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Make your kitchen really cook

Overview

Published: 07/23/2012

by Kimberley Seldon

 We grab our first cup of coffee there, pencil appointments in our calendars, open mail and pay bills. It's where we help the kids with homework. And, whether we like it or not, it's where the party always ends up. Oh, did I mention cooking?

Equal parts social hub and inner sanctum, if your kitchen is 'activity central', inject it with personality and you'll be rewarded with a kitchen that really cooks.

Cabinets

Regardless of style, kitchen cabinets provide endless opportunity to make a decor statement.

* Exchange solid doors for glass-fronted ones and show off dishes and glassware.

*Add patterned wallpaper behind shelves to heighten interest.

* Forgo cabinet doors altogether. Open shelving works beautifully for rustic, country or exotic decors.

* Add wood molding to plain cabinets to create panelled doors. Paint or wallpaper inset areas and finish with a coat of antiquing glaze for old-world charm.

* Splurge on new hardware; pewter insect shapes, hand-painted porcelain and oil-rubbed bronze are a smattering of available options.

* On a pantry, try a screen door or wrought-iron gate as a clever alternative to traditional cabinet doors.

Backsplash

The visually prominent backsplash is begging for interest.

* Cut a simple motif from wallpaper or wrapping paper and decoupage it in the centre of a tile; seal with a few coats of acrylic urethane.

* Tiles are a great canvas. Paint a modern motif randomly or a bucolic pastoral scene centred above the cooktop.

* Embossed tin panels found at salvage yards or building supply centres provide vintage charm.

Windows

Window treatments don't have to be elaborate to be effective.

* Create a display area for collectibles and glassware by installing glass shelves in front of a window. It's also an ideal spot for growing herbs.

* Enhance a small window with shutters on either side of the frame.

* Hang a stained-glass panel directly in front of an existing window and watch the colours dance.

* No window over the sink? Paint one. Complete the illusion with wood molding and curtain fabric.

Flooring

Flooring must be practical, but needn't be prudish.

* If your wood or linoleum floor has seen better days, paint (offering endless creative possibilities) may be the answer.

* An area rug adds style and comfort underfoot. Choose sea grass to lend texture to cool surfaces or an oriental-style rug for traditional warmth.

Island eating counter

From a butcher-block table to a steel trolley, an island provides an additional work surface and invaluable storage, as well as a favourite gathering spot during meal preparation.

* Dress up plain-Jane stools with padded cushions.

* Tea towels make fabulous napkins and look great rolled up in a wicker basket.

Lighting

Don't restrict yourself to 'kitchen' lighting. Who says that a kitchen is no place for a crystal chandelier?

Clever storage

Make every item you purchase beautiful and practical, and you won't want to hide them.

* Take your cookware out and hang above the island.

* Wicker baskets or decorative hatboxes displayed above upper cabinets can store infrequently used items.

* Use that silver teapot to hold fresh flowers or utensils.

Walls

Once kitchen cabinets are in place, there is often little wall space left over, so go bold.

* Try a daring paint colour, such as eggplant, charcoal or magenta.

* Create a family gallery by hanging oversize empty picture frames and placing children's artwork directly on the wall inside frames.

* Choose a wallpaper border that mimics crown molding, or create a frieze using a collection of small plates or framed drawings.

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