Clear the space of everything that is not fixed. That means not just a de-clutter, but also taking down curtains, pictures, mirrors and memo boards. Temporarily remove or pack away all kitchen paraphernalia, including cooking equipment, on-view storage and accessories, tables and chairs. Then take stock of the features you like most in the room and any you want to conceal. Note light levels and effectiveness. Identify the main colour scheme and any co-ordinating or contrasting shades.
Now think how, ideally, the space might look and function and assess what changes you could make. For a modern, streamlined look, keep to a single colour family. Bright shades can look stunning but remember that fashions change quickly so be prepared to change your colour scheme too. Neutrals maximise space and light, and are easy to liven up with accent shades.
If cabinet doors are looking worn, consider repainting them with two coats of an oil-based eggshell paint. You may find all that is needed is new cupboard and drawer handles.
If choosing new accent colours, citrus shades pep up a contemporary scheme while pastels open up a space. Try exciting mixes such as pink and purple or turquoise and yellow. Bear in mind that more than three different accents can give a cluttered feel.
Gradually re-introduce useful or much-loved accessories, disciplining yourself about how much you will have on show. It is amazing how quickly we become blind to the living spaces around us.
• Pat Elliott, The Borders Design House. Visit our online shop for our design services and courses together with unique, eco, chic home accessories. Learn to ‘Be Your Own Designer’ with our distance-learning interior design course (07765 057409, www.thebordersdesignhouse.co.uk)