A scary-easy kitchen update in five fast steps

February 17 | Guest post by Julie F.
Large Order Of Toast
Photo by JD Hancock. Used under Creative Commons license.

These scary-easy suggestions will help you give your kitchen a facelift. Whether you don't have the time or money for a full-on kitchen reno — or you just don't need one — everyone likes a fresh view.

1. Change the cupboard door handles

If you're renting, be sure to keep the old ones so you can leave with your shiny new buttons when you move. Be prepared to pay about $1 or $2 per handle.

2. Create a fancy backsplash with self-adhesive vinyl tiles

These tiles are easy to use, with a great variety of designs available. They're less than than half the price of tile and have none of the mess. Vinyl tile is a great way to dramatically change your kitchen's look.

3. Paint laminate countertop

Renting? Always ask the landlord first! If you have basic crafting skills and patience, painting your old countertop might be just what your kitchen needs. There are some great tutorials on the web. I suggest sticking with melamine paint!

Here are some of the things I wish I knew before I painted my first counter:

  • Using a foam roller to paint will ensure a smooth finish to your painting. You can buy cheap foam rollers, but never use a cheap traditional roller — it will leave brush hair behind!
  • No, you can't decide to use something less than melamine, unless the clerk at the hardware store specifically recommends it (like other polyurethane products). Melamine is a toxic paint, but it will dry very hard and will really stick to your counters. Since it's place that needs to hold up, you can't cheat and choose another kind of paint.
  • For a really clean look around the sink, remove the basin if you can.

4. Clean the counters

We tend to have too many things on the counter. Try putting away everything you don't need on a daily basis. Stash them over the cupboards or even in other parts of the apartment if there's no other place!

Once the mess is out, choose a couple of colourful objects to display on the counter that will complement the room. Look through your bowls, vases or cooking book to find the perfect match, but remember: adding color is NOT as excuse to bring the clutter back!

5. Change or update the lighting

Start by checking that you have the proper light color in your kitchen. Light bulbs come in warm or cool white. Choosing the right white for your room will have a big impact on the room's atmosphere. For a calm or cosy feeling, install a warm white bulb. For an aseptic, clean feel go for cold white.

Secondary lightning will really complete a room. In a kitchen, adding lights under the cupboards is a great addition to style and convenience! Find a counter light that you can affix and simply plug in the wall — new lights without learning to do wiring.

These are a great start. If you use these tips to make updates, add your photos to the Offbeat Home Flickr pool. How have you managed a quick update in your home? Do share!

    • I LOVE this picture (I don't have flickr so I couldn't post comment there). I am definitely snagging this idea. I even love the backsplash. I wish I could find self-adhesive vinyl tile that looks like that since I rent.

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  1. A tute I saw that I absolutely adored was painting flat metal washers and putting them behind the current knob cabinet pulls that you have. Washers are generally cheaper than new pulls and the backup splash of color is just awesome.

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    • That's an AWESOME idea! Perfect for non-permanent splashes of color.

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    • Great idea with the washers piled up as handles! We did this at my father's house and the result was stunning: very modern and cheap door handles!

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  2. Scarily enough, last week I did the vinyl tile backsplash thing. Seriously, it's excellent, cheap, and easy.

    The painting of the countertops is a great idea. I've been trying to find room in the budget for new counters and can't seem to wiggle it…the paint idea is awesome, thank you!

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  3. I've just moved into a new rental property and the big change I made in my kitchen was to line the inside of all of the cabinets (and wrap the shelves) with a fun bright coloured sticky backed plastic/contact paper.
    Made the grotty cabinets clean and fresh for my food, plates, pots and pans and looks fun and bright when I open the cabinet doors

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  4. I actually feel inspired already! It's really got me thinking, how can I brighten up my kitchen because right now it's nice, but dull.
    Thanks guys!

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    • Don't forget to post before/after pictures! We want to see what you'll come up with! :)

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  5. I adore cabinet pulls…I honestly spend far to much time looking at them every time we go to the home improvement or craft store. The vinyl tiles are also a great way to update floors…obviously not if you are renting but for a small bathroom or entrance way they are super quick and easy. We did a bathroom in my mothers house with them last week.

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    • Try talking to the landlord if you really want to add vinyl tiles to a floor or a wall: some of them will be open to the idea as long as you do the job right and pay for the materials. After all, it's his property you'll be making prettier!

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  6. When I lived in a small house that belonged to my father, I removed all the cupboard doors and just had my collections of glasses and plates show. It help the kitchen seem bigger. I've almost always lived in small places and had to be creative with the space I was allotted.

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  7. If my cabinets weren't so hideous I would totally change out the hardware. Unfortunately it'd be like slapping lipstick on a pig–not worth the cash for the 20 new pulls I'd need (so many tiny cupboards and drawers). Wish we could paint.

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    • Try taking the doors off maybe? You can leave the cabinets open to display your dishes or have a cute and colorful curtain placed in front of them (the curtain might even hide all of the ugly cabinet structure!).

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  8. When I was a kid we had this really atrocious carpet in our kitchen and we were on a super tight budget, so my mom ripped out the carpet and we painted the floor! Painted kitchen floor seemed to work out a lot better for a household with a complete clutz (me) and a spastic 5 year old (my brother).
    *We did have to repaint it a couple times as it chipped and stuff–but who doesn't love a color change anyway??*

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    • That's a great idea. I also saw a tutorial somewhere to stain concrete – it turned out pretty cool looking and not so grey!

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  9. "Secondary lightning"? Make your kitchen twice as striking! Zap! xD

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  10. I've been considering covering our boring cupboard doors with bright contact paper and getting some new handles. The back splash tiles is a great idea as well – brighten up the space by covering that dull grey they decided was a good idea…

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