Blog by Beebe Cline

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How to Love Your Kitchen More, Right Now

Daydreaming about how you would design your ideal kitchen can be fun, but actually doing it is a pretty big splurge — meaning many of us will have to stick with daydreaming for the time being. But even if you can't remodel, spending your energy (and a smaller amount of money) making doable changes that positively impact your quality of life is a worthwhile goal.

By focusing on the feelings you want to enhance and the activities you want to enjoy in this space (rather than fancy appliances and finishes) you can create a space you love on any budget.

Read on for 12 ways to love the kitchen you have.
1. Make a fresh start. To see your kitchen in its best light, begin by giving it a thorough cleaning — but don't stop there. Grab this opportunity to get rid of broken appliances, chipped dishes, unneeded duplicate items (do you really need five ladles?) and anything that bugs you. Make a special point to keep counters cleared of everything but the few items you use daily.
2. Assess your breakfast nook. If you have a table in the kitchen, consider how it is working for you. Do you have comfortable chairs? If not, could you pick up a few nice cushions to improve them? If your table and chairs take up too much space, consider swapping them out for something slimmer or even a built-in piece.

See a bright kitchen nook makeover
3. Personalize your space. Who says all kitchens must look alike? In this colorful kitchen, simple wire wall-mounted racks display favorite cooking magazines with pretty covers, and floral print wallpaper adds a feminine touch to an accent wall. Think about what you would add to your kitchen if you weren't worried about pleasing anyone else — then see if you can make it a reality.

See more of this 19th-century Belgian house
4. Include something for the little ones. If your household includes children, you know it can be a challenge keeping small hands busy (and out of hot pans) in the kitchen. Add a chalkboard wall, convert a low cupboard to a secret play area, or keep a bin of Play-Doh and art supplies within reach.
5. Make liberal use of fresh flowers and potted herbs. There is no room I can think of that can't be improved by the addition of freshly cut flowers and living plants. Make a weekly habit of picking up a bouquet or going out to the garden to cut flowers. Keep costs down by dividing a single market bouquet into one main arrangement plus a number of smaller ones in bud vases.

A windowsill herb garden is a lovely thing to tend, but you can also keep freshly cut herbs on the counter in vases of water, just as you would flowers.
6. Create a soft landing place. Instead of letting an empty corner go to waste, fill it with low seating and soft cushions to create an inviting nook for reading, dreaming or napping.

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7. Use attractive baskets to store and organize. Look around your kitchen and take stock of what is cluttering up your counters and shelves. Giving everyday basics a home (for example, storing napkins in a nice basket) can make using your kitchen a much more pleasant experience.
8. Replace standard overhead lights. Proper lighting can completely change how a room feels. While good, clear light is a must for cooking, it feels wonderful to be able to dim the lights or augment the overheads with table lamps when you are dining or just hanging out.

Try hanging a drum pendant for a softer look, tuck a table lamp onto the counter for extra illumination or install bent-arm sconces on your open shelving.
9. Keep a well-stocked pantry. From dried grains, pastas and beans to special condiments and long-lasting root vegetables, a thoughtfully kept pantry is key to pulling together delicious, healthy meals at a moment's notice.
10. Borrow (unexpected) furniture from another room. Desks, dining tables and chests of drawers can all look amazing in the kitchen and be surprisingly functional to boot. Upholstered furniture is even less expected in the kitchen — and all the more wonderful because of it.
11. Try a real rug. While you wouldn't want to use a priceless antique directly in front of your stove and sink, most other rugs will hold up surprisingly well in the kitchen. A rug with deep colors and an intricate pattern will hide stains, and the feeling of a wonderfully soft rug underfoot makes cooking a joy.
12. Appreciate what you have. We can all daydream about our ideal kitchens (mine would include a fireplace and French doors to a private garden), but there is something to be said for accepting and enjoying things as they are. If you find yourself thinking negatively about your own kitchen, make a point of stopping and naming three things about it that you love.

Tell us: What do you love about your kitchen? What small changes could you make to enjoy your kitchen more?

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