It doesn’t really matter what your level of proficiency is, whether you’re a seasoned handyman or just a stay at home mom who’s looking to get into decorating… If you want to make your kitchen look better, you can! There are enough ideas out there for everyone, independently of your skills.
However, if basic projects are easy enough for you to start without any prior knowledge of the trade, if you acquire a taste for it and want to pursue bigger, more ambitious projects, you may hit a wall at some point. Because of a lack of professional training, you may not be able to apply the changes you would see fit to turn your kitchen into the kitchen of your dreams. That’s why, in this article, we will not only show you basic kitchen deco projects you can start right away… but also see how you can get that much needed know-how you seek to pull off huge makeovers worthy of the best interior designers.
For starters, let’s tackle an easy project that requires minimal physical labor and dexterity but that will, on the other hand, work those little brain cells of yours. Here, we will be using your imagination to create beautiful furniture pieces for your kitchen, from low tables to seating benches and wall shelves.
It will all begin with a simple element called: a pallet. You know, those large pieces of wood used in transportation.
Creating furniture out of pallets represents one of the best ways to integrate wood in your kitchen and bring a touch of warmth to your interior that will make you feel even more comfy and cozy. So, what do you see when you look at a pallet? A table, a sofa, a shelf?
Pallets bring an interesting flat surface that can be arranged into pretty much anything you can think of. If needed, they can be disassembled into a series of planks that can serve as furniture legs, as a frame, and so on.
Pallets can be fixed to the wall, sawed, painted… You will seldom have to do any huge tinkering, and that’s one of their main attractions.
Tables: this might be the most obvious use of pallets, as far as the kitchen is concerned, but the variety of models you can create is limitless. Stack a few pieces, cover it with a nice table cloth, and you got yourself a neat dining table.
Cut the planks to reduce their size, reassemble the whole and add a few wheels underneath. Voila, you are the proud owner of a new rolling coffee table to use whenever you have visitors, and which can be brought outside.
Rows of chairs: need more seating for that huge table you just built? Why not use some pallets and craft enough seats to invite the whole neighborhood? You will just need a way to keep the pallets together to reach the desired length. Use screws, plates or fasteners… and don’t forget the cushions to ensure the comfort of your guests.
Decorative items: then pallets can be made to become decorative accessories. Use them as the support for mirrors or simply stick the planks together and use the resulting area as the canvas to let your artistic side express itself. You can even make useful additions to your kitchen by creating shelves or a wine rack.
With this type of project, as we said, your mind truly is the limit.
Next, let’s see how to pimp up your kitchen wall. Oftentimes, the only decoration people have in that space separating the countertop and your cabinets is a coat or two of plain paint. Yawn! So not fun! By installing backsplash, you will not only make sure that the whole area becomes an object of decoration but you will also get another opportunity to complement the theme of your kitchen or to add some nuance.
01) Preparation: before anything else, you want to take any outlet cover off the wall and prepare the surface by sanding with a medium grit paper. Don’t forget to protect your counter from possible splashes by placing cardboard or tape where counter and wall meet.
02) Mastic filling: now grab your trowel and get ready to splash that wall with a good chunk of fresh mastic! OK, maybe not with so much enthusiasm… but you will want to cover the bottom of the wall with a nice, even coat.
03) Start tiling: once you’ve applied the layer, you can begin placing the tiles one by one by pressing them into the mastic. Leave a small space between each tile for the joints. When you’re done with your line, start with another and another until you reach the bottom of the cabinet.
04) Finish tiling: when you get close to the walls or the cabinet, you will notice that full tiles will not fit. You will have to either use a tile-cutter to cut them or a saw to shape them into the desired form.
05) Joint making: let the tiles rest for a night, then use grout to fill in the joints.
06) Caulking: last but not least, after you’ve swabbed the tiles to remove excess grout, apply a drop or two of caulk into the joints to finish the job.
