Need kitchen renovation ideas!
February 3, 2012 4:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for help with kitchen renovation ideas!

We just bought a new home and are looking for ways to update our kitchen without breaking the bank.

Here are two pics of the kitchen:
Pic 1
Pic 2

The biggest conundrum we have is how can we update the look of cabinets without replacing them. We looked into refacing them, but it's actually just as expensive as buying all new cabinets (though the price includes installation).

So we're left with the NHance system or to painting them.

FYI - We've already bought all new stainless appliances. We're also looking to replace countertops with granite, paint, and update the flooring.

All ideas and/or pics are welcome. Thanks!
posted by joshuamcginnis to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The biggest conundrum we have is how can we update the look of cabinets without replacing them. We looked into refacing them, but it's actually just as expensive as buying all new cabinets (though the price includes installation).

It's quite a lot of work, but we turned all our (similar looking) cabinet doors around and painted them. The doors are flat on the other side, and repainted in gloss enamel it's all a LOT less fussy-looking than those framed doors (especially with the kitschy arches).

Not something you can do with the glass-paneled doors, of course, but you could consider taking those off altogether and having that be an area of open shelving.

We just reused the existing hinges etc--attaching them to the other side of the door.
posted by yoink at 5:06 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is probably not what you need to hear, but we have similar cabinets and tried repainted them. Taking all the doors off, removing the hardware, treating the wood with TSP, a primer and finish coat, was a lot of work and the finished results were less than I had hoped for. It looked fine for a year or so, but the panels fluctuated over the seasons and the paint cracked along the joint. Then air born grease settled into the crevices and we wore the paint away, trying to keep them clean.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:08 PM on February 3, 2012

...but we painted ours white, so if you go with a more neutral colour, maybe they'll be easier to maintain.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:10 PM on February 3, 2012

It looked fine for a year or so, but the panels fluctuated over the seasons and the paint cracked along the joint.

FWIW, we did ours eight or so years ago and they still look great. The only places paint has come away has been from direct dings in the paintwork (i.e., hitting it with something sharp). And we've been able to touch those up. Mileage, obviously, varies.

Ikea, by the way, do some excellent kitchen stuff at pretty reasonable prices. The Ikea stuff is definitely at the higher end of the Ikea build-quality range (i.e., don't think it will make your kitchen look like a student dorm). You may have already checked that out, but I thought it worth a mention.
posted by yoink at 5:12 PM on February 3, 2012

Nthing the painting suggestion. Just make sure to sand and use primer, Kilz Odorless Oil-based will work best on stained wood.

Also, have you considered a tile or beadboard backsplash? The beadboard might prove a little more cost-effective, but it also depends on which direction you're wanting to go over all (cottagey vs modern). Either one would be the icing on that cake and make everything else pop. Because that layout is dreamy! :-)
posted by arishaun at 5:27 PM on February 3, 2012

I think the stainkess steel appliances and granite countertops will go a long way towards updating the kitchen. Window treatments, even just a simple valance, can also update a look.

I like the cabinets, though. Is it that the wood is too light? Because I guess you could coat them with a darker finish. Are they real wood or a composite? I really don't think you're going to get a great result trying to paint them--what color did you have in mind?
posted by misha at 5:45 PM on February 3, 2012

Oh, hey, I see how it might work, painting them. To get a more modern look, here's a cost-effective system to try (check out the photo gallery for some really nice before and after shots!).
posted by misha at 5:58 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you need to get rid of those criminally boring ceiling lighting fixtures and get yourself some sexy lighting. And add some kind of focal point over the island too, like low-hanging task lighting, a pot rack, or a copper hood fan. You don't have to break the could do something like hang a vintage rung ladder above the island and use it as a pot rack. If you want to update your cabinets without replacing them, think about painting the upper ones white and leaving the bottoms ones as is, and switch out the hardware for some pewter or stainless handles. That would help break up the "everything matchy matchy" look you have going right now. If you don't want to paint them you can always strip and bleach the doors for a lighter look. The cabinets with the glass fronts - those doors can be taken off and the hardware holes can be plugged and sanded, and voila...some open shelf storage.

I would change the wall color and also paint all of the wooden trim (on areas like around the window) white. My preference for wall color would be light gray, which is spectacular with light wood and also obviously wonderful with stainless appliances and granite. Your kitchen has great space, light and just need to gild the lily a little bit. Congratulations on your new home, too!
posted by iconomy at 6:50 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Not to derail, but has anyone tried the cabinet painting system misha referenced a couple comments above? I've seen it at Lowe's and the photos there and online look really nice, but I wonder what the process is like.
posted by jroybal at 7:09 PM on February 3, 2012

I think paint color and new floor would go a long way in updating the look. I would also paint the cabinets.

In addition if it was mine- I might remove the cabinets above the sink and refrigerator and put in open shelving instead- the glass fronted cabinet and the cornice about the window just scream 1989 to me. You could remove all the upper cabinets for a really open feeling.

