Updating On A Dime

By Maggie Reed

June 20, 2008 4 min read


Even a minor kitchen makeover can have a major payoff

By Maggie Reed

Copley News Service

With walls to rebuild, counters to replace, pipes to plumb, cupboards to convert, appliances to update, windows to dress and floors to refinish, a major kitchen remodel can cost a major amount of money.

But, don't despair.

If you have $1,000 or less, there's a lot you can do not only to enjoy the environs while you live there but add value if you decide to sell.

The kitchen is where you can really get a return on your remodeling dollar.

"Absolutely. This will add more value to your house than any other room," said Pat Simpson, CedarSafe home improvement expert and HGTV host.

"The kitchen is the heart of the house," he said. "It is the most often used room in the house and where people go to first. Even if people have a wonderful waterfront view, they tend to gravitate toward the kitchen first."

There are some improvements that will be prohibitive for under $1,000 - say totally replacing countertops, appliances and cabinets.

However, there are some pretty nifty and inexpensive changes you can make. Here are a few suggestions:

- Lighting. "Older kitchens have those ugly, long, tube lights that give off that awful, harsh light," Simpson said. Ditch them and try pendent lighting. "There are so many new styles that give off a cool light." Pendant lights that can hang over your kitchen island run about $25 to $75 and you can add a dimmer switch for about $15. "This is a great idea to give your kitchen a new look," Simpson said.

And don't forget rope lighting. "You can lay it on top of cabinets or under the toe kick under the sink to give off a nice halo effect and it's cheap, cheap, cheap," Simpson added.

- Paint. Plain and simple, paint is inexpensive and the looks you can create are only curtailed by your imagination. You can paint an entire wall aqua or just add some accent colors on your cupboards or around windows.

- Hinges and hardware. "This is an easy change that costs less than $100. Take off some of the old brass or black, depending on how old your house is. Add some oil-rubbed bronze. You can replace hardware on your drawers and doors in a few hours," Simpson said.

- Add moldings. Wood moldings and trim add character to plain cabinet fronts. If your old cabinets don't go to the ceiling, adding a crown molding or soffit around the top will make a room look more elegant. The cost is about $15 per linear foot, unfinished.

- Backsplashes. Another great, easy, inexpensive fix. "They have peel and stick splashes that look like the old metal ceilings and in many cases you can stick them over old backsplashes and they look really good," said Simpson. Other good choices include laminates, ceramic or glass tile and beadboard.

- Floors. May be easy, may not be. If you have sheet vinyl or tile from the mid- to late '70s, it is likely you have asbestos. Take a piece and have it tested, Simpson suggests. If there's no asbestos, you can work with it. If the floor is in good shape, chances are you can lay new vinyl or tile affordably for a whole new look.

? Copley News Service

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