The kitchen is often the heart of our homes – where we share our mealtimes, get social and invite our friends and families to spend time. So it’s little wonder a dream kitchen is top of the list for many homeowners. Research shows that updating your kitchen can add an average of 6% to the value of your home should you come to sell, and it’s also an asset that you and your family can enjoy in the here and now. But unlike updating other rooms, the kitchen can be an expensive area to facelift – getting in the latest kitchen gadgets alone can add up to thousands.
There is another way. Minor kitchen remodels can prove less expensive than you may think – with many new products coming onto the market all the time to help you DIY it. If your units, surfaces and appliances are looking dated, it can be easier and more cost effective to facelift them, and a remodel of your kitchen will provide one of the highest returns on investment of any home project. Not only can it improve the functionality of the space – and of course, its appearance – but it can also make your home more energy-efficient – do it could even end up saving you money!
Making Over Kitchen Units
Ripping out and replacing all the cabinetry and work surfaces in your kitchen can be a major expense, especially if you want to achieve a high-end finish with materials such as granite, slate, high gloss or stainless steel. But did you know that new products are making it easier than ever to refinish your existing units instead?
There are step-by-step video guides to updating your kitchen units and work surfaces that make it an easy process to follow. Firstly, start by removing all the hardware from the cabinets, like drawer pulls and hinges and clean, disinfect and sand down the carcasses and doors. Use an abrasive product like sugar soap to rough up the new surfaces and help covering materials to stick. If you have old, stained laminate countertops, they can easily be treated with Granite Countertop paint – which gives the look of a far more expensive material. There are also roll-on materials that will cover your existing work surfaces and give them a fresh look easily.
The cabinets themselves can be sanded down and then re-painted or stained in a more modern colourway. Dark cabinetry can be given a new lease of life with a white or grey eggshell paint. Replacing the hardware also dramatically updates the look of the kitchen as a whole, and replacements can easily be sourced online or at a hardware store.
Replacing Your Kitchen Appliances
Most of us only ever consider replacing an appliance when it breaks down and no longer may works – or we look at having someone repair it. But this usually isn’t a great strategy when it comes to big-ticket items that are seriously costly to replace. Bear in mind that manufacturers build appliances with a set lifespan in mind, usually around 10-15 years. So if yours are approaching the end of this time limit, investing a little more initially in higher quality can pay dividends – for example, European kitchen appliances don’t have to cost as much as you may think, and newer models are highly energy efficient and may help you save money on utility bills.
When you do get new ones, make sure that you schedule in maintenance to keep them lasting as long as you can. Check things such as the condenser coils on refrigerators and HVAC units to ensure they are operating efficiently and not gathering dust – it’s as simple as vacuuming them. Check rubber seals to make sure the insides are protected from moisture, and clean out any filters on a regular basis too.
If your appliances are older but still serviceable you can always look at re-facing them, either with liquid stainless steel or with panel kits and integrated overlays that completely conceal the offending item. Some of these options allow you to be quite creative – for example, you could create a chalkboard finish on your fridge that you can write shopping lists on with chalk, or let the kid’s graffiti. Appliances that heat up need to be considered carefully as decorative panels can keep the heat in and may blister or overheat. For appliances of this nature you could always consider concealing them behind additional unit doors if you don’t want to replace them.
Energy and Air Supply
As well as the more cosmetic elements, as a highly functional space, kitchens need to be properly designed in terms of ventilation and energy sources. Air pollution is huge problem in modern society, and people often don’t realise that their indoor air quality in the kitchen can be highly polluted. As cooking produces huge amounts of moisture and heat, replacing your range hood with a modern model provides both a design facelift and energy-saving potential that can also improve the health of your home.
Along similar lines, if you are intending to repaint your kitchen as part of the makeover, seek out zero VOC paints. These are free from the toxic chemicals acting as preservatives that are present in a lot of paint formulations, and that release into the air of your home for years after being applied.
Modern ranges have a huge choice of colours and finishes. Also, look at replacing your bulbs for both overhead and any countertop lighting with LEDs. Not only do these provide a bright, quality light that can transform the look of space, but they have a really long lifespan and are hugely energy efficient too. Installing new blinds can also insulate the room better, or consider a decorative patterned film on windows that looks attractive, makes the space private and can deflect UV rays. This film is generally low cost and easy to install yourself.
With a few small touches, your kitchen could be looking more up to date, plus saving you money in terms of energy costs and safeguarded more effectively the health of you and your family.