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According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, one of the first places to renovate is the kitchen. The organization estimates that some 4 million Americans will embark on some kind of kitchen remodel this year alone.

While complete makeovers — which can cost in excess of $40,000 — are out of most people’s reach, there are some simple upgrades you can do to make your kitchen more modern.

• Cabinets — If your home was built in the 1970s or earlier, your cabinets are probably a lot darker than you’d like them to be. If the cabinet door style works for you, a good option instead of replacing them is refinishing. You can either paint over the current finish with white paint or lacquer, or have new cabinet doors manufactured and fastened to the existing framework. Either option will cost just a fraction of the amount you’d spend on replacement cabinets.

Making the cabinets more functional is just as easy. Most older cabinets can be retro-fitted with drawers that slide in and out to make them more accessible. This option comes standard with today’s new cabinets.

• Appliances — When it comes to appliances, a popular trend is to replace the old yellow, green and brown refrigerators, stoves and dish washers with stainless steel ones, making a room look more modern and clean.

The new trend in refrigerators is units with freezers on the bottom and refrigerators on the top. Because of this configuration, they are more energy efficient and thus less costly to operate. A lot of people are also replacing stoves equipped with cast-iron or gas burners with glass cooktops that are easier to clean.

• Sinks — The focus on cleaning ease is also apparent in today’s new sink styles. The old standard — self-rimming sinks — are being replaced in popularity by undercounter sinks. Without a sink rim to contend with, crumbs and other food debris wipe easily into the sink.

“These sinks are very versatile from a design standpoint as well,” said Andy Barber, kitchen products marketing manager at Kohler Co. “Cast iron undercounter sinks in neutral tones are an excellent choice as the colors blend seamlessly with granite and other solid surface countertops.”

Because they are heavier than stainless steel, installing a cast iron kitchen sink has traditionally been cumbersome and time consuming for plumbers, cabinetmakers and countertop installers; but Barber says that there is now a kit that helps even do-it-yourselfers complete the job easily.

• Counter tops — Because it adds such a refined look to a kitchen, is extremely hard, and is resistant to scratches and heat, granite is one of the more popular countertop materials today. At $55 per square foot installed, the material doesn’t always fit in with many people’s budgets, so remodelers are turning to alternative countertop materials like laminates and tile.

These are just a few ideas to give your kitchen a new look on a tight budget. For more kitchen remodeling ideas, log on to www.kohler.com/kitchens.

— Courtesy of ARA Content

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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