Mediaplanet Bathroom and kitchen renovations can be expensive; what are some cost effective ways someone can add value to these rooms in their home?

Candice Olson: One of the biggest costs in a kitchen or bathroom reno is new cabinetry; however, sometimes it’s not necessary or affordable to do a full tear out. If your cabinet carcasses are in good condition and you like the basic kitchen layout, re-facing rather than replacing cabinetry is a way of updating without breaking the bank. The basic process involves installing new door and drawer fronts and covering all of the exposed parts of the frame with a veneer that matches the new cabinetry. Although the results can be dramatic and the savings huge it does not solve the problem of a poor kitchen layout. You’ll save money but if you go to the expense of re-facing a nonfunctional kitchen you’ll just have a better looking kitchen that still doesn’t work!

MP What are some examples of DIY projects one can undertake to improve these rooms in one’s home?

CO: I always say that paint is the biggest bang for your DIY reno buck and the kitchen and bath are no different — it’s amazing how colour and a few coats of paint can transform a bathroom or a kitchen, especially the cabinetry of the latter. Although I still prefer to leave this job to a pro you can get beautiful results if you use quality paint and take the necessary paint preparation steps.

Replacing the hardware is one of the easiest and most effective DIY projects — think of high contrast combos like oil-rubbed bronze with white or cream cabinets for a clean fresh look.

MP In the Toronto area; space is often an issue. What are some ways that one can open up their kitchen to make it seem like a larger space.

CO: One of my favourite tricks is to replace a few solid cabinet doors with glass, backing the cabinet with mirror, and installing a glass shelf and cabinet lights to show off beautiful glassware and dishes. Completely removing the cabinet above the sink and installing open shelves is also a quick and easy way of adding depth and dimension to the space.

MP What are some often under appreciated additions one can make to their kitchen or bathroom?

CO: On projects with tight budgets where cabinetry is being refaced or repainted I love to reconfigure problem areas with a few stock or ready to assemble cabinets that are subsequently refinished to blend in with the old cabinets. Adding a little bit of function can go a long way.

Eat-in kitchens are always on the wish list. Look at extending your countertops beyond the cabinets to create a bar height counter and supporting the weight with a leg or bracket. Stay on the hunt for salvaged furniture that could be converted to a kitchen island or eat- at counter.

Lighting is one of the most overlooked elements in kitchens and baths. If there is only a single light in the middle of the space,  consider replacing the ceiling mounted fixture with a track with adjustable halogen light fixtures (available at any building supply stores). That way you can highlight appliances, cabinetry, islands, prep area, or where you cook.