The Best Kitchen Renovation Tips From The Fixer To Fabulous Team

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Jenny Marrs from HGTV's "Fixer to Fabulous" believes the kitchen is the heart of the home. In her blog, she writes about a past project, "The most important room in any home is the kitchen. It needed to be beautiful, functional, spacious, and family-friendly." With this in mind, it's no surprise that the Marrs team recommends making the kitchen the priority in any renovation. Jenny tells Homes & Gardens, "The kitchen is obviously going to be your most expensive room to overhaul, but if you have the money for a renovation – and can only choose one space – I recommend changing the kitchen. We always say the space that dates a home the most is a kitchen and a bathroom because those are where styles and design trends change. If you have money for a renovation, I would start in the kitchen."

Ready to get cracking with your kitchen renovation? Check out some of the best tips and tricks the "Fixer to Fabulous" team has learned across two decades of renovating homes. Here we reveal the ultimate money-saving hacks and interior design industry secrets for the most stylish new hub of the home.

Reconfigure the layout to work for your family

Referencing the kitchen makeover the couple completed in Season 5, Episode 6 of "Fixer to Fabulous" on her blog, Jenny explains that the layout wasn't working for the way the family wanted to use the space. She says, "Their original kitchen, while spacious, had low-hanging cabinets, small appliances, and an oddly placed island. We gutted the area and used the space more efficiently to give them a beautiful chef's kitchen."

Jenny always advocates that a home should work for a family in the season that they're in, which could mean making a kitchen more family-friendly, better suited for entertaining or creating more space for meal prep. Knocking down walls, moving windows, and re-jigging the layout of a home can be a lot of work, but it's hands-down going to make the biggest impact on any kitchen, especially if your current space isn't working for you. If the thought of getting busy with a sledgehammer sends you running for the hills, alter your kitchen layout by reconfiguring the cabinet floorplan, and consider the addition of an island or peninsula for more storage and countertop space. Freestanding islands like this one from Wayfair are a stylish and functional choice if a full kitchen renovation isn't on the cards.

Integrate striking countertops

In Season 3, Episode 13 of "Fixer to Fabulous" (via HGTV), Dave and Jenny renovated a 1970s property and gave it a contemporary makeover. The kitchen was transformed with neutral colors and pale wood cabinetry, but the star of the show was the terrazzo-style countertop made from recycled glass bottles and jars. Referencing the countertops, Dave says, "They are actually recycled glass. We just wanted something that was so over-the-top unique. They are my absolute favorite."

Countertops are one part of a kitchen renovation that you want to stand the test of time because they aren't typically replaced every few years. Investing in a high-quality kitchen surface that will stand up against heavy daily use will prove to be cost-effective in the long run. Choose a finish you love so you will still be happy with it in ten years, and don't be afraid to make the countertops the focal point of the kitchen. Classic materials like wood or marble in neutral shades won't go out of style, and the best countertops for extra durability include quartz and granite.

Use artisan finishes to create character

Jenny Marrs is well known for incorporating personal details into her home designs with antiques and one-off customized pieces. Discussing the kitchen renovation of a past client via her blog, Jenny says, "I chose all of my favorite artisan-made items to give this kitchen character. The brass faucet and stone sink feel like antique pieces and are crafted by hand in a 135-year-old church building in Vermont, the mosaic tile backsplash is handcrafted in Morocco, the chandelier of tiered coco shells was meticulously made by hand, and the dining table was built by Dave with the help of our sons in the yard of our Airbnb in the evenings after we worked at the house all day. All of these elements create a warm, collected, and timeless kitchen."

Kitchens by their very nature can appear cold and clinical because they lack soft furnishings and feature a lot of hard, clean surfaces. Incorporating handmade items and antique pieces will add character and personality to the space. In the design stage of your kitchen renovation consider what items you could utilize to make the room feel more personalized to your family, your home, and your journey together. Shells from a nearby beach could be embedded into your backsplash or an old railway sleeper from your garden could be repurposed into a wall shelf to display your glassware. Consider where to shop for vintage furniture like bar stools that could be utilized at a new kitchen island.

