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Kitchen Design Secrets, Spilled!

Our experts outline the sly methods you can employ to get a kitchen that wows.

Bigger Is Better

Wish your kitchen were larger? Fake it with continuous colors and materials. Smooth, sleek surfaces and light, natural tones applied everywhere create a sense of space in smaller kitchens.

“Paneling every appliance—continuing your cabinetry wood on refrigerator doors and dishwashers—makes a kitchen seem bigger,” says Christopher Grubb, a designer based in Beverly Hills, Calif.

It’s the Little Things

All kitchens need cabinetry, work surfaces, sinks and appliances, but the nonessentials are what will make yours unique: Think pullout spice drawers for the home cook; a tablet holder for the techie; a built-in espresso machine for the coffee addict.

And then there’s the wow factor, often introduced by way of a showstopping backsplash—a relatively small area that’s a high-impact zone. Get creative with materials (hand-painted tiles, glass mosaics, intricate metalwork), and make behind-the-stove artwork the focal point with fresh, understated stone or quartz countertops.

Expert tip: Grubb installs electrical outlets underneath upper cabinetry so plugs don’t interrupt an otherwise seamless backsplash.

See the Light

Why install that gorgeously spidery (and expensive!) marble slab if nobody can see its veiny details? Lighting is what shows off your splurges, so don’t forget to work it into your budget.

“Generally, kitchens need a mix of lighting: ambient light, task lighting for working at the counter and accent lighting for special features,” Grubb says. “Glass-front cabinets with lights angled down can add yet another layer.”

While fluorescent lighting is outdated, recessed lights, under-cabinet lights, and pendants or large over-island fixtures will never dim.