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Liven Up Those Kitchen Cupboards


Have you ever s tared at your kitchen cupboards and decided that they look dated? Are the cabinets in rough shape? Perhaps you just want to make better use of the kitchen space you have. Ask yourself what your goals are in purchasing or renovating kitchen cabinets. The following tips will help you choose the right cabinets to meet your needs.

Whenever you start any construction or remodelling project, your first step should be to decide how much you want to spend. In kitchen projects, especially, costs can quickly spiral out of control. After deciding your overall budget, cut that amount in half. This should be your cabinet budget. It sounds excessive, given that you may also need to purchase appliances, flooring and countertops, but cabinets are typically the biggest financial investment in a kitchen.

In addition to cost, you also need to focus on style, convenience and quality. The least costly stock cabinets will be durable and last for years if you choose well. Today’s kitchen offers more features than ever before. Examples include: smooth-gliding drawers, shelves that pull out for easy access, rotating Lazy Susan to help reach items stored in the back, large drawers or bigger cabinet boxes for those oversized pots and pans, and handy, small pull-down storage spaces in the front of the sink that hold sponges and scouring pads. Choosing kitchen cabinets counts as a major decision in designing your home since they will be in place for many years. Doing some homework will help you make practical and attractive choices while staying within your budget.

Trivia: Where did the name “Lazy Susan” come from? The “Lazy Susan” made its first written appearance in a 1917 Vanity Fair advertisement for a “Revolving Server or Lazy Susan.” These revolving serving trays have been around since the 1700s, where they were often tiered and called “dumbwaiters.” Dumbwaiters were so called because they quietly (hence “dumb”) took the place of waiters in the dining room. The theory of how the name changed to “Lazy Susan” suggests that servants were often named Susan, so that “Susan” came to be almost a synonym for “servant,” and the “Lazy Susan” was essentially functioning as a servant who never had to go anywhere (hence “lazy”).

One part of kitchen cabinetry that tends to be misunderstood involves the terms stock, semi-custom and custom. Contrary to what many people think, these terms are not related to the quality of cabinets but rather, how they are manufactured.

Stock kitchen cabinets: are premanufactured in specific sizes, typically three-inch increments, with few if any options for “customization” other than some limited choices the manufacturer might offer. They are off-the-shelf products in a limited range of styles.

Semi-custom cabinets: are like stock in that they are also premanufactured but come with a wider array of options and sizes than pure stock cabinets. With semi-custom you have some ability to pick and choose various details to tailor an otherwise pre-built stock cabinet. In other words, you have some “customization” choices.

Custom cabinets: are built to the customer’s specifications, with no limitation on size, style choices, wood grade or finish. They are made to order. They may be fancy or plain but the difference is that they’re made to suit your specific design requirements, in whatever size, form, colour and material you desire.

Want to save time and money with your kitchen remodel? Refacing your existing cabinets with new cabinet doors is a great cost-effective way to upgrade your kitchen and increase your home’s value. Purchasing manufactured cabinet doors can cut costs on a cabinetry project while custom orders usually tend to increase costs. With all the options that manufacturers offer in size and style, homeowners are not overly limited when manufactured doors are chosen.

Before choosing cabinets ask yourself: Are the doors true, solid wood? (If you are looking at solid wood doors.) You would be surprised how many manufacturers sell so-called solid panel doors, and they are a thin veneer (thin layer of wood) wrapped around a particleboard or MDF panel. This matters because a true, solid-wood panel door costs much more to make, and

is typically superior quality to a “veneer-clad” door. Should you damage your solid door, it can be sanded down and refinished. This is very difficult to do with veneer-clad doors.

Don’t purchase cabinets that will fall apart. Find out if the cabinets are held together only by connector pins or are they screwed and nailed, biscuited (thin wooden wafers) and glued? Connector pins are only good for holding a shelf to a side but not for holding an entire cabinet together while supporting the weight of heavy dishes.

Thinking of painting your kitchen cabinets but can’t decide which paint to use? Thus begins the debate for latex paint versus oil-based paints. Some experts recommend using latex paint for people who are painting their kitchen cabinets a light colour. These light colours include white and cream and some pastels. Latex paint in whites and creams tend to cover better than oil-based paint in white or cream on kitchen cabinets. Choose a semi-gloss finish for maximum cleanability.

Oil-based paints in dark colours work well on kitchen cabinets. Black cabinets or even a dark earth tone fall under this category. However, the battle of latex versus oil continues in a number of other areas. Oil-based paints will stand up to scrubbing more so than a latex-based paint. If you have young kids then you may consider oil-based paints such as melamine. Whichever paint you choose, allow 24 hours between coats, even if the label says less. This will ensure that each coat reaches its maximum hardness and will be less prone to chipping or gouging.

A mild dishwashing liquid works well for cleaning the front of cabinets. A tablespoon or so in a cup of warm water should do the job. For trickier bits of food that may be stuck, use a sponge with the green scrubbing pad. Do not use a scrub brush, steel wool pad or any type of abrasives as these will only scratch the surface of your cabinet. Scouring powder is damaging to cabinets as well. Before drying, sponge with cool, clear water to rinse.

Tip: Salt is another kitchen cabinet cleanser that is useful as a soak and mild abrasive. It is also known to kill germs.

To liven up wood cabinets or pantries, wipe them down with a very thin coat of car wax. Dry then buff for a beautiful shine.

If you choose to remove the doors for painting or refinishing, be sure to label or number the doors so they’ll go back in the right place. The holes for the hinges (door and frame) need to match too, so you can easily determine which door goes where.

Do you have drawers or cabinets that could use a new look? Here’s a way to change the look of that piece with very little effort. Just change the hardware, and you won’t believe the face-lift.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming!

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Reena Nerbas is a highly popular professional speaker

and the author of three national bestsellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and Household Solutions 3 with

Green Alternatives. Books and Household Solutions 1, 2 and 3

Cooking/Cleaning Gift Packs are available online or by calling: 204-320-2757.



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