4 Easy Ways to Add Character to Your Kitchen

Countless collectibles, stray dogs, houseguests galore-Country Living's editor, Sarah Gray Miller, and her husband, Tony Stamolis, have packed upstate New York home with all the things they love. In their kitchen, for example, they found a way to deliver analog charm and functionality.

Why it works:

1. Ask more of an island. This one disguises Perlick refrigerator drawers, a Miele dishwasher, and a microwave. A burlap pendant lamp from Restoration Hardware illuminates the unit, clad in Stikwood's adhesive paneling.

Plus: 100 Bedroom Design Ideas You'll Love »

2. Then top it with zinc. Only $6 per square foot at rotometals.com, this low-maintenance metal beats marble, granite, even butcher block, for affordability.

3. Shop locally, online. Shipping fees can easily render a bargain downright budget-busting. So Miller used eBay's zip-code search feature, which sorts results by proximity, to find this double-drainboard sink, for sale in her town. She scooped up the factory stool at Carousel Antique Center in Hudson, New York.

Plus: 7 Budget-Savvy Decorating Tips from Sarah Gray's Bathroom Makeover »

4. Who says cabinets have to be built in? Miller forwent the usual uppers and lowers in favor of a freestanding unit (right). The former hardware-store fixture cost $1,000 from Etsy seller Rusty Windmill. Below the sink, wooden crates pay homage to area farms-and organize supplies. Above, Rejuvenation's articulated sconces add light.

See more from CountryLiving.com:

Our Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Decorating »
24 Stunning Staircases that Wow »
Sarah Gray's Easy and Affordable Kitchen Makeover »

Bold Bathroom Decorating Ideas »

Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.