Quick Tips for a Kitchen Facelift

Daniel Drolet
for Canwest News Service

Saturday, November 14, 2009


There was a time when it was thought that the easiest way to breathe new life into a kitchen was to change the curtains.

I know this because every so often my mother would settle down at her sewing machine and do just that. The old "change-the-curtains" principle of cheap and easy is as valid as ever. But these days, there are lots more small-budget things you can do to give your kitchen a lift.

Painting 101

Painting the walls is at the top of any list. Daniel Gauthier, a kitchen specialist with A. Potvin Construction in Rockland, Ont. (www.potvinconst.com/pages/en/home.php), says that if you choose your wall colours wisely, they can even soften or lessen the impact of kitchen cupboards you don't like.

"I say there are no bad colours, just bad colour matches," he says. "If you have pink cupboards, don't paint the walls orange. Find a colour that complements the cupboards."


Take the colour idea one step further by dressing up the kitchen with accessories in one colour. Lime green is popular right now, says Andrea Hewitt, manager of Ma Cuisine in Ottawa, and purple is coming on strong.

Think canister sets, bowls, even toasters in one colour to give your room visual bang.

Finishing touches

To give your kitchen a polished look, add things like crown moulding, says Andre Guenette, a.k.a. The KitchenGuy (www.designstyleliving.com). You can also add more lighting, perhaps for the counter.

Without changing the counters or even the sink, you can add a funk factor with slick, new kitchen faucets.

Knobs and pulls

Changing the knobs and pulls on the cupboards is a very effective way to give your kitchen a quick update, says Guenette. For maximum punch, consider looking beyond what you find in the hardware store.

MacKenzie-Childs (www.mackenzie-childs.com), a U.S. firm that specializes in high-end tableware and home furnishings, offers up unique, colourful and whimsical products. They're a good example of what you can do if you want to push the envelope on kitchen knobs and pulls.

Gauthier, however, adds this word of caution: Don't forget about the holes.  If you're doing a straight substitution of one knob for another of exactly the same shape, holes may not be an issue. But new knobs that are shaped differently may leave ugly holes that defeat your whole pretty-up mandate.


There are many cool, easily installed systems and gadgets that will improve the utility of a kitchen, says Guenette. Favourites on his list include in-cupboard organizers, fitted cutlery trays, drawer spice trays, slide-out garbage cans and lazy susans. You can also install drawers inside bottom cupboards so you don't have to bend down to look for things.

Think about adding an island if there is room. Ottawa designer Lee-Ann LaCroix (www.leeannlacroix.com) says at its most basic an island can be a solid old wooden table. Screw on some wheels -- the kind with brakes -- and add some hooks on the side, and maybe underneath.

"You now have a movable island and some extra storage."

Look for bargains

LaCroix advises looking for scratched and dented appliances, maybe checking out the bins for overstocked or discontinued tiles that may be on sale. "There may be just enough for your project."

For paint, she suggests looking through mis-tints to find two or three that work together.

And good kitchen towels bought on sale can be made into Roman shades for the windows or used to re-upholster chairs.

Painting 202

Besides the walls, freshen the cupboards with splashes of paint.

"Painting outdated wood cabinet doors in the newer colours gives your kitchen a more up-to-date look," says LaCroix, adding that many hardware stores sell equipment that will allow you to spray paint doors in a more professional finish.

To add interest, she suggests using two colours -- one for top cabinets and another for the bottom. There's even paint that can be applied to old backsplash tiles.

Old laminate countertops can also be temporarily freshened up with a coat of paint, says Lacroix. This is not a long-term solution as you have to be careful about getting the countertops wet, and chopping on them is a no-no.

But a quick coat of paint can give you a year to save up money for a bigger fix, like granite countertops.

Which brings up a final issue: Knowing how far to go with quick fixes.

Gauthier is wary of painting existing cupboards.  "I always advise against it," he says, explaining that the painted surfaces may not last as long as you'd like.

Think things through, and know whether you need to consider a bigger fix. As Gauthier says, "If you have an old Porsche, painting it won't make it into a new Porsche."

Ottawa Citizen

© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2009
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