Another great home deco idea to put into practice which doesn’t take too much time, money or efforts, but that can reap great dividends is to repaint your kitchen. For a few hours of work, you can radically change the look of your room and breathe a new life into an old, tired-looking kitchen.
The Choice of Colors
First of all, what colors will you be using? Should you use a color that’s complementary to that of your existing furniture or should you rather use one that contrasts with it?
The first thing you will have to decide is whether you will pick a cold or warm set of colors. Depending on the mood you want to create, stylish and elegant or warm and welcoming, you may choose either.
But if you want the best results, it will often come through using a color that goes against what’s already in the kitchen. If the dominant tone is warm, then you will balance things out by picking a cold color that will earn you style points and make your kitchen look bigger. On the other hand, if your cabinets are “cold”, going for a warm tone will ensure your interior still remains inviting.
Cold colors: blue, green, purple…
Warm colors: red, orange, yellow…
Now that you’ve decided on your colors, let’s go out and buy what you need.
As far as the paint is concerned, you will want to choose a brand that’s both resistant to moisture and grease. You will want a paint that is washable as your walls will get splattered by cooking juices and various culinary preparations. In this particular case, acrylic paint is best. As is often the case, you get what you pay for. Don’t settle for the cheapest paint you can find; you would regret it later when you find out – the hard way – that you need to put double the layers to get any type of satisfactory results.
When it comes to the equipment, it’s not complicated. Rollers are good to cover huge surfaces. Brushes are for small corners or finishes. As for the length of the bristles, remember that short bristles are for smooth surfaces whereas long bristles are better for rough walls. Then, again, it’s a matter of quality and price.
Tips of the Trade
To paint like a pro, the secret is preparation and good tools. Before anything else, you want to protect your furniture and the floor with tape and plastic sheets or old newspapers sheets. Use sandpaper and some mastic if necessary to make sure the surface is even, much like what we did with the backsplash installation.
Clean the surface you’re about to paint and apply priming to ensure that the paint will stick to the wall. Now you’re ready for the first layer. Make it thin and ensure that it covers every square inch of the wall. This layer is important because it will prepare the wall to receive the top coat.
Now if some pros recommend going as high as 4 or 6 coats, if the wall is in good enough condition and you’re using quality paint, 3 coats should suffice. Just make sure that it is spread thinly and evenly.
You’re done with our first 3 projects and, somehow, it has ignited a desire to know more, to learn more, to be able to DO more?
For some people, going through a project or two may reveal to be like a rite of initiation, a revelation. Some individuals find that they may have found their calling with home decoration; that it’s more than something they just enjoy doing, it’s a real passion.
At that point, several choices are available. You can continue doing such types of work, maybe helping out some friends by giving a hand as far as decorating is concerned. Or, for the more passionate of us, you could decide to get serious and start learning about the craft… And, why not, maybe even make a job out of it.
If there is nothing wrong with learning just for your own sake and entertainment, the more ambitious of you may decide to enroll in a class to make it official. Either way, you will find that the road to become a professional interior designer is both an exciting and challenging venture. But how does one start in that industry? And, first things first, what can you expect to earn should you follow through and earn your degree?
If you still wonder what is interior design, it’s simply, as Wikipedia puts it: the act of turning an interior space into an “effective setting for the range of human activities”. That’s one broad definition but it states the most important aspect of the job; that is to acquire the ability to change home interiors for the better.
Now, people who worked hard to reach such a title, how much can they expect to earn for their trouble? Wages vary from around US$25,000 up to US$90,000. The means salary is estimated at around $53,000. Yes, the mean interior design salary is quite decent to say the least.
But how does one reach that point? How does one become an interior designer? First, you will need to join a class.
Even though you only need a Bachelor’s degree (in any field) to be able to work as an interior designer, this is not what interests us here. We want to learn about the trade and get good at is, so we will focus on the places that teach that subject and teach it well.
Now, if you’re looking to join the best of the best, you might be out of luck because the most respected interior design programs in the world are located in Europe. In Italy and England to be more precise, with the Florence Design Academy and the famous Interior Design School of London.
