Cost-Saving Ideas To Enliven Your Kitchen

With the kitchen being a primary gathering place for many families and their guests, a new look for your kitchen is not only a visually appealing, but can be mentally and emotionally uplifting as well.

Obvious quick kitchen transformations include painting kitchen walls or cupboards.  If the trial-and-error method of making color decisions based on matchbook-sized paper swatches isn’t working for you, try out new colors by purchasing paint in sample-sized containers available at many retail stores. By painting sample patches on an existing wall, you can get a feel for new color possibilities, determine how colors look in different lighting, and can see how new paint looks over the existing paint (eliminating some surprises). Changing doorknobs or hardware on cabinets can also give an “instant” upgrade. Try one of the unique styles offered at kitchen supply, antique or import stores, as well as hardware/home supply store outlets.

What if you could have a more complete “out with the old, in with the new” kitchen upgrade without the need for a major contracting overhaul, or with “the old,” destined to become a significant pile of trash headed to already-overflowing landfills?

Three cost-effective ideas to consider:

Reface Cabinets and Countertops

Cabinets, particularly those at eye level, are a dominating visual feature of a kitchen. When painting or staining isn’t enough, yet fully replacing cabinetry is too immense a project, an alternate approach that saves both time and waste is cabinet refacing. Refacing includes replacing cabinet doors, drawer faces and hardware, and applies a matching style over existing cabinetry.  The entire process can be done quickly by a professional, typically in three to four days.

I spoke with Z Murad of Granite Transformations in Chico, a family-owned business that offers both cabinet and countertop refacing. He explained that countertop refacing is done using either granite or recycled glass, overlaying the new surface directly onto existing countertops (including tile). The process can be complete in one to two days.  If “going green,” is your preference, take note that the glass countertops are made using up to 72% recycled post-consumer glass infused with a polymer, creating a long-lasting surface that is permanently impervious to bacteria, and fully approved for food preparation. The color selection for granite refacing is earth tones of brown, greens and grays; Z says “the sky’s the limit” for glass countertops – they can be ordered in any color, customized to your preference.

Refacing rather than replacing saves landfills from a tremendous amount of added waste. Items that are removed (e.g., cupboard doors) are recycled whenever possible. Using a local company completes the job quickly and professionally, saving time and money. Because you won’t have to gut the kitchen, your family won’t need to eat out for the weeks it can take as a full-replacement or do-it-yourself project.  On average, kitchen refacing typically costs 30 to 40 percent less than an equivalent remodel. For more information or to take a peek at what’s offered, visit the Granite Transformations showroom in Chico at 629 Entler Ave. (530)  892-1600;

Change Light Fixtures

Lighting has a significant effect on both the atmosphere and usefulness of your kitchen, especially during meal preparation and other high-traffic times: many families eat meals, do homework and catch up on projects at the kitchen table. Not only are attractive fixtures and good lighting key components of a kitchen environment, but lighting that offers the flexibility of creating different moods is also important.

Energy codes require that a high percentage of kitchen lighting in new construction meet a 40-lumens-per-watt standard, a standard not met by incandescent lighting. Highly efficient, quiet fluorescent fixtures and LED fixtures are fulfilling those requirements. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) can be used in recessed ceiling cans, or in surface mount systems like track lighting, spot or flood lights. CFLs can also be used as indirect lighting on top of cabinets. Fluorescent lamps now come in a variety of colors to compliment your kitchen’s look, and dimmable fluorescents are available too.

Incandescent fixtures can still be used in places where they give the look you want, or where concentrated lighting is needed to perform particular tasks.  Add recessed lighting under cabinets or above a kitchen island to make it easier to see while cooking. Consider adding small hanging lights above the kitchen table.

Creative electrical switching can allow you to turn on sections of lighting, or to control individual lights. Dimmers can be used to change the mood on any kind of lighting. Three-way switching allows lights to be controlled from more than one location. Consult with a lighting designer or professional electrician, or visit a lighting store for ideas.

Renee Noel, owner of The Fabulous Fabric Shop in Redding

Add Cheer with Colorful Fabrics

If your kitchen curtains have been exposed to the sunlight, they may have become faded and drab. Renee Noel, owner of The Fabulous Fabric Shop in Redding, suggests the following:  “Add a handmade touch with fun, bold cotton prints as a great way to create a little inexpensive flair in your kitchen!  Sew some cute and simple tab or tie-top curtains.  Spruce up some basic tea towels with ruffle trims in a matching fabric print. One-of-a-kind placemats or a runner will keep the theme going on the kitchen table.”

Can’t decide on a color scheme?  Pantone is a company known to design professionals world-wide as a leading authority on color ( Renee says, “Tangerine Tango is Pantone’s color for 2012 and would be sure to brighten up any kitchen!” For how-tos and other trendy home sewing ideas, Renee suggests visiting as a great online resource for inspiration.  The Fabulous Fabric Shop carries designer cottons and offers sewing classes to get you started, at 1814 Churn Creek Rd. in east Redding. (530) 221-1608;

Lisa Shara
About Lisa Shara

Writer Lisa Shara lives in upper Northern California where she is involved in a variety of community projects.

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