In particular, Stafford is a fan of white oak, which she sees having a moment right now for its ability to reflect light and open and brighten a space. Ideal on its own for cabinets, white oak also works well in conjunction with painted cabinets, which can cut costs. “When using inexpensive painted cabinets, you can elevate the look with extra layers of crown molding; maybe consider a two-tier molding,” Stafford offers. And if white oak isn’t in the budget, she recommends melamine and laminate materials that resemble a white oak look for less. Brands like Pergo, Mannington, Mohawk, Shaw, and Tarkett offer quality flooring products that exude the look of white oak at a range of prices, while true DIYers might opt for purchasing wood alternatives at Home Depot, which likely has the most competitive prices and offers a wide selection. “These materials have advanced a lot in recent years and can often look like the real thing,” Stafford adds.
While it might be the dream to have a kitchen comprising made-to-order cabinets that reflect your own personal style, custom woodwork can often be cost-prohibitive. Edwards shares a strategy to elevate a kitchen’s aesthetic on a decidedly modest budget: Her hack is to employ Semihandmade, a company that creates the look of custom cabinetry by using IKEA products as the base for affordable and chic solutions. “I used IKEA bases and hired Semihandmade to do the doors,” Edwards explains. “I had them painted with my favorite Farrow & Ball paint color and attached gorgeous handles, and my clients had a kitchen that cost a fraction of what a custom kitchen would cost.”
Another trick to make kitchen materials appear more lavish: Go black. According to Edwards, “Black cabinetry—even if inexpensive—always looks great, adds drama, and gives the illusion that they cost more than they did.” She says that white countertops and great lighting create a sophisticated, modern look, or reverse it—with off-white cabinets and black countertops—for an upscale, traditional vibe.
Integrate vintage pieces to refresh a kitchen’s design scheme without spending a fortune, a strategy that Edwards is seeing increasingly more. “Mixing vintage materials into your space is all the rage,” she observes. “It adds character and keeps it from looking too perfect and staged. Consider a set of vintage lights, a vintage table, or art to mix it up. Choose a vintage wood shelf to add a bit of texture and style.” She says that shelves can replace upper cabinets to cut costs while adding a unique design touch.
Stafford notes that opting for vintage hardware adds a nice detail that packs quite a design punch. She says, “Oftentimes just updating hardware alone can transform the look of the space.”