Changing the colour scheme is an easy way to update a tired kitchen without spending a fortune, and a paint job on the walls will work wonders. But cupboard doors and drawer fronts are harder to alter, though there are some really good paints out there. If you have solid wood doors, you have an easier job, but covering laminates isn’t just a case of slapping on your paint – laminates are usually very smooth and shiny, and a good amount of prepping will be needed, first in the way of sanding, then using a good primer to encourage the paint to stick. Not impossible, just a lengthy job before you get down to the best bit of changing the colour! Changing drawer handles and doorknobs can update a kitchen too, just be aware your new choices might need new drill holes, and the old ones might need filling and smoothing first.

Trends today include mixing colours up, colours you maybe wouldn’t have thought went together. White still remains a firm favourite, but now we have warm colour contrasts of beige, orange and aqua, and I have noticed a good few small appliances in vintage styles now being offered with that lovely pale aqua colour. Team it up with woven textures and natural wood tones for an on-trend colour scheme.

Changing the colour of your tiles is also another way to breathe new life into a kitchen, they too can be painted, but need a bit of prepping too. Tiles must be almost surgically cleaned with sugar soap or a detergent solution and then a fungicidal spray. If grout looks dirty, it probably is and will need to be scraped out and the spaces regrouted before you even pick up a paintbrush. Any hairline cracks should be filled too. The whole lot will need sanding- spend time on cleaning and getting rid of dirt and dust, and you won't regret it. Advice if you are painting tiles – avoid painting shower areas where a lot of water ‘drenching’ will occur, as the paint is more likely to lift off in time.

And stencilling has made a comeback too, even a plain boring beige floor can be enlivened with a pattern that is easy to apply, and stencilling kits are easy to use.

Another way to spruce up a tired kitchen is with new taps, maybe be really adventurous and try a hands-free motion controlled option, or just a nice new shiny ‘swan-neck’ mixer might be enough to cheer up the sink area!

Kitchen designs are shifting from hiding the ventilation to turning the range hood into a decorative focal point - but it doesn’t have to be fancy to stand out. A hood that extends beyond the cabinetry, or features an accent colour can go a long way to update your kitchen.

I read recently that proper pantry-style cupboards are coming back into fashion if you are prepared to go to the next level in updating and have the space, so this might be something to consider – nice to open just one cupboard to see what you have, rather than hunting through all your storage spaces to find that elusive can of tomatoes you are missing!

Also on the next level of updating – and it is something not always feasible or affordable – are freezer and fridge drawers instead of a stand-up fridge freezer, and even more desirable to me are those big wide drawers for pots and pans, what bliss it must be to just slide a drawer open to get your favourite pan out instead of getting down on your hands and knees to look for it.

Lighting is always important in a kitchen, not only so you can see what you are doing but to create a warm and inviting workplace. Recessed lighting above work surfaces should be bright to be useful, but elsewhere pendant lighting makes a fashion statement with either the bulbs or the shade shape or colour, and well-placed lamps in a big kitchen can brighten gloomy corners and help create a pleasant ambience for both cooking and dining!


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan