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Tired of a Dark Kitchen? Make it Brighter!

Are you struggling with a kitchen that feels dark and boring?

Do you walk into your kitchen and think it looks dark and dreary? I feel your pain! This is something I’ve been trying to correct over the past several years in my home.

When I first moved in, I had no idea that my kitchen would feel dark at times even with creamy white cabinets and a white tile backsplash! Don’t get me wrong, I love my kitchen.

My home sits on very little property, faces north, and my neighbors are just feet away on either side.  That alone blocks a good amount of light into my home.

In addition, my granite counter color choice added to the dark feel. Plus I made the mistake of choosing light fixtures that were too small for my large island. Even when they were on at night they didn’t light up the room properly.

Santa Cecilia Granit
Santa Cecilia Granite

Then I bought bar stools online and with a 10 year old at the time, the dark brown “pleather” was ideal.

In reality, my kitchen just didn’t have much personality. So I set out to change that!

How did I figure out what to change to brighten up my dark kitchen?

The best way to do this is to take a picture and look at it! The main goal in the process was to eliminate any area my eye landed on that is dark in color.

Since everyone loves a good before and after story, here is my kitchen in the process of being updated, but still looking dark.

Kitchen with dark brown bar stools
Kitchen Before
Kitchen with Dark Cabinet Hardware
Dark Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

By the time I took the pictures above it was 5 years into living in my home, so I’d made some affordable improvements but still wasn’t getting the look of a bright and light kitchen.

Where the kitchen felt dark in person:

  • Cabinet hardware in oil-rubbed bronze
  • Black Keurig
  • Dark brown bar stools

So I put in some time, elbow grease and some of my savings to make those final three updates.

Here it is today and I love it! The counters even seem lighter.

Post contains hand selected products, with affiliate marketing links throughout {full disclosure here} 

See how the dark areas seem to fade?

Large kitchen island with bar stools

Kitchen Island with Two Light Pendants
Kitchen Lighter and Brighter

Budget friendly changes that helped brighten my dark kitchen:

  1. Light paint colors in pale blue and cream
  2. Pulled up the blinds! Yep, seems silly but they block more natural light than you think
  3. Added under cabinet lighting (not “on” in the “after” images)
  4. Spray painted the knife block, organizer and cordless phone plug an off-white to match the cabinets
  5. Updated the Keurig to the new color Pearl (which I LOVE and the old one goes to college with my son)
  6. Added inexpensive mercury glass accessories that reflect light
  7. Placed white accessories on the island on a white linen runner
  8. Changed the cabinet hardware from oil rubbed bronze to satin nickel

Shop the Look

The bigger ticket items that completed the look:

  • Off-white bar stools
  • Large white drum shade chandeliers over the kitchen island

The kitchen cabinet hardware and bar stools ultimately have been the biggest change and well worth it.  Installing the hardware myself saved a ton of money!

Please check out this blog post for how to update your cabinet hardware  Click here to read Update Your Outdated Cabinet Knobs

Since the barstools provided the biggest impact, here are some ideas for new barstools for your kitchen!

Barstool Shopping Inspiration

Pin It for LaterNew Barstool Ideas Farmhouse French

My kitchen has been taken from dark and boring to bright and cheerful! I hope this inspires you to make few little changes in your kitchen!

Ready for a bigger update? See how new quartz counters made my kitchen even brighter!

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Until next time…

Porch Daydreamer


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  1. This post is just what I was looking for! I have Santa Cecilia granite and dark cabinets and my kitchen looks like a tomb. I was actually just looking for pictures that would show me how it would look with white cabinets but now you’ve given me lots of other ideas that I hadn’t even thought of!

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