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Beige walls with a dark beige trim. Painting trim darker than the walls is the opposite of what most people do, and it always looks fresh and modern — even here, with traditional wainscoting and other flourishes.
Beige cabinets and appliances are a nice alternative to bright white. Everything is still crisp and clean looking, but a little less severe.
Swap out lighting. Stylish new pendant lights can easily become the new focal point of the room. The hand-blown glass pendants shown here are a beautiful, versatile choice, and at less than $200, they won't break the bank.
Upgrade accessories. With limited opportunities for decoration, it's important to make the most of the little things. Corral frequently used items on a woven tray, prop up a few wooden boards on your counter and display pantry items with pretty packaging.
Work in rustic elements. Farmhouse accents instantly add warmth and character to a bland kitchen. Replace the kitchen or pantry door with a sliding barn door, hang copper pots from a ceiling rack or bring in a timeworn antique wooden stool.
Get creative with window treatments. If you are sold on having a bank of windows at eye level in your kitchen but are concerned about less-than-desirable views, lack of privacy or glaring sun, install some simple window treatments such as pleated or roller shades. Just be sure the shade material is 100 percent polyester — or another nonabsorbent, easy-to-clean material.