The kitchen is the beating heart of most homes. So, it only makes sense that sometimes you need to go beyond a big refresh and dive straight into a serious kitchen upgrade.

There’s a lot of art and science to a great kitchen upgrade. Everything has to work in concert to not only make it easy for you to cook some world-class meals but also to make it easy for anyone in the family to find the snack they want and make it themselves when they need to.

Update the Backsplash

Who doesn’t love a fresh new kitchen backsplash? It’s a relatively low-cost way to refresh the look of your kitchen while still adding functionality. While there’s something to be said for simply refreshing the existing backsplash, most people who embrace a serious kitchen upgrade go for new material. Especially if you are planning some serious changes to the kitchen décor.

Give Your Cabinets a Facelift

Nothing spoils the look and feel of a kitchen like outdated cabinets and cupboards. Sure they might be fully functional, but they look dingy, dull, and more than 20 years old. Sometimes you can get away with a fresh coat of paint. Sometimes rich wood finish can be brought to life with some high-quality wood oil.

Though most serious kitchen upgrades end up embracing a completely new backsplash. If you are going totally new, it helps to use the same style of backsplash though out the kitchen as well as the stove area.

Upgrade Your Pantry with Innovative Storage

Sure, the kitchen “Triangle” of the sink, refrigerator, and stove get a lot of glory in most kitchen upgrades. Though I think you’ll agree that a well-organized pantry is a thing of beauty. Not only does it help you keep everything in its place. It also ensures everyone else in the family can find what they want and they know exactly where to put it back. This includes things like:

Adjustable Shelves

Being able to change the height of your pantry’s shelves lets you adjust for the seasons as well as times when you might buy non-perishable goods in bulk. Dowel systems and track systems are easy to install even if your pantry already has static shelves.

Under Shelf Wire Baskets

Putting wire baskets under shelves, especially static shelves, is a great way to store lightweight items. It’s also handy for putting grab-&-go snacks in plain sight where kids and other family members can find them with ease.

Shelf Dividers

Breaking up the space on shelves with adjustable dividers might take up a tiny percentage of horizontal square inches, but it pays dividends in organizational simplicity. This lets you create simple bays for similar canned goods as well as keep bags or things like rice and brown sugar from spilling out of their lane.

Sealable Totes for Grains

Oxidation and staleness are the top enemies of grain storage. By placing things like flour, rice, and similar baked goods inside air-tight sealable totes you help extend their overall lifespan. It also gives you the confidence to trust storing them on the floor or deeper in a pantry shelf.

Overhead Hooks for Common Kitchen Gadgets

These days a lot of pots, pans, and common kitchen gadgets have some type of loop or hook built right into the handle. By installing some type of heavy-duty overhead hooks in your kitchen you can go vertical with a lot of these things. It’s a great way to maximize the available space in your kitchen cabinets.

If you also upgrade your kitchen lighting, you can use hanging pots and pans to help upgrade the décor. There’s just something about shining silver pots hanging from a ceiling with recessed lighting that speaks to the presence of a true chef in the house.

Magnetic Strips on Cabinet Doors

In a lot of kitchens, the backside of the cabinet doors is simply wasted space. Yet the power of magnets available at the retail level has increased in leaps and bounds. To the point where you can mount tastefully small, yet magnetically robust strips on the backside of the doors.

They are often strong enough to hold things like a chef’s knife, bread knife, or even a small meat cleaver. This could be a great way to get that ugly old knife block off your kitchen counters for good!

You could even buy some small metal canisters to hold a modest amount of dried herbs and spices. Then you keep the bulk of the spices in airtight storage to both maintain their freshness as well as safe functional storage space in the rest of the cabinet.

A Kitchen With An Island Onto Itself

One of the best ways to upgrade your kitchen, while boosting its real-world functionality is to add a kitchen island. It’s a place where kids can sit to have their breakfast while you get everything ready for the day. It can also be a place to use to lay out snacks or act as a serving station for family-style meals while you finish dinner. The possible uses are endless.

Of course, a kitchen island is about more than just the horizontal surface you gain on top. It’s also a great opportunity to add functional storage. This includes things like a formal silverware drawer or open shelving, as well as a convenient spot to discretely stash the kitchen garbage can.

Though the biggest question when it comes to upgrading your kitchen with an island is whether to sink or not to sink? If you add a sink, you gain a place to wash hands, rinse apples, and clean plates. It might even give you more counter space in the rest of the kitchen.

The problem with adding a sink starts with the expense. If there isn’t already a sink in that area, then you’ll need to pay a plumber to run water and drain lines up through your existing flooring. Adding a sink to your kitchen island also limits the amount of storage potential. All those plumbing pipes and gooseneck drains can decrease the available internal volume of the frame by as much as 20 to 25%.