How to modernize an old dated kitchen

You do not have to spend a fortune to bring the kitchen up to date. Careful thought and a streamlined visual approach can work wonders with any kitchen.

The problem is a common one, and often comes to light when you are thinking of redecorating the kitchen: the existing fittings are basically sound but look shabby and old-fashioned and do not provide quite the storage you need. One solution is to refit the kitchen completely with modern units planned to fit the space, but this is a very expensive answer. An alternative is to dress up the existing units and tie these in to the colour scheme to give an overall designed look to the kitchen, building in more storage where necessary.

The first thing to do is to take a good look at the existing kitchen and decide where you need alterations to the storage space or working area. This kitchen had an obvious wasted space over the sink, and a simple design for extra shelving utilizes this space highly effectively while providing a draining rack for plates and cups.

The other area of wasted space in this kitchen was between the upper and lower storage cupboards either side of the worktop on the other side of the room.

The old plastic laminate surface was tiled over and a simple herb and spice rack built in between the new surface and the cupboards above.

The next thing you should do is to decide on the overall look you want to achieve. Some simple sketches can be a big help here. The horizontal emphasis aimed for in this design gives a modern look, ties in with the level of the work surface and is very easy to achieve. The old-style handles on the cupboard doors were changed for modern, extruded aluminium handle sections.

You can buy these in a very wide range of styles, which makes them easy to fit to almost any door or drawer. If your cupboard doors have curved edges, which many did in this kitchen, plane them down as shown to give a square edge. To carry on the horizontal look, hardwood strips were pinned on between the doors and drawers. These helped to tie separate units together horizontally. By overlapping the strip running along above the worktop, it provided a mounting for a concealed striplight to illuminate the work surface below. The same hardwood was used to make handle sections for the sink unit to match it to the look of the other units. You could use a handle section in aluminium here too.

At the same time as the modernization of the door handles, make good any of the surfaces which have become damaged. Fill any scratches or knocks on the doors, and take the opportunity to resurface the worktops, perhaps using unglazed ceramic tiles. Alternatively you could simply glue on new decorative laminate. If the door hinges are damaged, replace them. If the drawers are not running smoothly, plane them to fit or reset the runners as necessary. Tidy up any of the internal shelving and repaint.

To help you get the overall look to your kitchen, repaint the units in a colour which will blend with any of the fittings which cannot be changed using a good quality gloss paint. If you do not plan to change the flooring, use a colour to blend with it.

New wall tiles help to dress up the kitchen, especially if you use a toning colour. This is probably the easiest way to deal with the area around the sink, which in old kitchens is often very untidy looking, especially if it has been replumbed.

The total cost and time involved in modernizing your kitchen in this way are very small compared with the money and effort required to refit completely.

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