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The summer is a time for family gatherings and friendly visits. It's an opportunity to redefine your living space with a new look to impress the season's guests. Expert interior designers are here to help.

According to CG Interiors Group's Caryn Grossman, the design of one room in particular is more important than ever before.

Why is kitchen design so important?

"For some time, the trend in new homes and renovations has been to open the kitchen to the rest of the home, creating a space for gathering and entertaining," Grossman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Over the last 2½ years, that concept's been expanded further, with kitchens functioning as home office, a space for virtual learning, for homework, playing games or cooking as a family."

Andi Morse of Morse Design said it's not just about the multiple uses of the space. It's also about how mood-defining the modern kitchen can be.

"Whether it's an open floor plan or not, the kitchen can determine the direction and style of the entire home," she said. "A traditional home with a traditional kitchen tends to be designed in a traditional way as well as a modern kitchen will designate a more contemporary designed home."

When it comes to designing the space, Amy Morris Interiors said that it's about making sure form meets function.

"The kitchen is the most multipurpose space in the entire house," Amy Morris Interiors told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It is the catch-all, the meeting space, the epicenter of the hustle and bustle and, above all, the heart of the home. Because this room wears many hats, the kitchen should be functional yet beautiful, custom fit to each family's needs."

What are some cheap ways to spruce up the heart of the home?

As inflation continues to pummel the economy, homeowners are finding it more and more difficult to squirrel away extra spending money. Luckily, there are a number of ways to spruce up the kitchen without breaking the bank.

Minhnuyet Hardy, of Minhnuyet Hardy Interiors, suggested giving those cabinets another coat of paint and swapping out the faucet. Lighting is another way to give the kitchen new character.

"First and foremost, upgrade the lighting," Kelly Kole of Kandrac & Kole Interior Design said. "Remember to go big and make a statement. Also remember, it's OK to mix metals. Matte black is a great finish that works with everything!"

Andi Morse agreed.

"Changing lighting is a sure-fire way to change up the look and feel of your kitchen," she said. "Changing hardware and faucets to brass makes a kitchen pop and using round hardware vs. square knobs is another way to spruce up your kitchen. Restyle your kitchen counters and incorporate some greenery. Create a coffee nook area. Add artwork whether it's on the wall or added to open shelves."

A stone counter with lots of veining and blue cabinets provide a “wow” factor.
A stone counter with lots of veining and blue cabinets provide a “wow” factor.

Dreamstime, TNS

Kristin Kong of K Kong Designs and Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Design agreed that fresh bar stools can make a kitchen pop, as well as swapping out that old hardware and lighting.

For those stuck on what colors to choose for cabinets, Grossman said to go bold.

"For more modest budgets, we're seeing a lot of bold color on cabinets — bright teal, hot burgundy," she said. "We're also seeing unexpected palettes, like army green with pink. There are a lot of fun things you can do without breaking the bank.

"There are so many affordable and interesting tiles that can give a boost to your backsplash. (For a rental, removable wallpaper does the trick). Painting the cabinets freshens and enlivens a space, as does a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clear off your counters — it's amazing what putting things away can do (I need a constant reminder here myself). Add some potted plants. And, consider that hydroponic garden — growing your own herbs is the bomb."

How do you design for that "wow" factor?

While pinching pennies is important right now, there is nothing wrong with going all out for that "wow" factor. There is nothing quite as exciting as inviting guests to a freshly cleaned and newly decorated home. It's that "wow" factor that Andi Morse said "creates a bit of drama."

"Adding a gorgeous metal hood, using a stone counter with lots of veining, and even painting the cabinets a color such as blue or green, are all wow factors that are impressive to anyone walking into your kitchen," she said. "It makes it look like you went the extra mile to make the kitchen impactful."

Hardy suggested taking your lighting and storage space to the next level.

"We like to incorporate several elements that can make a kitchen stand out," Hardy said. "Hidden, multi-purpose storage always impresses. Lighting also can give a kitchen 'wow' factor. Dramatic kitchen pendants, undercabinet lighting, sconces, interior cabinet lights can all make a statement. We also like to mix finishes so the kitchen doesn't look 'builder-grade'."

Kong added that kitchen appliances can serve more than function. They can be the jewelry of the living space.

"Appliances that are not only high-tech but stand out as the jewelry of the kitchen can provide a wow factor in kitchen design," she said. "Artistic hoods, creative tile application, natural stone, painted cabinetry, custom trim, and mixed metal hardware all provide opportunities to create a unique one of kind hub of the home."

Amy Morris Interiors agreed.

"For me, it is about the 'jewelry' in the kitchen," the design studio said. "I like to keep everything calm and quiet and then make the room pop with unique and unexpected light fixtures, cabinet hardware, the hood and range. These are the conversation pieces!"

Open shelving is a popular trend.
Open shelving is a popular trend.

WING TA HO file

What are the summer's most popular kitchen trends?

To maximize the kitchen's impact, it's important to stay true to yourself. But, there is nothing wrong with being trendy if it suits your living space. According to experts, there are some incredible trends going on this summer that can enhance the heart of your home.

"A cheerful color on the cabinets and a handsome wood tone on the island are definitely in vogue right now," Griffin said. Kole said glass cabinets can also do the trick.

"Break up the cabinets a little bit with either floating shelves or interesting glass cabinets," she said. "In this project, we addressed an awkward corner with deep floating shelves that showcase a silver collection of our clients."

Hardy is seeing a lot of open shelving as well.

"Replacing upper cabinets with open shelving, doing full height backsplashes, fluted cabinetry and lighter stained colors are some of the top design trends this year," Hardy said.

Grossman said that you can't go wrong with bringing the outdoors inside this year.

"We're seeing a continued melding of indoor and outdoor, either with kitchens that open fully to the deck and yard, or those that bring the outside in with plants, big windows, even hydroponic gardens," she said.

Amy Morris Interiors does not follow trends, but has been seeing some common designs this year.

"Unlacquered or matte plumbing fixtures are very popular right now and will stand the test of time because they are a classic!" the design firm said.

Whether you are pinching pennies or going for the gold this summer, experts know how to make your kitchen pop. Grab that tool belt, pick up that paint brush and get ready to wow your guests and family in style.