It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and nothing can bring you down—except, of course, a kitchen that’s too small, too dated, too messy, or otherwise not fit to be seen by others (or on Instagram).
If your lackluster kitchen has you reluctant to host holiday festivities in your home, you’re not alone. Home shame is real, and according to one survey of 1,000 homeowners, 61% of adults in the United States have admitted to not inviting guests into their home because they’re embarrassed of what lies inside.
But you don’t have to sit out from the hosting rotation this holiday season. We asked the experts for quick and easy solutions to your biggest kitchen problems, and their answers will have you sending out invites in no time.
Your kitchen counters are going to get a lot of attention during your holiday gathering—after all, that’s where you’re going to lay out that delicious spread, right? So what are you to do if yours are scratched, scuffed, or bear the marks of a few unfortunately hot pots and pans?
Interior designer Mikel Welch, of HGTV’s “Design Star” and TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” says the fix is easier than you might think—and it doesn’t involve installing new counters.
“As an on-camera designer, I often have to mask and camouflage things to look ‘camera ready,'” says Welch. “You can do the same thing in your kitchen by creating a vignette of holiday decor nestled right over the top of any countertop imperfections.”
Your cabinets may be straight out of the 1960s, but it’s not the end of the world. Your best option, according to Sherwin-Williams director of product information Rick Watson, is to paint your cabinets.
“Paint is a great, affordable way to refresh old cabinets,” he says. “It helps to cover up imperfections and stains, and you can choose from thousands of colors. However, if you want a professional, lasting finish, it requires a lot of prep work.”
If you don’t have time to remove cabinet doors, sand, and paint, you’re not out of options.
“For a simpler update, adding new cabinet hardware can help bring them back to life,” says Build.com’s in-house interior designer, Lauren O’Donnell, from Chico, CA. “I often see cabinets without hardware, and I always see that as a easy opportunity to add a little flair.”
A backsplash is supposed to catch the eye, but what if yours draws the eye right to a mislaid or missing tile?
“Counter backsplash can make or break a kitchen,” Welch says. “Try a peel-and-stick backsplash applied directly over your botched backsplash job. There’s no grout, spaces or level needed.”
For an even simpler solution, designer Susan Serra, president of Susan Serra Associates in Northport, NY, says you can always just hide those embarrassing spots on your backsplash.
“My favorite trick is to put out a decorative item or a small appliance to block the offending area,” she says.
It’s not often that all your appliances stop working all at the same time, so there’s a good chance the ones in your kitchen don’t exactly match. If they’re really different—completely different colors, for example—Welch says there’s no need to purchase new ones just to make them harmonize.
“You can easily fix this problem with stainless steel contact paper that can be cut and affixed to your appliances in a jiffy,” says Welch. “Within two hours, all of your family hand-me-down appliances will look like they just rolled in off a delivery truck.”
Worn or cracked vinyl flooring
Redoing floors is a major expense, especially with the holidays right around the corner. But even if your floors leave a lot to be desired, you don’t have to rush into a major construction job.
“If your vinyl floors are cracking, chances are the flooring is old. Which probably means the pattern is dated as well. Give new life to your floor by covering it up with peel-and-stick wood-plank vinyl floors,” suggests Welch.
Lack of counter space
For some homeowners, the scariest part of holiday hosting is trying to find a place to set out all the food. Designer Leslie Saul, president of Leslie Saul & Associates, says this problem can be solved with a quick online shopping spree.
“Wayfair has many rolling islands that add counter space and can store things that you used to keep on the counter,” she says, adding that this one purchase extends your counter space in two ways—by adding more surface area, and by giving you a place to store some of the clutter on your existing counters.
White kitchen sinks are gorgeous—at least, until you use them a few times. After you’ve washed a few loads of dishes, they start to look scratched, stained, and a lot less attractive. But they don’t have to stay that way.
“If sink stains and scratches are a problem, then you need to head down to your local hardware store and pay the paint aisle a visit,” says Welch. “There are several easy to apply tub paints and tile refinishing kits that will have your sink Martha Stewart-ready in a quick weekend.”
Lauren McKinney, director of marketing at Judd Builders in Asheville, NC, had an even easier solution. “Buy stainless steel grids to hide scratches and stains, if they’re only on the bottom of the sink,” she suggests.
The last thing you want to do is have friends and family sit around a scratched-up old table for the big meal. DIY expert and blogger at Heathered Nest, Heather Thibodeau, has a simple solution you might not have thought of.
“Grab some crayons! Yep. Crayons work great in a pinch for covering scuffs, chips and dings in furniture,” she says.
If you’re not comfortable turning your table into a coloring project, McKinney suggests adding a tablecloth—it’s a perfect opportunity to both hide the imperfections and add a touch of holiday cheer.