Kitchen and Bathrooms - Update or Replace?
We have all been spending more time in our homes lately so you may be considering a quick fix to breathe some life into a tired space. But when should you wait? To make sure your update is successful, today we will run through a few “red flags” that may be telling you to wait until you have the budget to replace.
There is a lot of DIY advice out there, but it is not always easy to get a current look if your project has some dated “tells”. It can be an expensive endeavor if you hire professionals to do your updates so you will want to make sure the outcome doesn’t miss the mark. If you find you have some of these restrictions, it may be worth waiting until you can replace them. No sense throwing good money after bad.
Painting Kitchen cabinets –
- Short cabinets
20 years ago, 30” upper kitchen cabinets were the norm but with today’s cabinet looks that stretch to the ceiling – a 30” cabinet will always look dated. If the cabinets are under a soffit painted the wall color, they look even shorter.
- Arches on the doors
Arches are another trend that is hard to disguise. Most door styles today are squared off and simple. The only exception is a very slight arch if the cabinets are taller (36 or 42) you can sneak this in.
- Heavy wood grain
Oak does not paint well due to the heavy grain. You will never get that factory smooth paint finish with an oak door – unless you are able to fill the grain. If you smooth the grain and spray the doors – oak can be disguised but it is a time-consuming project that can run up costs.
Photo Credit - Julie Blanner
If you consider replacing countertops without addressing other elements you may create a feeling of “old and new”. For example, when 30” upper cabinets were the standard we were not installing granite countertops.
If you need to replace an appliance consider if a remodel is in your future. Even if it won’t be soon, if you are planning to stay in the house I always recommend going with a finish that is current. We see stainless steel as a timeless selection. If you plan to leave before remodeling, try to match your existing finish.
- Short vanity
Years ago, when family’s shared bathroom space, standard vanity height was 32” above the finished floor. This is still standard for kids’ bathrooms so little ones can reach the sink with ease. But the default today is to go taller – kitchen counter height of 36”. Most adults prefer this height for comfort and the look is much more current. So, if you are dealing with a short vanity, that is a replace not reface item.
- Short toilet
Comfort height toilets hit the market to accommodate ADA requirements and the older we get the more we prefer a taller toilet. Elongated bowls and taller heights are now standard and if you have at least one tall toilet in your home you will know the difference!
I think that tile is an all or nothing update. Tile styles, colors, and undertones not only vary substantially, but they also are constantly changing. Replacing one part of your floor or shower without addressing the other will most likely create the “old and new’ look we discussed with the countertops.
- Colored plumbing fixtures
The black toilet, cream tub, let alone green or pink are not coming back in style – probably not ever. Unless you have a true vintage look, stick with white plumbing fixtures – safe and timeless.
Even if we are seeing a trend popping up again, you should still consider updating. Take these black tubs for example – I do not see a way to make the top one look like it was installed in 2020!
Photo credit - ugly house photos
This list might be disappointing but trust me in the long run its good advice. I always try to warn clients of potential effort that will not be quite right when complete. Now, on a positive note, let us look at easy inexpensive updates that are not budget killers.
- Paint colors
It always boggles my mind when I watch “House Hunters” how many people comment on paint color as if it is a deciding factor on a home. Paint is the easiest and cheapest update you can do yourself (provided you do not have crazy high ceilings). Who would not want to pick their own paint colors? Of course, we can help you choose the perfect colors too.
The devil is in the details – lighting is the single way to update a space quickly. It is the jewelry of a room – a quick non-invasive update that can turn your space around.
Next week we will talk more about east home fixes that can be very successful, so stay tuned…
I hope these tips help you identify items that can be easily updated, along with those that need a little more planning and budget. There are ways to minimize some of the elements I identified, if you want feedback on whether a DIY project will be successful or tips to make it more successful, consider our virtual consultation option for an hour of feedback on how to make your new home your own.
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