Five Steps for an Affordable Update

Five easy and affordable tricks to update your home.

1. Paint--Because their cabinets contained ample space for dishes and cookware, Dit and Julia only needed to freshen the look. The solution was to paint the cabinets. They selected a pleasing shade of light green and replaced the pulls and hardware. On the most visible doors, they opted for sleeker brushed-chrome hardware. To save money, they installed inexpensive wood pulls, painted the same color green, on the base cabinets and some of the upper ones.

2. Accessories--Look for places where you can easily add personality to your kitchen. The Rutlands opted to skirt the new island with fabric. A floorcloth, painted to reinforce the room's coastal theme, was introduced in order to break up the wide expanse of hardwood floors. They also selected color-coordinated accessories, such as the canisters on the countertop and the plate over the cooktop.

3. Updated lighting--It is amazing what a difference lighting can make in a room. An existing ceiling fan was replaced with a triple pendant fixture. In addition, old fluorescent undercounter lights were updated with inexpensive halogen units that came in a kit from a home-improvement store. Now work surfaces are better illuminated, and the kitchen feels much brighter.

4. Backsplash--Because they chose to keep their neutral countertops, the couple spent their money on a blue tile backsplash to jazz up the room. As experienced do-it-yourselfers, they installed the tile themselves. This material is a great option for the backsplash because it is easy to clean and can bring the different colors of the cabinets and countertops together. If you are looking for an attractive backsplash that you can install yourself, consider tile. It comes in many colors, so you can create virtually any look you want at any price.

5. New appliances--To save money, only buy what you need. For instance, because Julia is an avid cook, she and Dit decided to replace their old electric cooktop with a gas model and the existing vent hood with a more powerful one. They opted to keep their dishwasher, refrigerator, and wall ovens, all of which were in good condition and complemented the new color scheme. (Note: It's important to hire a licensed professional when switching from electric to gas. You never know what obstacles you might encounter, both with the gas line and the electrical connection.)

To read more about this updated kitchen, see "Living in the Kitchen," beginning on page 93 in the February 2003 issue of Southern Living.