How to update your kitchen without replacing it

Update your kitchen main

Whether you’ve just moved in and can’t (or don’t want to) replace your cabinetry, or you simply need a little change of design, a kitchen project doesn’t have to be massive.

There are plenty of ways to update your kitchen without replacing it. From updating small accessories to changing the fronts, I’m going to talk you through a few options – who knows, your next project might come up sooner than you think.

How to update your kitchen instead of replacing everything

First of all, as with any project, it’s key that you take stock of what you actually want to do. Have a look at what definitely needs replacing and what you can (and want to) keep.

Also look at your budget, to see what you can realistically achieve.

Update your kitchen Superfront
Fields doors, from £75 each for a 20 x 80cm design, with No Pattern drawer fronts, from £30 for a 40 x 10cm design, both in Willow Green, and Wire handles in brass, £20, from Superfront.

Change the doors

This is one of the biggest opportunities to update your kitchen. Instead of replacing the whole unit, simply swap your existing doors for new ones. There are companies such as Superfront, who offer custom doors for Ikea kitchens. Husk also specialise in doors for Ikea designs, as well as those from Howdens.

But even if you don’t know where your kitchen is from, there are options. Check with different companies if they can help – local joiners could be a good port of call. You can also simply ask your home’s previous owner if they can give you details about the kitchen.

And if the budget you’ve set aside to update your kitchen doesn’t allow for new doors, there’s another, simpler way: a new lick of paint.

Annie Sloan paint
Cupboards in premixed Aubusson Blue and Emperor’s Silk, wall in Antoinette Chalk Paint, £23.95 for 1 litre each, Annie Sloan.

Make sure your cabinets can be painted (glossy styles, for example, sometimes can’t) and ensure you have everything in order. You’ll need to sand the fronts down, so the colour has a rough surface to grip onto, and choose a paint that’s suitable for kitchens. It needs to be hard-wearing, and ideally you should be able to wipe it down too in case of spills.

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But in terms of colour, the world’s your oyster. Update your kitchen in a bright, joyful shade with plenty of personality or create a warm, neutral scheme to your liking. You could even add a pattern or choose contrasting shades to inject interest.

Whatever you choose, your options are only limited by your imagination and personal preference – so go for it.

Update your kitchen Mandarin Stone flooring
Trulli Sand porcelain floor tiles, £34.80m sq, Mandarin Stone.

Update your kitchen with new walls and floors

Depending on your existing tiles, this could be a big undertaking or an easy fix. Either way, it’s a surefire way to give your space a new look – and one that’s potentially very different.

Swap worn-down lino for glossy porcelain tiles, for example, or choose encaustic tiles with designs to add extra charm. Of course, you can also go the other way – cover tired tiles with luxury vinyl tiles, for example. Not only is this form of vinyl hard-wearing and ideal for high-traffic areas, it also comes in a range of realistic-looking replica designs. Think real wood and marble, for example.

Walls and Floors olive metro tiles
Hope olive gloss brick-effect wall tiles, £36.95, Walls and Floors.

If you’re fantasising about using real wood to update your kitchen, consider opting for laminate instead. Real wood can warp with moisture (which includes spills) but laminate is hard-wearing. Make sure to choose a waterproof design, but you don’t need to compromise on the look.

For the walls, as with cabinets, paint is a quick and easy way to give them a refresh. But you could also wallpaper a section, for example in the dining area if you have an open-plan space. Make it a focal point by choosing a pattern, and wow your guests as a result.

You can also change your splashback to give the wall behind your hob a new look. Companies such as Alusplash, Creoglass, or Dualsplash offer different designs, from groutless aluminium solutions in a wide variety of colours to printed acrylic design that’ll inject plenty of fun into your scheme.

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Update your kitchen designer splashback wallpaper
Kitchenwalls designer PVC kitchen splashback wallpaper in Flower & Marble, £155 per roll, Lime Lace.

Refresh the worktop

Surfaces are a big part of your kitchen, so updating them can immediately give your whole space a new look.

And if they’re scratched or damaged, replacing them might be just the refresh your kitchen needs. Opt for a hard-wearing material that can cope with the everyday demands of a busy household, and make sure it suits your circumstances.

Marble, for example, looks luxurious and is great for baking. It absorbs heat from the dough you’re working without raising its own temperature (so your dough stays nice and cool). But it also needs a lot of care and stains easily, especially if it comes into contact with acidic foods.

Gemini quartz worktop English white
English White quartz worktop, from £300 per sq m, Gemini Worktops.

So if you’re a keen baker, but not the type to immediately wipe something or have small kids, it might be an idea to opt for a marble baking board and choose a marble-effect work surface instead.

Use the finishing touches to update your kitchen

The little things can make the biggest difference, so don’t discount them when looking to create a new look.

Handles are an easy change, and one that can really elevate the look. Instead of standard chrome, why not opt for burnished metals, or even leather loops?

Armac Martin kitchen handles
Queslett knobs with rectangular backplates in burnished brass, from £43.94 each, Armac Martin.

Adding open shelving is also a great idea, and likely doesn’t require you to remove any units. Make sure the wall you pick can hold a shelf, and also ensure it’s installed correctly. But these open designs are a great way to display cookbooks or treasured possessions – which also add plenty of character to your space.

Featured image: CRL Quartz Verona worktops, from £400 per sq m, CRL Stone.

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