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Originally published Friday, September 27, 2013 at 8:04 PM

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HomeWork: No remodel? No problem for a quick kitchen refresh

A: For most families, the kitchen is the hardest-working room in the house. If you’re not ready for a remodel, a few easy changes can give your overworked kitchen a fresh new look.

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Q: How can I give my kitchen a fresh look?

A: For most families, the kitchen is the hardest-working room in the house. It doesn’t take long for floors to look grungy, cabinets to get stained or scratched, and countertops to become dull and tired. If you’re not ready for a remodel, a few easy changes can give your overworked kitchen a fresh new look.

A new coat of paint is a cost-effective way to make your kitchen feel fresh and clean, and the right color can make spaces feel more expansive. One cure for a lackluster space is energizing it with a vibrant color. Barn red can give kitchen walls or cabinets a warm and cozy farm feeling, and the color really compliments pale wood cabinets. Bright yellow can bring a sense of freshness and fun to a kitchen.

If the idea of painting your entire kitchen is too daunting or bold colors just aren’t your thing, try painting select cabinets. Painting three or four cabinets on a short run, for example, will create the illusion of a built-in hutch. Or create variation by painting the lower and upper cabinets contracting colors.

To help your newly styled kitchen pop, re-cover chairs or stools with a bright, complimentary patterned fabric. Hang new curtains to complete the re-energized look.

Open up your shelving by removing the upper-cabinet doors. This is especially good for creating a sense of openness in a narrow kitchen. Punch up the revealed shelves by painting them an accent color or adding a decorative treatment, such as a wall covering.

If you have items you want to keep out of sight, attaching cloth skirts to countertops is a fast, easy way to conceal unattractive lower cabinets. It suggests cottage flair while keeping items out of sight. To achieve this look, remove lower cabinet doors, gather fabric on a tension rod and mount the rod to the cabinet frame.

Changing the look and feel of your sink can be as simple as replacing the faucet. The sink area is among the hardest-working areas of any kitchen, and faucets are especially overworked. Updating your faucet not only freshens up the sink area; it can make a real style statement by choosing one of the fun faucet options on the market.

Think of your kitchen hardware as jewelry for the kitchen. You can create a new feeling in your kitchen by adding new metal or glass knobs to highlight kitchen cabinets. It’s best to stick to one metal — brass, silver, stainless, chrome, etc. Be sure to count the number of doorknobs, handles or drawer pulls you’re going to need before heading out to store, flea market or garage sale. And don’t worry if the new hardware doesn’t fit in the old holes. Just buy some backplates to cover the gaps, and then drill new holes.

The right window treatment can transform a flawed kitchen into a space that lets in more light while reflecting your latest design aesthetic. But remember, kitchen-window treatments usually need more frequent washing than those in other rooms of the house, so choose blinds or curtains that are easy to remove and replace.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to


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