7 Tips For Making Your Old Kitchen Look Modern And Fancy


Our cupboards are a disaster waiting to happen, there are cracks in the floor, worktops are dated, the sink gets blocked every second day and we avoid inviting friends around because we are ashamed of our kitchen – it’s time to give our kitchen a facelift! We all would love a totally new kitchen, but sometimes it isn’t possible. Budget restraints and time can destroy our dreams and stop us quickly from ripping out the entire kitchen and starting again. But with a few tricks, it’s possible to give a tired kitchen new life without breaking the bank.

1. Renewing Kitchen Cabinets

One of the easiest and fastest ways to make our old kitchen look modern is to work on the kitchen cabinets. The cabinets are the focal point of every kitchen space and giving a facelift to them will definitely spruce up things.

There are two basic ways to get great-looking cabinets without completely replacing them:

  • Painting existing cabinets. We can sand them down and add a new color stain to them or paint them for a whole new look. The color is crucial when modernizing an older kitchen space. Old-fashioned kitchens usually seem to be so dark and dreary. We should brighten up the space. Choosing white, cream, or soft beige for the color of our kitchen cabinets will help the space to feel more spacious and more welcoming. If we want to be a bit more creative, we can add chalkboard paint to a couple of doors for quick memos, menus, or grocery lists.
  • Modifying the cabinets. It’s also possible to change the look of our cabinets by changing the doors, molding, and more. We can replace all the doors (it’s for sure much cheaper than buying new cabinets) or even remove some doors completely for an open-shelf look.

Tip: Try to find new knobs and pulls that compliment your refreshed cabinetry.

repainted kitchen cabinets
Repainted kitchen cabinets. | Photo by: Barker Freeman

2. Removing Upper Cabinetry

In older kitchens, the trend was to include walls and walls of upper cabinetry to house all kinds of dishes and cookware. Nowadays, no upper cabinets seem to be a trend in kitchen design. There are several reasons to change the classical kitchen arrangement. In order to explain why getting rid of upper cabinets is a great idea, we will list a few main reasons:

  • Removing upper cabinets gives our kitchen a sense of openness.
  • Upper cabinets are usually very hard to reach.
  • It’s quite possible that in our upper kitchen cabinets we have more appliances and dishes than we need or have ever used. The removal of the upper shelves can be a good push to arrange and purge.
  • No upper cabinets, and no shadow over the counters, which makes the workspace feels brighter.
  • Removing the upper cabinets frees the space for the paintings, photos, and some other decorations that can be displayed on the wall.

We will be really surprised how modern our kitchen will feel once our upper cabinets have been removed!

removed upper kitchen cabinets
Removed upper kitchen cabinets. | Photo by: CHANG + SYLLIGARDOS ARCHITECTS

3. Adding a new look to our countertops

There’s much more to a counter than marble or granite these days. Though they are still very popular we would like to present some other materials that are typical for modern kitchen design. Over the last few years, architects and designers are becoming more creative and are using materials that used to be reserved only for structural purposes and now they can be used also for countertops.

The hottest kitchen countertop materials currently trending are:

  • Poured concrete. The strength of concrete has made it a perfect material for driveways, walkways, and patios. But some of us love concrete not only for its high durability and low maintenance but also for its distinctive look. In fact, probably due in part to its affordability, concrete has become a popular countertop material.
  • Reclaimed wood. It’s wood that has been saved from older homes or barns that are about to be or have been, slated for demolition. Turning reclaimed wood into a countertop is a form of artistry that adds an organic element to our kitchen. We also conserve the environment by preventing the wood from going into the waste stream.
  • Stainless steel. There’s a reason professional chefs have relied on metal countertops for decades: they are resilient to water, heat, and germs and they add a beautiful glow to any kitchen.
  • Recycled glass. Recycled glass countertops have a beautiful mosaic-like appearance, and are available in a nearly infinite array of custom colors. They are also very durable, easy to care for, and clean.
  • Slate. Slate countertops offer beauty, great durability, and a non-porous surface that makes them easy to clean. However, we should remember that slate has a dull matte finish and would not be the best material for those who prefer a high gloss look.
kitchen glass countertop
A contemporary kitchen with a glass countertop. | Photo by: Caroline Browne

4. Replacing old flooring with modern materials

Our kitchen is usually the busiest room in the house, so it’s important to think carefully about proper flooring. Kitchen flooring has to be hardwearing and practical, but there’s no need for it to be dull. It’s time to forget about traditional rolled vinyl or linoleum flooring.

