Maybe a full kitchen remodel is not in your budget. (Don't feel bad – who's got money these days?) Still, there are a few projects you can take on that will change the look and feel of your kitchen. Remember that small improvements add up, and if you do them in the right order, you're on your way to a kitchen face lift. I worked as a remodeler for many years (and still do) and I have seen the following projects make a difference in quite a few kitchens.
1. Organize and enhance storage areas: The kitchen is a room where clutter tends to accumulate. Minimize chaos even in the smallest spaces. Purchase baskets or decorative storage bins to hide infrequently used items above cabinets and free up cabinet space. Keep countertops clear, especially if counter space is limited and consider wall storage options instead. Shelving comes in many different styles – including brackets that can be installed on angled walls. Don’t ignore corners, or the backside of doors as potential storage areas. Browse specialty websites for ideas and products to find solutions to the most hard-to-solve organizational problems.
2. Do some decorative painting: Look around and identify areas that need spicing up. Don’t underestimate the impact of adding color in unexpected places. Kass Wilson, artist and creator of Wallstreat Studio, a faux painting company in Atlanta, Georgia, recommends homeowners try painting a vent hood. She explains, “The vent hood is often the highest visual point and decorating it can break up a sea of cabinetry, especially if you have backsplash you can highlight at the same time.” Since most vent hoods are built in accordance with code, "If you have a little bit of basic skill you can dress up a store bought vent hood by building a 'skin' around it using plywood or MDF, then attaching decorative architectural trim. Once painted, it becomes a focal point in the kitchen."
3. Get rid of boring backsplashes: A portion of colorful wall next to a countertop can brighten the entire kitchen if painted in a contrasting color. Or, try applying textured vinyl-coated wallpaper. There are several other products available to give homeowners the ability to upgrade such as peel-n-stick metal tiles (including stainless steel and copper with brushed or antique finish options), as well as DIY kits for installing glass mosaic tile. If there is an existing monotone backsplash, there are a variety of tile decals to choose from to create a new look inexpensively.
4. Refinish or paint old wood cabinets: Do you have old wood cabinets with a dull finish but can’t afford to replace them? Think about refinishing or painting them. Add decorative trim to plain cabinet doors, or buy new door fronts. Paint or replace old, worn hinges and hardware. Add new hardware backplates ― they are functional and will showcase new hardware while hiding defects and holes.
5. Expand without gutting: Consulting with a contractor is a great way to brainstorm ideas and implement changes to an inefficient, claustrophobic floor plan and is more affordable than most homeowners expect. Tom Hosken, owner of THOSK Home Improvement Specialists in Derry, New Hampshire, often suggests opening up the kitchen to surrounding rooms. "Open concept kitchens that flow into living rooms bring families together and provide an opportunity for individuals preparing meals to simultaneously entertain guests." Completely or partially removing a wall, or stealing space from an adjoining room, can make a tremendous difference in the way a kitchen feels and isn’t nearly as costly or inconvenient as demolishing the entire kitchen and starting from scratch.
Laura Foster-Bobroff is a Hometalk - http://www.hometalk.com - writer. Read more articles like this one - http://www.networx.com/article/5-ways-to-improve-your-kitchen-without-r - or get help with your home projects on Hometalk.com.