TIP #1 UPGRADE YOUR FIXTURES Replacing your old sink and faucet with new models can freshen your look instantly, and add function at the same time. Check out the home center stores for 18-gauge stainless steel sinks and pull-out or pull-down faucets. In-stock models will be your best deals. (You’ll need a new drain while you’re there, too. The old one will look, well, old next to the new sink.) Also, you might consider plugging the empty hole, if there is one, with a soap dispenser.
TIP#2 PAINT YOUR CABINETS Give your tired old cabinets a facelift with a fresh coat of paint. You’ll need to rough them up and prime them first, but a fresh, contemporary color will make your kitchen look new. Bring one of your doors to a paint pro for advice on the right tools and paint for the job.

TIP #3 ADD MOLDING AND PANELING If there’s room for crown molding atop your cabinets, pick up some stock pieces at the home center and put it on. You’ll almost never get an exact color match to what’s there already, so you might try painting them the same color you’re re-painting the cabinets or, if you’re keeping the cabinets’ existing color, painting or staining the crown in a coordinating accent shade. More pizzazz can be had with molding at the bottom of the wall cabinets-called light rail. Decorative panels on the sides of your cabinets give a more finished look than a smooth veneered side. If you’re painting your cabinets, this would be a great time to add this detail. If you can’t find ready-made doors that look like the ones on the front of your cabinet, consider grooved paneling, unless your kitchen is ultra-contemporary.

TIP#4 UPGRADE YOUR FLOORING Vinyl, especially the sheet style that curls at the ends when it’s old, will bring down the look of your entire kitchen. Tiling your floor can add a huge visual boost without a huge budget hit. Look for stock tile at home centers, or tile discounters. Tiling your backsplash is another way to use this affordable material to enhance your kitchen’s style. Choose a color that coordinates with your countertops and looks good next to your cabinets.

TIP#5 UPDATE YOUR HARDWARE Cabinet knobs and pulls can date a kitchen, or make it look current and classic. Try putting in some wooden dinnerware sets for a nice touch. Changing them gives one of the most affordable style lifts available. If you have knobs currently, you can change to pulls by using one of the existing holes and adding a second one. If you have pulls, measure the space between the screws and fine new ones with that same dimension. This will save you a great deal of time and effort.

None of these enhancements will cost you a great deal of money, but all will give a great visual punch to your kitchen. If you’re getting ready to sell your home, these might be small changes that bring big results. If your budget can stretch further, consider stainless steel or stainless-look appliances and stone countertops. Some cities offer a stone top that sits on your existing laminate. That, or granite tile, could be a more affordable way of getting the look many buyers want right now.

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