Natural flooring such as wood and stone is always a popular choice and lends authenticity to a scheme. A current trend is ceramic tile which mimics the look of these natural materials. Advancements in digital imaging technology enable us to produce flooring that looks like stone, wood, and even concrete. These ceramic tiles are a more hardwearing and affordable option compared to natural materials. What’s more, they are also waterproof, stain resistant, and scratchproof, as well as easy to clean.

wood ceramic tile floor
Wooden cabinets and ceramic tile floor. | Photo by: Creative Design Construction & Remodeling

5. Upgrading the kitchen with an amazing backsplash

Modern convenience in most kitchens today are easy to clean backsplashes that cover the part of the walls between the counters and cabinets. Tile is the most common option. A kitchen backsplash can be very useful in protecting our kitchen walls in the area in which we are cooking from the splattering of oil and food particles. In addition, a well-chosen, beautifully designed backsplash can instantly update the look of our kitchen space. The right backsplash design should be a focal point of our kitchen.

The backsplash should typically contrast with the countertops to really make it stand out. It is also a nice idea to mix up the pattern and bring in tiles of different colors and shapes. Since it is a quite small area, we can feel free to make it vibrant and bright without worrying it will overwhelm the whole look of our kitchen. Backsplash designs that incorporate printed glass are a great way to bring additional fun elements into our kitchen. The floral print is adorable in the kitchen, but we can even have our own personal designs printed on the glass. But if we prefer a more classy and elegant look, a simple brick or wood backsplash design might be ideal for us.

kitchen glass backsplash
A glass backsplash in the eclectic kitchen. | Photo by: McKinney York Architects

6. Replacing old appliances with energy-efficient ones

The eco-friendly kitchen begins with eating green, but it doesn’t end there. Our kitchens are full of different kinds of appliances that use energy and/or water, so we should think about how to use them wisely, and when it’s time to replace them – we should search for the most energy and water-efficient models possible.

Energy-efficiency upgrades are coming fast to many new appliances. An efficient dishwasher, for example, can use much less water than washing the dishes by hand in the sink. When we are replacing our old-faithful appliances, it’s important to look for the Energy Star rating, available mainly for bigger kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, or dishwashers. Energy Star is a rating system created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help consumers purchase more energy-efficient products, save money, and protect the environment.

Tip: When you are getting rid of an old appliance, remember that many communities have take-back programs, helping you to properly dispose of such things, which likely contain dangerous materials and chemicals.

energy-saving kitchen appliances
Energy-saving kitchen appliances.

7. Installing new lighting options

Once we have modernized the major elements of our kitchen, we can’t forget the lighting! A carefully thought-out lighting plan can be our kitchen’s best asset. Better kitchen lighting doesn’t have to cost us a fortune. A few upgrades such as undercabinet lighting, track lighting, recessed lighting, dimmers, and better bulbs can all do the job at moderate cost. And we really don’t have to tear up our kitchen to install them.

Let’s take a closer look at these lighting improvements:

  • Track lighting. It’s a method of lighting where light fixtures are attached anywhere on a continuous track device that contains electrical conductors. Tracks are versatile, allowing flexibility in sizing, placement, and fixture styles. Lights can be aimed at walls, countertops, artwork, or other room features as needed.
  • Undercabinet lighting. Fixtures installed beneath kitchen cabinets cast bright light directly onto the work surface. This task light is perfect for food preparation and cooking. It can also be used as night lighting for our kitchen.
  • Recessed lighting. Recessed lighting (also known as pot lighting or can lighting) is a versatile means of providing both ambient (general) and task lighting to just about any area in our home.
  • A dimmer switch. Improving the lighting doesn’t simply mean adding more lighting; it also means adding flexible lighting. Dimmers are very useful devices that can be used to control the brightness of a light.
  • Bulbs. The performance of any light fixture depends on the light source (bulb) used. Different bulbs produce different lighting effects, and many bulbs have widely varying performances. The main types of bulbs we can choose from are LED bulbs, incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, and high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs.