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Ask Casa: Kitchen Renovation Suggestions

Su Casa member Hihowareya is looking for suggestions on updating her kitchen. She is taking down the wallpaper and trying to decide on paint colors. The cabinets, she says, will have to stay, but she is considering new hardware. New flooring is also an option, but she needs something pet-friendly; she's considering cork. And, she's putting in a new island with a stainless steel bar sink and a butcher block countertop. I have a few suggestions for Hihowareya, and I'm sure she'd love to hear yours, so


Hi hihowareya,
It looks you have a big project on your hands! First of all, I'm glad we're on the same page about the wallpaper. It has to go.

Since you can't replace the cabinets, I recommend painting them. Remove all the doors and the hardware. Then paint the frame and the doors in a semi-gloss white; you can't go wrong with something like Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White. This will brighten and update the room at the same time. And, kitchen messes wipe clean quite easily on semi-gloss.

I do suggest that you replace the hardware; the brass is pretty dated. Something like the Rock Candy handles used by Su Casa member Citygal would look fantastic. But I understand that the cost of new hardware can add up quickly, especially with so many cabinets. So, hunt for hardware in bulk, on eBay, and at architectural salvage shops first. You might even ask a local contractor if he can salvage any hardware for you. Also head to your local hardware store and check out the prices on basic handles in a more contemporary finish like stainless steel. If all else fails, spray paint or have your handles powdercoated.

Your blue countertops are definitely dated as well. I'd recommend replacing them with granite or quartz. It's an investment, but it's a change (unlike paint) that will increase the value of your house. So, it's worth it. Butcher block or concrete countertops are also great options that are more affordable but also contemporary.

Installing cork flooring is a wonderful idea because it's a sustainable material. You might also try bamboo flooring. You can save big bucks by doing all the installation work yourself. You can also install hardwood floors and take extra steps to protect them with additional layers of varnish and/or an area rug.

With all of this said and done, you'll have a lot of flexibility with your paint colors. White cabinets in particular go with anything. I recommend choosing your paint color to complement the colors in the adjoining rooms, or if you're stuck, you can't go wrong with an all-white kitchen! Or, you might try some contemporary wallpaper in the kitchen. Just don't worry about trying to match the colors to your appliances, because once they're on their last legs (which they may be) you'll have to replace them anyway.

Hope that helps!

c4rolin3 c4rolin3 8 years
You could keep the shell of the cabinets and just replace the doors which is a cheap alternative. I'm not sure if just changing the handles would be affective as modern handles with the grooved style of the doors may look a bit strange. To be honest, a bit of paint/tiles/new wallpaper and a new floor would give it a good enough spruce- looks like a nice big kitchen x Good luck and don't forget to post the after pics!x
Ladytron7000 Ladytron7000 8 years
P.S. I'd update the walls, too, obviously.
Ladytron7000 Ladytron7000 8 years
I would keep the nice, warm cabinets, replace the hardware, scrub/repair the basically nice floors, throw a veneer on the counters and spend your cash on energy efficiency improvements. Do you know how much we could improve the planet if we spent our money on energy efficiency improvements instead of granite or marble countertops? It's shameful.
CheapYetChic CheapYetChic 8 years
I have similar cabinets and new hardware made a WORLD of difference. I got lucky because the minimalistic ones I liked were only $2 each at Home Depot. Before painting the cabinets, I would suggest switching out all the hardware and seeing if you're satisfied with the change in the look. You might be able to devote your time/money to the other things you want to do in the kitchen, like the floor, if you can live with the cabinets as they are for a little while longer.
meerkat meerkat 8 years
Definitely from the 80s, kitchen is the exact same colors (ugly blue countertop, oak, and flowery tan country wallpaper)! Hope to fix it after the economy gets a little better... :-/
kristyy kristyy 8 years
I personally like the cabinets - a very warm, homey feel. Plus, if you spill stuff on it (likely to happen in the kitchen), then it won't be as noticeable as white cabinets. And yeah, the floor doesn't look that bad, but I'll take hihowareyou's word for it. But the counter and wallpaper have got to go!
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I'm with Tidal. I would stain the wood darker and do a lighter wall color. :)
Home Home 8 years
Take it one step at a time, hihowareyou! And be sure to keep us updated and take before and after photos!!
hihowareya hihowareya 8 years
And yeah, can't you tell this house was made in the 80's? and oak, and blue countertops...and don't forget that country bumpkin wall paper! :-P
hihowareya hihowareya 8 years
Haha, Modus, I don't think you'd like the floors if you got a good look at them...the grout is totally stained and the tiles are getting all cracked :-P But gosh, thanks so much Casa, and everyone else in Su Casa! Keep any suggestions coming, too, all of it's appreciated! THANKS! :-)
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
I actually really like how those floors look!
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
i love contrast and dark woods so I would probably try to stain the cabinets a darker color but paint the walls (once the wallpaper is removed) white or someother bright contrasty color.
donnellyaa donnellyaa 8 years
Excellent tips, Casa! I agree with them all, especially the bit about painting the cabinets and replacing the hardware.
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