But, truth be told, you don’t have to travel that far to benefit from quality training. In fact, most of the schools that rank as part of either the top online schools or regular “brick and mortar” colleges are located in the good old US of A.
Some of our favorites include:
Pratt Institute in Brooklyn: located in New-York, this private school can get you through a Master of Science in Interior Design that will cover everything you need to unleash your creativity and make every home deco idea you have a reality.
University of Cincinnati: you will have to hang on with this course as the Ohio institution provides a Bachelor of Science in Interior design that will take 5 years to complete. On the other hand, you will develop your aptitudes in brainstorming and utilizing the latest technologies to reach your home design goals.
Harrington College of Design: we particularly love this one because it offers the possibility to take the classes at night. Moreover, they specifically insist on the creative aspect of interior design. Our favorite.
A special mention goes to the New-York Institute of Art and Design as it provides the best online interior design course. Thus, you will be able to earn your interior design certification without ever leaving your home!
Once you have that degree in your pocket, you may need some tools to help you in your new chosen path, and we’re not talking about hammers, nails and saws. To save you time and money, as well as make you even more professional, especially if/when visiting potential clients, you will greatly benefit from using design software.
It will allow you to tinker with the interior virtually rather than having to do it manually, for real. No need for measurements or long and tedious hits & misses, you will see the result in a matter of seconds with such programs. (Interior design games also exist, but they’re not suited for a pro… if to have some fun after a good day of work.)
With that being said, there are dozens on the market, so it can be hard to choose. Here is our top 3 interior design software:
In the end, by practicing and getting some experience under your belt, you may very well – one day – be on the same level as the most famous interior designers on the planet. People such as Laura Day, Philippe Starck or even John Saladino.
Alright, so you took the resolution to learn and become a master home interior decorator? Then, it’s time to move to more challenging projects that will test your newly acquired skills and your creativity. Here are two home decorating plans to put into action.
Just thinking about having to replace the flooring of a room is often enough to discourage even the bravest of us. Not only is it a messy and complicated affair, you also need to think it over because, unlike paint which can be changed rather quickly when you grow tired of it, flooring is supposed to stay there for years (if not decades.)
Though you have several options when it comes to picking the material to install, the two main choices will be sheet vinyl or tiles. Vinyl is obviously the cheaper choice but it has no room here because it is also the ugliest and less elegant of the two. That’s why we’re going to focus on tile flooring.
Remove the old floor: if the old floor consists in a vinyl sheet, you can simply grab a corner and tear it all off. If you already had tiles on the floor, take a chisel and a hammer and get ready to pound at them. Aim at the grout lines to try and separate the tiles. As for the tiles that break, get them off by sliding a scraper underneath. One you’re done, use that scraper to free the surface from any particle of grout or glue.
Install a backer board; now, this is not compulsory… but adding a backer board to your floor will give it some flexibility and prevent your tiles from cracking in the long run. So, using your beloved trowel, cover the floor with enough mortar to place the backer board, then gently put the board down making sure you’re parallel to the wall. Set it into place by screwing where needed, and repeat until you have nothing but backer board left on your floor.
Install the tiles: to give you an idea of where the tiles will need to be placed, put down a horizontal and vertical row that you will separate with spacers. That will tell you exactly where any issue might arise. When you’re done with that step, it’s time to actually place the tiles by spreading some thinset and laying down your tiles. To make sure your tiles are in place, use a small rubber mallet. And don’t forget your spacers.
Grouting: once the thinset has dried, you can take the spacers off and start filling the intersections with grout. And once the grout had time to set, seal it to finish it all off!
If you wish to install an island in your kitchen, you’ll be happy to learn that there aren’t a lot of steps involved in the process and it’s not as time consuming as, say, the previous project. However, it remains a hard feat to pull off nonetheless because not only are island extremely heavy but also because you will have to go through the tiles to fasten the piece to the floor.
