The Story of Two Kitchens

Our first home was a duplex. The two units had the exact same layout, but the feel of each was dramatically different; a testimony to how small differences in things like paint and flooring can make huge impacts. The kitchens of both units were very dated. One got a remodel, while the other only got a makeover. Both looked much better when completed, but for a very different price tag.

The upstairs was in need of a remodel. The linoleum was worn through, and the pet of a former resident had damaged the lower cupboards. This room was gutted, and redone with new counters, cupboards, and a tile floor. A dishwasher was installed, and the stove was replaced. The ceiling was stippled and fresh paint was applied to the walls and ceiling. It was a huge improvement, but it also came with a hefty price tag. Even with keeping to the low end for supplies and fixtures, and providing all the labor ourselves, that one room remodel ran about $5000. Yikes!

The lower kitchen really was sound. The counter and the cupboards were in good shape. The floor had a few nicks, but overall was fine. The kitchen though was just ugly. The back splash was pink ceramic tile. The counters were a white background with a pink and gray pattern that reminded me of a 50's diner. The floor was also a white background with a faint gray and pink pattern.

We knew that we would not be living in that house long term, and could not justify the cost of another kitchen remodel when everything really was in good shape. We decided to just give it a makeover. The cupboards got a light sanding and a fresh coat of polyurethane. They looked beautiful. I found a product called Gripper to use as a primer on the tile back splash. We picked the wall color, a deep blue/green color, and used the computer match at the store to choose several other complimentary colors. The tile squares were painted randomly with the variety of the colors chosen. Trim was painted white, and crown molding was added, as was a new light fixture. Not much I could do about the counters, but they were less noticeable with all the other color in the room. We had intended to replace the floor, but that project did not get completed before we moved. The kitchen looked so much better. ( Wouldn't you know I can find before pictures of the kitchen, but no after pictures! ) It was not quite the dramatic change that occurred in the upstairs kitchen, but it also did not have quite the price tag. All totaled it cost about $300.Two kitchens both with a new look, but also with very different price tags.

Sometimes we need a change in our homes; a little freshening. It can be tempting to toss it all and get new. Often we can just make a few small changes that completely change a room. If you are talking about a kitchen, fresh paint to the walls, ceiling, or the back splash brings a lot of bang for relatively few bucks. Personally I prefer wooden cupboards, but they can be painted too. To freshen their look without painting new hardware can make a big difference. Try adding a border or new curtains for a simple change. Other small changes that can be made include light fixtures, door hardware, such as Schlage, or the addition of decorative items like antique plates, pictures, or a collection of tea cups.

Sometimes a complete remodel is called for, but before investing your time and money into that project consider if a smaller makeover could do the job. If the components of the room are in good shape, but not to your taste, think of ways that you could freshen them up a bit. What are some other ideas you've used to bring new life to your outdated kitchen?

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