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I'm trying to improve my kitchen and would love ideas!

February 15, 2019
last modified: February 15, 2019

I purchased this home many years ago and added a couple of oak cabinets to the existing cabinetry. One is a set of drawers and the other is a standing small pantry. I haven't replaced the Formica counter as I wasn't sure if I was going to keep the oak cabinets. I'm now 70 and am not sure how long I'll stay in this home. Meanwhile, I'm ready to perk up the kitchen. Although I'm not crazy about yellow oak cabinets, I hoping I can enhance them with granite counters, back splash, a stainless steel sink and appliances. I'm also open to having the cabinets professionally painted. I need to take into consideration the open flow of the small kitchen, dining area and living room. I would appreciated ideas!

Comments (19)

  • rantontoo

    Overall, you have a nice space! I do not think I would paint the cabs; they do not have the raised arch which is a plus and look to be in good shape. You could two tone the kitchen by painting just the uppers white like your trim if you want to eliminate sone of the all wood look.

    The counters get tricky because they will be the big expense if you do not paint cabs. Leathered or brushed level one granite may give an updated look while muting the speckled look of many level one stones. Do you live near an Ikea? They have some decent pricing on laminates and solid surface counters.

    Here are some other ideas:

    Eliminate the ceiling fan;

    Explore adding under cab lights

    If you plan on adding backsplash tile, do the tile only...no back piece of counter; just tile to the counter top.

    Take decorative items off the top of the cabs.

    Definitely reconsider your drapes and their pole system. Explore more updated options if you need the privacy.

    You could consider a more modern chandelier; it is a bit fussy, but I like it as the room is now.

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  • functionthenlook

    Most things looks like they are in good shape in your kitchen and well taken care of. If you want to change things up just for you, then go for it. If you are thinking of re-sale then you might not want to go all out. With most remodels you never get the money back on re-sale that you put into it. I agree that a new counter top is needed to encompass the drawers you added. The laminates now are not our grandmothers laminates. They have some really nice ones. Personally laminate is the only counter top I will have. If you change out the counters I would also update the sink. I wouldn't bother with the back splash or paint the cabinets if for resale. On the average appliances life is about 10 years. If yours is close to life then I would switch them out to stainless steel, other wise I wouldn't.

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  • housegal200

    Absolutely keep your oak cabinets as is and upgrade hardware. Find some manufactured countertops in white or speckled in golds--laminate is fine if you think you won't be there that long. You don't need too much countertop. If you want a more streamlined look, remove all the doodads on top of the cabinets and on the walls. side. If your refrigerator needs to be replaced, get a smaller black one so all the appliances match.

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  • schnable1
    Your kitchen cabinets and floor are similar to mine. Several years ago I went to the kitchen shop that originated the cabinets and they installed cabinets above existing to the ceiling. No more dust. Great extra storage. My laminate counters look amazing after 20 years, and I can't guess what a future buyer will want, so I'm not changing. But you should what will make you happy. I'm 67 and feel I should use what works for me.
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  • schnable1
    Also, adding cabinets on to eliminated the crown molding pieces leaving a sleek look.
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  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    you have no hardware, so that would be a start.

    painting them will give you an immediate update, but you'd need a new countertop to go w/that look.

    here is a before/after with painted oak cabs, but they left the same laminate countertop

    and another where they painted and added new counters/backsplash. you tell me which looks better.

    Or, get new countertops, leave the oak, and add some hardware. Maybe a new wall color.

    Lori711 thanked Beth H. :
  • Lori711

    rantantoo.........thank you so much for your ideas! I especially like the idea of upper cabinet lights. I do know it would look much better removing the stuff at the top of the ceiling! I've also planned on replacing the light over the table to a more modern one. I'm not sure what you mean about removing the pole rod and drapes. The slider goes out to a second floor 12'X26' Trex deck with woods in the back, so privacy isn't an issue. What would you suggest, if anything.

  • Lori711

    functionthenlook..........thank you for sharing your ideas! My appliances are about fifteen years old. The sink is definitely coming out. The refrigerator needs replacing as the ice maker died a couple of years ago and the white is an eye sore! I've already invested more money with improvements than I'll get back with a resale, that's why I'm not replacing the cabinets.

