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How to Brighten up a Dark Kitchen

By Philippa Baker, 2nd December, 2014

The kitchen is arguably the most important room in the house. It’s where we prepare our morning coffee, make the kid's packed lunches, bake birthday cakes, and host dinner parties for our nearest and dearest. Yet most of us make do with a small, dark kitchen in the back of the house – a design remnant from the days when it was the domain of the servants.

"Nowadays, home cooking is becoming more and more popular, and the kitchen has become an important social hub, as well as a highly functional room. Therefore, it's now more important than ever that even the smallest kitchen is welcoming, comfortable and bright."
Designing Your Kitchen

Sky lights, French doors and statement chandeliers can add a lot of much-needed light, but these are not exactly cheap options. A full kitchen renovation can cost anything from £3,000 to £170,000 - as referenced by the Mail Online in November this year - well above most people’s DIY budget.

Luckily we’ve come across a few clever tricks which can help perk up small or dark kitchens for the same price as a few takeaways…

1) Add a flash of bright colour

Breakfast Bar Stool Orange In Kitchen

Brushed Steel Breakfast Bar Stool Orange

If your kitchen is decorated in a neutral palette of grey or beige colours, it may seem darker than it really is. When there is little variation in the hues of your furniture, cabinets, shelving and appliances, your eye is drawn to the shadows and dark corners, making the room feel darker and smaller.

A few bold and bright kitchen stools can lift the whole look of the room. All eyes will instantly be drawn to this pop of colour, making everything else seem brighter as a result.

Co-ordinate your brights by matching a few different pieces – for instance, a row of orange kitchen stools could match a bold orange teapot and collection of funky orange placemats. This will give your kitchen a professional ‘designed’ look, as well as brightening the room as a whole.

2) Make a feature of fresh produce

Kitchen With Fresh Fruit

Vintage Swivel Stool Light Wood

Artists have been immortalising fruit bowls for centuries, so there must be some aesthetic value to an attractively displayed bowl of fresh produce!

Invest in a beautiful fruit bowl and keep it topped up at all times with a variety of fun and unusual fruits. Pineapples always look great in these displays, as do dragonfruit, starfruit, lychee and mangoes.

Or why not try colour blocking with similarly coloured items? Fill a wire bowl with fresh lemons, limes or oranges for a bold (and delicious!) design statement. Or arrange seasonal fruits and vegetables together to make a zesty and eye-catching table-top centrepiece, ensuring the whole kitchen feels fresh and light.

3) Keep walls white

Light And Bright Kitchen

Padded Crescent Bar Stool Black

It’s the oldest trick in the book, but that’s because it works! White walls reflect the light and can make even the darkest space feel infinitely brighter. Plus, they go with everything!

Paint at least two coats of good quality white paint on the walls so you end up with an opaque and creamy finish. And why not consider carrying on the paint job to update open shelving or cupboards as well?

When the morning sun hits the white walls of your kitchen, you’ll feel like you’ve woken up in the sunny Mediterranean!

4) Opt for backlighting

Backlighting Used At The Bar

LED technology has revolutionised the way we use our lighting, making uplights and backlights more affordable than ever before. Tiny LED bulbs can be fitted across countertops and even inside dark cupboards, bringing a subtle, warm light into those shadowy nooks and crannies.

You can even choose from a range of different coloured LED bulbs. Try blue lights for kitchens which are decorated in cool shades of chrome, black or white, or go for yellow-tinged lights in kitchens which follow a warmer or more neutral colour palate. LED bulbs last for years too, so you won’t need to replace your backlights for a while.

5) Channel some flower power

Fresh Flowers In The Kitchen

Shimmer Translucent Stool Smoked

Cut flowers tend to be displayed in prominent places such as the hallway, dining room or bedrooms. But why not create a regular flower display in the kitchen too? Choose light and bright flowers such as hydrangeas, carnations or peonies, and arrange them in a glass vase, making sure to change the water every couple of days. The natural radiance of the flowers will make the room feel airy and fresh, with brightly coloured petals sure to draw attention.

Or why not take a practical approach to your kitchen display and keep sprigs of raw parsley or coriander in little glass mason jars? Your herbs will stay fresher for longer, whilst infusing your kitchen with a nicely natural look.


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