Kitchen reno can get expensive

If you are unsatisfied with your kitchen, think first about what the challenges are. Is it lack of counter space? A storage problem? Inefficient appliances?

If you are unsatisfied with your kitchen, think first about what the challenges are. Is it lack of counter space? A storage problem? Inefficient appliances?

This is the most expensive room in the house to renovate, but it isn’t always necessary to do a massive overhaul to get results that please you.

Prioritize what needs to be replaced and what can simply be renewed. One of my most successful books is my Kitchen and Bath book, which covers hundreds of ways you can update these rooms without paying a fortune.

In many cases, redoing the kitchen cabinets was the solution to a fresh, new look, and it’s not difficult. Here are two completely different kitchens that illustrate the power of cabinet style.

The first kitchen was part of a basement suite. The appliances, orange countertop and gray linoleum floor were old but still in good shape and serviceable.

Storage space was limited, so I hung extra cabinets to separate the kitchen from the living area. The kitchen is on view in an open design and the cabinets were plain and lifeless.

Here’s the opportunity I was looking for. I painted the lowers in a deep burnt orange shade that is cheerful and bright. The uppers were treated to a metallic gray finish, very modern, and it tied in with the floor.

A paint job and new hardware did the trick. I replaced the old white tile backsplash with mirrored tile and added more punch by grouting around the tiles in orange. The result is a kitchen with a contemporary look at little cost.

The second kitchen has all the charm and details of a Country kitchen. The cabinets and plate rack set the style.

You can transform any plain cabinet doors with paint, but also by adding trim and raised panels. The doors in the upper cabinets can be cut to hold glass and mesh inserts. The open storage adds character and colour with pretty crockery on view and easy to reach.

The range of storage, open shelves, mesh door cabinets and solid panel fronts is unified with the all white paint and tiles.

If you decide to give your cabinets a facelift, here are some points to make the job easier and guarantee a professional finish.

Remove the cabinets doors and hardware.

You can paint over laminate (Melamine), but you must prepare the surface properly as paint will not stick to a slippery surface.

Sand and then apply a high adhesion paint primer that is designed to cover slippery surfaces including high gloss paint and laminates. Allow the primer to dry for twelve hours before painting.

Two thin coats of paint are better than one thick coat. Let dry and sand lightly between coats for a smooth finish.

Kitchen surfaces call for tough finishes that can withstand lots of clean up, so choose water-based latex or acrylic in a semi-gloss paint finish.

To lighten up dark stained wood cabinets, sand to remove the finishing varnish coat. Mix a coloured glaze, 1 cup glazing liquid, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup paint (gray, white or pale pink). Apply a thin coat in the direction of the wood grain. Play with one door until you get the desired effect. Finish with two coats of varnish for protection.

Shop for new handles. There is a great range of styles available that will complement any style you have in mind.

Take an old handle with you so that you can match up the screw holes. Otherwise you will have to fill and sand the old screw holes on your cabinet doors and this is not only time-consuming, but difficult to get perfect.

Debbie Travis’ column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to

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