Achieving different looks

Use the rough texture of imperfect, hand-made objects to create a rustic focal point, while drawing attention to the smooth, angular nature of the setting.

With a few simple changes, you can instantly refresh or even transform your kitchen, however limited your time and budget.

Small details make all the difference. You might not think that something as simple as a new tap could have a significant benefit, but install a dramatic, sculptural mixer or a curvaceous extendable spray and you’re adding a stunning focal point – not to mention making washing up a more pleasurable experience.

Introducing a different material is another straight-forward way to give your kitchen a modern dimension. Hard-wearing hot-rolled steel looks particularly impressive curved seamlessly over the top and down the side of a food preparation area or used as a veneer to cover cupboard doors, and its thin, almost fragile appearance means it doesn’t deliver an overly industrial effect.

A stainless steel splashback also works well – keep it looking smart and streak-free by buffing it regularly with a little baby oil applied to a cloth – or try using mirrored glass cut to size to bounce light around the room. Splashbacks are the perfect place to introduce less conventional colours and textures, too. Back painted glass works well, or you could mount patterned fabric or wallpaper behind protective glass for a truly individual look.

Wall and base units are central to every kitchen and there are certainly plenty of designs to choose from. If yours have seen better days but you don’t want to completely replace them, there are other options. At the most basic level, swapping dated, uninspiring handles for a sleek new set can make a remarkable difference at relatively little cost. Go for slim, linear styles in brushed metal which can be hung vertically or horizontally to give uninspiring cupboards a lift in a matter of minutes.

Where cupboard exteriors have suffered significant wear and tear but the carcasses remain intact, you’ll only need to replace the doors. For the most contemporary look, choose completely flat styles over shaker designs and consider models with integrated handles which take the form of a simple ‘lip’ feature. If you just want to update or refresh the colour of your units, there are several companies which offer a re-spraying service. Make sure the plinth under the base units gets the same treatment and perhaps take the opportunity to install a plinth drawer and claim back an extra slice of all-important storage space. Meanwhile, don’t forget to refresh your other paint work, from walls to window frames, to create a crisp backdrop.

Structurally, one of the best investments you can make is to install a modern island unit. It can double the area you have available for food preparation and be a useful place to house appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines, providing the necessary plumbing and electrics are in place. You might not think you have the room for an island, but they often prove to be more versatile than a dining table, so you might consider replacing yours with one. Recent designs include overlapping tables, which extend out over the end of the island, offering the best of both worlds.

In addition to practical tricks such as fitting task lighting under wall cabinets to illuminate a worktop, or hanging a pendant light over the dining area to define it as a separate zone, it’s easy to employ lighting effects which give depth and drama to the kitchen. Use downlights to reveal the beautiful grain of wooden cabinets and highlight the top of wall cupboards to create an impressive halo effect, or install LED lights in a plinth or under cabinets so units seem to float.

Changing your worktop can also have a striking result. Replace tired laminate with naturally beautiful chunky wood, or transform a scratched and stained surface by sanding it down and applying restorative oil to bring out the best of its colour and texture. Underfoot, a new floor laid with extra-wide engineered wood is a world away from draughty original boards. Smooth, light and free from gaps, it’s much easier to keep spotlessly clean as well as helping to warm up the room.

One way to maximise the impact of any modern additions you make to your kitchen is to juxtapose them with contrasting pieces. Use the rough texture of imperfect, hand-made objects to create a rustic focal point, while drawing attention back to the smooth, angular nature of the setting.

The dark, aged wood that characterises a vintage table demands comparison with a pristine wooden worktop, emphasising both of their unique qualities, while the delicate beauty of global finds such as an intricately decorated vase or hand painted china underlines the simple good looks of a bold interior scheme.

Displaying key objects grouped together can add colour or inject a new texture to the space. Then simply by adding new objects or updating your chosen pieces, you can refresh the design aesthetic of your kitchen at relatively little cost, as often as you like.

Whatever transformations take place in your kitchen, the most important thing is to make sure it reflects your own life and personality. After all, it’s individuality that gives the heart of the home its soul.