David Bromstad’s Best Tips For Successfully Tackling A Kitchen Renovation

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David Bromstad's Best Tips For Successfully Tackling A Kitchen Renovation

David Bromstad’s Best Tips For Successfully Tackling A Kitchen Renovation

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David Bromstad has renovated his fair share of kitchens over his years on HGTV. He captured the public’s heart when he won the first season of HGTV’s “Design Star.” He is known for his love of color, his bright smile, and his fantastic taste in home design. Since his big win, Bromstad has gone on to great success on HGTV, hosting both the aptly named “Color Splash” and fan-favorite “Rock the Block.” Now the star of “My Lottery Dream Home,” Bromstad has nearly two decades of experience with home repair and redecoration.

No matter your budget or the aesthetic you are going for, Bromstad knows the best tips for successfully tackling a kitchen renovation. We’ve rounded up his suggestions for the best colors to instantly add excitement to your space and how to save money on decorations (and save the earth at the same time). Bromstad even has the perfect order in which to renovate your kitchen so you don’t waste time and money double-crossing yourself. If you want a kitchen worthy of HGTV, with or without the price tag, these are his top tips for success.

Don’t be afraid to choose a bold cabinet color

Pink cabinets in kitchen

Decor Art / Youtube

When renovating your kitchen, the cabinets are an easy, inexpensive place to add a pop of color. “Personally, I love to add color to my kitchen by painting the cabinets,” Bromstad told Apartment Therapy. “I prefer to keep my backsplash neutral and classic with some interesting shapes. Painting your cabinets is such a powerful [form of] self-expression. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and it will definitely make a huge impact.” Even the most novice of DIY renovators can manage a cabinet repaint. If retiling your backsplash to add visual interest isn’t in your wheelhouse or budget, adding color to your cabinets only takes an afternoon.

If you’re stuck on which color to choose, Bromstad loves pink as a bright, happy option. If pink isn’t your thing, he also suggests green as it is “definitely next on the list for being bold and brave with your kitchen. There are so many delicious shades…” There is a growing trend for kitchen cabinets to steer away from white and into bolder, moody colors like this. Still not convinced that vivid colors match your style? You can still opt for black as the perfect color for your cabinets. “It’s making a huge resurgence because it’s sexy, it’s bold, it’s still classic, but also very daring,” Bromstad told the outlet.

A bank of cabinets is better than a collection of them

red kitchen cabinets

HGTV

If your cabinets look a little mismatched, Bromstad recommends that they be one of the first things you tackle during a kitchen renovation. If you have disjoined cabinets, it severely undermines the style of your kitchen. “First thing I know for sure is we want to rip out the cabinets and start completely fresh and do a nice, clean bank of cabinets that go all the way from the refrigerator to the door,” he said in an episode of “Color Splash.” In this instance specifically, the cabinets being so separate created an awkward waste of storage space. “Right now, this looks like a kitchen that has been pieced together, here and there over time,” he said.

There was nothing cohesive about it. Instead, Bromstad swapped out this random collection of shelves for a sleek, coordinated bank of cabinets. Although not a simple DIY, this change more than doubled the homeowner’s storage space, reclaiming all the formerly wasted room on the walls. Having the cabinets be uniform in shape and color also gives the kitchen a more expensive, modern look. It is easy to run out of space for everything you need to be stored in the kitchen, so be sure you are not willingly forfeiting free space with ugly, mismatched cabinets.

Select top-of-the-line appliances at the beginning of the process

modern kitchen

Facebook / LG Global

For a fun, contemporary kitchen, Bromstad encourages viewers to start with the process with any appliances they might be replacing. “The first thing you want to do when you design a kitchen is you want to pick out the appliances. Without the appliances, you don’t have a kitchen you just have a lot of cabinets,” he quips in a Facebook collaboration with LG. This is particularly true during major renovations. It is a waste of money and resources to begin rebuilding kitchen cabinets if you don’t know the dimensions of the oven that they will surround. You also can’t create the correct space for your new dishwasher if you don’t know its plumbing requirements.

