color as your cabinets and add some moulding to the top to trick the eye into thinking that you upgraded to those trendy new ceiling-height cabinets. For a lot less, that is.
Stainless Steel is in, as everyone knows, and some predict that it's going out while others say that it's still going strong. Some think white and black appliances will make a comeback, while still others think that the next thing will be bright, colorful appliances. This is really up to the kitchen owner, as it is such a personal decision. In my experience, replacing our old white (original?) appliances that came with the house with new stainless steel (or stainless look) appliances made the whole kitchen feel bigger and brighter because they reflect so much light. Don't want fingerprints? Opt for some new stainless "look" appliances - you'll get the look without the annoying smudges (we love our stainless look fridge). On a serious budget? Look for scratch and dent, model/display, or discontinued appliances, and look for them at stores less people think of for appliances. We bought both our fridge and stove at Best Buy for 40% off the regular price, and when we drove down the street and saw the same fridge at an appliance store and informed them of Best Buy's price (to see if they could match it), the employee gasped and told us (and they work on commission!) that we should go buy it immediately because it was so much less than what they could sell it for. Can you say "score"? We did alot of happy-dancing that night. But if you can't spring for all-new, consider upgrading what you have - painting your old fridge with chalkboard paint is a fun way to add new life to it and personalize your kitchen, as well as consider those stainless steel look "stickers" that simply adhere to old appliances. If nothing else, sometimes a good cleaning will get those old beauties back to shining in no time.
Countertops are a crucial part of the kitchen, it's where all the prepping and work happens. They are also a big part of the design. If the countertops are grapes-with-leaves square white tiles, it might be time to consider upgrading. There are many ways to do that. You can completely replace it with more updated options, such as new, larger tiles in a more modern color and size, a stone slab or new laminate. New laminate is usually the cheapest option, and now comes in colors and patterns that more closely resemble stone, some even have speckles and imperfections in the surface (although you'll pay more for those). However, if you want granite on a laminate budget consider a granite tiled countertop, much like we did. You can hire a contractor to do the work or do-it-yourself, and although it was a challenge for us, it was certainly more than worth it, and thousands cheaper than the granite slab option (to read our how-to tutorial series on granite tile countertops, click here).
Everything goes in and out of style - including cabinets. If those dark 50's cabinets are begging for some love, you can either replace them, which can be costly, or you can update them. Metal and laminate can be painted, as well as wood. Painting your cabinets is one of the fastest (although not the easiest, by any means!) ways to update a kitchen, and it makes a huge impact. We had cathedral-style cabinets and couldn't afford to replace them - plus we rather loved the charm and interest they added to our little kitchen with the soft curves. But we didn't love the wear-and-tear and orange-y stain they had. So we simply painted them white, and not one day goes by that we don't regret it. If you don't love it, then paint it - and don't be afraid to paint wood. (click here to see how we updated our cabinets on the cheap)
Colors, just like everything else, go in and out of style. Many of the trends right now are brights - like yellow, lime green and turquoise; darks - think espresso, dark gray and magenta; neutrals - think robin's egg blue, tan/khaki, and grey is the next big neutral; and of course the classic - black and white, continue to be in. If you haven't touched your walls in awhile, it might be time to pick a new hue to cover up that old peach paint, or pick up a more modern wallpaper to go over that flowery print.
A backsplash is not a neccessity by any means for a kitchen, but if a kitchen is sporting something like ours did - 70's flower-power tiles that hadn't been touched since the disco days, it might be time to upgrade. We popped our old tiles out one-by-one and will simply install new tiles over the old drywall. A general rule of thumb is to try to match the period of your house with your decorating. For us, we will use the same type of tile already present in our bathroom shower - except a different shape, rectangle instead of square. A well thought-out and installed backsplash adds character, charm and protection to a kitchen, and can instantly update it.
2. Cabinet Pulls
This is one of the easiest ways to update a kitchen! Simply changing out the cabinet hardware to something more modern takes but a few minutes, and the impact it makes will really transform the look and feel of the entire kitchen. If your kitchen is sporting antiques from 1968 (like ours) and you're looking for a more updated feel, switch those babies out with some black, bronze or nickel hardware for instant oomph.
Many times it seems when kitchens are "remodeled", that things are repainted, appliances updated, new countertops or floors - but the same old lighting. Lighting is key! This is the one thing that Candice Olsen preaches about and follows - and I'd bet it's one of the reasons why people love her remodels and style. She has plenty of light - task lighting, ambient lighting, mood lighting - and it shows. Her rooms are amazing. So if you are really wanting to upgrade, don't forget about lighting! Switch out that old flourescent (like we did) for something new and modern. You could go all-out and install some recessed lights or simply install some shiny new track lighting to brighten things up. You'll be amazed at the difference!
Is there anything I missed? What are the top things that you think outdates a kitchen?