I love the smell of freshly baked apple pie or roasted pumpkin seeds in the house. It makes me really excited for the return of fall. And although it’s seems strange to think about fall holidays when it’s still 90 degrees out in Virginia, they are right around the corner.  The season of holiday cooking, baking and entertaining will be here in the blink of an eye, and now is the perfect time to think about how to prepare your kitchen for all of the mess, I mean, holiday cheer.

There are simple ways to start.  Begin with organizing what you already have – containers, pots, glassware, utensils, etc.  During that process you can decide what you should get rid of or replace. Think back to the past few years, the company you’ve entertained and the meals you’ve cooked.  What are things you wished you had in your kitchen to either make the entertaining space more comfortable, or your cooking space more functional? In addition to the basic re-organization and clean-out, there are some changes you can make that will make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable.

Island Paradise

Kitchen islands are versatile spaces with multiple uses.  Updating or adding a kitchen island is an easy and very effective way to update your entertaining, serving and cooking spaces – all in one! You can choose any style or finish – from rustic to custom, and regardless of your style, it’ll add value to your kitchen.  I’ve turned antique tables or old butcher blocks into islands for customers.  I’ve also installed high-end, custom islands with built in microwave drawers and an additional sink with a pot-filler, adding function and style.   

Replacing an existing island isn’t a difficult job.  Typically, the biggest issue we run into is flooring.  If you have tile or wood flooring that stops where your existing island is, it can be added to the existing floor if the material style and color are still in production. But if you don’t have or can’t find the matching flooring, we can find an island that covers the difference so it can’t be seen.    

One of my favorite current trends is updating an existing kitchen island that doesn’t have much or any seating space, but has good cabinetry and replacing the counter with a much larger top, and adding decorative support columns to provide a seating area.

Butler’s Pantry

In the old days, a butler’s pantry was a separate room that with built in cabinetry designed to house extra sets of plates and glassware for guests and it was hidden from the main kitchen.  Some older homes in our area still have these spaces, but for newer builds, the term has taken on a different meaning.  Today’s butler’s pantry is typically a small cabinet that matches your kitchen cabinetry with a small counter that provides extra storage, but is most commonly used as a drink station/bar.  These are perfect for entertaining, especially during the holidays, because you can provide a serve-yourself area for guests.

If you don’t have a butler’s pantry, they aren’t hard to add.  If you have an existing pantry but want to update it from the builder-grade materials and finishes, we can easily refinish or repaint the cabinetry, update the countertop and add a decorative backsplash.  Personally, I like to add ambient lighting as well, for evening entertaining.

Fixtures, Lighting, Countertops and Appliances – Oh my!

Does your oven take too long to heat, or not cook your food thoroughly? Maybe the dishwasher is getting lazy and leaving food on your plates, or makes too much noise.  Now is the time to evaluate your appliances and their effectiveness.  Early fall is a great time to replace your appliances, with plenty of time before the holidays to get used to their new features (have you seen these smart ovens and refrigerators that you can control from your smart phone?) Simple changes such as a new sink faucet, new cabinet fixtures, updated countertops and lights also make a quick and big impact that your holiday guests will notice.

Small changes can make a big impact in the kitchen.  As the holidays approach, it’s a great time to turn that wish list into a to-do list.