How Do I Design a Kitchen? Kitchen Upgrades & New Designs

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It’s not only cabinets and countertops. While cabinets account for a large chunk of the cost of a kitchen, there are several key factors to the design of a great kitchen that you shouldn’t ignore. Whether you’re needing to breathe new life into your existing kitchen on a budget, doing a full DIY kitchen remodel, or working with a general contractor to design the kitchen for your new home, there a handful of things you can do to make sure you absolutely love the end result.

The average person today spends less than half as much time in the kitchen as previous generations. We can all think of a few reasons why that’s simply no good at all. In this post we will discuss several ways you can make your kitchen more welcoming, functional, and make sure it holds it’s appeal for decades to come.

Upgrade the Style and Function of your Kitchen

Color and Spice

The color scheme of your kitchen is one of the best places to embed a sense of adventure and style. While whites, light grays, and stainless steel make the kitchen appear and stay clean, there is a lot of room to introduce color to the mix.

Your backsplash, cabinets, light fixtures, window dressings, or an accent wall can be ideal spots to seed the other dimensions of your chosen color palette.

Whether modern, traditional, or with truly wild and inspired combinations, colors illicit certain emotional responses which can carry throughout the rest of your home. Keep in mind that you have plenty of surfaces to paint, replace, and refinish.

Modern Kitchen with custom doors for ikea cabinets. These doros are shown in a slim shaker door and midnight supermatte finish

New Lighting Fixtures & Using Natural Light

Natural and artificial light are how you bring your new kitchen to life. More or larger kitchen windows are one way to let in more light. And, windowsills, window dressings, and trim are more surfaces where you can work to balance your color palette.

Natural and artificial light are how you bring your new kitchen to life. More or larger kitchen windows are one way to let in more light. And, windowsills, window dressings, and trim are more surfaces where you can work to balance your color palette.

Of course, when the sun goes down you have so many other ways for your kitchen to shine. We’re huge fans of having multiple lighting options.

  • Consider installing LED Strips on the underside of your new or existing cabinets.
  • Wafer Puck lights are great for corners and busier parts of the room.
  • A string of Pendant Lights over a bar, island, or dining room table can shift the look and mood of your kitchen in the later hours.

Faucets & Sinks

Appliances and sinks are at the heart of the form and function of a kitchen. If you’ve ever wanted more room or needed your sink to be shaped differently, you might want to consider a new look. There are many traditional and modern sink designs that can and do make life just a little bit easier.

Quality faucets are just as important and versatile as the sinks they’re attached to. Whether you’re a chef or you’ve got a home full of children, consider a pull-down spray faucet with a classic or bold finish


Investing in quality appliances will not only lead to a more pleasant time in the kitchen, they can be the finishing touch on your new design. You don’t have to stop at a new range. Not only do you have an opportunity to add more cooking and refrigerating, and dishwashing capabilities, but you’re not limited to stainless, black or white finishes.

If you find that you’re filling you’re kitchen with appliances and it disrupts the aesthetic, you can opt for panel-ready appliances that blend in rather than stand out.

Countertops & Backsplash

Replacing your old countertops with something more durable and stylish, is always a good move.

Whether you want to go full butcherblock, stone, stainless, composite, or laminate, you can add to the utility of your kitchen’s surfaces while completing your design.

Consider installing a tile backsplash behind your countertops. Not only are they much easier to clean, they can add a whole new dimension to your kitchen design. Subway tile can be the right choice for a more traditional look while changing the size of the tile can create more Modern accents.

Shaker Wide in a White SmartMatte

Floating Shelves

Floating Shelves, whether adjacent to your your food prep area as an accent, or at it’s heart with LED lighting underneath, are a perfect way to declutter your kitchen.

IKEA makes their own floating shelves while we produce our own line of custom floating shelves with our full array of custom finishes.


Whether you’re a huge fan of vinyl or laminate, redoing your floor can be the change your kitchen needed. Not only are they DIY doable, you can switch up materials, designs, and finishes according to traffic and the utility of each part of your kitchen.

What are my Options for Kitchen Cabinets?

Handles and Hardware

When budgets are slim or you simply don’t need to replace your existing cabinets, upgrading the hardware and handles on your doors and drawers is a surefire way to sharpen up the look of what you already have. IKEA and many other reputable companies produce a full spectrum of new options for stand sized cabinet doors and drawer fronts.


New Doors & Drawer Fronts

Rather than replacing your existing Cabinets, opting for a custom facelift can provide the change you’re wanting without costing you nearly as much. Dendra Doors have almost endless options for custom finishes and we perfectly match our finishes with your existing cabinetry.

DIY or Custom Painted

When you’ve got the skills and know exactly how you want your new doors to be finished, all you need are the DIY Slab or DIY Shaker doors. And, for those of you that would love custom painted doors, we offer a Shaker, Shaker Slim, and Bevel Shaker in all Sherwin Williams colors.

Kitchen Cabinet Systems & Custom Doors

We’re not shy about how reliable, stylish, and sophisticated we find IKEA cabinetry. However, if you’re looking at cabinets from another top manufacturer or a local shop, not only will our doors fit, we can provide an immense selection of custom doors, drawer fronts, and custom finishes that match your new kitchen design.

Whether you’re designing your kitchen yourself, collaborating with an interior designer, or have a general contractor doing the heavy lifting, we encourage you use free Design & Planning resources like IKEA’s Kitchen Planner to get a better understanding of how all of these things go together and test out ideas you have before spending anything. Once you’ve put together your kitchen cabinet plans and you’re ready to talk custom doors and drawer fronts, let us know.

Written by Todd Zimmerman

Producer of the John Webbccast

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