Thursday, November 21, 2013

Let's dress up that kitchen!!

People seem to think that when they get tired of their kitchen or it becomes outdated, the only way to remedy that situation is to hire a designer, contractor and take out a second mortgage to gut the kitchen and start from scratch........not true....well, most of the time anyway.

Below are some photo's of some really ugly kitchens.  Could you pretty the kitchen below or is it one of the few that just needs to be gutted?  Unfortunately, this kitchen needs a gut job.  I don't see anything (including layout) that needs to be saved.
What about the kitchen above?  It's ugly, but with a little work, it doesn't need to be gutted.  By the way, I think every host of every DIY show that EVER recommended painting just the doors needs to be jailed - for life.  UGH!
The kitchen above is a DIY gone horribly wrong.....horribly.  Maybe if it wasn't filthy and cluttered on top of being ugly - it might not be so bad - yeah, it would.
Now the kitchen above is outdated BUT the space is good.  The cabinets look to be in decent shape and the layout is fine.  This kitchen just needs a face lift - not a gut job.

This is my rule of thumb on whether to gut or make pretty.  If the cabinets are still in good shape and the layout is comfortable - face lift is in order.  However, if not - gut it.

Now about those cabinets.  Sometimes the shelves inside will sag or perhaps (especially beneath the sink area) there was an old leak and it made the bottom sag or maybe even rot.  That is still no reason to rip them out.  All you have to do is replace the sagging shelf or cut a new floor for the cabinet beneath the sink and presto!  Good as new.  If the drawer fronts are falling off, you can usually fix that too.  Little wood glue, a few brad nails and again, good as new.

The bottoms of most drawers are made from very thin plywood and over time, these can sag causing the drawers to stick whenever you try to open or close them.  Sometimes they sag to the point that items put into the drawer will slip out and fall into the cabinet below or (worse still) get wedged causing your drawer to not open or close at all.  Again, cut a new piece and pop it in.

Some homeowners go a little bit crazy on the DIY.  They grossly overdo.  This is evidenced in the photo's above where they painted a wall pink, painted just the doors and/or stenciled pretty flowers onto the doors. While this may make you smile at first - it will quickly wear on you and before you know it, you begin avoiding your kitchen.  Unless you love redoing your kitchen and/or bath - Unless you have tons of money to spend on redoing them - Unless you have all the time in the world to spend on redoing them - stay away from momentary fads please.

So how to redo the kitchen without spending a ton of money?  Simple.  Do it yourself.  There are some items that I HIGHLY recommend you splurge and let a professional handle.  Unless your DIY level is right up there with a licensed contractor, let the professionals install your counter tops, move any electrical, water or gas lines, install that new dishwasher or lay down the new floor tiles.  But if you've done everything else but those items, you can afford to hire a professional for these things.  Sometimes you can save a lot of money by buying the materials needed and just paying the professional to do the install.  A tip on that subject is be wary of going this route for the following reasons.  (1) some contractors refuse to install anything that they haven't provided so it may take a bit of shopping around to find one who will (2) some contractors get crazy good deals from their suppliers so while you may think your shopping turned up some great buys - the contractor might be able to get the very same thing even cheaper. (3) You're not a contractor and neither is the nice person at the big box store who swears you bought more than enough tiles to do your kitchen floor.  Sometimes both of you are wrong and if you buy the closeout deal and you didn't buy enough - you will be forced to eat that money and timeline because the contractor is going to have to buy more tile and delay your project until it comes in.  Good news is - you'll have lots of tiles in the garage for future projects or to sell online. (that's not really good news - I was just trying to think of something nice to say). And my last tip on the subject is to let you know that contactors are just like everyone else in the world - you can negotiate with them on pricing.

But having said that, with a little (a lot) of sanding and patience, you really can redo your kitchen and love it!  Now let's look at some ways to camoflauge those old cabinets.
Paint and molding.  The bottom portion of this photo shows you what these cabinets used to look like.  Not at all custom.  Stock oak cabinets.  The portion above it is very custom yet all it took was a little bit of rope molding and paint.  If you ordered these doors for your kitchen it would cost you a very pretty penny.  Do it yourself and you are looking at dinner and a movie for a family of 4 price range.  People are always so afraid to attempt this themselves.  Trust me - it's not at all hard!  Do a couple of them and if after that, you still don't think you're doing a good job - then hire a professional.  But I promise you - if you take your time and do the prep work required?  You'll do a great job and save a ton of money!

In the last photo of the kitchens above, it has a nice layout with lots of counter top area.  The biggest problem with it (aside from the ugly) is that it is a dark kitchen.  At some point in the late 60's contractors stopped putting kitchens in the sunny areas of houses and rather began sticking them by the garage or an interior section of the house.  This made for very dark and uninviting kitchens.

