Thinking about redoing your kitchen? Follow the lead of one couple who spruced up theirs without spending a fortune.
Like many young homeowners, Lynne and Brad Wilde had a number of good reasons for wanting to tear out their old kitchen and start over. The work area was cramped, the space dark and uninviting and the appliances were barely working. "The oven switched from bake to broil all by itself and scorched dinner —usually when we had company," Lynne says.
But the Temple, Texas, couple had at least one good reason why they couldn't consider a major kitchen renovation. "With all our other financial obligations," Lynne explains, "a new kitchen had to be put on hold for a few more years."
So they put off the total remodel and family room addition they had blueprints for. Instead, they brightened the existing kitchen and made it work better with what they call an interim face-lift - freshly painted cabinets as well as new counters, flooring and appliances. Each change was tied into their future plans to add more cabinets, an island and a family room.
The Wildes' "new" kitchen cost just $6,153 (a major remodel typically costs close to $20,000). "Going this route bought us time and made the entire house more cheerful and livable without getting us deeply into debt," Lynne says.
BEFORE: Dark corners and tired, old appliances characterized the Wilde kitchen before the remodel.
The Installment Plan
Lynne and her father, Loyd Morgan Sr., finished the project bit by bit, over a few months, allowing their muscles and the family bank account to recover between bouts of work. Besides keeping their 2-year-old son, Ben, out of the paint and out of their hair, husband Brad added a ground-fault circuit interrupter to the four existing electrical outlets. He also installed the new energy-efficient appliances.
Figuring in the future. A kitchen face-lift can be an end in itself, but the Wildes planned theirs as an interim step. To avoid duplicating efforts and expenses, they designed the project around plans for a kitchen remodel and family room addition.
"That meant buying and storing components for the larger project now, just in case the products are no longer available when we get around to it," Lynne says. Notable items include extra ceramic tile for a backsplash extension in the kitchen and laminate flooring for the family room.
The owners of this California kitchen opted for an "inside" look so the area can be closed off during inclement weather. Though most outdoor grills don't require a vent hood, one is needed here to keep the space from getting smoke-filled. The folding louver doors keep postmeal messes out of sight and allow the owner to button up the area during the winter months.
Cutting Down on Upkeep
Trimming cleanup time and effort is an essential aim of many kitchen remodels. That's why the Wildes chose a wipe-clean ceramic-tile backsplash, which also adds a touch of traditional elegance, and an electric range with an easy-to-clean glass top and a self-cleaning oven. And while the old textured-vinyl floor trapped dirt, the smooth patterned-laminate flooring that replaced it wipes clean easily.
Counters that can take it. At less than half the cost of solid-surface countertops, laminate was the obvious choice for the Wildes. And, laminate can stand up to the stains, scratches and other punishment kids can dish out. The couple highlighted the white countertops, which brighten the kitchen, with a complementary solid-surface edge from the same manufacturer.
Home centers carry a limited selection of low-priced, standard-size countertops that aren't too tough to install. But because the Wildes had the complication of two different materials that required precision joining, they opted to have their counters fabricated and installed by a pro.
Appliances that Fit
Although the Wildes didn't change the layout of the kitchen, the face-lift made it work better. One example: The integral drainboard at the sink maximizes the limited counter space because it doubles as work surface when needed. But most of the functional improvements to the kitchen came with the new appliances.
Smarter cooking and ventilation. The over-the-range microwave, for example, saves valuable counter space and includes built-in ventilation. And the refrigerator features adjustable shelves and flexible on-the-door storage for items like gallon containers of milk.
Budget constraints meant price played a large part in the choice of appliances. But Lynne's prime requirement was the size of each appliance. "Because we weren't moving any cabinets, we had to choose appliances that would fit in the spaces we already had," she explains. An added bonus: The energy-efficient appliances cut the Wildes' electric bill by $30 the first month they had them.
Future plans (blue-shaded areas) include a family room addition. The kitchen will gain a center island with snack bar and about 6 ft. of base cabinets and counter space.
New Life for Old Cabinets
The biggest cost saving came from the decision to paint, rather than replace, the existing cabinets. Lynne and Loyd sanded, primed and painted the cabinets in just a single weekend. But, as Lynne explains, "It was a full weekend, and I went back to work on Monday very tired."
Making paint stick. Scrubbing the grease off the old cabinets and then "knocking down" the gloss of the existing finish is crucial to getting a durable new finish. So is good-quality primer and paint. Also keep a close eye on the weather; paint takes longer to dry if it's humid. If it's raining, postpone painting until conditions are dry again. This will also allow you to open the windows for ventilation—a necessity with oil-based paint.
Another tip when painting cabinets: If you plan to change decorative hardware, select a style that matches the existing holes. "You'll save a lot of work and time if you don't have to fill and sand the old holes smooth," Lynne says.
Finishing School: Painting Existing Cabinets
1. SCRUB CABINETS with a detergent solution to remove grease. Rinse and let dry. Then lightly sand with 120-grit paper. Wipe with a tack closht before painting.
2. APPLY AT LEAST ONE coat of quality oil-based primer to every surface with a high-quality short-nap roller or brush. Be sure the primer is dry before painting.
3. APPLY TWO COATS OF premium oil-based high-gloss paint for a durable finish. Use a short-nap roller or, for a smoother finish, a high-quality, natural-bristle flat sash brush.
The Big Payoff
Despite their relatively small investment, the Wildes' reaped some big dividends from their kitchen face-lift. "I cook again," Lynne says. "The refrigerator doesn't freeze the veggies into a solid block and all the burners on the range work."
The kitchen eventually will include more base cabinets on one wall as well as a center island that incorporates a snack-bar eating area. But for now, the Wildes are content. "Our remodel not only improves the looks and efficiency of the kitchen, but it also makes everyday maintenance easier," says Lynne. "And, it creates the slightly more formal look we want so that everything will blend with the addition when it's time."
Adding It Up: An Item-By-Item Breakdown
Maytag: Model CME9010 over-the range microwave with ventilation ($459); Model CCRE9600 electric range ($729); Model RTT2100E refrigerator ($899); Model DW7804 dishwasher ($459)
Wilsonart designer white laminate countertops with light-beige mirage Gibraltar edge ($46 per linear foot for materials, fabrication and installation)
Moen Model 7385 white single-handle faucet (Series 87540)
Wilsonart taupe fossil laminate (225 sq. ft.)
Sherwin-Williams Taupe Trivia paint
Cristalite white, triple-bowl, drop-in sink with integral drainboard
Florida Tile white Milano field tile ($200); square Vine insets ($60); Vine listello trim ($180); installation ($200)
GRAND TOTAL: $6,153
Where To Find It:
Lakeland, FL 33802
Inova Inc. (Cristalite)
Montville, NJ 07045
240 Edwards St.
Cleveland, TN 37311
25300 Al Moen Drive
N. Olmsted, OH 44070-8022
The Sherwin-Williams Co.,
Consumer Brands Division
101 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
2400 Wilson Pl., Box 6110
Temple TX 76503-6110