Originally published in Latina Style magazine, Su Casa home decor column, by Cristina Acosta
My cocina (kitchen) is ugly! The books and magazines I pick up at the home center have pictures of remodels that cost tens of thousands of dollars. I want to do an update on a small budget – just about $2,000. Do you have any suggestions?
My eighty five year old father-in-law recently sang this song to me: You’ve got to accent the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with mister-in-between.
Not only are these lyrics great advice for life – they’re easy to remember home design advice. Learning to accent positive focal points in your home is the number one way to maximize the effect of your efforts. A focal point is the first thing you see when you walk into a room. Here’s an easy way to find the focal points in your kitchen—enter the room and pay attention to the first thing your eye sees. You probably will experience your eye traveling to two or three places in the kitchen. These places are the focal points.
Most rooms will have three or more strong focal points along with a few lesser focal points. Usually these focal points are places with strong simple shapes (like the refrigerator) and places with complex interesting shapes (like a glass cupboard filled with tableware, a gleaming cook top, or the sink). A focal point can also be something awkward or ugly like the small space between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling or worn out plumbing and lighting fixtures. You aren’t stuck with ugly focal points. Keep the song in mind and eliminate them by replacing them and/or emphasizing the attractive focal points. Though the ugly areas won’t actually disappear unless you replace them, they will tend to disappear as focal points when other areas are strengthened.
Like most anything, getting the most for your money is key. Two of the most inexpensive additions to a kitchen can be color and fixtures. Old or dreary kitchens often have outdated kitchen faucets, light fixtures and cabinet pulls. Old cabinets may be rejuvenated with a coat of paint. Visit a few home centers to get a feel for the prices and styles available. Budget yourself carefully and you’ll be able to replace the existing fixtures with something that looks great (even if it’s not your first – usually more expensive choice!). If you or a family member can do any of the labor installing the fixtures, you’ll be able to stretch your budget to include a few more changes.
There is nothing like color to change the personality of a room. Two ways I’ve found to add color creatively is paint and laminate. While looking for a way to update my kitchen color scheme with a budget of $1,000.00 to spend on the cabinetry I discovered that any of the laminate I have could be re-laminated in a new color. I called a few cabinet shops that specialized in laminate and asked them for a bid. The price to re-laminate a few cabinets was very reasonable and the color options were extensive. By focusing on re-doing parts of my kitchen and not the entire thing I had money left over to paint the wood trim on the gray cabinets and add a few cabinet pulls!
I focused on three focal points; my kitchen barstool area, the refrigerator and the dishwasher. I ordered a color that coordinates with the existing gray. The lush dark eggplant purple color enhances the focal points and broke up the overwhelming gray of the remaining cabinets. I no longer focus on the gray cabinetry (a big negative for me). Don’t be afraid to mix up the colors and finishes of your cabinetry. The solid lush purple areas of color create a simple visual counterpoint to the more complex visual area that includes the gray cabinets with the multi-colored trim and drawer pulls.By strengthening the focal areas with color I’ve eliminated my negative perception of my kitchen. Now I love walking into my kitchen. The gray cabinets remain, I just no longer focus on them because the stronger focal points are so enjoyable to me.
Creating remodeling color schemes is a great way to start changes.