Install a New Faucet
A kitchen facelift can start with a fresh new faucet that spruces up your sink, and it might even save you a few cents on the water bill. Installing a new faucet takes an afternoon's work or less and is an affordable upgrade. Choose a faucet that matches your sink and kitchen theme, making sure it will fit into the sink's hole pattern. Also, think about how you use the sink. If you hand-wash dishes, for example, you might appreciate a powerful and easy-to-access spray nozzle. If you rely on a portable dishwasher, make sure the faucet will attach. Faucets run from $50 to more than $500 and are available at home-improvement stores. Installation requires basic tools and a willingness to work on the floor in an upside down position for a few minutes when wrenching in the hardware.
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Add a Backsplash
There's nothing like the luster of tile to make a kitchen more beautiful. A backsplash above the stove, behind the sink, or above a countertop is a sure way to express your creativity and catch some grease. Most of the work is in designing a backsplash that suits your needs and your kitchen space. Consider the measurements of the area, the materials you like and can afford and the labor involved with installation. If working with ceramic tile, you might need a wet saw, grout and caulk, among other supplies. Take a more simple approach with the peel-and-stick panels now available in home-improvement stores. You can cut away excess and align the tiles before adhering them to the wall. Tile isn't the only option—today's kitchen backsplashes might be made of stainless steel panels, aluminum wallpaper or reclaimed wood.
Store and Organize
If clutter is your culprit, open up space and make the most of every inch of storage capacity. Donate unused food, plates and gadgets to the local thrift shop and invest in a few baskets, bins and drawer dividers. Gain some inspiration with quick and clever storage ideas that you might not have thought of. Consider expanding your storage capacity with pantry shelves, a baker's rack or a portable kitchen island. After a few hours of ruthless decision-making about what goes where and why, your kitchen will look and function better. Clean the countertops and appliances, sweep and stand back to admire the perfection. Now host a dinner party and show off your white-glove wonder.
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Lay Down Luxury Vinyl
With careful planning and the right supplies, you can lay down a new floor in a weekend. A good bet for the kitchen is luxury vinyl tile: It looks like stone or ceramic, but is much less expensive and easier to cut and install. Luxury vinyl tile is often sold as peel-and-stick, but the bevels on the sides require grouting, an extra step that gives the final result a more expensive look than you'd get with traditional vinyl tile. Choose tile in a style that compliments your appliances and cabinets, taking its texture, color and shape into consideration. Keep a selection of sample tiles in the kitchen for 24 hours to observe how they look under various light conditions. Choose the look you like best and follow this tutorial to get the job done with a minimal amount of time, effort and expense.
If your countertops are chipped, faded or just out of style, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars to get a new look. Visit your local home-improvement store or shop online to learn about the many styles and shades of countertop paint. Often sold in kits, countertop paint is specially formulated for durability and rich, deep color that will completely mask what's underneath. Some kits include diamond chips or speckles for a stone effect. Applying the paint requires masking off the countertops and following the instructions in your kit. Dedicate an entire weekend to the project—several layers are required and you won't be able to use the countertops between coats. Have fun eating dinner out and arriving home to new, sparkling countertops that will make you forget the old ones in a flash. If you're feeling ambitious, use the same technique with a cabinet-painting kit.
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Since kitchen walls are often victims of grime and grease, you might avoid hanging framed artwork covered in glass. Look instead for cleanable canvases and other objects of art, such as metal or plastic decorative objects, that can recover from a splattering batch of fried zucchini. Establish a theme for your wall decor that suits the style of your cabinets and appliances. With a few carefully selected and placed pieces, your kitchen space can bring you cheer on the cloudiest of days. Make sure to follow proper technique when hanging your artwork, using the right kind of hardware and tools to protect your walls from damage.
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Add Under-Cabinet Lighting
Nothing changes a room more than the way it's illuminated, but kitchen lighting often comes from overhead fixtures and fluorescents and creates deep shadows on work areas. Lighten the mood with under-cabinet lighting you can install in just a few hours. You'll need to asses the amount of space you have under the cabinets and their depth in order to determine the type of lighting that works best. Try track lights, strips or round LEDs that can be applied with glue or small screws. With many options available at home-improvement stores and online, your biggest challenge will be narrowing down the selection to the one you like best. Take the project a step further with specials bulbs or strips, such as those made by Philips Hue, that can change color with controls on your smartphone or computer.
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Streaks, grease, spots and just plain dirt on your kitchen windows affect the amount of light passing through. Set aside a few hours on a nice day to fill a few buckets with water and a mild cleaning solution that will lift away film and bring in the sunshine. Do the job right by removing and cleaning screens, polishing window sills, and buffing drops and streaks from the window panes. You can follow our step-by-step tutorial to ensure perfection. Stash your window-cleaning supplies in a prominent place as a reminder to tackle the chore frequently.
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Plant a Windowsill Garden
Botanicals of all kinds are especially good in kitchens. With easy access to water and sunlight, they are less likely to die than that rubber tree in the corner of your living room and bring beauty and fresh air into the space. Buy a few small pots and a watering tray and grow a batch of herbs to flavor your home-cooked meals. Basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme, chives and oregano are all good choices. Once the plants are larger, consider new ways to display the greenery. Try hanging them from the ceiling or displaying them in wall pockets. You might also try a hydroponic system for fresh greens, a glass terrarium for succulents or a tea garden of chamomile, peppermint and lemon balm.
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