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Top Upgrades to Enhance Your Kitchen

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers

You spend a lot of time in the kitchen—it’s where you go to start your morning and likely the first place you visit when you return home. It’s also the part of the house that has the most features and gadgets, and where you can make some pretty cool upgrades that will improve the value of your entire home and the quality of your time spent there. If you think your kitchen could use an update, here are five places to consider making a change!

Signature Hardware Cypress Single-Hole Pull-Out Faucet

The Cypress Single-Hole Pull-Out Kitchen Faucet from Signature Hardware® gives you a classic, simple style and sleek modern functionality. Switch between an aerated spray and a powerful stream with the button, and pull out the spout for greater reach when you need it!

A Practical Faucet

There are so many factors that go into finding the perfect kitchen faucet nowadays. It’s more than choosing a model with hot and cold knobs or a single turnable handle; look into the new design features and technological advances that have benefits that reach far beyond the sink.

For instance, the spray head doesn’t have to be a separate entity that sits to the side of the faucet. There are many models that incorporate this convenient piece and its retractable hose right into the primary spout, giving you the ability to pull it out when necessary. The spray wand attaches to a dock that holds it in place to allow the fixture to function normally, and it also hides its dual purpose with seamless integration. This feature unclutters the sink and offers you the same functionality in a neater package that has a more distinct design. And if that wasn’t enough, some of these faucets also give you better control of water flow with discreet buttons on the spray wand. These features consolidate the faucet while providing more flexibility than before—it can easily transition between washing hands, rinsing leafy produce gently, and filling up a pot.

KitchenAid Pro-Line Espresso Maker

Make your morning drink at home! You can brew espresso and steam milk simultaneously with the Pro Line® Series Espresso Maker with Dual Independent Boilers from KitchenAid®, giving you the power to make lattes and cappuccinos. The hot water dispenser makes Americanos, tea, and cocoa a snap, too!

A Caffeination Station

Most of us need our morning fix to help us get going. With the proliferation of complicated coffee drinks and shops that specialize in making them, the household coffee maker has fallen in popularity and people prefer to hit the local coffeehouse or drive-through on the way to work or while doing the school run. Making a detour and waiting in line takes precious time out of your day, and a home espresso machine allows you to make your favorite drinks without having to plan for delays and giving you the chance to actually enjoy them.

An espresso machine is an investment for your kitchen that pays you back in time and money. The cost of a latte per day really adds up, but the ingredients are all simple and you’re basically paying for the novelty. A way to properly steam milk has been out of reach for most homeowners and that has been the driving force behind the rapidly expanding coffee industry, but now the luxury is available in your own home and you can cut out the middleman. Up your coffee game and be your own barista! You will impress yourself and guests with your expertise, but you’ll really enjoy the convenience most of all.

Jenn-Air 24" Under Counter Wine Cellar

The 24” Under Counter Wine Cellar from Jenn-Air® has two separate temperature zones with four temperature presets each to ensure that different varieties of wine are stored properly. It can hold 46 bottles in an elegant, built-in appliance that sits flush with counters and cabinets.

An Under-Counter Appliance

If you have cabinet space that you think could be better used, you’re not alone. Companies are repurposing under-counter spaces by offering all sorts of appliances that insert modern convenience where you don’t need the storage space. This goes way beyond dishwashers—whether you need something warmed or chilled, the perfect place to do it is right beneath your counters.

A wine cooler is one of the most sought-after new appliances for kitchens these days. Tucked into wall cabinets or an island and easily within reach, a wine fridge keeps your alcohol at the proper temperature as it displays your selection. As in a traditional wine cellar, bottles are stored on their sides, and pull-out racks are engineered to prevent shaking and sloshing. UV-resistance is built into the glass to keep wine from aging prematurely. For the average homeowner who enjoys wine but doesn’t want to invest in building an actual cellar, wine coolers offer storage capabilities far beyond what used to be available.

For those who don’t need such a specialized appliance, there are still plenty of under-counter appliances to serve general needs. Pull-out refrigerator and freezer drawers are perfect for large families that can’t seem to fit enough into their main refrigerator. While an extra appliance for food storage in the basement or garage used to be the norm in such cases, now you can keep your goods where you actually need them—and you can even panel the drawers to blend seamlessly into your cabinets! And on the flipside, if you need more cooking capability, a warming drawer introduces another oven-like appliance in a compact package. It can slow-roast as well as keep finished dishes at a constant temperature until they can be served, and you’ll find it invaluable for helping to make sure that the food is ready when you are!

KraftMaid Cabinets Palladia with Bistro Glass

A modern take on a traditional kitchen element, these KraftMaid® cabinets feature Palladia with Bistro Glass doors to add something extra to the space. The transitional design is refreshing and not vintage, proving that cabinets with glass doors can suit any interior.

See-Through Cabinet Doors

If you’ve ever experienced the quaint charm of older construction, you might have encountered glass cabinets, which bring an antique feel that complements the china that they contain. Back in the day, some people thought that their beautiful dishes warranted the extra effort, and they wanted to display them as much as keep them clean. Solid wood cabinets have been a staple for a very long time, though, so much so that many homeowners don’t even consider incorporating glass doors anymore. But it’s worth your time to look at the options—you’ll be surprised that they can add any kind of personality to your kitchen with the wide array of glass and wood combinations available!

More than simply allowing you to see what’s inside, glass cabinet doors visually widen the kitchen space, because they allow you to see beyond their exteriors. This probably seems painfully obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. The resulting effect can really surprise you, depending on the size and shape of your kitchen. Rest assured you’ll find suitable door and glass design combinations for every style from the most contemporary to the most traditional, with different kinds of divided lites, caming options, inserts, etc. And as a bonus, you won’t ever forget where your dishes are stored!

LAMPS PLUS Uttermost Vetraio Collection Island Chandelier

Supplying light directly over this eating bar, the Uttermost Vetraio Collection Island Chandelier from LAMPS PLUS® brings a dose of sophistication to an eat-in kitchen. Choose pendant lighting and place it exactly where it’s needed to illuminate a dim countertop.

Targeted Lighting

Sometimes you just don’t have light where you need it and you find yourself flipping all surrounding switches to try to brighten the space. Depending on your kitchen's location in the house, how many windows it has, and the type of artificial illumination already in place, your additional lighting needs will vary.

First and foremost, you want your counters to be bright enough to work effectively and avoid accidents. Install hardwired under-cabinet light bars to improve your view as easily as anywhere else with a switch. The spaces under hanging wall cabinets tend to be dark, but so can islands in the middle of the room. High ceilings and recessed bulbs are common in today’s construction, but that combination can leave islands without direct illumination. If just one of those high bulbs goes out, you’ll definitely notice! Supplement your kitchen with pendant or chandelier lights that hang right over counters to really enhance your workspace and accent your style. The trend for eat-in kitchens is merging our ideas of formal and informal dining, and you can really make a statement with a fixture that adds class. Just because we like simpler living doesn’t mean it has to be any less beautiful!

Whether you’re thinking of making a single upgrade or updating your kitchen with every new product out there, take your time and weigh the possibilities. Your kitchen should feel like home, support your culinary endeavors, and complement the scheme you’ve laid out. With a little planning, you can create a truly extraordinary space!