The kitchen is the hub of most homes today, and is the room we spend the most time in outside the bedroom! It deserves to be thought of as a style show stopper, and there are some quick and inexpensive ways to achieve that without doing a remodel that could cost you thousands.
- Change the cabinets. Unless you have high quality wood cabinets, paint them! There are so many paint and glaze combinations you could use. The varieties are endless. Just be sure to clean the cabinets well with tsp (found at any paint or discount store) sand, prime, then paint and allow to dry thoroughly before putting hardware and doors back on. It's a lot of work, but a huge reward can be realized for a couple of cans of paint.
- Change the cabinet doors. If you don't want to repaint the whole set of cabinets (or even if you do), consider some changes to some or all of your cabinet doors. Frame drawings or pictures of your kids and hang on the door with Velcro. Remove a door or two altogether, paint the inside of the cabinet a coordinating color, and use as a display area. You can add cheap stick up lights to the underside of the shelves. Cut out the wood panel and add shirred fabric, or staple chicken wire to the inside frame. Stencil a signature motif on each door in an accent color you have chosen for the room.
- Paint the walls. Because the cabinets take up so much wall space, it seems like painting the walls might not make a big difference, but it does. It sets off the cabinets, sets a mood, and reduces that clinical feeling utilitarian spaces can often have. Pick a medium tone to rich wall color and go for it! (Because it's a small area of wall space, you can use richer or brighter tones without worrying about it overwhelming the room.)
- Add some fabric. Visit your local fabric or discount store and look for a pretty floral, stripe, or print on a white or cream background for a fresh feel. Sew up some curtains, edge shelving, and tablecloths to layer, and add softness and charm. Most fabric stores have a discount table. You'd be surprised at the finds! Other options for cheap fabric? Sheets. Discount shops, yard sales, or even your own linen closet might yield some terrific fabric for your re-do.
You can change those ugly vinyl floors! You have options, even if you can't afford to replace them right now. Self-stick vinyl tiles have come a long way, and can be installed in just an afternoon. Since the floor space in a kitchen in often limited, it shouldn't cost a lot to recover. Black and white checks are classic, but they have more and more wood and stone looks being produced that don't have that shiny "I'm fake" feeling to them.
Another option is to actually paint your vinyl floors. This can produce beautiful custom results, but you'll have to eliminate kitchen traffic for several days. Strip the floor of any wax or residue. Then coat the floor with a primer made exclusively for non-porous surfaces. I like KILZ or BIN. Let dry at least overnight. Now paint in your desired pattern or color. You can use 1/4-inch masking tape to mask off "grout" lines, and then use any faux or traditional technique, from faux stone, to wood grain, to stenciling. Finally, seal with four to six coats of a water based polyurethane to protect. Again, let dry well before you open the kitchen to traffic. When the floor starts to look a little dull, just add another coat of poly. By the way, you can also use this technique on laminate counters.
Finally, don't forget those throw rugs. Check discount stores, yard sales, and thrift shops.
- Add accessories. Most people think of the kitchen as a practical space, but accessories are the jewelry of the home. Add personality by hanging some pretty plates from the dollar shop or yard sales, make a rustic wood painted plaque from scrap, or start a collection of antique silverware and hang along the wall. Display your pretty ceramic pieces; check out your discount stores (or your cupboards) for colored glass pieces to display in the window. Set small-framed prints of your kids on the windowsill, and bring in some greenery or flowers to set on the counter in a pretty creamer. And above all, put those beautiful drawings from your kids up on that refrigerator. What accessory could be more special?
Kathy Wilson is an author, columnist, and editor of The Budget Decorator. For hundreds of free budget decorating ideas, and to sign up for her free online newsletter and receive a free ebook, visit her at TheBudgetDecorator.com
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