Kitchen Makeovers for $5,000 or Less: Transform the heart of the home and add value overall

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The kitchen is the site of a
lot of daily wear and tear, and, for better or for worse, it’s also one of the
first spots scrutinized by value-hunting homebuyers. Whether you plan to stay a
while or move on soon, a little investment in your kitchen’s function and good
looks can go a long way toward enriching daily routines and enhancing the
overall value

The kitchen is the site of a

lot of daily wear and tear, and, for better or for worse, it’s also one of the

first spots scrutinized by value-hunting homebuyers. Whether you plan to stay a

while or move on soon, a little investment in your kitchen’s function and good

looks can go a long way toward enriching daily routines and enhancing the

overall value of your home. Here are several ways to warm up your kitchen

without burning too much cash.

Replace countertops

Sparkling new work surfaces

make a stylish statement, whether the look is naturally neutral or fashion-forward.

You can get on board with one of many materials, and the one you choose will

depend on the expanse of countertop area you need to re-cover and the expense

you’re willing to spare. Natural stone such as granite is tops for

sophisticated good looks and durability, and engineered stone is also a

wonderful option with a lower price point. Ceramic tile is a DIY-able

endeavor that can add personality and variety, and such options as solid

surfacing, concrete and composites with recycled content provide unique

character, color and texture.

Spruce up cabinets, inside

and out

If you have well-built wood

or laminate cabinets, refinishing them can make for a cost-effective transformation.

Do a careful check to ensure that your prep work won’t involve sanding through

thin veneers, and start refinishing, step by step (More: Replace, Reface or Refinish). Accessorize refreshed cabinetry with sparkling new

style='font-family:Arial'>hardware,

then move inside to make the most of the space you have using specially sized

organizers and full-service fittings. Fresh, stable shelf liners will create an

easy-clean interior and protect dishes, glassware and serving pieces.

Let in the light

Just-right lighting can make

time spent in the kitchen both useful and pleasurable. Go for a combination of

energy-smart fixtures and daylighting: track lighting, rope lighting and

recessed fixtures will help put work areas in the spotlight, and installation

of a skylight or tubular daylighting device provides properly filtered

sunlight. Also consider replacing a standard over-the sink window with a

greenhouse-style model─you’ll get extra illumination while visually

extending the space and creating a home for a fresh herb garden.

Ensure that change is

underfoot

New flooring is another means

of kitchen transformation, and the options abound. There are a lot of reasons to

love laminate in particular: it’s affordable, simpler than ever to install,

available in a range of formats and styles, stands up to moisture challenges,

and is easy to clean and maintain. Vinyl tile is another do-it-yourself option,

and can be applied to both subtle and dramatic effects.

Make fixtures fabulous

Dress up a serviceable sink

with a new faucet, and, as you’re able, bring appliances up to date. Shop for

EnergyStar-qualified models, and you’ll also have a new outlook where your

utility bills are concerned, thanks to technologies that save between 10 and 50

percent on electricity and water usa

style='font-family:Arial'>ge. Coordinate appliance finishes and colors for a

unified, more subtle kitchen fla

style='font-family:Arial'>vor, avoiding strong colors or details that veer too

much toward the eclectic.

Clean things up

Go for a decorative vibe

that plays to contemporary tastes and creates a clutter-free work space. Select

wall coverings with clean, fresh colors and simple patterns, and remember that windows

are best left undressed. Finally, edit countertop collections and wall décor to

enhance an open, generous look and create a clear path to culinary

enlightenment.

Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show’s podcast or sign-up for Tom’s free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program’s website.

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