Of all the rooms in a house where decorative sleight of hand can have the biggest visual impact, the kitchen rules, says designer Elaine Griffin. “That’s because kitchen cabinets come in standard sizes with standard door options,” she adds. In other words, they’re built boring, and it’s up to you (and a hefty portion of your budget) to bring them to life.
But cabinets aren’t the only kitchen amenity where customization is critical, Griffin says. Here, she lays out 7 things to consider if luxe is the look you’re going for with your kitchen design.
1. START WITH THE RIGHT LAYOUT
When a perfectly laid out kitchen if your number one priority, the rest is easy, Griffin says. The work triangle – the distance between the stove, the sink and the refrigerator – should be as small a footprint as possible. And as a rule (though there are exceptions), the refrigerator should be closer to the room’s entrance, since it’s typically the kitchen-goer’s primary destination.
2. GO FOR HEIGHT
“I cry when I see 36-inch tall upper cabinets in anything but the lowest-ceilinged spaces,” Griffin says. “The 42-inch models are a way better option (plus, those six additional inches equal another shelf of storage space). In lofty spaces (9-foot ceilings and up), stacked upper cabinets deliver more storage still.
3. KNOW WHEN TO SPLURGE
After the cabinetry (and not counting the floor), the backsplash takes up the biggest amount of a kitchen’s visual real estate. so you’re going to want to make it count. When it comes to backsplashes, Griffin has a singular piece of advice: “Splurge, splurge, splurge,” she says. “Backsplashes are major opportunities to express your style and personality without breaking the bank, because they’re small enough to not require a ton of material to finish them.” (We’re especially fond of the trendyslab look.)
4. DON’T NEGLECT THE DETAILS
Hardware is like earrings for your kitchen cabinetry, delivering major bang for your buck. This is especially true in rentals, where changing your kitchen hardware can add more upscale elegance than anything else, according to Griffin.
5. LIGHT IT UP
When we first walk into a kitchen, we look up at the ceiling and check out the lights. “Almost. Every. Time,” Griffin says. For that reason, stunning light fixtures over islands, the breakfast nook and the sink are important. “This isn’t a moment for the utilitarian!” But you’ll want to establish a visual hierarchy of ceiling light fixtures, she says. “One zone will act as the ‘star’ and the others ‘supporting characters,’ to keep your kitchen from looking like a Christmas tree.”
6. BE FLOORED
Kitchen flooring is where faux reigns supreme, Griffin says. Wooden floors — which should be the same as those in the rest of the house — make sense in today’s open layouts, but 12-inch ceramic tile could lend your kitchen an equally luxe look, if you have them laid out on the diagonal, as Griffin recommends.
7. THINK LONG-TERM
Because the finish will visibly wear better, buy the best-quality sink you can afford. On the other hand, shop for price, finish and shape – in that order – when choosing a faucet.