Yes, things like cabinets and countertops can be resized and adjusted throughout the renovation process. However, any sort of backtracking always drives up the costs of labor and materials. Having things that can’t be adjusted (like appliances) selected ahead of time prevents lost time and money. When choosing these appliances, Bromstad has a favorite color option to ensure that no matter what you pick, your new appliances fit. “Black goes with everything,” he said. “It elevates a space. And when you put a sheen on top of black? Bonus!”

Test colors before installing, if you are unsure

couple selecting colors together

Josep Suria/Shutterstock

Bromstad is a big fan of using color to revive spaces. However, if you are renovating your kitchen and are toying with the idea of adding more color, but are unsure about how far you want to take it — there is a happy medium. The “My Lottery Dream Home” host gave a fantastic tip to The Washington Post. While painting swatches of color onto the cabinets is nothing new, small stripes of paint don’t really give you the full picture of what your kitchen is truly going to look like after construction is complete.

To avoid confusion or disappointment, Bromstad suggests measuring your backsplash and cabinets for a different kind of test. After measuring, cut cardboard (or thick cardstock!) to those dimensions. You can then paint these stand-ins in the color you are considering. Use painter’s tape to secure them to your cabinets and backsplash, giving you a realistic idea of what the color will look like in that particular space. Be sure to leave them up for a day or two, so you can see them in different light and from different angles. If you are considering more than one color, paint the other side of each piece of cardboard to easily avoid waste when doing more testing.

Rely on what makes you happy for a timeless look

open shelves in kitchen

stock_studio/Shutterstock

Trends come and go — but what is truly important during a kitchen renovation is landing on a design that you will enjoy for years to come. Remodeling your kitchen is expensive, so you don’t want to have to do it more than once. “People get stuck on design trends because they feel like that’s what’s happening and they have to lean into it, but to me, the biggest trend that needs to happen is people need to buy things that they love and make them giggle,” Bromstad told Apartment Therapy.

For example, open shelving was all the rage in the 2010s. It popped up in kitchens on all our favorite HGTV shows, including those hosted by Bromstad. “It allows so much more visual space to be happening in the kitchen and makes the kitchen look so much larger,” Bromstad told the outlet. Yet, if you prefer for your plates and cups to be tucked away out of sight, stick with your gut — no matter what the designers say. Bromstad himself acknowledges this with a final piece of advice about bucking trends and staying true to your style. “When you bring in personal touches of things that are a little odd or a little weird or just unique to you, that is powerful storytelling. Honestly, it’s your house and if you love it then that’s all that matters.”

Make things look expensive with taller cabinets

tall cabinets

Fotografia Inc./Getty Images

If you are looking for a relatively easy way to make your kitchen seem larger and more elegant, you need to elongate the cabinets. In the Season 12 episode “Knock Knock, It’s a Million,” Mike and Barbara of Columbia, SC love the cabinets in their new home, but mention they would like them to go all the way to the ceiling. Bromstad celebrates when the homeowners share this vision with him. “You know what? Thank you for saying that, ’cause I was going to suggest it,” he said. “When you go to the ceiling with your cabinets, it just feels expensive.”

Extending kitchen cabinets is a popular design choice as it maximizes storage space to create a seamless visual flow. It also helps to make the room appear more expansive. Full-height cabinets eliminate gaps and present a cohesive look. The space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling tends to just collect dust anyway. Whether you hire a contractor or choose to complete the work yourself, there are a few different options for expansion. You can choose to double-stack the existing cabinets by creating small, enclosed storage spaces on top. You can also choose to fill the space with bulkhead trim or crown molding if you are not interested in storage that might remain largely inaccessible due to its height. Finally, you can completely swap out the original cabinetry for newly designed units that are taller.

Soft close hinges easily modernize kitchen cabinets

hinges up close

Aleksey Matrenin/Shutterstock

Sometimes your vision for your dream kitchen might exceed your budget. Other times, you might love your current kitchen, but recognize that it is way overdue for a little bit of TLC. Luckily, Bromstad’s tip for modernizing kitchen cabinets allows you to keep the original woodwork intact by adding a quick, modern touch. In the Season 14 episode “Bustle to the ‘Burbs,” Katie of Medford, MA has a kitchen with plenty of character. While the linoleum countertops have got to go, the cabinetry has the perfect 1950s look, and Bromstad doesn’t want to part with them.

