Five Ways to Revamp a Room (rapidly): The Kitchen

The second part of my mini series on Five Ways to Revamp a Room rapidly and this week we’re looking at the kitchen. A mini revamp is a great way to bring in a few changes without breaking the bank (unless you want to of course) and make it all feel a little bit shiny and new. kitchen

It’s the same with clothes don’t you find? Suddenly you’re fed up with all those winter jumpers and boots and when you look in the wardrobe for something to ring the changes you have no idea what you wore last summer. But in the same way that a new pair of sandals can revamp a whole outfit – and go with several others – so there are ways you can easily freshen up a room without spending a fortune. Although that option is always there if you want it.

We’re going to start with the kitchen. Because most of us aren’t having a new one and yet, increasingly, this is the room we spend most time in so it’s the one you might want to start with. First up NEW HANDLES.

change the handles for an instant kitchen update via superfront
change the handles for an instant kitchen update via superfront

This is relatively quick and easy and you can spend as much, or almost as little, as you want. Superfront have lots to choose from so you can either find some that fit into the existing holes in your doors or you can get handy with a drill and some filler and change them completely. In every kitchen we have ever had we have started off by changing the handles and painting the doors when we couldn’t afford to replace the worktop or move things around. If you want to get really fancy, and invest a little more, you can replace the doors as well. We have MDF doors on Ikea units with leather handles from Superfront. Take inspiration from the image above and consider removing the doors from wall units, painting or spraying them and create open storage for a contemporary look. As I say  – it’s a sliding scale of budget but if you hate your existing kitchen there are things you can do in the interim.


Next up: BRING IN SOME HERBS. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last six months you will know that plants – real or faux are the big thing in interiors at the moment and the kitchen is the perfect place for them. If you haven’t got the floor space for a large plant – and in a small kitchen it might not like all the steam and cooking smells – then use the walls. Which, incidentally is the first rule for small rooms: when you run out of horizontal go vertical. Use the walls as storage and that includes plants. So you can fill a few of these westelm pots with indoor herbs and bring some instant greenery to your space. And if you haven’t any spare wall then don’t forget the ceiling. These Boskke sky planters come in either ceramic or recycled materials and allow you to grow a herb garden on the ceiling.

boskke sky planter
boskke sky planter

Another idea, which again you can adjust according to your budget is to CHANGE THE CHAIRS. So, you can invest in a pair of high end design classics that you will love for ever and add to the collection as your finances allow. Or you can just change the whole lot for something new that doesn’t cost the earth and which you can sell on and replace with something else when you are bored.

printed chairs from la redoute
printed chairs from la redoute

I found these the other day when wandering round the La Redoute site – it can be tricky to find your way around but there are gems in there if you hunt and they always seem to have offers on. So these are £169 for a pair and there is free delivery at the time of writing.

desserts are on me by alijoedesigns
desserts are on me by alijoedesigns

Number four of our five ways to revamp a room is buy NEW PLATES. Now, realistically, a whole new dinner set is an expensive revamp. I know this because I have been looking for new plates for months and we can’t seem to marry what we like with what we can afford. But, there is a way round this. New dessert plates. This isn’t quite as niche as it sounds. Basically I’m suggesting a set of new side plates that go with what you have already. You can use them for breakfast, pudding, cheese and even the odd lunch time sandwich. You can buy two to just have treats with a friend and use occasionally or you can buy four, eight or six. We have plain white plates already so these ones above by Debbie Carne of Alijoe Designs go really well and mean that I could serve 12 people on a mix of pattern and plain. So it doesn’t have to be an expensive solution. You might want something more colourful – especially if you are only going to use them now and then. I would include in this section treating yourself to new mugs or perhaps a new fruit bowl – the things that are on display and that you use all the time.

tea towel by thornback and peel
tea towel by thornback and peel

Finally and the fifth element (as it were) is new TEA TOWELS. Now this might seem like a boring thing but, let’s be honest. It’s a kitchen. It’s not all cocktail drinking and disco dancing in there. Or perhaps it is, in which case when can I come over? For the rest of us who have to do practical stuff in our kitchens, then it’s about trying to make the drudgework a little more palatable. I’m not saying new tea towels will change your life, but we’ve all got them and we might as well have nice ones. Many kitchens don’t have so-called soft furnishings – rugs, cushions and curtains – so the odd decorative tea towel can do that job. And if it looks pretty so much the better. This one is from Thornback & Peel who have a great collection – some people even frame them and hang them on the wall. My teenagers would definitely be in favour of the drying up cloths being behind glass.

I hope this has given you some ideas for a quick revamp. Do add your own kitchen ideas below. Next week we’ll be looking at another room. I can’t say which because I haven’t decided yet.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Hi Kate
    Can you remind me about those lovely tin tiles on your kitchen ceiling….are they tin or the tin-effect wallpaper that is available? If tin, where would you suggest we buy these? We have a really crappy ceiling in our bedroom, all lumpy and cracked and paintd white (with Stiffkey Blue walls) and I’m wondering if either wallpapering or tin-tiling might be the way forward. Alternatively I was thinking something like this:

    what do you think?!

    1. Mine are tin tiles from and I just stuck them on. You can get a similar wallpaper now but my tiles are very reflective and bounce the light around which is what I wanted as the ceiling isn’t the highest and the wallpaper won’t do that. But if you have a high ceiling then perhaps that’s not such an issue. I love that fornasetti cloud wallpaper too but have always held back from using it because I feel the clouds are slightly stormy rather than restful but that my just be me?

  2. Another uplift in a kitchen can be original art. We brought back some very simple canvases of fruit and veg in bright primary colours from a foreign holiday. Cheers up the space AND reminds us of fun in the sun. Obviously nothing of any real value as the steam and grease will impact over time but anything to make you smile.
    Love these ideas – off to buy some funky tea towels today …..

  3. Really like this “spring clean” series Kate. Your smart ideas make the bigger ambitions seem much more do-able. I’m just about to move house and am feeling a scary mix of excitement and total stress overload. But I honestly feel that the purchase of some herbs in pots and a couple of pretty new tea cloths will go some way to calming my nerves and making me feel more settled in my new home. I’m also thinking that some cocktails and disco dancing is going to be helpful too – that will sort the good new neighbours from the bad won’t it!

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