9 Of Your Most Burning Kitchen Design Questions, Answered

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Heather Goerzen

Fill 1Created with Sketch.

Published on December 14, 2021

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home for a reason: it’s the inevitable gathering place for friends and family, the epicenter for home-cooked goodness and culinary exploration, and where you can access all your guilty pleasure foods (be it peanut butter filled pretzels or Ben & Jerry’s). Whether you’re a bona fide Ottolenghi or Doordash every meal, everyone deserves (and typically wants) to have a lovely and functional kitchen — complete with a warm and welcoming aesthetic and all the cozy styling vibes.

And because we know sprucing this space can be overwhelming, we recently asked our Instagram followers to ask us their most burning kitchen design dilemmas. From renter friendly tips to creating cozy vibes, mixing metals to microwaves, our design experts are serving up the answers (with a generous side of style).

PS: In case you missed it, we also tackled all your tricky design dilemmas on living rooms, bedrooms, and paint.

How can I curate a cozy and inviting kitchen?

“Treat it like an extension of any other room you have – add artwork, warm materials like wood cutting boards, a vase with flowers, even a table lamp and candles! Whether you bake or go store bought for your sweet treats, take them out of the packaging and style them on a raised cake stand with a glass dome overtop. Also show off fresh produce – we love apples, lemons, and artichokes – in woven baskets on the counter for a harvest vibe.” — Melissa Wagner, Lead Designer

cozy kitchen

Microwaves and toasters are so ugly. Help!

“My personal trick: tuck toasters in an easy to reach cabinet (or go for a Smeg, they’re actually stylish). Microwaves though… we ditched ours and it totally transformed our tiny kitchen. We found it quick, easy, and even more tasty to reheat in the oven. That said, if a microwave is a must, there are a lot of discreet options that can be disguised in cabinet drawers now.” — Heather Goerzen, Lead Designer

kitchen cabinet storage

Can I mix metal finishes?

“My rule of thumb: keep the hardware similar to create a sense of uniformity – for example, brass faucet with brass cabinet pulls and knobs. But you can definitely play around with the lighting and other metal features. Feel free to add pendants with silver accents alongside brass hardware, or mix in iron bar stools at the island. As long as your purposeful and thoughtful about those selections, it works beautifully.” — Kelsey Fischer, Lead Designer

Seconding Kelsey’s opinion, Melissa and Heather weigh in… “Do it!”

metal kitchen pendants

Farmhouse sinks: Yes or no?

“Nothing against them, but I wonder if they’ll feel very ‘trendy’ in the coming years. Rather, to get that rustic, modern cottage vibe, embrace French-inspired cabinetry, antique brass hardware, and vases overflowing with hydrangeas or greenery. It’ll feel homey and down-to-earth, with a more timeless aesthetic that has been proven to last.” — Heather Goerzen, Lead Designer

classic kitchen sink

Inexpensive, renter-friendly tips to make over a kitchen?

“Lean into styling! Change out drawer and cabinet hardware, add decor (rugs, artwork, sculptural pieces), swap out lighting (and re-install the old lighting before moving back out again). Layer decor and essentials on the countertops (think pretty cookbooks, serving bowls for produce, and wooden cutting boards). You can also use removable peel and stick tile to update your backsplash.” — Melissa Wagner, Lead Designer

Best kitchen DIY?

“So glad you asked. We have a whole bunch of tried and true projects, from updating your backsplash to a fresh coat of paint and even floating shelves, our team has taken ho-hum kitchens to the next level with a little know-how and elbow grease. My biggest advice: don’t be afraid to give it a shot!” — Vivian Torres, Lead Designer

kitchen storage ideas

How much does a kitchen reno cost?

“Prepare yourself: the average kitchen reno costs around $20-$30K, but obviously, can go upwards of $50K+… and more. That said, pending your attitude – and budget – they can just as easily be done with a DIY-friendly approach (see above). If you’re willing to put in a little more effort, and embrace the imperfections (which let’s face it, makes design more interesting), you can really scale down the costs. I “remodeled” my kitchen for just $300! The difference is astounding (if I do say so myself).” — Heather Goerzen, Lead Designer

How to warm up a white kitchen?

“Layer in wooden accents (cutting boards, salt jars, serving bowls) and artisanal ceramics (vases, jars, decor) for a cozier feel. Brass hardware also adds a sense of warmth over cooler silver or high contrast black tones. Check out more ideas here!” — Brady Burke, Lead Designer

white kitchen decor ideas

How do I choose and swap out hardware?

“Go for something timeless over trendy that complements your vibe and aesthetic. Mix and match knobs and pulls for a more layered look. Need help narrowing down the countless options? Book a Havenly designer! While we cannot consult on all of the specific renovation or contracting needs required for kitchen remodels, we can always help with the aesthetics. Think hardware, tile, cabinet colors, lighting, rugs, counter stools, and decor.” — Vivian Torres, Lead Designer

Have more design dilemmas that could use an expert perspective? We’re here for it. Take our style quiz and discover your designer BFF.

Words by Heather Goerzen