Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Sarah Richardson, kitchen redesign.

Stacey Brandford Photography

Not every kitchen overhaul needs to involve a dumpster and a full back-to-the-studs gut job. If you've got a space with good bones and quality craftsmanship, it may be easier and less expensive to keep what works and redress what you've got instead of buying all new. If your existing cabinets are still functioning properly, are made of solid wood, and have a door profile that you feel you can work with, I say love what you've got and focus on how to give it a tart job to make it look sparkling and new!

Get beyond the brown

Your cabinets may be an unappealing shade of brown right now, and not resemble anything remotely au courant, but you need to get past the current state and focus on what they might become. A single homogeneous shade can be re-worked into a multi-toned palette that enables you to breathe new life into a drab old shell. Keeping what you've got also does not mean that all must remain the same. While dark wood-toned islands have been a recurring kitchen trend for a decade, we opted to bid adieu to all the brown and infuse a lighter, brighter blue hue as the compliment to creamy white cabinetry. Why not be a bit daring on the island? It's a small area, isn't a huge investment and can easily be changed to a safer shade if the urge ever strikes.

Story continues below advertisement

Get a pretty patchwork going on the floor

When you're looking to make big changes in an existing space, knowing your limits is key. These limits can encompass both budget and material selection if you're aiming for the best end result. If you're looking to replace old sheet linoleum - ours was channelling a yellow brick road theme - you need to be mindful of the how the cabinets are constructed. Changing the floor while keeping the cabinets means you need to install your new floor choice in and around the existing cabinets. Changing to a stone tile floor would raise the overall height of the tiled areas and reduce the baseboards, not to mention that it also costs about twice the price of other options. Since I was hankering for a retro diner vibe, we opted for Marmoleum click floor tiles. With a marbled, easy-care finish and more than a dozen fun colours to choose from, why limit yourself to just one colour? Once installed, our trio of flooring tiles looks as pretty as a patchwork quilt!

Bring it up to date with hardware

One of the biggest detractors in a days gone by kitchen is generally the hardware. If you've got face-mounted hinges (as opposed to the hidden variety that are commonly used now) and want to swap 'em out, you just need to take a sample of the existing hinge and match the size in a new finish and style. You'll also want to switch up the knobs and handles to bring every detail up to date - just make sure you choose the new fittings before you spray the doors in a fresh finish so you know whether the screw holes from the old hardware need to be patched and covered. Trust me when I say, there are many different spacing widths in cabinetry handles and it's not always easy to find a match to what you've got.

Shuffle the task areas

If you're replacing counters, be sure to rethink the workflow. With the help of a handy carpenter, you can make changes and reconfigure the layout slightly, enabling you to fully realize the kitchen of your dreams. We shuffled sink, range and refrigerator to better the basic task areas, then created a seating area at the island by eliminating underutilized storage cabinets and some wasted space. With the addition of some replacement panelling, we tied the new look to the old, and created all the areas on our client's wish list.

And a few more 101 lessons:

Story continues below advertisement

The save

If you're repainting the entire kitchen, it's easy to tweak a few storage details, then unify them with the magic of paint. No one will ever know they weren't there to begin with! To fill a void in a window to an adjoining area, I discovered that stair treads provide an easy answer to floating shelves. At over an inch thick, 12 inches deep, 48 inches long, and a whopping $14 each, these ready-to-go shelves from the building materials aisle of the big box store make it easy to install open display shelves.

The splurge

According to my math (and my way of rationalizing expenditures), what you save in one area should be available for reallocation where it makes the most effective design statement. Why not splurge on great new counters to tie your new look together? Quartz composite counters come in many colours and combinations. With a flecked design that combined all our chosen colours (including a glint of metal), and a look vaguely reminiscent of terrazzo floors, I felt this material had just the right amount of retro to bridge the old and the new in this re-imagined kitchen.

The signature Sarah

If you want your newly redecorated kitchen to have realistic retro roots, you need to add some authentic elements to the mix. Vintage machine-age stools provide a place to perch at the newly created island bar, and cool metal accents in lighting and dining add a sleek style infusion to our ethereal palette. Without these steely touches, the end result might have taken a country departure, but a touch of metal brings polish to a simple kitchen overhaul.

Story continues below advertisement

Sarah Richardson hosts Sarah 101, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV.;


Fridge, stove, dishwasher, microwave, range hood, sink, faucet, backsplash, open shelves, frosted glass door, counter top appliances, newel post, butcher block - Lowe's

Marmoleum click floor - Forbo

Quartz counters - Interstone Marble & Tile

Kitchen table and frame for bulletin board - Ikea

Story continues below advertisement

Fabric for bulletin board, chair fabric - Thibaut Fabrics & Wallcoverings

Dishes, glassware, wall clock, napkins - Urban Barn,

Custom laminated glass panel - Adanac Glass Limited,

Pair of metal counter stools - Machine Age Modern,

Island pendant lights - Union Lighting & Furnishings,

Pendant light above table - Absolutely Inc.,

Story continues below advertisement

Window blinds - Blinds To Go,

Cabinetry hardware - Lee Valley Tools,

White vintage dish set - Elegant Garage Sale,

Mixing bowls, vases, flower pots - Homesense,

Para Colours - Para Paints,,

Walls - Linen SR28 (P5223-34)

Story continues below advertisement

Ceiling - 1/3 tint Robins Egg SR17 (P5164-34)

Cabinets - Snowfall SR29 (P5223-14D)

Island cabinets - Robins Egg SR17 (P5164-34)

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies