NEW YORK (This Old House) - Kitchen renovations are among the most expensive home-improvement projects, but it's possible to give a tired kitchen new life without breaking the bank.
At the most basic, walls can be painted and cabinet hardware changed to freshen the look.
At the high end, you can upgrade cabinets and appliances within the same footprint, which saves the expense and hassle of moving plumbing and electrical lines.
Even investing in one great feature -- a granite countertop, a pro-grade range, or a vintage appliance -- can have a big impact.
"A good cosmetic upgrade will more than pay for itself at resale time," says Manhattan kitchen designer Clare Donohue.
So if changing tastes or wear and tear has left you with a kitchen in need of a lift, follow this guide to simple and affordable upgrades.
Sturdy wood cabinets are often worth saving. To change the look:
Change hardware: Replacing knobs, pulls, and hinges costs as little as a few dollars per door. Make sure the new hardware matches the existing hole locations.
Paint: A coat of paint can brighten up old cabinets and cheer up the whole room. (Metal cabinets can be sent out to an autobody shop for a durable refinishing.) Cost of a professional paint job: about $35 to $85 per linear foot.
|More from This Old House
Reface: Refacing can make cabinets look brand new. First, doors and drawer fronts are removed and all exterior surfaces are covered with a veneer of prefinished wood in whatever species and finish you prefer. Then new doors and drawer fronts are made to match. Make sure to hire a reputable company, and only after you've seen examples of its work. Cost: approximately $125 to $325 per linear foot, depending on the type of veneer and the method of installation.
Change doors: It's possible to replace just the panels on cabinet doors. Decorative filler panel options include glass (clear, etched, tinted, patterned, stained) and metal (stainless steel or punched or patterned tin). Simply use a router to cut away the existing panel and rout a lip on the back of the door to hold the new panel. Replacement panels typically cost from $100 to $250 per door. Other options include removing the doors altogether (free!) for an open-shelf look or replacing them with new doors ($100 to $400 per door).
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. Cost: about $15 per linear foot, unfinished.
Upgrade interiors: Slide-out shelves, tilt-trays, lazy Susans, drawer dividers, and full-extension drawer glides can be retrofitted to your old boxes. Cost: $1,000 to $3,000 for a full kitchen.
For good appliances in need of rejuvenation, choices include:
Reface: Some refrigerators and dishwashers are designed with frames to hold face panels -- typically a stainless steel sheet or a wood panel. Replacement panels cost from $100 to $800, depending on the size of the appliance and the material. Even if the appliance doesn't have a frame, panel kits (including frames, panels, and handles) can be custom-ordered for just about any make and model of appliance, in a variety of materials (www.frigodesign.com). Cost: $175 to $1,000 per appliance. Replacements for worn-out stove knobs, burner plates, and glass cooktops can also be ordered from the manufacturer.
Paint: If you have a high-end appliance or an antique that's lost its luster, metal surfaces can be painted by an appliance refinisher or an autobody shop for about $100 (for an oven door or dishwasher panel) to $300 (for a whole fridge). Porcelain stoves can be reporcelainized by an appliance or bathtub refinisher for about $100 for a single oven door and roughly $1,200 for an entire range.
To give an an old floor new life, you can:
Resurface: Refinish an existing wood floor and stain it a different color or add stenciled borders ($550 to $700 for refinishing a 200-square-foot kitchen; a simple border might cost an additional $200 to $1,000). Stone flooring can be professionally polished to bring back its original luster.
Cover: If the floor is sound and flat, you may be able to cover linoleum or wood with a coat of flooring primer and paint, or a layer of stick-down vinyl tiles or sheet flooring. Cost: about $200 for paint, $500 for vinyl.
Nothing changes the look of a kitchen quicker than sprucing up countertops. Here's how:
Resurface: Stripping an old laminate countertop off the plywood deck is fairly simple; installing new laminate costs about $30 to $40 per linear foot. Ceramic tiles can also be installed over existing plywood. And if your solid surface or stone countertop is showing its age, the surface can be professionally polished to remove the marks.
Add moldings: To dress up a laminate countertop, add molding around the front edge for about $5 per linear foot.
Replace just a section: If you don't want to rip out the whole countertop, consider recessing a different material, such as a chopping block, into part of an existing counter.
Add a backsplash: If you're not replacing countertops, you can change the backsplash. Good choices: laminates, ceramic or glass tile, beadboard, even metal ceiling squares.