If you’re updating a kitchen for a client who doesn’t want to do a full remodel, an excellent option is to use portions of cabinetry to create a focal point in their space. When you add a creative focal point to any room, especially the kitchen, the entire look of the area will change.

Make the Island a Focal Point

The most obvious choice for creating a focal point in a kitchen is to use the island. To make the island cabinetry stand out from the other cabinets in the space, you can change out the type of wood used or paint the cabinetry a different color. If the kitchen cabinetry already installed is white, then use a light wood for the island, such as maple or hickory for a gorgeous look. You can also paint the island cabinetry a beautiful color, such as pale yellow or a deep blue. If the kitchen cabinets are in a dark wood, opt for cherry or a beautiful red oak for the island to maintain a sophisticated appearance. With lighter-stained kitchen cabinets, try reclaimed wood in multiple hues to add texture and interest to your client’s space.

Make the Pantry a Focal Point

If your client has a floor-to-ceiling pantry in the kitchen, the cabinetry of the pantry will make a fabulous focal point. You can paint the cabinetry in two tones to make it stand out in the kitchen. Paint the frame one color and the cabinet face a lighter shade of the same hue. If the cabinetry has something other than a straight design, consider staining the inner part of the panel a coordinating wood color or even just painting the sides of the cabinet and outlining the edges of the front inserts in black. For a fun look in a kitchen with light-colored cabinetry and a pantry with at least four doors, paint each panel front a different color. You can use all pastels for a softer look or use bold colors for a stronger and more distinctive appearance.

Make the Cabinetry around the Stove a Focal Point

Another great way to create a focal point in a kitchen is with the cabinetry on both sides of the stove. Instead of painting or staining this cabinetry, change out the cabinet doors with glass or mesh fronts for an elegant look. You could even opt for open shelving on each side of the stove to open up the area. If there’s a microwave installed over the range top, include the cabinet above the microwave in the focal point. Another fabulous option is to select a separate style of cabinetry for this area, such as flat-paneled cabinets with different hardware than the rest of the kitchen cabinetry or no hardware at all to draw attention to this part of the space.


Whether a kitchen is large or small, various places exist where you can create a focal point. By using color, wood choices, and panel design, you can make the entire space appear brand new. Even a small design job can bring significant results and a happy client who will then often be excited to contract a bigger design job in the future.