Renovation & Design

Kitchen renos don't have to break the bank

This grey-blue paint has a cottage-style look that is both charming and current. The panelled backsplash and wall is a clever coverup for dated tiles.

Dated or worn kitchen cabinets can be a huge eyesore in the kitchen. No matter how much you decorate around them, they still stick out like a sore thumb. Cabinets take up the majority of visual space in the kitchen so they play a huge part of the overall decor.

Replacing them is a huge expense that is not always necessary if the cabinets are in decent shape. Refacing cabinets is a less expensive endeavor but might still be out of reach if you're on a tight budget. An affordable update is possible if you're willing to put some elbow grease into the project.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is the least expensive way to give them a fresh look. As you can see from our feature kitchen photo, courtesy of Kohler, the right paint colour can transform a dated or tired kitchen. The grey-blue paint has a cottage-style look that is both charming and current. The panelled backsplash and wall suits this style beautifully and is a clever coverup for dated tiles. I like the dry finish of the paint. It has an elegance and depth to it versus a high-gloss finish. Paints today don't need to be high gloss to be durable, thankfully.

The paint colour you choose will depend on a few factors. Stationary items, such as flooring, appliances and the countertop (if not being replaced) need to be considered when choosing a paint colour for the cabinets. Once you've determined the colour realm you'll be working with (warm or cool colours for instance) then you can have fun with choosing the right colour or colours for your cabinets.

You don't have to stick with one colour either. Check out decorating sites and magazines for ideas for duo colour combos for kitchen cabinets. It can be attractive to split the top and bottom cabinets with two different colours, for example.

You can opt out of painting the inside of the cabinets if they are in decent shape and are neutral in colour. White shelf liner is a good idea and might be enough to brighten up the interiors if you really don't want to paint. If your cabinets are dark inside and out, then it might be a good idea to paint the interiors as well to keep things like and bright.

If it's affordable, it's a good time to consider updating the countertop, sink and cabinet hardware to give the kitchen a truly fresh look. A gorgeous kitchen sink, like the Kohler sink and faucet featured in our kitchen photo, can create a dramatic change in a lackluster kitchen.

New cabinet hardware can be pricy if you're looking for matching pieces, so consider mixing things up a bit and using less expensive, mismatched hardware that has a similar finish or can be co-ordinated with other mismatched items. If you decide to paint the top and bottom cabinets two different colours, for instance, then it would be fine to use a different style of hardware with each colour. If your current hardware has a great style but is just the wrong colour, then consider painting it with a fresh colour to give it a new look. There are lots of options so don't get tied down fretting over rules about matching sets. My advice would be to drop into several hardware stores and head for the clearance bins to see what you can find. The only thing you have to keep in mind is the size of the existing hardware so you can find pulls that will fit the holes in your current cabinets. It's a good idea to take a piece of the existing hardware with you when you're out shopping.

New linens and window treatments will finish off the new kitchen decor. If the flooring is boring, then consider colourful kitchen mats to co-ordinate with your new colour scheme. Include a few new accessories, such as black and white photography, to give the new space a modern touch. A hanging pot rack and wall knife rack will free up cupboard space and give the kitchen a chef's flair. Even something as simple as a new trash container can add to the look. These are all things that are affordable and doable and can add up to an overall fresh decor.

Kitchens take a beating over time, so it's good to freshen them up on a regular basis. Work with what you have and buy what you can afford. Use paint to update the big things and include a few new touches to give the room back its vitality. This should keep the space fresh and user-friendly for years to come.


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