Setting Up Home: 5 Ways to Make a Lovely Kitchen

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When it comes to making them lovely, kitchens get complicated. Most everything in a kitchen is built-in, making it off-limits for renters to touch and costly for owners to renovate. If you have a kitchen that you don't find lovely, it's no easy feat turning things around. Here are five things you can do, though, no matter what your scenario:

1. Organize. Arrange the pantry, tools, dishware in a way that works for you. Use containers for pantry staples that are appealing to you even if your kitchen isn't.

2. Deep clean. Before loading the cabinets with your belongings, give their interiors a good scrubbing. Cabinet exteriors are often wiped down but the inside might be overlooked. Clean the floors (even under appliances) and the appliances themselves. By deep-cleaning the kitchen when you're setting up home, you'll make it a truly fresh start.

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3. Accessorize. See those nice woven baskets in the photo above? They aren't expensive or hard to come by, but they contribute to making that kitchen something special. Same with the vintage rug and curtains. Pick out storage and decor accessories that will help make your kitchen lovely even if the bones aren't what you would choose given a blank slate.

4. Use it. Eating out every night and leaving your kitchen unused isn't going to make it feel like a loved space. Instead, put it to use! Choose quality ingredients and cook meals with care at home and you'll see that even just doing that can make a kitchen feel better.

5. Go freestanding. If lack of storage or counter space is what's holding your kitchen back, make it lovely by repurposing a freestanding piece of furniture. Both kitchens pictured above are fine examples of this move. Even the tiniest of kitchens probably has someplace you can work this in, even if it's just a small wall-mounted shelf.

How do you make your kitchen feel lovely?

(Image credits: Faith Durand; Erika Tracy)

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.