An old kitchen can acquire a new look from as simple a thing as fresh paint

DESIGN LINE

November 15, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: It's time to remodel my fortysomething-year-old kitchen, which is quite large and somewhat awkward to work in. I want to keep the wood cabinets, but the flooring does have to be replaced. My aim is to retain the room's casual feeling while at the same time avoiding the cute gingham country look. Do you have some suggestions for how to begin this project?

A: Yes, you should start by devising a space plan for the entire kitchen. There's no point in spending a lot of money on remodeling until you figure out ways to make the room less awkward for working. You need to arrange the functional areas -- chopping, cooking, washing and so on -- in a convenient and compact way.

I also urge you to take a careful look at those wood cabinets. After 40-odd years, a face lift may well be in order. If the cabinet cases are in decent shape and in the right location, then new fronts and some easy additions might be all that's needed. Besides being more efficient, a combination of open shelving, glass doors for display and wood-paneled storage compartments will enhance the casual look that you like.

Just a simple paint job might be sufficient to perk up your cabinets. Bright white enamel, for example, can be an attractive choice if accompanied by some sharp contrasts.

Such a relatively inexpensive operation was one part of the remodeling work done on the kitchen shown in the photo. This contemporary redesign features white-painted cabinetry along with a checkerboard pattern on the floor. In the Mannington Resilient Floors' "silver series" used here, the white squares can be paired with either blue, green or wineberry as well as with plain black. Curtains, ceramic ware and other accent items should then be in a color that complements whatever choice was made for the darker blocks on the flooring.

Wood planking is another possibility worth considering. Though perhaps not quite as sophisticated, that type of flooring will produce a softer look in the kitchen. But in order to be interesting as well as fully functional, a wood-plank kitchen

floor ought to be stained in a dark color and covered with at least three coats of polyurethane.

You should also give some thought to the color and material of the counter tops. Granite is my personal favorite, due to its texture and its non-porous, stain-resistant properties. The problem with granite is that its cost may well be prohibitive.

Plastic laminates, usually the least-expensive alternative, are now available in some great designs and colors. Do keep in mind, however, that dark surfaces in a kitchen are more likely to show soiling and cuts than are light tones.

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