Avoid trends that will date a kitchen

The Marrs have learned in their two decades of renovating homes that the kitchen is one room where you should avoid getting sucked into trends and fads. Speaking to Homes & Gardens, Jenny Marrs notes, "I recommend staying away from really specific trends and going with classic kitchen cabinets and classic hardware instead. Lean into pieces that have already impressed for decades and draw from features and colors that we already know can stand the test of time. Some things that are timeless: natural brass, marble kitchen countertops, clean cabinetry, and anything wooden – these things will always look beautiful."

Trends change quickly, which might be fine for bedrooms or living rooms where you don't mind redecorating every few years. However, kitchens are more permanent because of their associated expense and because renovations take time and effort. Due to this, it's best to avoid opting for countertops, cabinets, and hardware that might look dated after a few years. Neutral colors and natural finishes are best for any kitchen renovation because they are classic and timeless. Consider shades such as white or greige for a clean look that won't age. "Fixer to Fabulous" star Jenny Marrs shares her favorite kitchen paint color as Drop Cloth by Farrow and Ball in a TikTok video with House Beautiful. This shade is creamy and indulgent, making for a chic kitchen that will stand the test of time.

Increase storage space with ceiling-high cabinets

One common problem Dave and Jenny Marrs face when renovating kitchens for clients is storage space. This can be addressed in several ways, such as by reconfiguring the layout of the cabinets and installing an island or peninsula. One particularly impressive tip they've shared is to make use of the wasted space that sits between the top of wall cabinets and the ceiling. In her blog, Jenny explains how she utilized this design feature in a Season 4 episode of "Fixer to Fabulous". She says, "By taking the cabinets all the way to the top of the ceiling, we gained more storage space."

Ever noticed the wasted space between the top of your kitchen cabinets and the ceiling? This could be utilized for storing lesser-used items like holiday crockery or spare table linen. When designing your kitchen renovation, incorporate cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling to make the most of every square foot of space. Extending cabinets to the ceilings will also make the room appear taller and more spacious. If your budget doesn't extend to custom-size cabinets, consider installing wall shelves like this one from Target in the space between your cabinets and the ceiling. Paint them in the same color as your cabinets for a coordinated, built-in look.

Bring the outdoors in with natural finishes and large windows

Discussing the way she brought touches of the outdoors into the interior of the kitchen renovation in Season 5, Episode 13 of "Fixer to Fabulous", Jenny writes in her blog, "The incredible arched window above the sink creates an incredible focal point with a gorgeous view and allows beautiful natural light to stream into the kitchen. The stone backsplash wall was a perfect addition here. It serves to bring the natural outdoors inside."

Linking your outdoor space with your indoor spaces has multiple benefits. It can make your interior feel larger and more airy, and it can also provide a connection with nature, which is known to be good for mental well-being. Replacing sliding doors with bi-fold doors in an open-plan kitchen is an excellent way to tie the indoor space with your outdoor area since the entire area becomes like one room when the doors are fully open to one side. Extending the size of windows where possible or creating new windows is another option. You could also bring nature into the kitchen by adding houseplants to the windowsill and selecting natural textures throughout your renovation, such as wooden countertops and stone floor tiles like these from Lowes.

Invest in high-quality hardware

While Jenny is more involved in the design aspect of renovations, Dave concerns himself with construction. He believes one key aspect you should focus on during a kitchen reno is the quality of the hardware. He tells Homes & Gardens, "If you put a lot of money into your hardware, it will last for decades. The quality of the materials is really important, particularly in a kitchen, which is a hardworking space you use a lot. Opt for high-quality hardware and cabinets in these spaces. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to get the most expensive, but do your homework and find good quality materials that will stand the test of time."

Investing in hardware that can stand up to everyday use in the kitchen is important if you don't want to have to buy new handles or drawer knobs every few years. Opt for high-quality pieces produced by reputable manufacturers that offer a good warranty to protect against poor workmanship or defects. Hardware such as faucets, handles, knobs, and even light switches are kitchen upgrades that are worth the price according to HGTV stars.

Use a stove as a statement

The kitchen is one room in the house that benefits from a neutral color scheme, but that doesn't mean you need to completely deny the space of color or personality. You can inject interest by selecting one item in the room that's going to function as a focal point. In many of the kitchens Jenny renovates, she chooses the stove as the statement piece, like the bright pink stove affectionately named Ophelia that she installed in Season 4, Episode 3 of "Fixer to Fabulous". Jenny also included a stunning blue stove in the kitchen of her own bed and breakfast renovation, "The Welcome Inn." Writing on her blog, she says, "The gorgeous blue Italian stove is the statement piece and focal point of this space."