  • rantontoo

    I tried to see if a shade (Roman, cellurar, etc.) could be inset enough on each door to clear when the door slides, but I cannot tell. These look less fussy to be.

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  • jhmarie

    I have oak cabinets and did not paint, though I did get new counter, backsplash, sink and under cabinet lighting. I would definitely add the under cabinet lighting. It was the most functional change I made:


    This is my wood kitchens idea book if you want some ideas for countertops / colors etc:


    When you change out appliances, consider a hood rather than an over the range microwave. My mother can no longer safely reach food up to her microwave and so uses one placed lower. She is older than you, but something to keep in mind.

    One other small thing I noticed. You appear to have a white vinyl toe kick. With a wood floor, you should have a wood toe kick and that can easily be changed out by a handy man / carpenter.

    My mother was considering changes to her similar kitchen but decided not to because the cost of the changes would not affect her selling price of her home and she does not imagine being there 5 more years. She did get a new sink because the old one was chipped and looking bad, but the rest of her kitchen was in fine shape.

    I would change out the ceiling fan in the kitchen. I did because in the kitchen the fan got too greasy and required too much cleaning. I am getting a little less comfortable climbing up to clean thing as I also am getting older.

    I have no problem with items on cabinets - everyone I know does it:)

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  • Lori711

    jhmarie.........Thanks for sharing your ideas! I wondered about taking out the microwave over the stove too. My kitchen is very basic without much "glamour" and was wondering if a unique hood would enhance the room. I've seen smaller microwaves set inside of cabinets that looked nice. I don't like bulky appliances on my counters. I'm also wondering if the toe kick would look okay painted the same color or even a bit darker than the cabinets. So many great idea's from "Houzz" lovers! This site is the greatest!

  • Joy Peace
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  • Lori711

    Beth H..........wowee those pictures say 1000 words! Thank you for taking so much time and posting all those before and after photos! As you can see I favor a monochromatic scheme. With that in mind and the 3 open rooms in mind (living room, dining area and kitchen), I'm wondering if I have the kitchen cabinets painted white if that would interrupt the flow from room to room. What approximate color would you suggest? My style being monochromatic I'm not asking you to pick a color, (I sure know how much time and thought goes into that), just a basic color. Oh boy, it took posting these pictures for me to even see how down right ugly that white fan is!!!

  • Lori711

    Schnable1.........Thanks for your cleaver suggestion. I never thought about adding cabinets to the ceiling. I'll check that out.

  • daneejela

    If I would paint cabinets, I would paint only upper cabinets into white...there is just something very natural with that setup - lower part feels grounded and upper part feels open, bright, similar like earth and sky.

    Next, I really love how your current counter works with the wood, I would choose similar style for new counter, nothing too busy or grainy.

    If possible, I would also bring up/fill that uppers to the ceiling. It's the main thing that I would change in your kitchen.

    After switching appliances, I would also change that rug into something softer, either creamy or grey.

    Overall, I think you place looks lovely, cozy, tasteful..

    Lori711 thanked daneejela
  • Lori711

    daneejela.........Thank you for your ideas! I'm wondering if the upper cabinets were painted white if the contrast would interrupt the flow with the 3 open areas. What are your thoughts of maybe an off white, light grey or ??????????

  • daneejela

    I don't think that white uppers will interrupt the flow, since you have white trims, doors, chandelier etc.

    But it could also be a good idea to paint them into that soft off white colour of the walls.

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  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    It is so hard to tell from pictures on a computer, but it seems to me that a better wall paint color would do a lot to freshen up the space. Often it seems that the color of the wood isn't the problem, it is forcing that wood into a color scheme that fights with it!

    Embrace the "yellow" by choosing a warm toned or neutral paint -- a warm white would be my choice, but a warm pale green, or blue would work. You will also have to be sure the color transitions well to the rest of the main floor, which appears to be a pale gray. It is very hard to find a gray that will play well with yellow but there are some lovely warm grays out there. In your new counter be sure to look for a warm, not cool, light color.

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  • Lori711

    raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio........Thank you very much for your suggestions. I agree computers distort colors! This is the one room I find very hard to update. Never been a fan of oak wood of anything. My eyes see it as a masculine, chunky and heavy wood even if it's not stained this yellow tone. I have friends that have it in their homes and somehow it works and looks lovely, probably because it compliments their decor.

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