A contemporary kitchen can be easy and fun

Decorating a Contemporary Kitchen on a Budget

by Kathy Wilson Woodard


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Budget Kitchen Decor

Decorate Your Kitchen with Style, Not Cash!

Decorating a contemporary kitchen can be easy and affordable. With the popularity of such retailers as Ikea, West Elm, and CB2, contemporary style has gained new emphasis in the home-decorating world and with good reason. If you are looking for a clean, chic design for your kitchen, follow these step by step instructions for creating your own stylish space, personalized for your family and your budget.

Step 1 - Take Back the Old

One of the defining elements of contemporary style is a clean, uncluttered look. This doesn't mean that you won't be able to add any personal touches to your kitchen, but it's easiest to establish a strong design if you start from scratch. Remove all accessories from the kitchen and assess the current style. Make notes as to what changes you want to make both now and in the long term.

Step 2 - Color and Light

Contemporary kitchens generally use neutral color schemes, with pops of brighter accents for a personality punch. Warm tan walls with white woodwork is a great contemporary combination and allows you to pick any accent color that fits your family's style. It also allows you to change accent colors as trends and tastes evolve, without spending a lot of money. White keeps the kitchen bright and open looking, as does eliminating heavy window treatments in favor of simple blinds.

An easy way to update your kitchen look is to install modern lighting. Recessed lighting, glass pendant light fixtures, and drum shades instead of chandeliers will take your kitchen into this decorating decade. Remember to consult a licensed electrician for any installation work requiring wiring.

Step 3 - What About My Appliances?

If you can afford to update the appliances in your kitchen, stainless steel screams contemporary and looks more luxurious than other finishes. Stainless will also be a more timeless choice, as it's likely to be a trend that stays with us for quite some time due to the timeless nature of the material.

If that much remodeling is not in your budget, there are alternatives for the budget decorator. Several companies sell paint kits made especially for transforming appliances into the stainless look for less than $50.

Step 4 - Floors, Cabinets and Countertops

Floors in a contemporary kitchen are simple and tasteful with little pattern. Wood laminate, cork flooring, or even stained concrete provide a great backdrop for the style. If your budget is tight, vinyl laminate in a simple and understated neutral design is your best bet.

Cabinets for a contemporary kitchen should have clean lines, and not a lot of curves or embellishment. You can consider refacing your cabinets with new doors if your present style is too traditional, instead of footing the bill for an entire remodel. If your cabinets are already the right style but have an outdated finish, try painting them white to bring them current. Replace fussy pulls and knobs with modern metal and straight lines.

Countertops in a contemporary kitchen are usually made of a natural material, such as stone or granite, concrete, or glass tile. Colors from nature are also the trend with muted greens and blues and neutrals leading the pack. These materials can be carried up onto the back splash area as well. Try using a more expensive material in a small area for impact, then filling the rest of the space with a more budget-oriented selection to save money.

Tip: Countertops can easily be painted and sealed to look just like expensive granite countertops!

Step 5 - Should I Use Accessories?

Just because you have chosen to decorate your kitchen in contemporary style doesn't mean it has to be cold or sterile. Accessorizing is a great way to introduce a bright or bold accent color in artwork for the walls, cushions for chairs, and utility items like towels and hot pads. Just remember that less is more! Keep your accessories to a few, carefully selected items that you truly love. Try to double duty ordinary items in a decorative way as well, such as a stainless magnetic knife rack over your stove, or a beautiful bamboo cutting board propped against the backsplash.

Decorating a contemporary kitchen can increase the value of your home as well as improve the livability for everyone who lives there. Unlike some modern designs, contemporary style allows you to add some warmth and personality to your personal space.


Kathy Wilson Woodard is an author, columnist, and editor of The Budget Decorator. For thousands of free budget home decorating ideas visit her at TheBudgetDecorator.com.

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