Kitchen updates for 2023: from big ideas to small changes

Orange cabinetry with a cream island

Spring is always a good time for refreshing your home. Think the big clean to start the year afresh, changing your wardrobe over, and in general getting ready for the warmer days.

Our interiors are no exception. This time of year is prime season for changing things up a little (or a lot) – which is why, today, we’re looking at how to update your kitchen.

How to update your kitchen

From small changes to big-ticket items, there are ideas for every aspect of the room, to help you create a space that will be stylish as well as practical all year. With help from Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms journo Laurie Davidson, we break down six key kitchen updates…

1. Focus on your flooring

A monochrome kitchen with cork flooring
Planet natural cork flooring in Desert Cream, £69.99 per sq m, Carpetright.

If you’re happy with your overall layout but the floor is looking less than lovely, it may be time to replace it. It can completely change the aesthetic of your room and still last you for years to come.

Warming wood creates a cosy feel, while tiles are durable, often easy to clean, and look very sleek. Laminate, on the other hand, looks like real wood but is more affordable as well as scratch resistant. And if you have existing floorboard that are in good shape, why not paint them?

Real stone looks beautiful, but can be prone to chips. And vinyl – whether as sheets, planks, or luxury tiles – is the easiest flooring of all to install. Another option is polished concrete, which is ideal for properties with uneven surfaces as it can simply be laid straight on top of existing flooring.

No matter which material you choose, it’s important to make sure the foundations are in good condition and that your sub floor (what’s beneath the new covering you’re laying) is clean, flat and structurally sound. 

If you want to know how to update your kitchen but keep costs down, there’s one easy tip: larger tiles and patterned layouts take longer to fit and produce more wastage, which can be more expensive.

2. Change your cabinetry

A grey kitchen with wooden flooring
Faktum Vertical doors in Desert-Sand, from £45 each, Superfront.

One tip frequently brought up when looking at how to update your kitchen is to turn towards your units.

And for good reason, because it’s the age-old dilemma: your kitchen is in perfectly good condition but no longer to your taste. Luckily, you can replace cabinetry doors to create a completely new look. Not only is it more sustainable, as you create less waste, it’s also more economical as doors will cost you less than a whole new kitchen.

So, how easy are new doors to install? “There are lots of options available online, including paintable doors as well as standard/bespoke colours and sizes, so you can choose whatever style you want,” says Scott Peterson, co-director of HKUK. “For a super quick fix with the least hassle, consider replacing the doors on the lower half of your kitchen, but leave the wall units the same, or vice versa.”

Of course, you can also paint your existing cabinetry or, for a smaller update, fit new handles to offer a smart touch. Just remember that if you’re choosing pulls over a knob or vice versa, you’ll need to fill and paint the old holes. 

3. Boost your kitchen storage

Boosting your storage, for example with a pullout larder, is an easy way to update your kitchen
This is the SpaceTower from Crown Imperial. Kitchen furniture starts from around £10,000.

Hands up – who genuinely has enough room to keep everything in their kitchen in order? (Not me.)

Storage is one of the biggest sticking points, so why not give your space a refresh by sorting out this particular aspect? That doesn’t mean fitting in new cupboards either, but rather turning towards clever options to make what you have work even harder.

Think bespoke drawer inserts, but also corner pull-out racks, removable bins and pantry drawers. Why not get a carpenter to build you a tray organising drawer, or a slide-out preparation station? Perhaps a pull-out pantry would make life easier, or some extra shelves inside a tall cupboard? 

Once you’ve maximised the inside of your cupboards and drawers, look to other areas to see how to update your kitchen – a couple of small shelves on an unused wall, perhaps, for day-to-day crockery or glassware? Or maybe you could include a hanging pot rack to utilise the height of a room? 

4. Look to lighting

A monochrome kitchen with a layered lighting scheme and large glazing
Linear LED system, from £36 per m, Detail Lighting.

Updating your illumination not only transforms the look, it can also give you extra light where you most need it.

Do you find yourself working on a dimly lit counter? Add in some under-counter solutions to wall units when looking for how to update your kitchen.

Wish your space wasn’t so dark in one area? Pick a wall fitting to make it shine – and you don’t have to change up your electrics either, as these days there are plenty of plug-in options. Track lighting is also a good idea, as you can place it wherever you need – ideal for specific tasks – without having to wreck your walls or ceilings.

Plus, you can always add or remove lights, or slide them around on the tracks if your needs change. Smart, right?

For smaller ideas on how to update your kitchen, swap in some new glass or metallic pendants, or update any standard light switches to stylish designs that will give your kitchen a smarter look.

5. Update your glazing

Large-scale glazing lets in plenty of natural light
This large open-plan space is spoilt for light – with roof lanterns, floor-to-ceiling glass and windows from IQ Glass. Not only does it mean it’s a bright room to be in, but it also allows the best view of the garden, with wrap-around glazing and doors that can be slid right back.

While definitely more pricey, this is an update you won’t regret as it brings in a huge influx of natural light, which has proven benefits for health and wellbeing. Plus, there’s the obvious element of improving your interior visually and even helping to keep the space warm.

“A popular combination is slim-framed sliding doors and some type of roof glazing, whether it’s a structural glass roof or automated venting rooflight,” says Shannon Normoyle at IQ Glass

If you have a big outdoor space, consider doors that can be drawn back to create a seamless link between indoors and out. Make sure to fit a flush threshold, to reduce the risk of tripping – this is especially important if you want to dine outside and might be carrying dishes from A to B.

There’s also no need to worry about larger or south-facing rooms overheating in the summer, as you can request a solar-control coating which helps reduce solar gain and prevents the kitchen from becoming too warm.

6. How to update your kitchen: look towards your work surfaces

Changing your work surfaces, for example to a copper-look design like this, is an easy way to update your kitchen
Rouille copper-look worktop, price on application, Smile Kitchens.

Let’s face it, worktops can take a battering, especially in busy family kitchens – so it’s no surprise that they might need an update.

From wood to granite and composite, there are many options to choose from. However, before you do anything else, check your cabinets to make sure they’re able to carry the weight of a heavier work surface replacement. It’s all fair and well changing laminate to marble, but if your units can’t hold the material, you’ll face a much costlier project than anticipated.

If you’re not employing an installer, make sure you measure up correctly, keeping in mind that the easiest and most affordable route is to replace it like for like in terms of size.

This is also a good time to look at your sink. Would you maybe like an integrated design in the same material? Do you want the worktop to feature drainage lines? And do you want the splashback to match? This should help determine your choices a little. 

Looking to update your bathroom? Take a look at 8 of the latest modern ideas for 2023

Featured image: Choose cabinetry that is delivered painted in an off-white colour, ready for you to cover the units in whichever shade you wish. Available in a range of standard sizes, prices starting from £590, from British Standard by Plain English.

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