How can I brighten my kitchen?


Hi, been in our house about a year, the house is 9 years old. Up until now we have been doing other projects, but time to make the kitchen come alive. When we looked at the house, the kitchen appeared much brighter - of course ALL the lights were on and we never thought to turn them off ! We had a Sola Tube installed over the sink a couple of months ago and it has made a HUGE difference, but I still find the overall appearance too dark.

We know there are companies that do refacing, but I don't want to go to that expense, and the same company does paint the cabinets. We are not up for painting them ourselves.

The walls are painted a Rice Grain color, but we could always repaint. I am thinking an off-white cream color to match our other furniture. Want to do a backsplash and under cabinet lighting and introduce some color. I thought about painting the island a blue color, but not sure about doing a two tone paint job.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

q how can i brighten my kitchen
q how can i brighten my kitchen

Cherry cabinets with rope trim at top.

  24 answers
  • Linda Linda on Aug 29, 2020

    Sorry the photos appear a little blurred - I had to make them larger to post.

  • Dee Dee on Aug 29, 2020

    You have the same granite that I have. What I did was add some color to the countertops and I put up a colorful glass cutting board over the stove top.

    I too did not want to paint my cabinets myself, because I saw what a mess can happen if done wrong. You cabinets seem to be in good shape. Maybe getting some high lumen LED lights would help. I also did that and now the kitchen seems much brighter.

  • Linda Linda on Aug 29, 2020

    Dee, I have thought about that, but I think I still need a backsplash, under counter lighting … its just overall too dark. What color cabinets, floor do you have?

  • Patti Picone Patti Picone on Aug 29, 2020

    I can’t tell what colors are in your counter top, but I would pull out a bright color to blend in with them and put a runner or placemats on the island with a tall center piece with the same color in it to bring it out. Then put a candle in that color up by on the ledge by your sink and a dish towel in the same bright color on the cabinet handle under the sink to tie it together. If the is a bench seat on the right, get a throw pillow or cushion for the seat in the same color. Darker cabinets are coming back. White is going out. I love your kitchen just the way it is and agree you need to find a color to add this stuff to give it that spark! Wish I could see the counter colors better to help with a color but hope this helps give you an idea for what you may be looking to do.

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    • Patti Picone Patti Picone on Aug 30, 2020

      Linda it all depends on how they put the granite back on. Looking at your kitchen being high end, it is probably put on very well and may be very difficult to get off without damaging the Sheetrock.

      You can look for a beautiful piece of colorful cut glass art work to put above the stove.

  • on Aug 29, 2020

    It’s the dark cabinets with dark counters. A backsplash or more lighting would help, but really one of those would need to change before you’ll feel like your kitchen is bright. Painting the cupboards would be cheapest.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Aug 29, 2020

    The cost for painting cabinets if you are considering only the price of the paint, may seemingly be lower compared with purchasing new countertops, but when you add in your hours of labour, 'down time' in the kitchen, and the stress of upsetting another room in your home to conduct the job, the overall price may be high on the entire household.

    If the steps to proper preparation are not followed carefully, and quality materials are not used, the outcome often does not meet with expectations.

    Price out the one-time cost of having the countertops replaced. This is a fast, easy and clean way to lighten up any kitchen.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Aug 29, 2020

    Before you embark on any project with painting, I would strongly suggest that you switch the present lighting in the kitchen to either LED bulbs, or to integrated LED fixtures.

    LED light is clear and shadowless compared with the greeenish hue of of florescent, and the yellowy hue of incandescent lighting.

    LED light can change the perceived colors in any room considerably. Pictures below show some examples of this.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Aug 29, 2020

    Hi there,

    Had you considered only painting or using contact on the internal panels and Not the frames, (Much less work) You could even use a chalk paint with a sealer on top.

    If you couldn't tackle that, then it would be a cheaper job to get done for you or maybe you would like to use fabric instead on the doors using one of the Mod Podge range to stick it to the cabinets. Change all the handles for bright coloured ones. Use stick on tile covers for a bright Backsplash. Best wishes.

  • Oliva Oliva on Aug 29, 2020

    You could (a) change countertops to a light colored quartz

    (b) paint the kitchen white, using a shade that picks up the existing countertop flecks, and paint having a satin sheen, rather that matte.

