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Quick fix: kitchen

These simple do-it-yourself ideas from the experts will transform your space without emptying your wallet

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Paint cabinet doors and walls

Switching the colour of the room to a nice off-white will lend your space a contemporary feel, and you can add a splash of green or blue in the middle by repainting your kitchen island. Blue and white together adds a definite Atlantic charm.

Robert Stack of Kitchen Refacers in Halifax, says painting is an easy move for most homeowners, but stresses that painting demands preparation ensure a quality look to the new coat.

“It’s not rocket science. It just takes time and patience,” says Stack. It’s important to take the doors off their hinges and clean them with liquid TSP (a cleaning agent available at most hardware stores), so that paint will bond better to the wood. “You’re getting all the grease and all the contaminants out of the door.”

COST: $300 – $400
TIME: A few hours per door; a one-or-two-weekend project for the whole kitchen

Replace hardware

If you have those little plastic mushroom knobs or brass pipes on your drawers and cabinets, it’s time for something more modern. Replace those out-dated handles with new glass knobs or gold handles, say Charli Junker of Kitchen Design Boutique in St. John’s, N.L.

“If you have a handle, measure from centre to centre of each screw,” says Junker. “Then you can source hardware online or at Home Depot.” If the old handle is in the middle of the cabinet door, install the new hardware on the edge of the door, and fill in the old screw hole with wood filler before repainting.

COST: Styles vary, but Junker recommends $10/piece
TIME: About five minutes per door


Junker considers light fixtures to be “the jewellery of the kitchen,” but you don’t need to buy something so pricey that Tiffany’s should appraise it.

“To me, that’s the main focal point of the kitchen,” says Junker. You can find many ornate light fixture styles at big-box stores for reasonable prices. “It not only provides function, it’s also a piece of art,” she says.

Even if you’re not in the market for a new chandelier, replacing your lightbulbs can make a huge difference.

“When you’re choosing lighting for your kitchen, you definitely want to go with as many bulbs as possible” to ensure that they’re functional first, says Junker. She says that many of her clients are switching to LED bulbs, which Junker thinks are worth the extra cost since they should last 20 years.

“Make sure it’s a warmer-strength bulb, as opposed to cool,” says Junkers. “Cool is going to cast a green light around, and it’s going to make everything look washed out.”

COST: $10/bulb
TIME: Minutes


Most Atlantic Canadian homes feature exposed hinges, says Stack. Switching to unexposed hinges for an unframed, flush cabinet style popular in Europe takes a little extra woodworking know-how, he says, but it’s a simple fix with the right tools.

If you’re not tool savvy, you can still manage some hinge magic. Replace old hinges for new ones in the same style. If you have spring-based unexposed hinges already, but they’re getting a little stiff, Stack has a cost-free tip for you.

The spring hinges that get stiff are the ones most frequently used, such as under the kitchen sink. But others probably get much less use, like the ones above your fridge. Swapping the above fridge hinges with the well-worn sink cabinet ones is a quick and cost-effective way to make your cabinets feel like new.

COST: Free
TIME: 15 – 20 minutes/door

Faux-stone countertops

Stone is a popular kitchen surface these days, but a full kitchen job with real stone can creep costs into the five-digit range. For something more cost-effective, Junker recommends a Formica you’ll believe is the real deal.

“There are some really nice laminate countertops you can get now that look and feel like stone. There’s one that I use quite frequently called Travertine Silver,” says Junker. Just make sure that you keep the edges squared, and skip the backsplash to maintain that authentic look.

COST: $30/square foot
TIME: About a day

East Coast Living