Easy Kitchen Updates

The kitchen may be the hardest-working room in the house, so it runs the risk of looking overworked. Give your kitchen fresh appeal with these quick and easy updates, including solutions for your windows, floor, pantry, and more!

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Freestanding Pantry Ideas

Short on storage and space? No worries. These stylish go-anywhere pantry designs house everything from baking pans and cooking staples to party supplies -- exactly where you need them most. As a bonus, many of these units are transportable so they can travel with you when you move.

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One-of-a-Kind Backsplashes

In a hardworking kitchen, a backsplash is an ideal opportunity to add a little personality. See how pretty materials and unique installations can bring a fresh face to your kitchen.

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Drab to Fab Makeover

See how a basic kitchen received a fresh face on an affordable remodeling budget.

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Guide to Cabinetry

From Better Homes and Gardens, ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden plus recipes and entertaining ideas.

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Countertop Ideas

Countertops are big part of your kitchen. Consider these up-and-coming materials to make a statement in your space.

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Subway Tile Backsplashes

When it comes to a classic backsplash, nothing beats the traditional subway tile. Subway tiles make cleaning up kitchen messes a quick and easy task, plus the variety to choose from seems almost infinite. One thing is for sure, subway tile will never go out of style.

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Popular in Kitchens

How To: Build a Kitchen Island

Like pieces of a puzzle, stock cabinets, salvage bins, and secondhand drawers combine to create a kitchen island that packs a storage punch.

A mix of new and thrift materials gives this kitchen island character that store-bought pieces lack. Follow these instructions to build one of your own -- and don't be afraid to change the sizes to suit your space and your salvage finds.

What you'll need:

  • 2 hollow-core doors
  • 4 upper cabinets
  • Assortment bins and cubbies
  • 4 secondhand drawers
  • 4 drawer pulls
  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush, sprayer, and/or roller

Step 1: Map your project.

Sketch exactly where each piece will fit. Jeni placed a pair of narrow upper cabinets back-to-back on each end of the island, then filled the center with drawers and bins. Lay the entire project on the floor and measure. NOTE: Jeni made this island the standard counter height of 36 inches. Make sure the door your use is tall enough to accommodate your desired island height.

Step 2: Create shelving.

Use MDF to create the island's shelving and drawer unit. Cut pieces to fit the drawers and bins, then prime and paint your desired color. Let dry, then apply a second coat. When the paint is dry, assembly the island. Jeni used MDF with a solid back so the reverse side of the island can be used for towel and utensil storage.

Step 3: Attach the top and sides.

Create the top and sides of the island from two doors (see laminating instructions on next page). One door will become the island's work surface; cut the other door in half to make the side supports. Note: When cutting hollow-core doors, be sure to cap any open ends with a piece of wood lath cut to size and stained to match the laminate. Inset the cabinets at least 8 inches if you want stools to slide underneath and out of the way. This also makes legroom for more comfortable seating when the island is used for homework or at snacktime. Insert the boxes and bins, and affix pulls to the drawer fronts.

What you'll need:

  • Countertop base materials (Jeni used doors; you can use plywood or MDF.)
  • Laminate
  • Handheld jigsaw or table saw
  • Spray contact adhesive
  • Wood spacer sticks
  • Laminate roller
  • Paste wax (Jenni used Briwax.)
  • Laminate trim router with 1/4-inch double-flute bit
  • File

Step 1: Measure laminate.

Measure laminate to fit all exposed edges. Cut the laminate with a handheld jigsaw or table saw, leaving one extra inch on each side. Spray the countertop edge and the laminate with contact adhesive; let dry. Press the laminate to the base and roll to adhere. Route the edge using a laminate trim router.

Step 2: Adhere laminate.

Spray the countertop base and laminate with contact adhesive/ Let dry. Position wood sticks across the countertop (top photo). (This allows you to correctly position the large laminate sheets before the sprayed surfaces are permanently fused.) Lay laminate on top of the sticks with a one-inch overhang on all sides. Remove the center spacer stick (middle photo) and press down, smoothing as you press. Continue removing sticks. Smooth and roll, applying significant pressure to the laminate roller (bottom photo).

Step 3: Finish the edges.

Rub paste wax on the laminate to prevent the router from burning the laminate (top photo). Run the router over the laminate edges, working in a clockwise motion (middle photo). Finish by filing the edges until smooth (bottom photo).

DIY Tip: Before laminating a big project such as a kitchen island, try the technique on something smaller.


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