Forget about the living room. The kitchen is the social hub of a home.

Today’s homeowners update their kitchens to reflect their personal tastes and add visual appeal their guests can enjoy when they entertain. But how do you get a custom look in your kitchen without the hefty price tag?

“By adding just a few decorative accents, homeowners can not only create a custom-looking kitchen, they can create a space that reflects a specific look — from Art Nouveau to French Neoclassical,” says Paul Radoy, manager of design services for Merillat, a cabinet company specializing in kitchen design.

If you think updating your kitchen is out of your budget, here are some cost-effective renovation tips that can help you live the good life and entertain in a stylish kitchen that is a perfect reflection of your personal taste.

1. Cabinetry accents

While there will always be a place for custom cabinetry, there are more sensible and affordable options. Cabinetry accents work to enhance any kitchen’s style with details such as feet, corbels, ornamental onlays and molding inserts. These decorative details can change the look of ordinary cabinetry into heirloom furniture, while allowing the homeowner to express their own personal style.

In addition to cabinetry accents, many common cabinetry options can be creatively incorporated. Decorative hardware is one small detail that can make a big statement. Pulls and knobs can complement the cabinetry style, or they can be used to create a refreshing contrast.

2. Add color and contrast

Adding splashes of color is a great way to create a fun, vibrant look while keeping the kitchen functional. Try adding tile details such as a colorful backsplash behind the stove. Or, purchase fresh towels and accessories for your kitchen in a coordinated, colorful design.

Using color as an accent on crown molding also adds a personal touch, while molding build-ups and dentil molding create intriguing visual effects. Cabinetry molding in a contrasting finish creates an entirely different look, and including under-cabinet molding can add even more personality to your kitchen.

3. Make it your own

Displaying decorative items is an easy way to add your own personal touch. Options like pigeon holes, plate racks and glass front cabinet doors can be used to display these special items. Things like porcelain collectables, wine bottles or fine china are all types of decorative items that help create a personal space that sparks conversation with guests.

“People are spending more and more time in their kitchen, and whether they are using it for everyday activities or for entertaining, they want it to be beautiful,” says Radoy. “The kitchen is a space that should make the homeowner proud, a place they love to be in, and by incorporating just a few design details any homeowner can accomplish this.”

If creating your dream kitchen seems out of reach, there’s still hope, as you could win a $30,000 kitchen makeover. You can get your chance by visiting and viewing the “Good Life” music video. Then, make your own video before June 4 about what the “good life” means to you — include your friends, family, pets and more. If chosen, your video will appear on Merillat’s Facebook page where fans can vote on their favorite. You could win the ultimate kitchen makeover or one of several great prizes.

How to create a custom kitchen without the custom price
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