Dark kitchens are not enjoyable nor do they inspire anyone to spend any time in them.  They become storage.  Using reflective surfaces and adding a few extra lights will turn them into a place anyone would want to spend time in!  To do that, add glass to the upper cabinets and string rope lighting underneath all the cabinets.  Rope lights are inexpensive, use very little energy and add drama and light to an otherwise dull and dark area.

The addition of glass in the upper cabinets also acts as faux windows giving the impression of space.  It tricks our minds into thinking we have a window.  It also reflects light so it bounces around the kitchen area which makes us think the area is both larger, brighter and cleaner than it actually is.

Adding glass to a cabinet door is really not difficult.  Below is a link that details the 7 steps to do this just like a professional.

7 steps - one weekend - done deal!

By the way, if you don't have gorgeous dishes or maybe you don't always have your cabinets organized all nice and pretty - add a frosted glass to the doors.  You will still get the full effect but no one will actually be able to see your things.

When you're redoing your kitchen - please don't forget your ceiling.  Below are some great shots of kitchens with either wallpaper or stainless tiles on the ceiling.  These are especially great if you live in an old house that maybe has shifted with time causing cracks and/or an uneven surface.  Or maybe years ago there was a leak that has since been fixed.  The stain will pretty much always be there and if you paint it, over time, it will come back.  I think these are gorgeous!
Stainless steel tiles are a great DIY material.  You can cut them yourself with metal scissors and the job should only take the better part of an afternoon.
The wallpaper above is gorgeous!  However, when working with a strip design, you really have to be spot on when installing it or you will step back to crooked lines.  If I were going to do this myself, I'd choose a floral or other more forgiving graphic design.
The picture above is a tin stamped wallpaper.  It has all the texture of a tin stamped tile but is more subtle. This type of paper can be painted if desired or (as above) left natural.  I love the subtlety of it.

As I said earlier, sometimes a person wants to rip out all their cabinets because the inside of them have deteriorated to the point of ugly.  Lots of people spend the time and money to redo the outside of their cabinets but completely neglect the interiors.  As long as you never actually open your cabinets - they look amazing.  A lot of the time, the years have not been kind to the interior of your cabinetry.  The interior walls are in rough shape, the back has become stained.  A quick and really easy fix to this would be to wallpaper them.
This works really well for open shelving as well.  It adds a punch of pattern and/or color which makes anything look better and more cheerful.  Plus, when your mood or design tastes change - it's an easy do over.

Adding wallpaper to the interior of cabinets or shelving is a really quick and easy fix.  Painting them can take a bit more effort and time.  You might have to sand the interior walls to fix any irregularities and to remove any varnish.  Then you'll want to prime the area before adding the final coat of paint.  But once done, it looks amazing.  Below are a few examples.

I love the painted look!  Again, if you tire of the color - slap on a different one.

The picture above is an open shelving unit in a living room.  The darker paint on the back wall of the shelving unit adds drama, a punch of color and it allows the contents to really pop!

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a huge fan of cutting holes in my walls between the studs and fashioning shelving in the "new" space.  How about doing that in your kitchen so you can store your spices? This will free up tons of cabinet space for you!  Below is a picture that shows how this might look.  Go to the thrift store or to a big box retailer and buy a couple of pieces of artwork on canvas.  Then add a couple of hinges to them and put them over your new shelves.  When not in use, the shelves simply appear to be beautiful artwork.  Great idea!
As I've stated a zillion times,  DIY can go drastically horribly bad.  Sometimes the idea doesn't exactly match the all.  One of those "seemed like a good idea at the time" moments.

Below is a picture that shows how a homeowner solved a problem.  They owned a ranch style home built in the 70's.  At the time the house was built, the contractor added the washer/dryer hook-ups in the kitchen.  A fairly common issue for ranch style houses built around that time.  Laundry rooms weren't all the rage that they are now.  You pretty much either got yours in a tiny room built onto the back of your carport or you got them in the kitchen.  This homeowner had theirs in the kitchen.

The major issue with having your laundry in the kitchen is that it not only stood out like a sore thumb - you lost valuable counter top space.  This homeowner felt that this would never do and decided to think outside the box and come up with a creative solution.  Below is the result.
While it looks like they did a good job and it took a considerable amount of time to get this's still really really ugly.

But that's just me......


  1. Not sure an artichoke is a great kitchen decoration.

    1.'s not so great to eat either....

  2. I agree that much can be learned and adopted from this common, Thanks for this interesting blog related to dress upor perfectily design that kitchen at good cost.
    kitchen interior design