Ways to Brighten Up Your Kitchen for Summer

Nothing screams summer like a bright, airy kitchen. If your kitchen is stuck back in the dark days of winter, it’s time for an update. From simple changes to massive overhauls, getting a summer kitchen style makes the heart of your home more inviting and functional.

Maximize Natural Light

Whether you have a single window over the sink or an entire wall of windows, making the best use of that natural light is the perfect place to start for your summer style kitchen makeover. Start by giving your windows a thorough cleaning inside and outside.

A layer of dirt or cloudiness cuts down on the brightness significantly. You may be surprised just how much dirt you have on your windows, even if you can’t see the dirt. It’s best to wash windows when the sun isn’t shining on them directly. You’re more likely to get streaks if it’s sunny.

Here are some additional ways to make the most of the natural light your kitchen gets:

  • Reposition furniture to avoid blocking any source of light into the room. Move your table to a place where it gets plenty of natural light.
  • Take containers off your windowsills, and remove blinds or long curtains to let more light into the space. Even small things can block rays from lighting your kitchen.
  • Position a mirror opposite a window. While mirrors aren’t traditional in a kitchen, they are great tool for amplifying natural light. Find a mirror that fits with your kitchen’s design so it blends in seamlessly.

Window coverings can be a challenge in the kitchen. You need something that holds up to the heat and moisture that comes with cooking, but you want light to come in during the day. If privacy isn’t an issue, don’t put anything on your windows, or put a lightweight or sheer valance along the top.

If you prefer something covering your windows, choose curtains made of light fabric. Hang a curtain rod that is wider than the window. This allows you to open the curtains fully, so they don’t block the sides of the window. Choose blinds that go up easily without blocking a large section of the top of the window. Choosing lighter colors for window coverings makes the room feel summery.

Add More Natural Light

Is your kitchen still lacking natural light? If you’re up for a larger project, consider opening up your kitchen a little more. One option is replacing a traditional exterior door with a sliding glass door or French doors leading outside. The larger glass door lets in plenty of light, and the door lets you easily flow between interior and exterior spaces when you entertain.

If you don’t have room for a larger door, swap out your old model with a new door containing a large section of glass. You still get more light than you did before without as much remodeling work. Depending on your home’s construction, skylights may be an option. Skylights let natural light flow into the room from above for a lighter, airy feeling.

Replacing a regular window with a garden, bay or bow window is another option. These window styles let in more light because there’s more window area. They make the room feel larger because they extend outward. These types of windows keep you connected to the outside, which is a big part of summer.

Update Paint Colors

Painting walls is an easy and inexpensive way to change your kitchen. A neutral color on your wall keeps the room bright with plenty of versatility to change up your décor without needing to repaint. When choosing your paint, consider the existing elements in the kitchen you don’t plan to change.

For example, if you already have white cabinets, painting your walls white may make the kitchen feel a little too monochromatic. Opting for a cream or gray color on the walls keeps the look light and neutral with a slight variation to create depth.

A wall full of paint chips may seem intimidating, but deciding on a general color helps you narrow down the options. White is an obvious light neutral color that works well in almost any kitchen. When you head to the paint store, you’ll find a broad range of white and off-white colors. Warm white colors create a traditional look. Use them to create a classic or transitional feel. If your kitchen is a modern style, look for a white on the cool side.

Gray is a popular option throughout the house, including the kitchen. Just like white, gray pairs well with almost any other color. Lighter shades of gray keep the space feeling airy. Add pops of color, such as bold yellow, to warm up the cool look of gray.

Neutrals aren’t the only options for kitchen wall colors. Choosing a bright color for the wall makes the space feel cheerful and shows off your personality. Light blues and greens are popular, as are light, sunny yellows. If you choose a bright color, make sure it’s something you can live with for a while and that it goes with the existing furnishings in the kitchen.

Here are some additional tips for choosing a paint color:

  • Choose a color at home. It’s tough enough to choose colors from tiny paint chips. The fluorescent lighting in the paint store doesn’t help matters. Take the paint chips home with you to see how the colors look in your space.
  • Test it in different light situations. Your kitchen looks completely different at noon on a sunny day than it does late at night. The look may even change from early morning to late afternoon. Keep the paint chips around, and look at them at different times of day to see how the color changes in varying light levels.
  • Do a test run. Buy a small sample can of your selected color for a test run before painting the entire kitchen. If you don’t want to put the paint directly on the walls, paint a piece of cardboard or wood and hold it up to the wall at different times of day.
  • Follow your instincts. Don’t choose white because it brightens the space if the idea of white walls drives you crazy. Ultimately, it’s your kitchen. Choose a wall color that makes you happy and feels sunny and bright to you.

