Quick Fix for a Tired Kitchen

Until recently, we lived in an old house. Not old enough to be considered historical, or even classic, just old enough to be considered junky. There’s not a straight line or level plane anywhere in sight, and without a total demolition and reconstruction, we’re pretty much limited to cosmetic fixes.Being rather limited, income wise (which is why we live in an old house in the first place), my goal has been to make the biggest possible improvement for the least financial output. I decided to start in the kitchen, the worst room in the house.This is a standard “farm kitchen”, in other words, it’s huge. Lots of floor area, covered with hideous linoleum, old cabinets made of plain wood that go all the way to the ceiling, walls painted beige with flat latex, supremely ugly counters…you get the picture. This was surely the Frankenstein of kitchens, cobbled together with bits and pieces that didn’t match. My job was to pull it together, make it appealing to the eye, and do it all on a miniscule budget. I’ve read some of those remodeling magazines, and my God, they estimate that simple remodeling costs as much as a whole house! Well, they’re wrong.First I decided on my color scheme. I like a clean, modern look, so I picked white semi-gloss for the walls (easy to clean), with gray doorframes, baseboards and trim. Now I can use whatever colors I want for accents. I felt a burst of color was necessary to liven up this huge expanse, so I chose a red countertop. I went to a local home building center, and purchased a premade formica covered counter for about $10.00 a linear foot. The counter is 12 feet long, so that’s $120.00, a far cry from the magazines estimate of $1000.00 for a 12 foot formica counter. I found a white double sink on sale for $35.00, along with a red, single handle faucet that perfectly matched the counter. It was under $20.00. For the floor, I bought Armstrong adhesive linoleum tiles, in a gray marble design that matched the trim color. The cost was under $100.00 for a room that’s 20′X 14′. A couple of throw rugs with nonskid backing in front of the sink and stove finished it off.Next were the cabinets, the toughest part. After 60 years of use, they were chipped, and had fine cracks in the wood. Stripping and refinishing was a job I didn’t want to tackle, and paying a pro would cost hundreds of dollars. I couldn’t just paint them, the gouges and dings would be too visible. While browsing in K-Mart one day, I ran across some granite look texture paint. I bought a can of Krylon Make-It-Stone, in a gray with black and white flecks, and did a test door. This stuff is great! It fills in imperfections, covers stains, and hides dirt extremely well. It comes in about six different shades, ranging from gray, to sandstone, to green. Do NOT use the FleckStone brand, it’s cheaper but much thinner. I tried it on a different door and it looked horrible. It took me 10 cans, at $10.00 a can. A hundred dollars is a chunk of change, but it was well worth it. Each can of paint comes with a can of sealer, which you must use to lock out grease and dirt, and to make it washable. Make sure you ventilate the room well when using the sealer, it is truly noxious.I added some red drawer and cabinet handles, and two new mini blinds for the windows, and I was finished! I’d spent under $400.00 and had a completely different kitchen. The cabinet treatment has gotten lots of comments and compliments, because it’s quite unique. People that saw my kitchen “before” and “after” were amazed at what I’d done on such a tight budget. With the assistance of technology you can now easily see how things will look without actually applying the changes.I hope you’ve gotten a couple of ideas that you can use in your own kitchen out of this. The main thing to remember is that if you take a little bit of time to hunt, you can find good quality materials cheaply. Your first stop should be one of the large builder’s stores, like Home Depot, they have prices that are hard to beat! Stores like K-Mart and Wal-Mart also have some nifty items like outlet covers, switch covers, and drawer pulls. The main thing is to take your time and look for what you like at the best price.Now, go take a look around your kitchen and see what you can do to spice it up!