How to Improve Your Home's Kitchen for Just a Few Hundred Dollars
If money's tight but you want a great result, here are some tips to make your kitchen look a whole lot smarter - and command a much higher price - without a huge outlay.
You're desperate to replace those tasteless cabinets, lime-green appliances and worn countertops in your kitchen. The trouble is the $50,000 to $100,000 price of a high-end renovation and the thought of living on take-away food for three months during construction makes you feel ill.
With today's market favouring the buyer, you are very unlikely to get a full return on a major kitchen renovation, unfortunately.
As long as your kitchen has a good layout and the units are in good condition you can transform your kitchen for as little as $1000 to $10,000 simply by improving the appearance of what is already there. This gives you a much better chance of seeing a full return on your investment.
With the color scheme it's best to keep to neutral colors such as white, beige or cream. Natural materials are also a good idea as they don't go out of style quickly. Hiring a professional kitchen designer could be a good idea, and they will help you choose materials, products and colors. Then, taking your budget into consideration, you can pick your projects.
If you have a few hundred dollars to spend:
Ceiling Fixtures - Don't put up with an ugly ceiling that's not too easy on the eye. For $25 to $250 you can purchase fixtures that match your cabinet hardware. Hire a qualified electrician to fit these unless you're qualified yourself.
Laminate Flooring - For under $5 per square foot you can easily fit laminate flooring in your kitchen (if your kitchen floor is level with the floors in adjacent rooms). This is a great way to make unsightly chipped tiles or old linoleum disappear.
Cabinets - Spend a few dollars to replace tarnished knobs and pulls with brushed nickel and you will instantly make them look more modern. It's important to make sure that any new hardware matches the existing holes. A new coat of paint will freshen up your cabinets. As long as your cabinets are solid, a new coat of paint will make them appear fresher. You could even get rid of some of your cabinet doors for a more open or free look. Make sure you fill any unwanted holes before painting using a suitable filler.
Appliances - For a few hundred dollars an appliance refinisher (look in your phone book) could re-enamel the surfaces of your appliances and greatly improve upon any dated colors that may be ruining the look of your kitchen.
Unique, highly personalized wall decor ideas for the folk artist, sentimentalist, or shabby chic individual on a budget.
It might cost a few cents more than just keeping the unframed unique, highly personalized wall decor ideas posters you bought in college (or ugly "artwork" you've accumulated over the years), but it won't cost as much as gallery-approved "art," while looking every bit as impressive: start framing your life!
Almost everybody has a few collections of things that are cherished but unused: old school prize ribbons, favorite record albums, sets of postcards bought on a trip abroad. The idea here is simple: take them out of the drawers, and give them new life as framed, autobiographical wall decor.
Inspiration should come fairly quickly from your cedar chest or even the bottom of a filing cabinet. Great ideas we've seen include groupings of foreign items to commemorate a trip abroad - even a few candy bar wrappers can look good if they're foreign (or vintage), especially if they're highlighted with other items: postcards or currency from the same country, for example. This idea lends itself nicely to thoughtful decoration for children's rooms: a collage of clippings of the best parts of drawings and "A+" papers will be an inspiring display, while freeing up your fridge door space. More sophisticated "prints" can be obtained from a fancy stationery store; these days, there are lots of greeting cards and single-sheet gift wrap that really look as though they were intended to be framed in the first place. Deeper, "shadow box" frames can be used to store and show off your most cherished childhood book, or a collection of contemporary miniature books. Grouping miniature items together will give off a bit of a museum display effect, making for truly interesting decor.
Once you've got some ideas for things to frame, start shopping. Mass-market stores such as Target and IKEA are good sources for cheap frames. Keep an eye out for sales, and inexpensive unfinished wood frames that you can paint to highlight the objects you're going to frame. Consider a certain theme for any grouping you plan on making for various areas of your home: your 1950s albums, for example, would probably be well highlighted by frames from the same era, dug up at tag sales and flea markets.
If you're framing greeting cards or other items with value more decorative than sentimental, the framing can be done quite cheaply and simply. The only caution here is that you may want to take special care with more valuable items: if you have a paper matting in your frame, acid-free is best for archival purposes. (Try seeking out frames designed for diplomas and other permanent displays.) Scrutinize your lighting: the main enemy of your artwork is likely to be the sun. Almost anything will fade if it's left out in the sun for long enough, so don't put the cherished Elvis albums in your sunny breakfast nook.
Haven't found anything to frame? Go outside, or go back to kindergarten: those early "art" projects lend themselves very well to this: paint a frame the same color as a pressed flower, or go nuts with stamps cut from potatoes. Let either folk art or sentimentality or both be a guide if you're stuck for inspiration. Happy framing!
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