kitchen is looking a bit tired and youíd love to wake it up, but you
donít want to do a complete overhaul. What are your options?
According to the experts, the key to giving your kitchen a brand new
look without tearing down walls is to enhance the aesthetic or visual
elements. The kitchen is at the top of the home improvement list for
most homeowners. "Thereís so much you can do to update your
kitchen. The possibilities are unlimited ó wherever your imagination
takes you," says Steve Erb, appliance manager for Wisconsin
Kitchen Mart in Milwaukee.
1 Reface, donít
One affordable alternative to overall remodeling is to reface your
kitchen cabinets. Refacing the cabinets literally means putting a new
"face" on the cabinets. It involves removing all the old
doors and drawer fronts. Then, the exposed cabinet frames are covered
with a new layer of wood veneer or laminate. New doors and drawers are
added, too. The cabinets will look as good as or better than new,
according to Todd Dauss of Finishing Touch in West Bend.
An alternative to refacing your cabinets is refinishing them.
"If your cabinets are in good shape, refinishing them may be the
best way to go. You can remove the doors and drawers, strip them and
give them a whole new look for one-tenth the cost of replacing
them," says Dauss. "This works well for customers who have
granite countertops and canít remove cabinets without taking out the
There are myriad ways to approach refinishing your cabinets ó
paints and glazes, a mixture of paint and glaze, or you can create an
antique or distressed finish. It all depends upon the customer.
"Painting is popular with some customers," says Dauss.
"One trend weíre seeing is to go lighter in color with a clear
coat glaze over the top."
2 Shed some
light on the subject
If youíve ever struggled to cook in an inadequately lit kitchen,
you know the value of good lighting. That calls for the right recipe
and proper ingredients. "Itís a common problem in many homes.
Replacing the light fixtures and adding appropriate lighting can make
a big difference in a kitchen," says Dauss.
There are many ways to light a kitchen and it helps to have the
advice of a professional who can give you some help with the location
and style of lights you need. "Illuminating your workspace makes
such a difference when you are cooking," says Erb. "If you
have an older home or one in which the light fixtures have not been
changed in some time, this is something that can really change the
look of your room."
Recessed lighting is great for creating a blanket of light, but you
may also need specific task lighting or under-cabinet lights. Adding
dimmers can help create a certain mood. When you visit a lighting
showroom, bring along a layout of your kitchen; this is critical to
the placement of the lights.
What lies beneath
Whatís underfoot in your kitchen? If you have dingy or aging
flooring, there are plenty of ways you can change it, according to
Laurie Peirick, owner of JP Kitchen Design Studio in Oconomowoc.
"Replacing the flooring with vinyl that looks like ceramic tile
or wood is one way to get the look of much more expensive natural
flooring. Patterns range from traditional to sophisticated and
exotic," she says. "You can put these floors in over a
weekend and they will last for five years or more."
Switch on with new appliances
Still holding on to your avocado green refrigerator and stove in
the hope they will make a comeback? Or, perhaps your stove,
refrigerator and dishwasher are mismatched. For a great new look, you
might want to consider updating and coordinating your appliances, Erb
suggests. "You might have all black appliances or all white and
you want to refresh them," he says. "Right now, our biggest
sellers are stainless steel and anything that can have a wood panel
placed on the front to camouflage it. Thereís so much that is new.
We have a dishwasher that has a hidden control panel inside the
machine. If you havenít been shopping lately, itís exciting to see
what is available."
Cover your walls
Changing what is on your walls can completely transform your room,
Peirick says. "Nothing beats a new coat of paint for improving
the look of a room. Iím seeing a lot of earthy colors right now.
They can make a room warmer and cozier," she says. And, donít
worry too much about using dark colors in a small room. "If you
have a lot of light, you can use a darker color," she adds.
Adding a backsplash to the area between your cabinets and
countertops is one more way to completely alter the look of your
kitchen. "You can liven up your kitchen with a tile backsplash.
There are hundreds of different tile designs. You can even have tiles
custom-made for you," Erb says. If you donít want to use
ceramic tile, stainless steel and glass are two alternatives.
"This kind of work is not very labor-intensive or costly and it
can be done quickly," he notes.