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How to do a kitchen refresh rather than invest

How to do a kitchen refresh rather than invest

A kitchen is for life – or it deserves to be at least. Even if you’re fortunate to have had your dream kitchen designed and fitted, fast forward a decade, and you may be hankering after something a little different. Not a restart and replace but a refresh, an update, a makeover. Or maybe you aren’t in a position to install the kitchen your heart really wants, and are in search of ideas that will improve it somewhat. Whichever scenario is true for you, the Neptune design team have rallied together to jot down the steps they’d take to ring the changes in their very own kitchens.

Repaint, don't replace

Should you have a painted kitchen, like those in our traditional timber collection, one of its many beauties is that you’re able to switch up the colour as and when you please.

There’s nothing like a fresh lick of paint to completely alter the feel of a room, so ask yourself whether you want to try a new colour on the walls (the easiest option) or to take it to your kitchen cabinets (trickier, but well worth it), or both (for maximum impact).

You don’t necessarily need to repaint every single cabinet if you don’t fancy it. Concentrate on a central piece, such as a kitchen island, for contrast, or do as the trendy do and opt for a dif-ferent shade of paint for your base cabinets to those on top.

The inside of any cabinets can get in on the action too. Fiddly to paint yes, but a lovely burst of colour every time you open a cupboard door is a decision that will put a spring in your step every day of the week.

Re-fit hardware - hinges and all

Fresh paint and new handles are textbook updates to make to a tired kitchen, but that doesn’t mean they should be glossed over – quite the reverse.

Updated hardware is applauded for good reason, because it’s a feature on every single cabinet and because there’s just so much choice available to you. There are cup handles and button knobs, box catches and leather toggles, rounded silhouettes and straight, sleek ones – the world’s your oyster.

Want a wholesale change? Then opt for chrome instead of brass or go for a shiny finish as opposed to a matte or antiqued one and be sure to include every nut and bolt, from handles to hinges.

Re-tile or re-cover the kitchen walls

Time to get hands-on – really hands on.

If you’re open to a bit more mess than a toolbox and paint tin, then changing any tiling (or even adding some in if you’ve not had any until now) is a worthy consideration.

Do you currently have a metallic sheet for a splashback? Then why not take that down and replace it with a neat grid of metro-style Elcot tiles behind the hob instead (being sure to test out different coloured grouting as that too makes a big impact).

Perhaps your worktop runs straight to the wall without any upstand. If so, and it’s proving bothersome, then look at doing a single layer of tiles along the bottom of your wall – problem solved, and it’s a welcome change to the norm.

Rebrand your shelves

Shelves don’t have to be just shelves. Give them some vision by transforming them into a living-wall garden, bursting with pots and plants trailing down. Or, on a similar line of thought, turn open shelving into your kitchen’s herb garden, with all of your go-to fronds for cooking just an arm-stretch away.

Of course, if you don’t have any open shelves in your kitchen at present, you could always look at adding some in if there’s wall space to spare. Then you can have some fun deciding what you’ll use them for most – a glassware display, a showcase of your finest china, or the place where all of your serveware gets to shine bright.

Rework the layout for a new feature piece

This next idea can be a non-starter for some kitchens, but if every component isn’t fitted cab-inetry, there’s sometimes room to have a bit of a move-around of furniture to make way for newness.

In a large kitchen for example, it can be as simple as turning the kitchen table to a different orientation to open up a gap for a slender bookcase to move in – perfect for storing all of your recipe books. Or, if you’ve had an extension, you could now think about moving an item of kitchen furniture out of the way and into the new space, so that a whole wall and chunk of floorspace opens up for that freestanding larder you’ve always wanted.

Reorganise cabinets and open shelving

Underestimating the difference that a reorganised cabinet can have on your whole kitchen’s look and feel is something to definitely avoid. Just think how it feels when you pull open the cupboard doors to be faced with contents in disarray and no clear idea of what to find where. It’s not a happy thought, and is one that can be so easily fixed, and will, in turn, make a meaningful difference to how you feel about your kitchen. Chaos becomes calm in an instant (or however long it takes you to decide on a system and re-stack shelves).

Have a peek at our cabinet organisation add-ons, such as the Orford oak spice rack, drawer dividers and cutlery inserts or our Black Bronze larder bridge that means you can have layers of storage but with the row behind elevated and easy to view. These can be brought into your existing kitchen so that your drawers and cabinets have never looked so good or functioned so well.

Renovate any spillover spaces

And finally, if you really, really, want to experience the whole new kitchen process but can’t quite push the boat out at present, look into whether a smaller project like a new utility room next door is feasible.


In here, you’ll be able to enjoy many of the same kitchen cabinet perks (from the form to the function), in a room just a hop, skip and a jump away, but on a reduced scale and, maybe more importantly, reduced budget.

For more kitchen design ideas and advice, speak to a Neptune designer at your local store.