7 Timeless Kitchen Upgrades You Won’t Regret Down the Line, According to Pros

updated Jul 31, 2020
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If you’re design-obsessed, part of the fun of scrolling through your Instagram feed is seeing all the new kitchen color and design trends that are constantly being unveiled. Whether you’re planning a whole new kitchen, or a few strategic upgrades, it’s helpful to have such an abundant source of inspiration. 

But with all the time you spend in the kitchen, and the expense of making renovations, you want to choose smart upgrades that you’ll love for a long time. For guidance, we reached out to a few expert renovators and interior designers to learn how to make kitchen design decisions that will go the distance. Follow along, and your kitchen renovation budget will be wisely spent on changes you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Credit: Alyssa Bovino

1. Good quality hardware in mixed metals

“I like classic hardware that fits people’s hands instead of that dainty stuff,” says Christine Kohut, an interior designer based in Menlo Park, California. That means she always opts for handles over knobs. Selecting complementary hardware styles in a couple finishes — say, matte black and burnished gold — keeps things interesting and versatile. Kohut likes using one finish on the island, and the other on the perimeter. “When you have multiple finishes you can change things or add elements to update the room,” she says. 

2. A sink under the window

It’s no fun to be washing a dish and looking at a wall,” says Nicole White, an interior designer based in Florida. “Move your sink if you can, and you’ll never regret that change ever in life.” White suggests placing your sink under a window so you have a better view, or onto a central kitchen island to improve the flow of the room. 

Credit: Janet Lee

3. More natural light

“A great upgrade is adding more natural light,” says Janet Lee of Living in a Nutshell, who’s a small space DIY renovation expert based in San Diego and author of Decorate This, Not That. “Most kitchens don’t have enough — especially small, cramped kitchens.” Lee let more light into her beach cottage kitchen by turning a solid door between her bedroom and kitchen into a Dutch door. In a move that was equal parts clever and brave, Lee cut out the top section of the door and filled it with a canvas on one side, and a mirror on the other. If that’s not an option for your kitchen, consider adding a skylight or a window. 

Credit: Alyssa Bovino

4. Natural wood flooring

If you have the opportunity to add or uncover hardwood floors, do it, Kohut advises. Natural wood flooring never goes out of style. “If you do a traditional style it goes with any look and it makes a seamless transition from room to room,” Kohut says. Bleached, gray and ebony stained floors are dramatic, but they’re the kinds of looks that can start to look dated. Kohut opts for wood flooring stained in warm, golden wood tones, such as Minwax Special Walnut, Jacobean or Provincial.

Credit: Chloe Berk

5. Extra shelving

Even if the shelving is in addition to upper cabinets, not in place of them, you won’t regret plentiful storage. “I was so happy I forced myself to learn how to install shelving,” Lee says. “This long stainless shelving with a hanging dish rack is such a space-saver.” Lee chose IKEA GRUNDTAL shelving, with a dish rack on the bottom. She took them next level by layering the shelves over a subway backsplash she made from faux marble pattern contact paper from England. “People walk in and they’re like ‘you put marble bricks up there.’ ”

Credit: Laura Moss

6. A classic backsplash, with a twist

Tile with a bold, eye-catching pattern is so tempting when you’re remodeling your kitchen, says Kohut. “I think the grout on a small mosaic pattern can get busy,” and your eye gets tired of looking at it, she says. Instead, choose large-format tile with smaller grout lines. For a recent project, she designed a backsplash of 12-inch marble subway tiles installed in a herringbone pattern. The grout lines are so thin that they almost fade away. “Close that grout gap!” she says.

Credit: Nicole White

7. A pot filler

Pot fillers are controversial, but White swears by them. And with everyone cooking at home so much more these days, any little convenience helps. “It makes so much sense: Why were you walking from the sink to the stove with a pot of water?” White asks. They’re one of the “most luxurious yet functional things to have in kitchens today with heavy duty cooking.” She’s adding them to the backsplash behind the range on all her kitchen remodel projects these days, and they’re beloved by homeowners who frequently cook at home for families—especially those who favor big-batch kitchen sessions. Once White has them installed, clients wonder why they never thought of getting one before. Pot fillers can range from $200 to $350 or more, and come in a bevy of finishes from matte black to brass to chrome. “Adding a pot filler will save your life and your back,” she says.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 7 Timeless Kitchen Upgrades You Won’t Regret in Five Years, According to Pros