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inexpensive improvements to the kitchen


mcohen
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so, i have a rental where the kitchen needs to be updated. pretty much everything should be updated from the tile floors with spider cracks in them to the flourescent panels of lighting in the ceiling to the black laquer cabinets to the mismash of black and white appliances to probably even the layout of the kitchen. but, since this a rental and such changes would interupt the cash flow by taking the rental out of commission, what would be the best bang for the buck changes i could make?

i was thinking of simply painting the cabinets over with white paint, but i'm not sure how succsesful that would be over the black laquer cabinets. has anybody tried refacing cabinets, and how did that work out?

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One of the easiest and most noticeable changes you can make is to change the hardware on the drawers and cabinets! New drawer pulls and handles/knobs on cabinets can really dress up a tired kitchen.

Bob R in OKC

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

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You'll more than likely need to sand and prime before you go painting over lacquer. Might even need to strip it entirely.

Either way, make sure you either have either the owner's permission or enough disposable cash to pay them off if they try to sue you.

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Floor: An inexpensive woven carpet or two that can be put in the wash to cover it, that can be taken with you when you go.

Lighting is *very* important, almost primary. Some undercounter stick-on tubes can light up a drab kitchen immensely and you can find them for about seven dollars each.

Cabinets: You can take the eye off of the worst parts by new hardware that attracts the eye, and if that still is not enough, then surround the knobs with decorative painting using stencils (which can be found at Lowe's sometimes and craft stores more often). That will avoid the investment in time and labor of sanding.

One of the best tricks is to make the space appear more spacious by placing a mirror on one wall that reflects or creates a window-like focus.

Another is to create one focal point in the best area of the kitchen by placing something very attractive on the countertop. A beautiful big ceramic bowl of fruit, a tall candlestick, on a woven round placemat - or something of similar structure and appeal with make the eye go directly to it, thereby ignoring the rest of the mess. :raz:

Good luck. :smile:

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You own this place and rent it out, as I read your original comment.

I say, paint the walls, paint the cabinets to contrast. You can actually paint appliances if you want them all to match. you can also switch out appliances from a used appliance store for not too much money.

Peel and stick floor - you can do it yourself. I did mine in one day, fitting it tight to very uneven walls and nooks and crannies. Wish I had done that years ago. Tan, slate like 12" x 12" squares from the local home improvement big box. (You could go for black and white checkerboard, then the appliances might look intentional - the cabinets too.)

Refresh the lighting - at minimum, new panels - better if you can put in something attractive.

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When I think about it, its kind of funny....the apt I lived in I redid the floor with peel and stick tiles, painted the cabinets grey, put up a sheet of the fake tileboard (like paneling) and got them to replace the stove.

In my own house the floor is peeling up and we have 3 different styles of cabinet, an almond stove white dishwasher and a black/stainless fridge....

oh well the floor is on the list but we cant agree on a tile

tracey

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Yeah, I did the floor right before I put the house on the market - I lived with the cracked and stained floors for 14 years! And the big green avocado range monster. But I did take down the awful wallpaper and paint the ceiling, walls, and cabinets almost immediately.

Edited by tsquare (log)
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Lighting is so often overlooked. Think about putting spots very the work space. The difference is astounding.

Jmahl

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Flexitrack halogen lighting is a pretty low cost way of getting useful task lighting over the counters without re-wiring. As an example, Ikea sells them. Mount the transformer where the strip light picked up its power and run the track in a lazy S to place the ends over the work areas.

Refinishing cabinets rather depends on what's under the laquer, and how much grunt work you want to put in. I'm guessing you mean laquer or a plastic foil finish over some kind of composite board? Brush painting the cabinet carcasses should work fine. You might contemplate spraying the doors for a more 'professional' look. Auto paint places can do a very nice job on kitchen doors, if they're so inclined.

I'd wait for the appliances to cross the threshold of viable repairability before color co-ordinating a rental.

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Oh gosh. I read it wrong. You own the rental and want to fix it up as inexpensively as is possible.

I didn't get that either, but I agree. Cutting corners with cut rate materials and labor is a surefire way to keep the property vacant for far longer than the remodeling period.

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Look at how much the unit currently earns, and see if you can find out how much a kitchen update would increase the unit's earning power. That will give you a clearer idea of how long it's worth keeping the unit out of commission for. If the unit is rent controlled, upgrades may not be worth it to you financially (much tho I hate to say it, speaking as a tenant). Acquire all materials for the renovation *before* starting work. This will cut down on delays.

Are the black cabinets damaged, or just ugly and dark? If they're damaged, replacing them with working cabinets may be a better option. If they're just ugly and dark and the base cabinetry is solid wood, refinishing should be fine. If the base cabinetry is particle board, you're kind of stuck.

For the floor, it's probably more cost effective to replace the tile. Ceramic tile might not be the most appropriate sort of tile for a rental. Check with some flooring stores and see if there are products with similar cleaning properties and better breakage resistance. The black and white tile idea is a good one. A rental often feels very sterile, and having interesting tile or a unique built in can make it feel more like home. I wouldn't go with peel and stick flooring, because it can be difficult to remove and difficult to install. It also isn't as durable as you'd want in a rental unit. The last thing you want is for the flooring to come apart if the tenant has plumbing trouble in the kitchen. If you're willing to deal with replacing the flooring after every tenant, vinyl may be a reasonable solution. It will handle spills and dropped knives fairly well for about 1-5 years.

If you are covering utilities, be proactive about replacing appliances. In that situation, old and energy inefficient appliances are money down the drain for you, and your tenants have no motivation to be careful in how they use them. Evaluate the upgrades based on how they reduce your expenses long term.

If you are not covering utilities, make changes based on safety and effectiveness. My last apartment had a cheap, poorly designed dishwasher. It died under normal usage, and I ended up living with it holding a pool of stagnant water for months. A better quality dishwasher would have held up to the use it got, and would have saved my landlord the money for the replacement. My current apartment also has an inexpensive dishwasher, but it's a much better design. The interior is easy to clean, and the drain is well protected against clogs. For the fridge, make sure the interior shelving is wire or pyrex. If it's plastic, you'll constantly have issues over the life of the unit.

A mix of black and white appliances is not a good enough reason to switch them out. The combo is classic and neutral, and won't have tenants running in horror the way an avocado green stove, harvest gold fridge and colonial blue sink would.

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From a former landlord:

Disclaimer: my rental units were low to medium priced and these comments apply in that case. If you have a big fancy house with a high rental, you may have to remodel to command that price.

The best scenario for a landlord is to own absolutely none of the appliances. It may be harder to rent, but you won't be plagued by repairs and replacement costs. If there are applianes included, make sure your rental agreement says that they will not be replaced if no longer usable.

I once replaced a sheet vinyl floor in a rental unit only to watch a careless tenant ruin it by sliding a big refrigerator over the brnad new floor and tearing the vinyl. There are many tenants who will tear up anything, so I wouldn't go to much expense.

I have never found peel and stick tiles to be difficult to install. They will stay down if you get the flooring absolutely spotless before laying them. And it's a very cheap fix. I'd go for painting the cabinets, tile floor and new Formica countertops for a new kitchen feel.

If you must change the hardware, paint the old hardware instead of replacing. My own preference is no hardware--I'm short and the drawer pulls always catch on my pockets. Plus, they always get sticky, dirty if you really cook.

You might rent the house first, offering to fix up the kitchen. Say, "What would you like to see happen in this kitchen?" and maybe you'll get by easy. Also, you may be able to complete the work after they move in and not lose any down time.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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