When designing a kitchen or living room it seems to make sense to plan the renovation around a focal point, such as a built-in TV unit, a fireplace, or a bed. But when it comes to the kitchen, a focal point is often not a consideration at all. Jenny believes kitchens should have a focal point to help ground the space and make it feel personal to the owners. Use this as inspiration to purchase your own unexpected item that instantly updates a kitchen, like a statement stove, or a different standout appliance like this iconic pink refrigerator from SMEG.

Instantly update with paint and accessories

Dave and Jenny agree that the final touches in a kitchen renovation, like the paint and the cabinet hardware, can transform a space without having a total overhaul. Dave tells The Spruce, "In your kitchen and bathroom, paint can change things really quickly. Changing out the jewelry, like the lights, the hardware, makes a big difference, too." Jenny adds, "You can swap out hardware or faucets without doing a total overhaul of a kitchen, but you can really make a big impact with those kinds of things."

Paint is a low-cost DIY option for renovating a kitchen if you want a fresh look without the associated big budget. Not only can you paint the walls, but kitchen cabinets can be painted to entirely change the style of the room. This works well if the current kitchen layout isn't a problem and you simply want to bring an outdated kitchen into a new era. If you've never tried this DIY hack before, first consider the easiest way to paint your kitchen cabinets. This typically involves removing cabinet doors before painting, and labeling hinges before painting cabinets so they can be put back in place with minimal stress.

Disguise doors as cabinets to make the room feel bigger

Jenny is a big fan of using clever hacks to improve the look of a space without affecting the functionality. In her blog, she explains how she used her hidden door trick to make a client's kitchen feel more spacious while also creating clean lines and balance. "If you look closely, you'll see we added a secret door from the kitchen to the deck. It looks like one of the cabinets. This allowed us to continue the straight line of cabinets without disruption, and now the kitchen looks bigger," she says.

Both internal and external doors can be disguised as cabinet doors to make a room appear more seamless and create the illusion of more space. You can also achieve this by using integrated appliances in the kitchen with matching cabinet door fronts so that your dishwasher and refrigerator don't interrupt the lines in the room. To get a fully built-in look, purchase an integrated appliance like this dishwasher from Sears, and fix a cabinet door panel to the front of it. If your budget doesn't stretch to integrated appliances, you can get a similar look with a DIY affordable hidden fridge hack using wood panels.

Wall lights work best for low ceilings

Lighting can often be an afterthought when renovating a room, but in the kitchen, you should factor this into your layout plan. Effective task lighting over the preparation area will make your space more functional, and ceiling height should also be a consideration. In her blog, Jenny explains her lighting decisions in a kitchen with low ceilings, stating, "We didn't have a lot of height in this part of the house so instead of putting in hanging light fixtures, we went with canned lights and these beautiful wall sconces that flank the hood."

Factor in Jenny's tips on how to plan your kitchen's lighting layout and use alternatives to hanging ceiling fixtures in rooms where height isn't generous. Pendant lights can make low ceilings feel even lower, so it's best to avoid them altogether to create the illusion of more height. Wall sconces are a great alternative to ceiling lights; they can add ambiance and double up as wall art. Consider options such as this gold and woven wall sconce from Wayfair for an elegant yet casual look. If you need overhead lighting for better vision when preparing food, spotlights and strip lighting can also work well.

Don't forget about your pets

One of the things you might not know about Jenny and Dave Marrs from "Fixer to Fabulous" is that they have two dogs named Banana and Dolly. As dog owners, the Marrs understand the important role pets play in any animal-loving family. In her blog, Jenny talks about how she incorporated special features into a kitchen renovation project to factor in the needs of the family dog. She says, "An adorable little pup eating area, complete with his own water pot-filler, helped to create a beautiful and functional kitchen for the couple."

There are many pet-friendly kitchen design tips you can consider when planning a kitchen reno to benefit both yourself and your furry friend. To make life easier and more organized, designate one of your cabinets as a pet station. This is where pet food and supplies can be kept, and you can also install hooks inside the cabinet to hang leashes or collars. To make your kitchen more usable for your pet, you could create a special eating and drinking area for dogs, or fit out a kitchen shelf with cushions for a kitty hideout.