Add a Backsplash

Your backsplash area has the potential to be a dark, shadowy place tucked back under the cabinets. A new, updated backsplash creates a lighter look. Although time-consuming, installing a tile backsplash is a relatively easy project homeowners can do on their own.

Choose shiny tiles to create a reflective quality on the backsplash. A shiny surface maximizes natural light and reflects under-cabinet lights to make the space feel less like a cave. Subway tile or another white tile keeps the backsplash simple and bright. If you want color on your backsplash, opt for shiny glass tiles with sea-inspired blue and green hues.

Another option is to use tile with a bright, bold pattern. The design draws attention and adds depth to your kitchen design. Keep the bright, summery feeling in mind when choosing the tile pattern, but remember — you have to live with the pattern year-round.

Explore Lighting Options

Kitchens need good lighting. Not only does quality light create a bright look in the space, it also makes the space more functional for cooking, entertaining and other tasks. Natural light is important, but you need quality artificial light throughout your kitchen, particularly in work areas. If your existing lights just aren’t cutting it, consider some upgrades.

Start with the bulbs in your existing light fixtures. If you like your fixture but need brighter light, brighter light bulbs could solve the problem and make your kitchen feel more summery. When choosing brighter bulbs, forget about the watts. Instead, focus on the lumens. Lumens describe the brightness of the bulb. One bulb is usually around 800 lumens. Kitchens generally need between 5,000 and 10,000 total lumens to create a bright, functional space. Count the bulbs in your kitchen to see if you come close.

Another element in choosing the best light bulbs for your kitchen is the appearance of the light. The options range from warm light to cool light. Warm light bulbs create a cozy feeling, while cool light is brighter and whiter to energize the space.

To create a bright, summer-like effect, look for bulbs described as bright white, cool white or daylight. Bright white and cool white bulbs are 4100 Kelvin. Daylight bulbs range from 5000 to 6000 Kelvin. Check the bulb packaging to find this information.

If you can’t fix the lighting situation with a simple bulb swap, consider replacing the fixtures with newer, brighter models. For instance, replace a single light with a multi-light fixture. Pendant lighting is an effective way to make the space feel bright because the light hangs down into the space instead of shining from the ceiling. It emits the light much closer to your work surfaces than a flush-mount ceiling light.

Another option is to add new lighting fixtures where they don’t currently exist. This is one way to get the total number of lumens closer to an ideal range if your current kitchen is lower than recommended. Hire an electrician to handle the work.

Look around the space to see where you’re most lacking light. Are there dark corners? Do you need more ambient lighting to illuminate the entire room or more task lighting over work areas?

Consider the following additions to your kitchen:

  • Under cabinet lighting to illuminate your countertops
  • Above cabinet lighting to cast a warm glow at the tops of cabinets
  • Lights inside glass-front cabinets to add a subtle glow
  • Pendant lights over the sink, island and other work areas
  • Track lighting to control the positioning and direction of lights
  • Recessed lighting to increase general illumination in an unobtrusive way

Open Up the Room

If you’re up for a major renovation, opening up a closed-off kitchen makes a huge difference in how bright the space feels. Your kitchen feels much larger, which contributes to the airy feeling. Removing the wall lets natural light shine freely between the spaces, so you get natural light from both sides of the room.

This is another project that requires the help of a professional. Before you think about tearing out a wall, make sure it isn’t structural. If it is structural, the job requires more work to replace the support that comes from the wall. Once the wall is out of the way, add cabinets and countertops as a divider between the two spaces. A large island is also an option.

If you don’t want to completely tear out a wall, a smaller-scale option is to cut out a section of the wall. This helps connect the two spaces, makes the kitchen feel larger and lets light from the adjacent room spill into the kitchen. It’s a great way to feel connected to guests when you’re stuck in the kitchen.

Redo Your Cabinets

Outdated cabinets make the entire room look tired and old. Redoing the cabinets gives them a fresh look and makes your kitchen feel brighter.

Refinishing or painting your cabinets is an affordable option for giving them an updated look. Stripping and re-staining cabinets takes time, but this is an option if you like the design of the cabinets but not the stain color. Going with a light stain supports the bright look you want while keeping the wood look you love.

