Hometown Lawrence: A kitchen remodel can add value without lots of cost

Lighting is one way to update your kitchen’s look without spending a lot of money.

The kitchen is the focal point of the home, and key to buyers when considering a purchase. If your kitchen looks worn or dated, there are ways to update the space without breaking the bank, though it may take a little elbow grease on your part.

Start by painting the walls. A new color goes a long way in the looks department. To select the right color, take a cabinet drawer into the paint store with you to choose something that compliments the finish.

Cabinets can be painted or refinished to give the space a new look. The internet and home improvement centers can provide instructions on how to do this. Neutral colors work best since too much color can make the kitchen look smaller. Plus, neutral cabinets will allow for colorful accents in the backsplash, window treatments and other accessories. If re-doing the cabinets seems too daunting a task, try changing out the existing hardware–knobs and drawer pulls–with modern ones.

Replacing or re-doing the countertops can also dramatically change the room’s look. Try budget-friendly laminate countertops made to look like granite or marble, but at a more affordable price. Painting a laminate countertop is another option. The result can be one sold color, or there are kits available to make countertop look like granite or other stone surfaces. Instructions can be found online or at the home improvement center.

New lighting fixtures are a relatively easy update to a kitchen. Add a dimmer switch to change the mood of the room to fit the activity, such as bright for food preparation and muted for enjoying the meal. Also, under cabinet lighting provides both brighter task lighting while working at the counter, and interesting contrasts and shadows in the room. Molding can be added to the bottom of the cabinet to hide new lighting fixtures.

Add a backsplash to up the kitchen’s style. This step is both easy to do and cost effective. For a more contemporary look, go with a sleek subway tile or a glass mosaic. For something more traditional, consider a travertine with glass or metal accents. If a tile backslash is already installed, consider getting removable tile decals to change the look without having to change the tiles.

New window treatments will also change the look of the kitchen. For example, a dramatic valance installed higher than the window and above the cabinet line will make it look taller and give the surrounding cabinets a different look.

Change the soft goods in the kitchen by reupholstering the kitchen chairs and/or benches, and purchasing new towels. Choose fabrics that coordinate in some way with the window treatments.

Finally, sometimes all it takes to get a new kitchen look is to organize what’s already there. Keep the countertops as clear as possible by tucking the toaster and coffee maker away when not in use. Kitchen upgrades are often spoiled because there is so much clutter no one notices the changes.

Hometown Lawrence

Hometown Lawrence is the Lawrence Journal-World’s real estate resource section and website. For more information on area real estate listings, go to HometownLawrence.com.