High-Impact Kitchen Upgrades

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

The kitchen is the trickiest part of a home to finish—it has to perform many different tasks in relatively compact quarters, and we want it to look beautiful, too—but that’s just all the more reason to customize yours and make it the best that it can be. Here are some cool ideas that elevate style and functionality so you can get the most out of your kitchen space and feel great about the investment!

Signature Hardware Steyn Kitchen Faucet

The Steyn Kitchen Faucet with Spring Spout from Signature Hardware® definitely makes a bold statement! Available in a number of warm and cool, and shiny and matte finishes, it'll set the tone you want.

A Faucet That Makes a Statement and Promotes Cleanliness

Cooking a meal begins and ends at the sink. The faucet you choose will get a lot of use, so make sure to find one that offers everything important to you. Some people put high priority on looks, while others are more concerned with day to day practicality. The aesthetic aspect can go in any direction thanks to the huge variety of faucets out there, but we can recommend some functional features that you’ll definitely appreciate.

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs and illness is to keep the faucet handle clean. Short of sanitizing it every day, keeping your hands off of it—especially when handling risky raw foods—is the best way to go. Touch-activated technology allows you to control waterflow by simply tapping the handle or spout with some exposed skin, whether it be your fingers, forearm, or forehead, in a pinch. That promotes a healthier kitchen and a safer place to eat! The physical construction of a faucet can also make it easier to use and keep the sink clean—imagine a spout that you can move side to side and up and down to better accommodate pots and rinse the basin more efficiently, and a sprayhead that’s positioned for optimal use because it’s actually part of the faucet and not off to the side and pointed out. Modern fixtures give you a lot more to consider than models of the past, so there’s plenty to discover when you shop.

Elkay Quartz Luxe Offset 60/40 Double Bowl Undermount Sink with Aqua Divide

With a Quartz Luxe™ sink from Elkay®, you can choose between a range of light and dark neutrals or this eye-catching Maraschino color. These sinks are available in many shapes, in top and undermount styles, and a brand-new apron front has been announced for summer 2017!

A Bold Sink with Impressive Resistance

Look beyond the norm with a sink that pops! Stainless steel isn’t going away, but now you can expand your design horizons with materials that are available in different colors while still providing the durability your kitchen demands, and even a few advantages over the classic choice. Some of the most impressive sinks are made with natural stone and human ingenuity; composite quartz and granite sinks have modern matte finishes that get noticed in any hue and are nonporous, easy to clean, impact resistant, and can withstand temperatures of up to 535 degrees Fahrenheit. Those sound like the makings of a sink you’ll love to have in your kitchen, and the appeal extends even further—the material absorbs noise to help do away with the racket that comes with cleaning the dishes!

InSinkErator HC Wave Instant Hot and Cool Water Dispenser

Want hot water on demand? Consider an appliance like the HC Wave Instant Hot and Cool Water Dispenser from InSinkErator®, which can be set to deliver water from 160 to 210ºF, and also offers a refreshingly cool drink when you need it.

A Major Step-Up for the Tap

Tap water is tap water, but have you ever thought you wanted something more? If you love hot or carbonated drinks, you can get them right at the sink! Be prepared to install a small dispenser faucet and an appliance that feeds it from below—most cabinets have enough room to accommodate them, and they’ll need water and electrical hookups—and then enjoy the convenience!

Hot water dispensers come in different finishes to match your design, and some also offer a cool water option for those who insist on a crisp drink at a moment’s notice. They include a miniature heating tank to make sure they deliver water hot enough for tea, coffee, instant ramen, and food preparation that requires near-boiling temperatures. Household hot water heaters are set much lower as a safety precaution, so this nifty little appliance is a great localized solution for the kitchen, where you always have to move water to heat up away from the sink. Those seeking a built-in home carbonator will find they come with a similar setup—a dispenser and a small machine concealed in the cabinet below—but they require occasional carbon dioxide canister refills. While there are other ways to get what these appliances offer, these are much more efficient and expedient, and they won’t clutter countertops, so plenty of homeowners find them preferable.

HomeLava Wine Glass Chandelier Pendant Light

This Wine Glass Chandelier Pendant Light available from HomeLava is comprised of a sturdy iron frame and six lights, and you fill it up with 30 pieces of your own stemware to create gorgeous custom lighting. It’s a practical display that keeps glasses easily at hand, and it’s perfect for over an eat-in kitchen’s dining table.

Creative Storage Solutions for the Space You Have

It can be challenging to store a collection of dishware or maintain a fully stocked pantry when there doesn’t seem to be enough space, but if ever-shrinking urban apartments have taught us anything, there’s bound to be a creative way to get what you need. This is one area where you really need to explore the possibilities on your own to find something that suits your home, because there are too many cool products to list. Just be on the lookout for anything that makes the most of overhead areas—like high cabinets to store rarely used items or a rack over the island where you can hang pots, pans, and cooking utensils—and allows you to completely fill spaces by making even the deepest corners and underutilized surfaces accessible—like pull-out pantries and magnetic bars that hold your knives flat against the wall. And don’t forget to use DIYers as a resource, because they’ve come up with plenty of innovative solutions, too!

Corian Charging Surface

Corian® Charging Surface comes in all sorts of colors from contemporary solids to veined natural stone looks, but it’s the transmitter hidden beneath that puts it on this list. Put your smart device in a charging case or attach a ring receiver to the charging port and then just set it down and watch the battery icon fill up!

A Convenient Countertop with a Hidden Ability

Imagine an easily maintained and beautiful countertop that has it all—the perfect color for your kitchen, a nonporous finish that resists staining and bacterial growth, and renewability that keeps it looking new despite all that you can throw at it—and then add something unexpected: wireless charging capability. All that’s a reality with solid surface counters! These man-made slabs are exceptionally durable and a great choice on their own, but they can also appeal to modern desires by transferring energy through the surface. When a smart device’s battery gets low, all you need to do is make sure it has some kind of receiver attached and place it over the transmitter. That keeps your phone easily at hand and reduces competition for outlets—a fantastic combination that you wouldn’t think a countertop could offer your family.

If you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen, be sure to consider everything from the sink, counters, and cabinets to major appliances, flooring, and lighting. There’s no part of your home as multifaceted as this space, so there are plenty of opportunities to make an improvement, great or small!

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