Brand New Kitchen on a Budget
Design experts Kenneth Brown and Joan Kohn share 5 inexpensive upgrades to make your old kitchen design like new.
Filed under: Indoor Lighting, Interior Painting, Kitchen Backsplash, Kitchen Flooring, Kitchen Lighting
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3. Create or Invest in a New Backsplash
Kitchen backsplashes provide much-needed focal points for many kitchens, and are a great way to add new life into old design. On one tightly budgeted project, Brown and the homeowners decided to put money into a dramatic backsplash, and spend less on other features. "We found glass mosaic tile [in shades of red, aqua and gold] and created our own pattern and had it installed," he says. It immediately draws the eye into the kitchen.
Wilson has used no-fire glass paints to stencil or stamp colorful designs on existing ceramic tile to give it a custom look. In her own kitchen, "we didn't have tile backsplashes and didn't want to rent a tile cutter." The solution? She bought some beautiful stone floor tiles, broke them and created a random mosaic on the wall, followed up with silicone adhesive and grout. Total cost: About $10 for a space 10" high by 20' long.
She suggests checking with ceramic shops for broken pieces of pottery, or using broken china to create your own mosaic backsplash. Or, buy a select few high-end painted or carved tiles and then create a mosaic around them. Reglazing ceramic tile is also an option, says Brown. "If done properly, it can bring a whole room to life, but the trick is finding the person to do it who knows what they're doing."
4. Creatively Upgrade Your Kitchen Floor
Kohn says spending money on quality flooring is well worth it, because flooring is so crucial to the overall look and feel of the room. Extend the hardwood flooring from your dining room into the kitchen, for instance.
"A new kitchen floor that continues the architecture in the rest of the house is a wonderful way to harmonize the design," Kohn says. She's also a fan of classic looks in the kitchen, such as black and white checkered linoleum. "A nice coat of white paint for the walls and cabinets, a black and white checked linoleum floor, and red knobs or a set of red canisters on the counter to give a punch of color" provide style that's "never out of date," Kohn says.
For a more contemporary feel, Brown has installed large sheets of maple plywood, which were left in their natural color and then sealed. Wilson created a faux leather floor in her kitchen with simple brown craft paper. She tore the paper into sheets and installed it on the floor with several coats of polyurethane. "I love it. It looks high end and very individual," she says. And if you can't afford to replace, you can always cover your kitchen floor with inexpensive rugs.
5. Light Up Your Kitchen
"Layering the lighting can definitely change the mood" of the kitchen says Brown. He likes under-cabinet "hockey puck" lights available at most home improvement stores, which are easy to install.
If you're lucky enough to have glass doors on your cabinets, you also can add lighting to the cabinet interiors to create a dramatic effect says Stephanie Badillo, an interior designer with The Home Depot in New York. Badillo also says changing overhead fixtures can make a big difference.
Wilson suggests bringing in a lovely lamp from your living room or den and placing it on the kitchen counter or tabletop to add personality to the kitchen.
(Contributions to this article from Kathy McCleary)
Joan Kohn shares those years of accumulated knowledge in It's Your Kitchen, which is as much of a useful how-to manual as it is...