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Dear readers,

This column is just for you. Once a month, I’ll answer one of your interior design questions. Send me an email with your question and I’ll reply right here. Today’s question:

I’ve been looking at kitchens on Houzz and see that remodels can cost from $50,000 to $150,000. I desperately want to change my kitchen but only have about $25,000. The biggest eyesore is all of the oak cabinets. There are a lot of them. Lower and upper cabinets, a pantry and an island. The floor is also oak. The countertops are gold Corian which was not cheap but is very outdated and ugly. The backsplash is gold and green tile. The appliances are white except for the refrigerator, which is stainless steel. All the appliances need replacing except for the refrigerator. What are the best changes I can make given my budget? Thank you.

I’m going to suggest something so drastic that you may, at first, reject the idea. But give it some thought because it will dramatically change the appearance of your kitchen. I suggest you remove all of your upper cabinets. What about all the storage you’ll lose? If you have as many cabinets as you describe, my hunch is that you can find room, especially if you first sort and edit what you have. This one step, alone, will lighten the heaviness of the oak as well as lighten the contents of your cabinets, and, the labor costs are low. These upper cabinets might possibly work in your garage.

Paint the remaining lower cabinets, pantry and island. Your island could be a different color but it doesn’t have to be. Your color scheme is important. If you really want a fresh look, use just two major colors and one accent color in your kitchen.

For example, you could paint your cabinets and pantry white and the island gray. The new countertop and backsplash tile would be white or gray or one could be white and the other gray. You could stick with just these two colors or add accents of brass plumbing and lighting fixtures and yellow or gold window shades and seat cushions. This warm accent color would be the bridge between the cool gray paint and the warmth of your oak floors.

Depending on the size and shape of the bare wall(s) previously covered by the upper kitchens, think about taking your backsplash all the way to the ceiling. If there is a large amount of space to cover, add a few floating shelves. They will give some visual architecture to the area and also allow more storage. If you go this route, make sure that all the items on these shelves are the same color – using my example, choose gray, white or gold.

Since you’re keeping your refrigerator, stick to stainless steel for all of your new appliances. Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to mix stainless steel appliances with brass fixtures.

My final tip in updating your kitchen is to minimize the clutter. Clutter is distracting and will hide all the great changes you’re planning to make. Be discerning with your wall art as well. Make sure the subject matter and color scheme are compatible with your new space.

As long as you choose moderately-priced materials and appliances, the cost of these changes should be just under your allotted budget.

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Patti L. Cowger is an award-winning, credentialed, Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.

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