Put Color Underfoot
Painting a wooden floor with cool color and stencils can change the entire atmosphere of the kitchen. Before committing to a color, test it on a large piece of foam-core board. Place the board on the floor to see how the color works with the cabinetry and affects the sense of space in the room. (A dark navy, for example, could have made this kitchen feel smaller, but this medium shade adds interest without constricting the space.)
Prepare the floor by cleaning it with a high-strength household cleaner and roughening the surface with 150-grit sandpaper. For a stenciled floor, apply a high-quality primer and use standard latex paint for both the background color and the stencil design. Protect the treatment with several coats of clear polyurethane. You'll need to reapply polyurethane every year or two to keep the painted finish in good shape.
Banish Boring Cabinetry
Rescue stock cabinetry from boredom with a coat of bright color. It's an easy project, but proper preparation is the key to a good-looking, hardwearing finish. You also need plenty of room to work, because all of the doors and drawers need to be removed and painted separately from the cabinet frames. Sanding to roughen the surface used to be standard practice, but now liquid deglossers make the job easier and much less messy.
Apply a stain-blocking primer-sealer for good paint adhesion, and as soon as it's dry, brush on two or more thin coats of semi-gloss or satin self-leveling paint. Matte-finish paints don't stand up well to the wear and tear kitchen cabinets receive, and high-gloss reveals surface imperfections.
A New Lease on Life for Vinyl and Laminate
If your vinyl flooring isn't chipped and cracked, you can give it a whole new look with paint - and like this kitchen, a beautiful stencild pattern.
The key is to use a liquid deglosser and a latex stain-blocking primer formulated for glossy surfaces. These two steps provide for better paint adhesion. Apply a modified epoxy latex paint, which is formulated with a harder binder than wall paint and, when properly applied and cured, can stand up to normal traffic.
Finally, protect the painted surface with clear polyurethane. Painting laminate counters is a more temporary measure because countertops receive so much use, but until you can afford to replace laminate countertops, give them a facelift with a specialty primer for nonporous surfaces and two coats of acrylic latex enamel. Primers and paints for vinyl and laminate are available at most home improvement centers.
Easy Custom Shades
Add custom color at the window with a painted vinyl roller shade. Stripes like this are easy to create using painter's tape to mark off evenly spaced stripes. Roll on semigloss latex paint or acrylic crafts paint with a 4-inch roller, then peel off the painter's tape to reveal the white stripes. Here the gray stripes match the cabinets, the white stripe blends with the walls, and yellow-green adds a fashion-forward accent.
If your kitchen color scheme includes three colors, repeat all of them on the window shade to reinforce the scheme, or use just one with white to give that hue greater emphasis in the room.
Showcase Your Artistry
If you like your wooden cabinetry but want to give it a new look, try painting an image on the center panels of a few of the doors or using tape to create a pattern. Once your new finish has dried, be sure to seal the panels with a clear, water-base polyurethane.
A Two-Toned Painted Rug
Use paint to dress up a plain wooden floor with diamond shapes that mimic large tiles. In addition to punching up an understated kitchen, the diamonds visually expand the space, creating an illusion of greater width. In this kitchen, the entire floor was first painted gray, and a narrow black border defined the edge of the patterned area. Only the white diamonds needed to be painted inside the border.
Mad for Plaid
Painted cabinets and flooring bestow instant age and country charm on this brand-new kitchen. Because it's a large space, the plaid effect is based on a generous 12-inch grid. Executing this design requires patience and accurate measuring, but the painting is easy, using a 4-inch roller and alkyd paint formulated for floors. Start in the center of the room so that partial squares end at the cabinets. To achieve the plaid effect, paint every other row of squares with white and light green and the rows in between with light green and dark green.
A coat of paint on a less-than-precious dining table and chairs lightens and brightens a kitchen-breakfast room dominated by too much brown wood. While painting antiques would destroy their value, reproductions of recent vintage are fair game for a facelift.
Sand the wood or rub on a liquid deglosser to roughen the surface so the paint will adhere better, and apply at least two coats of a semigloss or satin paint for an easy-to-clean surface. For the most professional finish, use a self-leveling paint, which hides brushstrokes, and apply the paint in thin coats.
Sometimes updating with paint can mean creating the illusion of venerable antiquity. A distressed finish on the perimeter cabinetry and island brings vintage charm to this new kitchen. Creating the finish is time-consuming but not difficult -- sanding the surface to receive the paint may be the most tedious part, but then you just brush on the base color (here it was red) and the top color, letting each dry thoroughly. Then sand off the top coat along edges, moldings, and areas that normally receive wear and tear to let the first color show through.
To enhance the look of age and tone down bright colors, go over the painted surfaces with a glaze of raw umber. (Glaze is used for decorative paint finishes and can be found in the paint aisles of home improvement stores.)
Create a Focal Point
Apply paint selectively to draw attention to one area of the kitchen. A creamy color unifies perimeter cabinets, allowing the black "cabinet" below the cooktop and hood to take center stage. This piece was cleverly created by adding easy-to-access pull-out drawers for pots and pans. Granite countertops and beuatiful tile work behind the cook top create a focal point.
Using two or three colors in large blocks in the kitchen makes a large space feel less intimidating and gives it a less formal, unfitted look. Dark colors appear heavy, so use them on the base cabinets and island and save the light tones for upper cabinets. Here, blue on the perimeter cabinets complement butter-yellow walls, and bright yellow-green makes the island a focal point.
If you can never find a scrap of paper when you need to leave a note, take a message, or make a grocery list, here's a creative solution: Coat the walls with blackboard paint. Originally marketed for kids' rooms and playrooms, this paint works in any room on a smooth, dry surface. Clean off chalked messages with a damp sponge. Try underpainting with magnetic paint first if you like to post children's artwork or favorite photos on your walls.
A basic, timeless color scheme, such as yellow and red, lends itself to easy, low-cost changes with accessories. Bar stools painted glossy tomato red, country artwork and the show-stopping red hood surround energize this kitchen with a lively, warm mood.
For a calm, classic look, paint the stools black or white, change out the artwork, and replace the bold red paint on the hood with a crispwhite or darker shade of yellow.
Create Drama with Contrasts
This kitchen uses contrast perfectly. The island uses black and white in a stripe near the floor and white in the large expanse that faces the adjoining rooms, while the front of the island is black to match the perimeter cabinetry. Near the range, the outer wall is black, hwil ethe inside and ceiling is white, creating a dramatic look.