9 Common Kitchen Complaints and How to Solve Them

The kitchen is a place where we spend a solid amount of time, so of course we want it to be both functional and aesthetically appealing — not too much to ask, right? If your kitchen isn't quite up to par, whether it's outdated cabinets, a lack of space, a strange layout or simply sterile in terms of design, it can throw you off your game and make the whole cooking thing totally unpleasant. A full-blown reno could easily solve all of these problems, but if you're renting or have a less-than-flexible budget you'll have to find other means to reimagine your space. Luckily, there are plenty of solutions that won't break the bank (or your rental contract for that matter).

Problem 1: Ugly, Outdated Cabinets

Unattractive kitchen cabinets are a common complaint, but they're also easy to deal with. If you own your own home (or have a relaxed landlord), consider painting the offending cupboards and switching up the hardware. This relatively simple project can make cabinets of any age or condition feel like new, while providing a prime opportunity to brighten up your space. While this works well for the majority of cabinets, there are exceptions to the rule — '80s laminate cabinets we're looking at you. If the offending cupboards just aren't going to cut it, consider removing the doors and going for an open-shelf look. For a pop of color, add washi tape to the frames, paint the inside of the cabinets or line with printed contact paper.

Another option is to draw attention away from the cupboards entirely by painting or papering the walls. Look to rich, darker colors to create contrast with lighter cabinets (like the oh-so-common oak) and neutrals like gray and black (hello chalkboard paint) to play down cherry.

Problem 2: Lack of Storage

Paring down will only get you so far and you shouldn't have to toss or put into storage your highly prized kitchen gadgets just because your kitchen appears to have been designed for a terrible cook. Without a place to stash your stuff, the risk of clutter looms large, so finding efficient storage solutions is essential. A bookshelf or small hutch will work wonders if you have enough space for one, as will carts, utility tables and portable islands. Free up space with wall-mounted pot racks or pegboard, store items you don't use on the regular (think: small appliances, attachments and specialty pans) in baskets on top of cabinets and make the most of wall space with floating shelves for items that typically take up counter space, like spices, oils and even large cooking utensils.

Problem 3: No Counter Space

Preparing a meal with minimal countertop space is anything but ideal and totally complicates the cooking process. The need to balance bowls, plates and cutting boards on random chairs and other flat surfaces around the house is more than just a little absurd, but that's where things like burner covers (a true godsend), over-the-sink cutting boards and carts come in (you can even resort to an ironing board if need be). They'll extend your countertop space without having to do a total kitchen overhaul, which is a major win in our book.

Problem 4: Bad Lighting

Dark kitchens? Not thanks. We like to get our gourmet on where it's light and bright. If your space feels more like cave than kitchen, swing-arm task lights, under-cabinet LED ribbons, halogen or fluorescent lights, or even plain old bright bulbs are your best bet. If you're willing to spend a few extra bucks and have the ability to do so, swap out the less-than-perfect fixture for one that packs more of a punch.

Problem 5: Funky Floors

The countertops and cabinets might be flawless, but those floors are another story entirely. New flooring doesn't always come on the cheap, but dropping serious cashing isn't necessarily required to give your floors a makeover. Floating floors, vinyl peel-and-stick flooring or simple area rugs are relatively inexpensive and temporary solutions that will cover up those ugly floors STAT.

Problem 6: Hideous Countertops

Those countertops probably aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so your best bet is to keep cringe-worthy countertops under wraps with a chic cutting board or pretty tray.

Problem 7: No Dining Space

An eat-in kitchen might seem like a distant dream, but it's well within reach for even the most pint-size cuisine. Meet the wall-mounted drop leaf table. It doesn't take up floor space, key for spaces short on square footage, and when not in use it lies flat against the wall. Have a bit more room to spare, but still not enough for a standard setup? A classic drop leaf will do you right.

Problem 8: Unattractive Extras

A room can be considered the sum of its parts and if it has its fair share of unappealing details, well, it's likely going to be anything but easy on the eyes. Swap out the undesirables, like dingy switch plates or a whack backsplash, with modern accents that are more in tune with your personality and style.

Problem 9: Unsightly, Leaky Faucets

This effortless upgrade can be done without a plumber and will not only up your kitchen's aesthetics, it'll increase its functionality too.

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