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Updating with Accessories
By Tracy Dickinson
home :: home & garden :: kitchen & bath

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Little touches can make big changes in your kitchen design.

Little touches can make big changes in your kitchen design.

If your kitchen is looking a little dated but a remodel just isn’t in your budget, take a page out of the fashion playbook. Instead of replacing the outfit, update the accessories. The same principle applies to design and home decor.


Tina Noel of Moehl Millwork says, “Faucets are the ‘jewelry’ to your kitchen or bath. They can definitely make a statement in the room.”

AIM Kitchen & Bath’s Corey Gersdorf adds, “Changing your kitchen faucets can help change the look of your kitchen, whether you want to make it feel more modern, traditional, or transitional. A small change can have a big impact.”

Old faucets can be the accessory that screams “dated, 1980s” design. New faucets can be the accessory that turns a kitchen from transitional to contemporary, from traditional to eclectic, from drab to bold.

“Getting rid of the old brass can create a more neutral, subdued look,” says Sarah Young of Sunderland Brothers. “The new faucets will neutralize the space instead of the brass being the eyesore and the first thing you notice.”

In addition to updating the look of your space, new faucets can dramatically improve your kitchen’s functionality. Faucet manufacturers are offering a variety of convenience features that are well worth the investment.

“Many products are available with motion-sense, or even with hands-free control, as well as spot-resistant finishes,” says Jenna Marion of Showplace Kitchens.

“New finishes are always coming out,” Noel adds. “Antiqued brass is coming back, but with a classier finish.”

Other convenient features include pull-down sprayers, one-touch turn on and off, and low-maintenance finishes.


Although replacing the cabinetry may not be in your budget—or may not be necessary—you can still update the look of your cabinetry with a few relatively simple changes.

“Changing out or adding hardware is a quick and easy way to give your kitchen a fresh look,” explains Gersdorf. “Adding a decorative pull or knob can add style, and manufacturers are always coming out with new styles and finishes. With better technology, a lot of companies have more durable finishes available, too.”

Marion says, “The hardware is like jewelry. You need the right jewelry to complete an outfit, and the same goes for your cabinets. Don’t go cheap on hardware. It’s the small details that mean so much.”

She adds that many homeowners are opting for pull-style hardware rather than knobs.

“A sturdy, yet glamorous pull can complement many styles of cabinets and design,” she says. “Accessories can make or break the project, so take your time and always go with something you love. You will be using the hardware and faucets every single day so you want to make the right choice.”

Other Ideas

Besides the obvious accessorizing with faucets and hardware, other elements of your kitchen’s design can enhance the look or update the style without breaking your budget. Think about all the elements when you're considering changes.

  • Lighting. “Undercabinet lighting can really change the look of the kitchen,” suggests Marion. At the very least, she says, “remove all box lighting. I believe can lighting is the way to go.”

    Gersdorf adds, “People spend a lot of time in their kitchen, and you want to make sure you have plenty of light in your work spaces as well as accent lighting. Adding dimmers allows you to control the output, and with all of the new LED options available, you can be energy-efficient, too.”
  • Color. Whether it’s the walls or the cabinets, the backdrop for your design, or the accent, a change in color can completely transform a kitchen. “If you’re changing out or adding hardware anyway,” says Gersdorf, “now is a good time to do any finish touch-ups or changes you’ve been considering.”

    Incorporating popular colors can update the look, but experts advise doing so with caution. Marion explains, “Avoid picking the ‘in’ color. Keep things neutral by using grays, beiges, and blacks. You can always add a bold color as an accent. So it’s more affordable to change as trends change.”
  • Countertops. If you have good cabinetry, updating the countertops is another option. “Updating countertops with a nice granite or quartz can be a great investment,” Noel suggests. But she warns that this should only be done if the cabinetry is not outdated. “Placing an expensive stone on 1990s oak cabinets may not be the wisest investment. And removing the countertops to update the cabinets later can be risky.”
  • Creativity. Above all, have fun with your design. “There are no set rules,” says Noel. “Be creative. Throw in an eclectic rustic feature. It can become a great conversation piece.”

From pendant lighting to backsplash designs, accent colors, and repurposed materials, these personal touches do more than reflect your individual style. They’re the accessories that complete the perfect look.


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