Design guru Nate Berkus sets the ground rules for your next kitchen update.
1. Don't be too quick to demo
A lot of people gut their kitchens unnecessarily. When I watch home improvement shows on TV—many of which are filmed in Canada—I'm always thinking to myself, Why don't they just paint the cabinets? Instead, they spend more money than they need to by rebuilding a kitchen from the ground up. Design is all about what your eye goes to and, oftentimes, painting the cabinets and switching the hardware are enough to make a visual impact.
2. Add character through counterscaping
Any horizontal surface in your home is an opportunity to do something interesting with accessories, and the kitchen counter is no exception. I tend to reach for vintage one-of-a-kind finds like marble cheese plates and wooden cutting boards that I pick up at auctions, garage sales and antiques fairs. I also love incorporating tons of natural materials, minerals, cacti and pale flowers. The best part? You can swipe everything off the counter and start over whenever you feel like it.
3. Mix metals with abandon
Mixing metallic finishes can be challenging—and not just in interior design. I always think about whether my watch matches my wedding ring or the buckle of my shoe, but if you look at classically designed kitchens from the 1920s up to the 1950s, you'll see that metals are mixed with abandon. Taking a cue from those kitchens, you might have an unlacquered brass faucet and hardware and combine them with stainless-steel appliances and a porcelain farmhouse sink; the variation gives the appearance of a kitchen that's been assembled over time.
4. Invest in timelessness, not trends
Design inspiration for a kitchen should come from the people who use the space, not trends that, five years from now, I'd be embarrassed to have recommended. That's why there are some common elements in my kitchens: subway tile, painted or wire-brushed oak-panelled cabinet doors and antique kitchen islands. These elements come together in different ways, depending on the architecture of the space, but they're all timeless design details that elevate a kitchen and make it feel personal.
Need more expert design tips? Check out these tips on how to give your kitchen a face-lift with a tight budget.
This story was originally part of "Kitchen Commandments" in the October 2015 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!