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Your kitchen is the heart of your home. It cooks family meals, it hosts friends for Thanksgiving and it often serves as the hub for homework. This is the mother of all rooms, giving you every ounce of love and affection it can, yet, somehow, we all let this workhorse go by the wayside. Sure, you might clean the countertops and put away the clutter of dishes; but when was the last time you gave your kitchen-dining room a fresh look?
You’ve probably shied away from a kitchen renovation because it’s an expensive and drawn out project, but Denise Cooper is here to tell you that a kitchen redesign need not be as involved as you might imagine. The self-made design expert reveals how she was able to makeover her own kitchen in 10 simple, budget-friendly steps.
The Design Expert: Denise Cooper
Like the mighty kitchen, Denise Cooper is a woman with the drive to do it all. She loves entertaining, organizing, dreaming up DIY projects and creating inviting spaces with elegant home décor. The best part? She does it all on a dime. Denise has a knack for being thrifty. It started when she purchased her first apartment. Having just invested in her own place, she was tight on funds, but Denise was determined to turn her quaint abode into a picture-perfect palace – and that she did.
That is when Denise knew she had a designer’s eye and wanted to share her passion with the world. In 2014 she launched her blog and YouTube channel, “Be My Guest.” Her YouTube channel now has over 200,000 subscribers and is constantly growing. It’s there that Denise shares her tricks for organizing a spice cabinet, creating a coffee bar and getting the most out of your slow cooker (did someone say crab legs?).
While Denise currently lives the sunny life in Florida with her husband and son, she is still hard at work. Every week, she opens her heart and home when she posts a new video, rich with money-saving tips to help you live your best, beautiful life yet.
Denise Cooper’s 10 Easy Steps to Upgrade Your Kitchen
In one of her latest and greatest videos, Denise offers up 10 easy steps that will make your kitchen look more luxurious than ever before. Worried about your Champagne taste? Don’t be. With these tips, you won’t have to spend more than a boxed-wine budget for a glamorous result.
1. Paint Your Cabinets
Do your cabinets look old and tired? If you don’t have the budget to replace them, Denise highly recommends painting your existing cabinets. That’s what she and her husband did to brighten their kitchen and make it feel like a completely revived space.
You can certainly tackle this project on your own to save even more money. Be warned, though. Painting cabinets is a time-intensive undertaking. You probably won’t get it done in a single weekend. For a speedier finish, consider shelling out for professional painters.
2. Change Your Window Treatments
“Aesthetically, window treatments can play a big role in shaping your interior style,” says Denise. To achieve something more grown-up, Denise swapped out her blinds for shutters. Shutters offer a cleaner look – and are certainly easier to actually clean. Denise also incorporated some drapes in her kitchen to create a cozier feel.
You may not want to get too cozy with your drapes, though. Denise chose a set that is light and airy with a minimal motif. After all, you still want natural light to flood your kitchen, so avoid fabrics that are too dark or heavy. Denise also recommends that you invest in a handheld steamer to keep your drapes looking crisp and your kitchen tidy.
3. “Energize” Your Appliances
Your appliances, obviously, make a huge impact on your kitchen’s overall appearance. The only problem is updating your appliances can be a big hit to the budget. Denise’s tip is to focus on energy efficiency. You may have to invest more upfront, but you’ll save a lot more on your monthly energy bills.
If you can’t afford to replace all of your kitchen appliances, choose the ones that you use most often. The refrigerator and dishwasher, for instance, tend to consume a ton of energy. Make sure those are your priority to get the biggest bang for your buck, and, of course, stay within the same family of finishes – whether that be stainless steel, matte black or classic white.
4. Replace Your Drawer Pulls
This one simple change can transform the entire face of your kitchen cabinets – even without painting them. By updating the drawer pulls, an old set of cabinets will look years younger.
Remember one thing, though: You use your drawer pulls every day. That means they need to be both functional and fashionable. When picking out drawer pulls, give them a test run in the store. Then, ask yourself a few questions: Do they feel sturdy? Do they fit your fingers? Can you easily pull them?
5. Add an Area Rug
If you’re like Denise then you might think, “tile can get really cold, especially in the morning.” This is where area rugs and runners come in handy. The soft fabric underfoot not only adds color, depth, and character, but it makes the space infinitely more comfortable.