X marks the spot: using a meter, calculate where your island will be placed and mark the center of the location with some tape.
Get the outline: With the help of another person, lift the island cabinet to center it on the X you just marked. Then, with a pencil, draw around it to get its shape down on the floor.
Install the base: remove the island and install the toe kick platform by sawing boards of the desired length, depending on the outline you’ve just drawn. Drill holes into the boards for the screws.
Tile drilling: when you know where each screw is going to go, use a diamond tip to drill through the tiles. Pay attention not to damage the floor by going too far (stop at the tile, don’t go through the backer board).
Island placement: after you’ve cleaned up the area, you can now put the island in place and fasten it to the base. Then, you only have to put the drawers in and enjoy your new kitchen island!
There you have it, some home deco projects to keep you busy while also challenging your creativity!
Have you ever wanted to design your own kitchen? Are you looking for directions on where to start that process, or what kind of support you could expect from using kitchen design software and other kitchen design tools available?
Maybe you’re just looking for information on where to place cabinets relative to the rest of the kitchen layout or decoration ideas to spruce up your interior. Whatever the case, whether you’re in need of a step-by-step guide on how to paint kitchen cabinet doors or how to reface well-used kitchen cabinets, you’ve come to the right place!
There is a ton of information to consider… but fret not. This little guide in front of you will be your one-stop shop for all your DIY needs when it comes to kitchen cabinetry. It’ll be educational and, hopefully, enjoyable to experience.
Prior to working on – or creating – your cabinets, you will have to do some serious thinking. First, there are a number of design considerations to take into account: i.e. what your entire decor is and how that will affect your wants and needs; whether to use face-frame (traditional) cabinetry which hurts the amount of usable space your cabinets have (because of doors or “frames”), custom cabinets which tend to be the most expensive, or frame-less (full-access) pieces which are widely used in Europe but not as popular in the US.
There are other considerations to go through like kitchen cabinet styles and colors, door styles and choice of wood. Then, you might want not to use any wood at all! In fact, stainless steel kitchen cabinets are all the rage these days!
This is where personal taste will come into play. Do you want to be able to make the most use of your room, making sure every inch of wood can be enjoyed in the most utilitarian way? Or do you want to be able to put together true pieces of art for your upcoming outdoor kitchen cabinets?
We would all love to think that we know exactly what we want… but the truth of the matter is that you seldom find out until you’re half way through! Your ideas will change a dozen times before you’re done and you will have wasted that much extra time and effort going down the ‘wrong paths.’ Some people will argue that it’s the best part of the journey, though! To each his own.
A question of design: where exactly do you want to place your cabinets? Your choice of placement can make or break your kitchen decor, so it’s very important to make sure you take decisions that are right for you as well as the average onlooker. People will make an instant decision based on their own opinions about whether or not they like your new – or changed – ideas of what your kitchen should look like. That’s why it may be best to go with something that the majority agrees is attractive. You can use your own creativity and artistic freedom to go from there, and build on a popular idea. Stand on the shoulders of giants, as it were! So, what guidelines are reasonable here?
How about an L-shape kitchen where open floor plans (or corner furniture) are easily complemented by this angular shape? There is barely any wasted space, and tons of countertop to use. This is one of the most traditional and preferred choices of placement for regular families.
There are one-wall kitchens, great for narrow or long spaces. They make for a cost-effective and simple solution, as wonderful for the wallet as discount kitchen cabinets! Built in cabinets are ideal, as it saves space in what might be the most compact-friendly design there is to choose from. This is often seen – and logically so – in houses or buildings where space is a commodity that needs saving, and there is little need for an elaborate kitchen layout.
We also have the kitchen triangle to consider, where efficiency reigns supreme. The “corners” become the fridge, refrigerator and stove, and they are placed where people can work on them at the same time or with the maximum amount of space dedicated to each space as possible. This config will maximize your time by allowing you to pick up goods while making your preparations. This is essentially the prime choice for a high-volume kitchen in a modern home, where there is often more than one food that’s being prepared at the same time.
