Paint the Kitchen for a Low-Budget Upgrade You'll Love


If your kitchen is looking somewhat the worse for wear but your wallet is on the empty side, it's time to start thinking out of the box. You may not be able to afford a full-scale luxury kitchen remodel ... but what about a spirit-lifting upgrade at a fraction of the cost? Pick up a paint roller and one of the various new specialty paints which are custom-made for transforming kitchen features like appliances or countertops. Then get ready for an exciting new look that will make you love your kitchen again.

Paint Your Walls. Long-lasting high-quality wall paint is a good investment anywhere in your home, but especially in the kitchen, where it needs to stand up to lots of wear and tear. A semi-gloss finish will be easier to scrub. Do be aware, though, that the higher the gloss, the more it shows up any dents, bumps, or other imperfections in your walls, so don't skip the pre-painting repair work. Scrub off any grease and grime, also. TIP: Light paint colors not only brighten up your kitchen, they also have less of a tendency to discolor.

Paint Your Cabinets. This is a somewhat lengthy procedure -- you will have to take the cabinets down off your walls (and later rehang them, of course) to achieve smooth even results. But if your existing cabinetry is in good shape and just needs a fresher, more modern look, repainting the kitchen cabinets is a great upgrade that will be a lot less expensive than ordering a whole new set. You'll have to prime melamine or plastic laminate cabinetry with an acrylic bonding primer. Waterborne alkyd is recommended for the actual paint job.

Paint Your Refrigerator. Funny how appliance colors come and go. Although coffee, harvest gold, avocado, and bisque refrigerators all had their heyday, now the places you are most likely to spot them is in low-budget rentals or garage kitchenettes. If your fridge's current color features on this year's hit list -- or if you simply want an interesting, inexpensive change of pace, try painting it for a new look. First remove its handles and hinges. Clean and sand the exterior to remove the gloss and prepare for better paint adhesion. Then roll on the finish of your choice, such as stainless steel paint or appliance epoxy. Have patience, please, as you may need to apply as many as three coats to cover your fridge effectively. Wait two hours after the last coat before reattaching hardware.

Paint Your Vent Hood. Yes, you can paint your range's vent hood. Start by making sure that it is smooth and spotless. Clean and degrease with trisodium phosphate (diluted as per the manufacturer's instructions) and steel wool; then sand and wipe off any sanding dust. Once the hood is dry, apply appliance paint made especially for high-heat surfaces. You may need to prime first or use two coats, as directed by the paint manufacturer. Spray paint will give you the most even coverage.

Paint Your Countertops. Practical but boring, laminate countertops are a common feature in many builder grade kitchens. Add a little pizzazz with paint. As with other kitchen painting projects, it is essential to get the counters squeaky clean and sanded before you begin. (Fill any cracks that are wider than 1/8 inch, as well.) Protect your backsplash, sink, and faucet with painter's tape. Then go wild with a countertop paint kit, which contains the essentials for transforming your counters to gorgeous faux granite or a sleekly modern solid color. Seal well to protect against moisture.

Laura Firszt writes for


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