10 Tricks to Wake Up a Kitchen

HGTV Design Star champ Meg Caswell wowed the judges with her eye for punchy colors and patterns. HGTV Magazine took a look at her latest project: turning this yawn of a kitchen into a bright-eyed space.

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  • Before: Boring Big White Box

    The list of design crimes: Barely any cabinet space, the awkward peninsula cabinets that chopped the room in half, broken oven, nasty peel-and-stick floors, and fluorescent lighting

  • The Winner at Work

    When Meg first scoped out this kitchen emergency, she found an out-of-order cooking space in desperate need of a remodel. Turns out the Chicago family of four had plans for an overhaul, but projects in other parts of the house demanded their attention—and their budget—so their reno dreams were put on hold. But then: Meg swooped in to the rescue!

  • After: Much Smarter Space Planning

    Meg didn’t tear out a single wall, but it sure feels like she did! By lining everything up on two facing walls, the layout is a lot less cramped. Meg’s tip: “Countertops on opposite walls shouldn’t be more than eight feet apart,” she says. “Any wider and you’ll want an island in between them.”

  • Sleek Storage

    For the cabinets, Meg paired rich cherry wood with modernish nickel knobs. Find the same ones at cabinetparts.com.

  • Invincible Countertops

    The smart selection: off-white Corian that looks like marble but won’t stain.

  • Cushy Floors + Durable Pretty Furniture

    Meg picked dark-stained cork for the floors. It’s warm and sound-absorbent. “It feels like you’re walking on gel!” she says. The dining benches can take a beating and keep on seating. Meg gave the floral fabric an iron-on vinyl coating so they can be cleaned with a Windex wipe-down after meals.

  • Glam Lighting

    Meg created a custom fixture by hanging a cluster of mercury glass pendants at different heights over the dining table. “It makes the room shimmer,” she says. A leftover pendant was suspended above the sink.

  • Unexpected Stripes

    Thinking outside the box, Meg flipped the funky glass tiles to run vertically along the backsplash. Little change, big impact!

  • No-Limit Mixing

    Forget dining sets (so The Price is Right!). Meg prefers to mix styles and materials, so she pulled up a pair of cane-back wood chairs and upholstered benches to a painted metal table. “These are the kinds of risks that add personality to a room,” she says.

  • Hide-and-Seek Window Shades

    Custom valances made of plywood and supercute fabric cover the blinds, which drop down for privacy.

  • Multi-Functional Space

    It’s art. It’s a bar. It’s both! You have to love a house that says, “Help yourself to a drink.” Meg amped up the kitchen’s bar area with zigzag wallpaper and floating shelves.

  • Even More Seating

    Metal bistro stools scoot under the extra-thick Corian counter. They come in handy for parties.

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