Lastly, we have U and G shapes. If you’re seriously considering outdoor kitchen kits, either of these bits could be your perfect fit! Rhyming jokes aside, U shapes can be changed or adjusted for almost any size kitchen, using three walls in total for a dizzying array of cabinetry. A G shape, on the other hand, adds a further wall – along the middle – usually consisting of only base cabinets, and a countertop. This is a highly fashionable design, which runs a higher cost than most because of the sheer amount of woodwork and, for non-DIYers, hours of billable work involved.
Now, before we discuss how to install those cabinets, we should think about how to design them. You may want to purchase something already done – or maybe ready to assemble kitchen cabinets, or hire someone to do this for you – but designing can reveal to be a ton of fun!
There’s a lot to be said for tasteful, well-thought custom cabinet doors, as well as the rest of the package! Creativity reigns supreme for some, and rings the absolute highest amount of pride in one’s work. If this isn’t your cup of tea, that’s fine, too! There’s no right or wrong answer. So what kitchen design software is available, and what’s the experience like with each of them?
IKEA and the Home Depot have their own proprietary tools for helping you design your kitchen, as do a number of the other furniture and DIY giants. There are third-party tools you can peruse and decide to use, and there are even some that are free. Whichever one you use, you can be sure you’ll be able to:
You can use these tools to create your own custom kitchen cabinets, which can be interesting and educational (and look great when you’re done, which is something to be proud of!) Once you’re done putting together, purchasing and collecting or receiving your dream of kitchen cabinet colors and styles, it’s time to learn how to install them!
It’s important to note that as long as your cabinet doors have a uniform design, it would be a good idea to order replacement kitchen cabinet doors. If there’s ever damage after installation and finishing, it’s good to have a backup handy. As the saying goes: better be safe than sorry.
You’re impatient to begin and see what it will all look like when you’ll be finished? OK, then let’s get right to it! Here are the detailed steps involved in the process:
v Make sure you have every tool you need beforehand. It’s a good idea to have matching bits for a drill for every type of screw involved, or separate screwdrivers if you’re without power tools. A hammer in-hand, measuring tape, pencil, level, stud finder, etc.
v Measure the wall! Make sure everything will fit where it needs to go. Mark the wall using that pencil. There are standard measurements involved, like 34.5 inches high for base cabinets, 1.5 inches for standard countertop, and 18-20 inches for a backsplash – making about 54 inches from the floor to the very bottom of your upper cabinets. Mark it using a level along where these upper cabinets will be hung;
v Find the studs in your wall, which you need to make sure your upper cabinets are hung in the most secure manner possible. There are stud finders you can use, or the tried and true “knock on the wall with your ear next to it” method might be your favorite, but make sure to use the studs when hanging your cabinets. Watch out for plumbing and electrical work behind your walls;
v You’re going to want temporary ledgers to support your upper cabinets during installation, where they line up with that mark you’ve just made. Also make sure your cabinets are as light as they can be, with hardware and doors removed;
v Attach two upper cabinets at a time by pre-drilling the screws and then screwing them together. You can safely install them with the support of your ledger. Use clamps to secure the vertical pieces on the face of the cabinet frames together, and make sure they’re level with each other;
v Lift your cabinets onto the ledger, make sure they are straight;
v Once they are, you can screw them in using your pre-drilled holes in the studs with your screws;
v Repeat this process for all upper cabinets;
v Attach the hardware and doors to these cabinets;
v Remove the ledger;
v Now we can install the base cabinets. Start the process at the highest point of your floor if it’s not level, because it’s easier to correct the difference in height if you have to shim rather than trim!
v Draw another line at the height of each cabinet on the wall, using your level for accuracy;
v Find studs again! You can use the same ones as the upper cabinets, I won’t tell;
v Place a cabinet against the wall, check for level, shim if necessary;
v Predrill, then screw into place, re-check level and shim some more if need be;
v Repeat, and you’re almost done!
v Now just attach your doors and hardware, and that’s it!
Voila! Your dream has now become a reality. What started as a desire and an afterthought is now full-fledged, in-your-face reality! There are tricky parts to any process, and no guide can ever encapsulate every possible outcome, so make sure to turn to appropriate and qualified help if the “worst-case” scenarios actually happen.
There’s nothing that compares to taking on a project because it’s fun or to save some money, and ending up with a giant hassle or a waste of an investment… So make sure to ask for help if and when you need it.
If all you wanted from the beginning was just to paint your existing cabinets, either to give them a second youth or to change the atmosphere in your room, then here are the steps to follow as well as some advice to make it real:
Beautifully finished paint of whatever color suits your fancy is always a marvel to behold when you’re finished, and for the months and years to come. It’s exhilarating to take on the task of trying to make something better than it was – then to step back, take a breath, and enjoy this accomplishment when you’ve pulled through!
Last but certainly not least, if you came here to reface a kitchen cabinet set because your furniture looks like it’s unfinished or it didn’t stand the test of time as well as you would have hoped, you’re in luck.
Regardless of how “well-used” or “well-lived” your old gray kitchen cabinets are (or should we say “grey”?), there are DIY tricks to help them look spectacular!
a) You can use this method on all different types of face frames, partially visible, frames where the face are on the same plane as the doors, and even when there is no face frame.
b) You should be wary when measuring, cutting and placing strips of veneer or other adhesives in this process. They are hard to adjust or remove once in place.
c) Work slowly! When you’re working, it pays to take the time to make it look right. Use a sharp knife, and be patient – patience is a virtue, virtue is a grace, and Grace is a little girl with a dirty face!
d) All rhymes aside, back to our favorite task: label the cabinet doors and the places they come from, and then remove them. Also take special note of the placement of hinges, knobs and pulls, and remove them.
e) Use a cleaner to wipe the sides and faces of the cabinets. Wear gloves and remove any grease.
f) Sand all surfaces with 150-grit, and then dust them.
g) Apply a plywood panel, complete with carpenter’s glue, onto the exposed cabinet bank.
h) Nail in the panel 2d finish nails to secure it. Sink heads with nail set, and fill the holes with nail filler.
i) Measure all the vertical and horizontal frame members – stiles and rails, respectively.
j) Cut veneer using a straightedge and knife it into strips that are a half inch wider and two inches longer than each rail and stile. Make sure to cut it so that the wood grain runs lengthwise.
k) Hold up the first strip lengthwise to a stile and make sure it overlaps all edges, then peel back a piece of the self-stick backing and then firmly press the strip into place. Peel as you press along the stile with the veneer, firmly placing each new bit of the strip in its place.
l) Use something heavy to force out air bubbles and ensure the best adhesion along the entire strip that’s been placed.
m) Do the other side’s stile. Use a knife to cut the excess veneer from the all edges of the inside, along the cabinet opening, and use a straightedge when cutting corners.
n) Repeat this process for the horizontal frame members, the rails.
o) Cut the stile’s veneer that is beneath your new rails in the corners that overlap. Make sure the rail is what’s left, and smooth it down in its place.
p) Use a drill or a screwdriver to make the holes for the hinges, knobs and pulls wherever they’re needed, where they came from. Fit everything back into place… And you’re done! Congrats!
That was fun, wasn’t it? Even if exhausting.
Now that we look back, it doesn’t seem like there’s much left to do with those unfinished kitchen cabinets from the start. We’ve successfully turned them into modern pieces of furniture, full with custom cabinet doors.
As you can see, no matter what brought you here in the first place, it’s not that hard to tinker with your kitchen furniture and turn it into an object of beauty. You don’t have to be a professional… All it requires is some patience on your part, a little creativity and a desire to pull through. In the end, even if it takes some effort, it’s definitely worth it! So thank you for visiting and don’t hesitate to check out our other articles for more home decor info.