That said, select your rugs carefully, because size does matter. Area rugs are meant to define a space – not be the space. With runners, you want them to extend only as far as you need them. They shouldn’t run the full length of your kitchen.
6. Punch up Your Dish Towels
Dish towels are, perhaps, the easiest and cheapest way to freshen up your kitchen. You don’t even have to use them for them to be useful. Kitchen towels with a funky or playful pattern make for a lively accessory.
Because kitchen towels are so inexpensive, you can afford to have multiple sets. That way you can change out your towels to match the season or to celebrate a holiday. Right now, for instance, Denise is loving on her punchy pink flamingo dish towels that match a new set of dessert bowls she found.
7. Green Your Space
Plants and greenery are a designer’s secret weapon because they infuse a sense of vitality into the space. They’re the perfect finishing touch to any room, but you’ll enjoy them the most in the middle of your kitchen table.
Denise stresses that it’s okay to go faux. Artificial plants add the same vibrant color and texture as the real deal, but they last decades longer. You’ll even be able to reuse the same pots and plants to create different tablescapes. That alone is a major money-saver.
8. Refresh Your Décor Accessories
While your kitchen may not have a lot of room for extras, the accessories you have make a difference. Whether it’s a plant stand in the corner or a lazy Susan that houses your cooking oils, these little pieces help define your kitchen’s overarching style.
You could probably spend hours fiddling with the arrangement of your décor accessories. Take a cue from Denise’s ginger jars and group related accessories. You’ll create a kind of “scene” while filling in dead space. Of course, if you don’t have room to spare, skip the accessories altogether to keep a clean look.
9. Hang Wall Art
Art is a great way to show off your personality. However, it, too, can start to feel dated over time. If your tastes have changed – or you don’t have any artwork in your kitchen at all – take this opportunity to try something new.
You can always choose a painting that catches your eye, but don’t be afraid to explore other forms of art. Maybe you have a collection of mirrors or empty frames you’ve picked up from various flea markets. You can use them to create a custom gallery wall that will inevitably spark interest.
10. Update Your Lighting
After Denise painted her walls and cabinets, she noticed the light fixtures no longer fit in. That’s not an uncommon dilemma, but it is an easy one to fix. Besides, your light fixtures are usually a focal point in the kitchen. By updating these pieces, you instantly change the mood – literally.
Before choosing your new fixtures, there are some kitchen lighting design rules of thumb to consider. The most important thing is that your lighting speaks to your personal style and fits in with the rest of the room. Your light fixtures don’t have to perfectly match your faucet, but you’ll get a much more cohesive look if you stay within the same family of metals.
Get the Lighting Look
Denise selected two Crystorama Lighting fixtures for her kitchen renovation. When it comes to traditional lighting, Crystorama is a top-notch choice. They combine authentic craftsmanship with modern shapes to form truly timeless designs. Denise says, “They create some of the most whimsical crystal chandeliers I’ve ever seen.”
It comes as no surprise, then, that Denise would choose the following kitchen chandeliers:
Above the dining table: Manning Chandelier by Crystorama
The Manning Chandelier is a clever combination of hefty metal and dainty crystal jewels. The six-light candelabra ensures light gets around your entire dining room table. But even when it’s turned off, this chandelier is a stunning mixture of materials. Depending on which finish you choose, the Manning Chandelier can hang with traditional décor as well as it can French country or an art deco design.
Above the kitchen island: Broche Mini Chandelier by Crystorama
While Crystorama does offer pendants to match the Manning Chandelier, Denise wanted to go a different route for her island. By hanging two Broche Mini Chandeliers, she was able to accomplish the right balance of light and luxury without taking anything away from her statement-making dining fixture.
The Broche Mini Chandelier lends just a touch of glamour with its elegant wrought-iron leaves on the wall mount and round finial dangling from the bottom. Like Denise, you’ll especially love that the lightweight linen shade helps diffuse incandescent task lighting. This helps create a warmer, more inviting tone for those casual conversations around the kitchen island.
When you have a minute, check out Denise Cooper’s kitchen before and after the renovation. You’ll be amazed by how much lighter and more luxurious her kitchen feels. And all it took were these 10 simple changes. What will Denise think of next?