Another option is painting the cabinets a light color. White is a classic option that creates a crisp look. White cabinets fit into almost any kitchen design, from coastal-inspired and country kitchens to minimalist and modern kitchens. White never goes out of style, and it goes with any other color you choose, from your wall color to countertops and accessories. Gray is another neutral option that fits a wide range of kitchen styles.

Painting cabinets takes lots of patience and precision work. Spend plenty of time cleaning off any grease or debris on your cabinets. Sanding the cabinets well ensures a smooth, even finish. Use thin, even layers of paint to achieve smooth cabinets without drip marks.

If your cabinets need more than a coat of paint, consider replacing the doors on the cabinets. This option works well when the cabinets are structurally sound, but you want an updated look on the doors. Choose a new door style that fits the overall style of your kitchen. Glass-front doors create an open feeling, but organized shelves inside are essential to pull off the look. A cluttered, messy cabinet can make the kitchen feel crowded and disorganized.

For a total makeover, have the cabinets replaced completely. You get to start from scratch with fresh, new cabinets that fit your style and the theme of your kitchen. While you can install cabinets yourself, it takes precision in lining up and installing them.

Consider replacing some upper cabinets with large, open shelving. The shelves break up the large bank of cabinets to make the kitchen feel open. Plus, everything you place on the shelf is easily accessible and ready to use. Once installed, add some bright, summery decorations on the shelves along with your kitchen gear to add an invigorating dash of color.

Update Cabinet Hardware

A less involved way to update the look of kitchen cabinets is by replacing the hardware. The project is simple enough to handle on your own. If the size of the new hardware matches the old, installation is as easy as taking off the old and installing the new. For hardware with different sizing, you may need to patch old holes and drill new ones.

If your existing cabinets and drawers don’t have any hardware on them, adding pulls and handles makes an impact on the overall look. You’ll need to drill the holes for the installation.

When looking for new hardware, consider the overall style of your kitchen and the other metal finishes in the space. Choose hardware that complements those existing details. Shiny, reflective hardware maximizes light in the space.

Use Contrast

It seems logical to go with an all-white kitchen to get a bright, summer look, but too much white can make a room feel lackluster. White overload makes the kitchen seem flat and lifeless. Contrasts are very popular in kitchen design. Balance the white with a few pops of a contrasting color to add depth to the look. Contrasting very dark colors with very light colors makes the biggest impact if you’re looking to go bold.

Using contrasting textures creates interest and depth in your kitchen design. For instance, you might use a textured stone on the backsplash next to a smooth kitchen countertop. Even if the two elements are similar in color, the texture creates a visual separation that makes them more interesting.

You can create the contrast in many ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • Dark countertops with light cabinets
  • Light countertops with dark cabinets
  • A bright white island against a dark wood floor
  • Matte black trim along bright or pastel areas
  • Dark floors against light cabinets
  • Colored backsplash with white countertops and cabinets
  • Bold colored bar stools along a white island or counter area
  • Stainless steel or colorful appliances in a white kitchen
  • Painted interior on cabinets with glass-front doors
  • Bold color or textures on light fixtures
  • Bright, bold decorative elements and accessories on shelving and countertops
  • Two-toned cabinetry where you have one section of cabinetry in one color and another section in a different color

When adding contrast in your kitchen, keep in mind that less is more. Too many bold, contrasting elements quickly make the kitchen feel busy and distracting, which is the opposite of the breezy, relaxing, summer vibe you want.

Add Summer Accents

Simple summer kitchen accents make your space feel bright and sunny, and natural elements help you achieve that look beautifully. Tuck bright flowers into a decorative pitcher or vase to display on a countertop or open shelving. Create a hanging herb garden on a wall near a window. Not only do you bring in a colorful natural element, you have fresh herbs for cooking. A glass bowl full of colorful fruit is another way to bring in color to enliven your space.

Try these additional summer accent ideas in your kitchen:

  • Bright, decorative towels that double as art
  • Bright ceramic canisters
  • Patterned display bowls featuring summery designs
  • Sunny dishes on display in glass-front cabinets or open shelves
  • Colorful glass drinking cups
  • Summery patterned rugs
  • Colorful placemats
  • Vivid cushions on dining chairs or bar stools
  • Bright baskets holding your salt, pepper, spices and oils
  • Cheerful paintings or other artwork
  • Wooden lanterns on the table for a beach-like feel

Which options top your list for creating a bright kitchen style for summer? Little changes can make a big difference in the look and feel of the room. If your to-do list includes new summer-themed hardware, feel free to contact us at Cliffside Industries to learn more about our many styles and finish options perfect for any kitchen.

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