Reduce This: How can I revamp an old kitchen so I don’t need to buy a new one?

Yesterday, I posted a question from James, asking for ways to reuse or recycle a whole kitchen, because he’s getting a new one. Thanks to everyone that has commented about that!

At the bottom, I mentioned reducing is the most important part of the recycling triangle. James already seems quite set on getting a new kitchen but other people approaching a similar “new kitchen?” position may want to revamp what’s there rather than starting again. By “other people”, I mean me ;)

Our kitchen is also 15+ years old, is looking rather tired (especially as half the kitchen has one cupboard design, the other half a different one) and the far end is generally pretty dark (as is obvious in the picture!). We did a few things to freshen it up when we moved here two and a half years ago such as repainting the walls a more neutral shade and replacing the very scuffed, dark green hob & sink with lighter alternatives (thanks eBay for second-hand bargains for both!).

More recently (as this week – it’s still drying), we’ve had the nasty grease-attracting spiky artex ceiling reskimmed so once painted, that’ll look fresher and as well as redecorating again, we’re going to add some tiled splashbacks (since there aren’t any at the moment – mucky walls a go go!). We’re hoping to find a replacement for the badly fitted dark vinyl flooring too and improve the lighting somewhat. Will it be as nice as a new kitchen? No — but it’ll hopefully be good enough and more practical so we won’t need to decorate again for a good while (I hate decorating). I don’t think I have the skill or space to do an adequate job of repainting the cupboards (which would make the mismatched doors more uniform) but I’m hoping everything else will freshen it up enough.

Have you revamped an old kitchen to save replacing it? Do you have any tips or suggestions?

Did you include any reclaimed, recycled or upcycled elements in your “new” kitchen? I’d love to hear your stories for inspiration!

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6 Responses to “Reduce This: How can I revamp an old kitchen so I don’t need to buy a new one?”

  1. anna says:

    Add or change the other components in the kitchen. Even if the kitchen cabinet doors are wooden and classic (like in the picture), why not try something different for the visible wall area behind or between it? Different tiles, maybe mosaic tiles, light or dark tiles, or even metal wall. Or maybe some kitchen-proof wallpaper on the other walls?
    No harm in browsing stores that sell kitchens for having a look at the accessories or to see what they do with the walls and the other areas than the kitchen cabinets. Ikea can also give some ideas for materials and colors to use. And sometimes changing (or adding some) the lights will do miracles too.

  2. It is a long story but despite having a new kitchen we ended up having the 9 of doors resprayed (original company folded) – new company who specialise in refinishing doors did a brilliant job so I would recommend anyone to consider these services.

  3. I have revamped a similar kitchen to that in the picture. I took off the doors and sanded down the doors and the end plinths. Then carefully gave them a few coats of white gloss paint and this transformed the look of them dramatically. It made them look very modern and cost me all in all around £50.

  4. Beccie says:

    Hi Beccie here,
    I am surprised that you don’t have more responses. I used to watch the DIY shows on tv all the time and have picked up a couple of ideas for you. The dark cabinets at the end of the kitchen really need to be lightened. So if you can find someone who likes painting, get them to paint them to match the lighter ones. Probably if they were to be sanded and we are just talking about the doors and area around the doors, a lighter stain would work perfectly. Also, lighting would help down there if you didn’t want to paint. Brighten up the area with some beautiful lighting which would easy enough to do and you can suit your style with the era you are trying to reproduce. Lamps are fine. Maybe you can recycle a lamp or two that has no place to go. Also they say one of the easiest ways to revamp the cabinets is to change out the hardware, handles and hinges. If you are creative make you own handles using plaster of paris or drywall mud..(one in the same) You can also use a flour and water mix to make them, you just have to bake them for a short time to harden them. Then paint.
    My suggestion is to get creative in your own mind and come up with some ideas. You can use those lids that you have no use for to make your own tiles for a backsplash again using plaster of paris or the drywall mud they use. Cheap in comparison to buying new handles. I see you have room overhead in the dark space. What we would be trying to do in that area is to lighten the space. You can use those tiles to do that. Just paint, and use double stick tape to hold them up or if you want them permanent use liquid nails.

  5. Medeea says:

    In my opinion, the easiest way to unify the look is to tackle the upper cabinets, on both sides of the kitchen. These are the first thing one sees.
    Ways to do that:
    1. remove doors altogether
    2. replace doors with glass doors (frosted glass for instance) which will make the kitchen look lighter
    3. tint them the same colour (a light shade) and put same hardware

    For back splash use glass.

    Whatever you decide, please post pictures with the finished job.

  6. LiliBod says:

    I inherited a horrible yellow ochre kitchen and just bought a £4 tin of sage colour paint. Gave cabinets a quick sugar soap wash and spent 2 hours or so painting. Thought it looked pretty rough so did a light sanding. Husband came in and said he liked the rat-look patina, and, as he is cook, I was only too happy to leave it as it was, without even a second coat. Everyone likes it. It has never been sealed and it gets an occasional scrub, which just enhances the look. It is now ten years since I did it and I was reading a magazine last month and all the kitchens were just like it!
    This kitchen was also very dark. It has a flat roof so we ordered a ‘Sun-pipe’. This took a morning to install, cutting a hole from below and just squeezing it in beteween the joists. I tried sealing it with bitumen but husband said it would be OK. It wasn’t so I got back up and whacked lashings of bitumen under the apron seal. Job done. Five years in and has never leaked again. It is like having a bright light on.Even the moonlight illuminates the kitchen a little. Cost something around £300 though but worth it for free light.

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