Budget Kitchen Decorating Ideas

by Kathleen Wilson

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  1. Repaint those cabinets! Unless you have high quality wood cabinets, chances are they could use some rejuvenation, and painted finishes are very hot! There are many techniques you can easily learn to give your kitchen cabinets an expensive designer look. Crackling, faux finishing, and glazing are all quite simple and cost effective. Try the Internet for some guidance; most major paint manufacturers have websites with great instructions! Try www.dutchboy.com or www.fauxlikeapro.com.
  2. Paint those walls! These days the kitchen is the hub of the home, and we all feel more comfortable in rooms that offer mood and character. If you have wood cabinets, color on the walls will make the wood appear richer, and emphasize your accessories.
  3. Make carved look molding and appliqués. There are several techniques for creating beautiful moldings and architectural embellishments for very little money. You can either use joint compound and a cake-decorating bag to create beautiful designs on plain wood strips, then prime and paint, or use my "salt dough" method. I use the same salt dough recipe that children often use for making Christmas decorations. I cut the dough into simple shapes such as leaves, ropes, or scrolls. Then let dry or bake as the recipe dictates. Now simply use a glue gun to attach to wood strips and then prime and paint! This gives you a little more control over the finished piece, and also is a lot cheaper! Here's a hint. If you use this method for appliqués, paint before you attach. These are great attached to the front of cabinet doors, or over doorways. See the two recipes that I use below.

    Salt Dough Recipe

    2 cups flour
    1/2 cup salt
    Water added by the tablespoon until the desired consistency
    1-2 Tablespoons salad oil added to help keep it from drying and cracking

    Place the pieces on a cookie sheet in a 250-degree oven for 1 hour, then check every 15 minutes until hard, but not overly brown.

    Cornstarch Recipe

    (While this recipe is a little more inconvenient because of the air drying, it yields a much finer product, almost like porcelain.)

    2 cups baking soda
    1 cup cornstarch
    1 1/4 cups water

    Heat the above ingredients in a saucepan until thick, let cool, and then knead out on a board dusted with cornstarch. Cut or work into desired shapes, then let air dry at least 24 hours or more.

  4. Use fabric in your kitchen. Years ago, there was a belief that you shouldn't use fabric in a kitchen because of the grease and food splatters, and the difficulty cleaning. Nowadays, most fabrics can be thrown in the washer and dryer, so go ahead and use it! It softens the kitchen, can add romance or charm, and makes it feel like a warm connection to the rest of your house, instead of a cold utilitarian space. Curtains or valances, appliance covers, and table runners all can be easily stitched at home. (Or fused with an iron and hem tape available at your sewing or craft store.) Fabric does not have to be expensive either. Flat twin sheets are always a great value, and can be gotten on sale. Keep an eye out at garage sales for sheets, quilts, tablecloths, and even clothing that have your color schemes.
  5. Give yourself stone counters for less than $40! Ok, ordinarily even $40 for one project is a little much for me, but this one has such a large impact and is so easy, that it's definitely worth it! The secret? Paint! Get a book from the library, or search the Internet for instructions on the stone faux finish of your choice, (practice on cardboard first!) then follow these steps. For this to be successful, there is one step you cannot skimp on. Prime your countertops with a primer specially made for non-porous surfaces! Bin or KILZ are both good brands. (I also like to use their water-based variety, check the can carefully!) Now paint your faux finish. Allow to dry thoroughly, 24 hours is best. Now simply give it four or five coats of water-based polyurethane, let dry, and enjoy years of a beautiful kitchen! Save some of your original paint so if you ever do get a chip, touch up is a breeze. I promise you, visitors to your home will be hard pressed to tell that it isn't a $5000 counter!

Kathleen Wilson is author of Quick Decorating Ideas Under $20: The Budget Decorator's Bible and editor of the popular ezine, The Budget Decorator. You can find more free ideas and information on ordering her book at TheBudgetDecorator.com.

© 2003 K. Wilson All Rights Reserved

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