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What's the most cost-effective way to redo my kitchen? Add to ...

Q: I live in a condo that was built in the eighties and still has its original (ugly) kitchen. I plan to renovate before selling, but I don't want to go over the top: I just want a nice-looking, modern, functional kitchen. Where would my reno dollars be best spent for the biggest payoff?

A: It's difficult for me not to spend money, but I would do as little as possible to make it look fabulous. Start by taking the existing cabinet doors off and having them sprayed a lacquered soft grey (try Benjamin Moore's CC-910). If you think that the existing doors are too dated, replace them with simple slab doors for a sleek, modern feel. Change the knobs to simple, elegant ones in a polished nickel finish.

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And if the countertops needs replacing, try a Bianca Carrera marble that is white/grey and inexpensive, keeping the profile detail square-edged and -mitered so it appears solid. Of course, you could always string yellow caution tape across the entrance to the kitchen and leave a $10,000 gift certificate for a new one, avoiding the work altogether and letting the new owners have the headache.

Architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace is the president of Taylor Hannah Architect Inc. in Toronto. Have a design question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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