Another idea would be to change the direction of the island and add a larger top so it would be an it at version.

Finally, get over to Pinterest for visual inspiration:

posted by momochan at 7:29 PM on February 3, 2012

Gah my links didn't work!!!


Open Shelves:
posted by momochan at 7:30 PM on February 3, 2012

Get that oven in the middle of the kitchen built into the island. You will be very happy.
posted by Pants! at 7:50 PM on February 3, 2012

I just finished up doing a major kitchen facelift. Here's a list of the things I did that made my client very happy. It was more of just fine tuning everything with a good eye (like realigning all the kitchen cabinet doors which had gone out of square), making some color suggestions and basic updates, and ensuring that all of the hardware matches (door hinges and cabinet pulls and appliances). The overall budget was about $500 before counter-tops and I stayed well under that.

1) Ensure that there was too much light available, either from the under-cabinet lights or the light fixtures in the ceiling. I hung two more light fixtures and voila, the kitchen was much lighter/looked bigger than before.

2) Painted the walls darker to contrast with the lighter cabinets. YMMV, but this worked well for them. A idea for painting the cabinets was to do a two tone color scheme on the outside cabinet doors. Like a dark blue/navy on the outside with the inset areas a nice cream that would match the wall colors. The front of the cabinets would have been painted to match the primary color.

3) New countertops with a matching backsplash made from the same material. It is more expensive, but having the same material go all the way to the bottom of the cabinets looks really good, especially with granite. Again, the color contrasted against the lighter cabinets. Personally I would have picked something that was not as harsh and a complimentary color. I use a color wheel for all color choices in terms of primary and complimentary colors. It makes it much easier to narrow what I want down and have it match everything.

4) New cabinet door handles and drawer pulls. I'm guessing the cabinet handles and drawer pulls are stainless steel. If not, get ones that you like and match the new stainless steel appliances. Nice, new handles make a huge difference.

5) We kept the floors the same, but I gave them a good scrubbing with a brush on my hands and knees. A truly cleaned floor is a huge difference. If you want a new floor, I love cork floors. All the ease of hardware to clean, but soft and warm like a dense carpet. Fairly easy to install yourself. I would recommend installing the floor first if there are going to be cabinets or other appliances placed over it. If not, then the floor goes in last. It makes painting much easier when you don't have to worry about getting the floor splattered. If you're ripping out the old floor, make sure to get everything down to the real subfloor. Those leftover staples and other detritus can make squeaks later that can never be fixed.

Some Observations About Your Kitchen:
1) It stands out that the stained trim on the windows does not match the cabinets. Doing anything to rectify this will make a big difference. For example, window treatments that isolate the sink window from the cabinets.

2) I would change the lights to inset can lights. I like the 4" cans because you can just screw light bulbs in. Some nice new LED flood lights will change the look of the place and add more even lighting. Another good option are halogen track lights.

3) Upon reading your post again, you're already going to the trouble/pain of replacing literally everything else in the kitchen. You should seriously consider new cabinets again, if you're just having thoughts about it now. This will probably be the only time you get to seriously consider it. If cost is really an issue, you should save more to do it exactly how you want it done. I've worked with people who really regretted not changing their cabinets when they had the chance. The old cabinets really stood out poorly against the otherwise entirely new kitchen. If you do decide to gut and run with it, look into getting cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling and match the trim. That extra space is wonderful for storing all the kitchen things that one needs. It also makes the ceiling look higher.

4) Going along with the get and run idea, move the appliances to places to want them to be. I would move the fridge to where the three cabinets to the left of the pantry door are, the oven to the island per Pants!, and the microwave to the corner, closer to the fridge.

5) Make sure to get an under-mounted, deep, wide sink. It looks much nicer with granite countertops, than an over-mount.

6) As for sink fixtures, get a nice faucet from a plumbing supply. It might look the same as a faucet from Home Depot and be slightly more expensive, but the insides are generally more brass and steel and less plastic which means that there is a lesser chance of them breaking.

I can keep going, message me if you want some more ideas. I've worked with people on five kitchen renovations/facelifts in the past year or two.
posted by Nackt at 9:15 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you do end up replacing your cabinets and you're at all on the tallish side, consider raising them up on pedestals by at least a couple of inches. When we had out kitchen re-done lo these many years ago, we had our cabinets made 3 inches taller and have loved it ever since. No more lower back pain from working in the kitchen or doing dishes.
posted by jvilter at 9:48 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ugh, artychoke, I'm sorry but that After aqua and white look is hideous.What were they thinking? The countertop clashes with the rest of the kitchen now. They went from soft bar stools to ugly plastic chairs, too! Why??

I also don't get the people suggesting taking off some perfectly serviceable cabinet doors and replace with open shelving. If you have something to show off, the glass doors work fine for that, and for anything else, hide the mess behind cabinet doors, that's what they are there for!

I get wanting to update the look of a kitchen, but spending money with the end result of making it LESS funcrional makes no sense to me.