    (c) replace several cabinet fronts with glass (and add interior cabinet lights, if you prefer)

    (d) consider placing a large mirror in the adjacent room to reflect more light into the kitchen

    (e) add above cabinet and toe kick lighting

    Your cabinets appear too nice to risk a poorly done paint job. It is fashionable at present to have a darker island and lighter cabinets, should you decide in the future to go that route.

  • I would definitely add undercabinet lighting and I would paint the cabinets...although that wood is beautiful. Another thing you could consider is swapping out a few cabinet door inserts for glass. Then you could add lighting in the cabinets as well. We did that and the light looks great. Good luck!

  • Rymea Rymea on Aug 30, 2020

    You could get a white quartz top on just the island and paint the chairs and the bench. A very light reflective back splash would help and you could change your coffeemaker, toaster, etc. to stainless steel. I'm wondering about painting or changing the range hood.

    Under counter lighting sounds like a good idea but we have it and never use it. Maybe you could put more can lights in the ceiling.

  • Janice Janice on Aug 30, 2020

    I suggest a colorful large glass tile backsplash which would be reflective of any lighting you add (undercounter lighting) as well as overhead. The larger glass tiles with light grout would serve as a happy accent in the room. Later, if you still feel the room is too dak, paint the walls light. I'd not consider painting cherry cabinets!

  • William William on Aug 30, 2020

    Paint the cabinets. Replace hardware. It's not rocket science.

    • Linda Linda on Aug 30, 2020

      William, thanks for the link. Definitely a lot to think about and want to get it "right".

      Thanks again.

  • Linda Linda on Aug 30, 2020

    Thank you everyone! Your ideas have given me a lot to think about … I am sure we will be able to give the kitchen the facelift it needs!

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Aug 30, 2020

    Painting would be a huge help in brightening up the space

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Aug 30, 2020

    I would first change your knobs to some colorful ones ad some curtain tears to the tops of the windows in brighter colors add some lighter things on the counters change anything you could that’s small and in exspensive

  • Annie Annie on Aug 31, 2020

    Add pops of color everywhere you can! If you like blue (you suggested painting the island blue), then add blue to lots of things. Like a fabric toaster cover in a blue. Get a blue runner and set that underneath your island decoration

  • Annie Annie on Aug 31, 2020

    Ooops, didn't meant to submit the answer yet :) Some brightly colored tea towels and dish clothes, oven mitts would help brighten the room up as well

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Aug 31, 2020

    if you are looking for quick fix I would for sure start with light first ... either change it strength or add more. I would also remove that 4" backsplash and install nice shiny ceramic tiles or glass with some color on it

    • Linda Linda on Sep 01, 2020

      Hi Agnes, thank you for your suggestion. I did think about removing the 4 inch backsplash. So many good ideas, weave to sift through them. Probably should have built what we wanted !

  • In all honesty, your eye is always going to be drawn to the dark wood of the cabinets and I'm not sure that a blue island is going to remedy the issue. If you're not interested in painting the cabinets, add as much lighting or invite as much natural light in as you can. Use reflective surfaces. Otherwise you might reconsider painting the cabinets. Here's how I painted mine:

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    • Thanks, Linda, I appreciate you dropping by! I realize a DIY cabinet painting can seem daunting but wanted to offer the kit idea in case. Hope whatever you opt to do all works out for you and you end up with a happy bright kitchen!

  • Lynn Lynn on Sep 01, 2020

    Paint the island, bright wall color and add lighting .

    • Linda Linda on Sep 08, 2020

      Thanks for your suggestions, I am reading all of the suggestions and feel sure we'll come up with some solution !

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Sep 04, 2020

    Paint would go a long ways. You can also swap out the knobs very easily

    • Linda Linda on Sep 08, 2020

      Thanks for your suggestions - I have thought about replacing the hardware :)

  • Happy Days Hometalker Happy Days Hometalker on Sep 05, 2020

    Start small, select an accent color for accessories that will go with your granite, a table runner for your island, cushions for your window seating and stools and or chairs, bring in colorful throw rugs . See how it all looks, check out the Goodwill for accessories such as vases, bowels, trays, they can be painted to go with the new color scheme. Then if it still needs a lift branch out to a new paint color for your cabinets and back splash, etc.

    • Linda Linda on Sep 08, 2020

      Thank you so much for your suggestions, I am mulling everything over :)

  • Lynn denns Lynn denns on Sep 08, 2020

    I would get a good quality of white paint and paint the cabinets and also get some new hardware