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2 quick ways to snip years off your old kitchen

These "nip tuck" remodeling solutions from Patricia Davis Brown are a quick way to update your aging kitchen. You can use them to tide you over when you lack the budget for a full kitchen redesign.

The years take a toll on the most used room of your house, your kitchen. Unfortunately, the wear and tear may become painfully noticeable at a time when you can least afford to rejuvenate your "old friend."

Over the many years of design consultations with my clients, I have shared with them some quick-fix solutions--or what I like to refer to as the kitchen "nip tuck." My clients appreciate the less invasive, "mini-lift" procedure, and it tides them over until their budgets are ready for the full facelift.

The nip

The most visible surface in the kitchen is the backsplash. The backsplash is the vertical surface and is viewed easily from anywhere, which makes it important. The good news is that it is not a big surface, which means most people can afford to do something with it. Typical backsplash dimensions are 18-inches high, unless it's at the sink or cook top; those areas would be 30- to 36-inches high. The large expanse above the cook top and sink make it perfect for a focal point, such as the picture frame tile surrounding the patterned tile in the center.

You will pay a little more for the accent tile, but what a splash it adds to the design! You can pick a cost-effective tile for the field tile, because you only need one "WOW" factor.

Another trick to making an inexpensive tile look like a million bucks is to layer 2"-by-2" ceramic tiles on top of 4"-by-4" tiles to create depth and pattern.

And what if you turned the 2"-by-2" tiles a quarter turn? You've created another pattern with no extra cost; it's that easy.

The tuck

Hardware is like the jewelry of cabinetry. Ask any girl, and she will tell you how much the "bling" matters. You can change the whole look of your kitchen just by changing the hardware.

There is a huge range of hardware prices that offer something for everyone's budget. You will have fun viewing all the possibilities. I recommend ordering samples of a few that you like and literally hold them up to your cabinet door to find just the one that works for you.

Notice the importance of the blue glass knobs on the young girl's vanity. The knobs give a feminine feel to the bathroom.

You can add character to your kitchen with whimsical pieces. If your home is near the coast, starfish hardware could add to the coastal decor.

Many times my clients ask me to "just pick something" for their hardware. I explain to them how important the hardware decision is as the finishing touch to their design. So, when jazzing up an old kitchen, start with the hardware that speaks to you and work from there.

It never hurts to have a local contractor in your pocket when thinking about doing either a mini-lift or the full remodel. I would highly recommend having a professional install your new materials. A bad installation can destroy a good product and a great design idea.

Good luck on your next "nip tuck," and don't forget to send me your before and after pictures. I would love to see them.