“These are solid wood,” Bromstad points out, indicating their enduring value. So instead of suggesting Katie replace them, he offered a few suggestions on how she could potentially bring them up to date, including adding relatively inexpensive soft-close door hinges and drawer slides. “I’d redo the doors, get better hinges on so they’re soft-closing,” he said. Soft-closing kitchen hinges improve cabinet functionality by preventing slamming and ensuring a gentle, quiet closure. This enhances the kitchen’s sophistication and creates a more peaceful environment. Plus, using these hinges extends the cabinet’s lifespan due to less slamming, adding long-term value to the kitchen. They are an easy DIY project and can be purchased for as low as $2 a hinge at places like the Home Depot and Lowe’s.

You don’t have to match your hardware to your appliances

Pointing out bronze cabinet pulls

LG Global / Facebook

When renovating your kitchen, you might think that to be on trend, everything has to match perfectly. From the appliances to the hardware and everything in between — it all needs to look the same. However, Bromstad recommends that you can do this if it matches your personal style, but the opposite approach actually works quite well, too. “So many people think that if you have stainless steel appliances they have to have stainless steel hardware — that is simply not the case,” he said in a Facebook collaboration with LG. Instead, options like matte brass and shiny brass for drawer pulls and cabinet handles also pair well with stainless steel appliances.

So if you select silver appliances, don’t feel locked into the shiny hue for the rest of the space, too. Branch out and add some personality to your kitchen through the hardware. It’s not like mixing silver and gold jewelry — in the kitchen, there are no rules. Renovators can also apply this advice to black or white appliances, too. Bromstad recommends going with fun combinations that are visually exciting and bring unexpected pops of color to the space, instead of worrying too much about matching. The only thing to keep in mind is that while your kitchen hardware does not need to match your appliances, it should match each other. For example, having stainless steel appliances, brass cabinet pulls, and a black faucet for your sink might be too mismatched.

Avoid accent walls in smaller spaces

blue kitchen wall

Followtheflow/Shutterstock

If the kitchen you are renovating is small (like a nook kitchen in an apartment, or perhaps long and narrow in a home) be careful about adding too much color to a small space — like in a feature wall. While you might already know that painting every single wall a bold shade might visually shrink the space, adding just one wall can have the same effect. In a “Color Splash” episode on HGTV, Bromstad shared that “a feature wall is great because it can give a big, bold punch, but what it does to smaller rooms is that it chops it off a little bit. [It] makes it look disjointed and a little bit smaller. You notice all the corners.”

However, Bromstad is famous for his love of color. In smaller spaces, he recommends starting with accessories and going from there, leaving paint for last. “The best thing is that it’s a small space, so you’re not going to spend as much money on … accessories. I always choose my paint color last because it’s the most inexpensive and you have the most options,” he told FOX 4 Dallas-Forth Worth. Bromstad went on to share that often when redecorating, people find that they can add all the color they want to a space through textiles, artwork, and furniture. “Some people want to put color on their walls, but when they realize what they [already] have, they don’t need it.”

Consider upcycling for fun decorations

Cutting boards with chicken art

Instagram / BromCo

You don’t have to buy everything new when renovating your kitchen for it to be a success. Whether you have a smaller budget or prefer to generate less waste during your decorations, Bromstad has an easy option for you. He is a big fan of upcycling decorations for a chic, homey feel. “Spotted this chic kitchen decor on the @HomeandFamilyTV set!! Super fun ways to upcycle old cutting boards! #homeandfamilytv,” he posted on Instagram. Upcycling is a sustainable approach to transforming discarded items into new, valuable things around the house. It enhances the original item’s quality and functionality and promotes more eco-conscious living. Upcycling reduces waste and minimizes the environmental impact of all consumer goods.

In addition to things like turning cutting boards into fun kitchen art, you can also upcycle things like turning an old dresser into a modern bar cart or repurposing copper pipes into cabinet pulls. The best place to find items for upcycling is through online resellers like eBay or Facebook Marketplace because you can sort by location, price, and type of item. However, if shopping in person, check out estate sales for the best deals on nicer products. Typically families want to sell everything quickly, so you are more likely to get a good price.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.