We don't all have identical levels of budget/commitment to lavish on our kitchens, but most of us love a calm cookspace. Here are five approaches to improving your kitchen, whether you're in the market for quick cosmetic tweaks or a full-on refurb...
1. Crack open the paint pots.
Image: Howards Storage World
File this one under 'quick fixes', but it's foolproof. Choose a bold paint shade for your kitchen and just go for it (dark colours are trending now). Or you could go a step further and paint a whole feature wall in blackboard paint, as Howards Storage World have done above, on the wall behind their fabulously useful pantry units. Decorate with hand-written recipes and shopping lists: instant personality and practicality.
2. Install all-new units.
Cupboards just too old and tired to be salvaged with a lick of paint? If your kitchen units are due for an upgrade, think about investing in a classic hard-wearing solid-wood option, as seen in dramatic on-trend charcoal in this Suffolk oak kitchen by Neptune. The beautiful units are the epitome of elegant simplicity - and if you fancy a change of colour down the line, you can always have them repainted.
3. Have a concrete idea.
Image: McNally Living/Leicht
This modern, edgy kitchen from Leicht at McNally Living includes doors made from concrete and a beautiful moulded sink. Concrete is a brilliant, durable solution for kitchens - not only does it look and feel great, it is super hard-wearing. (Bonus points for the solid-wood built-in chopping board, whose organic rustic look contrasts nicely against the cool industrial-looking concrete units.)
4. Build in concealed storage.
Image: Porter & Jones
If you have a family - or simply like to cook a lot - then ample hidden storage will transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Above, kitchen designer Liza Porter created this stylish two-tone Dublin 6 kitchen with storage in mind, saying owners should take the time at the early design stage to plan where everything will be stored, from the KitchenAid to the ketchup bottle. "Hidden internal drawers to house cutlery and utensils are a clever way of retaining a streamlined look in your kitchen," she says. "Pop-up and flip-up sockets with plug points and USB charging ports allow you to eliminate plug points or clutter at the splashback area." The kitchen is full of smart hidden storage ideas: the island doubles up to incorporate the L-shaped seating area, which itself conceals built-in storage units. Other concealed units include a custom-designed built-in spice rack, knife rack and store for chopping boards.
5. Kill the cupboards.
Image: Wabi-Sabi/Studio M Architects
Kitchen designer Patrick McKenna of Wabi-Sabi takes the concealed storage idea a step further - by getting rid of kitchen cupboards altogether. Wabi-Sabi's clean-and-serene ethos has led to bespoke internal joinery designs that still allow the kitchen to function as a working area, as in ths Dublin 6 property above, in which clunky wall units have been hidden away. "I feel strongly that it should feel like a sanctuary, not a chaotic space," says Patrick. "Clever hidden storage and integrated appliances allow you to pare back the functional aspect of the kitchen, so you can adorn your walls with art rather than cupboards." Planning a pared-back kitchen? Patrick advises: "Take note of everything that needs to be in the kitchen, broken down into items for everyday use, occasional use and rare use, and plan your storage around that. Try to cull the list as much as you can, and store occasional- and rare-use items elsewhere to keep your kitchen space more streamlined.
Once you've whipped your cookspace into shape, try these nine nifty tips for keeping your kitchen clutter-free.
Sharon Miney for @Image_Interiors