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Monday, July 2, 2007 posted by Tommi Crow

Are you sick of your dark, outdated and worn kitchen? Is it an immediate turn off to today’s picky home buyers? If so, you can transform your present kitchen on a tight budget, if your kitchen has a good layout and the cabinets are sturdy.

If you have a few hundred dollars to spend on updating…. consider ways to get rid of that tired look forever.

1. Go Neutral. White, beige, cream and natural materials, like wood and stone, sell houses and never go out of style.

2. Replace Lighting Fixtures. There is no excuse for living with an ugly ceiling light that causes eye-strain and casts shadows over your work surfaces. For $25- $250 you can install a new, simple fixture that matches your hardware and style.

3. Replace or Fix Old Floors. Laminate over old linoleum, sheet vinyl and chipped tiles. Todays laminates snap or glue in place. They cost only $1-$5 a square foot and you can install the new floor right over the old floor. If your home was built before WWII, chances are you have wood underneath all that mess. Simply pull up the old floor covering, sand and seal to make those old floors shine.

4. Get Rid of Wallpaper, Stenciling and Borders. They scream old and dated, make rooms smaller and cluttered looking and today’s buyers hate them. Rip it down and apply a fresh coat of neutral paint for less than $50.

5. Breathe Life into Old Cabinets. A solid coat of fresh, neutral paint does wonders for old, dark wood cabinets. Replace the dated cabinet pulls. You can fill any unwanted holes with Bondo before painting. If you have a little extra money consider hiring a company that re-finishes cabinets, or DIY and install new doors with glass, inserts, etc. If the budget is extremely limited, remove some or all of the upper cabinet doors and paint the shelves for an open, commercial kitchen look.

6. Refinish Appliances. If your appliances sport an outdated color, send them to a refinisher (see your local phone book). For a few hundred dollars, they will re-enamel old appliances in the color of your choice such as stainless steel, black, red or cobalt blue.

Kitchens work hard, draw people, and according to home buyers, they are the most important room in the house. Smart money invested in updating this room will come back to you when you sell. If you have a couple of thousand dollars in the budget for kitchen updating, check in tomorrow when we outline what will give you the most bang for your buck.