AndI say this as someone who just did a MAJOR kitchen renovation just a year ago. We didn't have the roominess your kitchen has (you have such great space there!), so we maximized our storage space, but things I really recommend:

Get the best lighting you can. You can't really have too many lighting options. In addition to our old can lights, we added under-cabinet bright task lights that can be turned on all at once andwork with a dimmer switch, or turned on individually under each cabinet set. Then we added some LED lighting above the cabinets, which can be turned onand also dimmed from either side of the kitchen.

We put in a black granite counters and a black double sink, which I like more than I thought I would. Stainless steel sink would be good with your appliances, too.

We changed out our old cabinets for tall cherry cabinets custom-made to make the most of our space. I like one poster's idea of an oven in the kitchen island, if you can do it, but rather than moving the existing oven, I'd add another if I had allthe room you do, because it would come in handy for Thanksgiving and parties and such.

And yes, update your flooring, but only if the existing flooring has a problem, because if you are short on cash, retiling is something you can always do down the line.
posted by misha at 10:02 PM on February 3, 2012

Oh, and I'd keep the microwave where it is, over the oven with the hood vent, because you have more open counter space that way. But mainly, you should figure out how to get a look you want while keeping the functional stuff that works for you. Don't change it just to change it; change it if it doesn't fit your lifestyle.
posted by misha at 10:07 PM on February 3, 2012

A lot of what's said above is good advice. I haven't actually embarked on a reno yet, but I have been preparing for updating our personal kitchen and a half-dozen rental kitchens down the road.

* Painting cabinets (and switching visible hardware) is the cheapest, fastest way to get a new look.
* The "open look" is popular right now. Dunno if it will look dated in 20 years, but I suppose so. Right now things like removing the sink frieze and converting glass-front to open shelving are popular ways to achieve a less boxed-in effect.
* Showcase lighting is also popular in kitchen renos. Adding under-cabinet lights is pretty much standard, and a unique chandelier from a not-standard place is a good way to create a focal point and nail down a style for the room.
* Over-cabinet emptiness seems to be unpopular right now. But the cook(s) need to be tall enough to get to it easily if it becomes usable storage.
* Islands with cooktops are popular. So are islands with seating, if you don't have a casual eating area behind the camera.
* Whole-kitchen backsplash treatments are also big and help with the visual unification. Before you do this, decide on lighting and any new electrical, as nowadays lots of receptacles are normal (preference as well as code for short corded stuff).
* Rounded/angled countertop ends and edges are also big. You've got that slight oval on the island already.
* Since you have so much space, consider making some of it an "appliance garage" for portable stuff.

Your existing color scheme is doing you no favors, but that seems more like an accident that you can fix with a paint palette and some thought to your stainless appliances, future granite counters, and any lighting you add. Making it all unified will be a huge improvement no matter what colors you actually choose.

That said, if I were you, I'd give at least some consideration to a whole-room redo, because the traffic patterns look awkward. The work triangle crosses through the island, for instance, and the fridge interferes with the doorway. To me the whole look of that back entry nook is kinda ugly, with the overwhelming mass of the fridge, that smidgen of empty (unusable) wall, and the narrow doorway. (Also, how can you reach the over-fridge cabinet? Maybe pull it forward.)

You'll want to consider a broad style for your kitchen, influenced by what sort of house you have. There's a big "traditional" trend, but also a "transitional" trend, which would work better with your stainless appliances. You could soften the ornate woodwork with, say, a pastel color that doesn't erase the character but complements the other elements better.
posted by dhartung at 4:27 AM on February 4, 2012

I believe that once the colonial frieze board above the sink is gone, the arches on the upper cabinets are not going to bother you at all. A urethane-based stain, applied with a sprayer could easily take the wood tone down to cherry, walnut or espresso to match your granite without covering the woodgrain. I imagine the glass doors could be cut out to square and the glass replaced for not much money. With lights in them, they would make for nice displays.

I think the pale yellow wall color just washes everything out in there, and highlights the yellows in the oak. I would have to work on that first. Since there is so little wall actually showing, I would get a stronger color on that.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 10:33 AM on February 4, 2012

What do you want it to feel like? The cabinets look like they're in fine shape. They may not be on-trend, but I like them. Better lighting. I replaced my kitchen because it was falling apart. I added track lighting, cabinet lights where I have cabinets with glass, and under-cabinet lights. The track and under-cabinet lighting is makes it easier to work, and the lighting makes the room much nicer in general. I don't mind formica; it's practical, but new countertops would be a good upgrade. The island could be taller, with a counterop that is larger, for some stools for seating. A few more plates on display would be nice.
posted by theora55 at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

The painting kitchen cabinets idea has been mulling around in my head since I started watching Sarah Richardson on HGTV. She does it all the time with great results. The difference is she has them done professionally. Here is a link to an article that discusses it as it relates to Ikea cabinets. TLDR: Don't paint them yourself, have them sent out.
posted by blackjack514 at 8:13 AM on February 6, 2012

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