Dream And Do like a diyer: Kitchen and Bath Updates You Can Make Right Now

Rosegold kitchen faucet

By Carrie Whitney

Avid DIYers have plenty of options when it comes to freshening up a dated kitchen or bath space, including some that take just minutes to complete. Here are several easy- to-tackle changes that offer noticeable results. Start with just one idea for a breath of fresh air or stack them to bring a whole new look to your space.

Make Your Walls Talk

Removable wallpaper is a style game-changer thanks to its easy application, diverse design options and moisture-resistant qualities. And because it is even simpler to remove than install, a long-term commitment is not necessary.

Here are step-by-step instructions for installing removable wallpaper from Jennifer Matthews, co-founder and CCO of Tempaper & Co.

Choose a design you love.

Make sure your wall is clean, smooth and free from dust or debris.

Remove fixtures like sconces or switch plates when possible.

Measure the wall’s dimensions and cut the wallpaper, leaving a bit of extra material for adjustments.

Starting at one edge, peel off a few inches of the backing and press the wallpaper onto the wall using a smoother to eliminate bubbles and ensure adhesion. Work your way down the wall.

Continue across the wall in sections.

• Finally, trim excess material at the top and bottom with a utility knife or scissors.

“Remember to take your time with each step for a smooth application,” said Matthews. And when you are ready for a new look, simply peel it off. “High-quality removable wallpaper, like Tempaper & Co., is designed not to leave residue or damage the paint or wall surface, especially when applied to a clean, smooth surface that has been primed and painted with a satin or semi-gloss paint.”

Industrial kitchen interior. Render image.
Tempaper black and gold vinyl stone self-adhesive peel-and-stick wallpaper. Photo courtesy of Tempaper.

Ditch Has-Been Hardware

Swap outdated or builder-grade cabinet hardware for the quickest update a homeowner can make, according to Carla Schmidt, designer at Elevate Property Renovations. When changing pulls, measure the space between holes (most come in standard sizes). Replace knobs with knobs on drawers, but on a door, you can add a second hole if you want to replace a knob with a pull.

Clear cabinet handles on green cabinets
Photo courtesy of Ferguson

Bathroom Break

New bathroom accessories offer a simple style update, according to Rachel Baydar, regional manager, Southern Territory, Waterworks. These can include countertop accessories, as well as the toilet paper holder, towel bars and other storage items.

Changing a worn-out toilet seat is easy and can make your toilet look new. Kara O’Donnell, area sales manager for Georgia, Ferguson Enterprises also suggested taking it up a notch with an all-in-one bidet seat. Today’s bidet seats can be heated, offer spray and drying functions, feature automatic open and close and are lighted. Some bidet seats will have an electrical component, so keep that in mind when considering DIY installation.

Depending on the size of your bathroom cabinetry, tackle installing a new vanity. This project is easiest when you swap a pedestal sink or a freestanding vanity for a freestanding all- in-one vanity, according to O’Donnell. If you are starting with a built-in vanity, you may need a professional to make the switch.

Without updating bathroom cabinetry, simply putting in new faucets can make a noticeable difference, especially because the sink faucet is the most-used feature in a bathroom, explained Schmidt. Note whether you have a single-hole, 4-in. or 8-in. spread, which refers to the spout and handles. Changing like for like is easiest.

You don’t need plumbing skills to gift yourself a new showerhead with an updated finish, more settings, an eco-friendlier flow or extra features like a hand shower. Keep in mind that changing the shower handle is more difficult because the function of the shower is located there.

Green bathroom vanity
Photo courtesy of Ferguson

See the Light

Not only will new light fixtures bring new style to a space, the glow they cast also creates fresh ambiance. To update vanity lighting in the bathroom, consider the shape and size of your current baseplate—if you are replacing it with something smaller, you will probably need to paint over the newly exposed area, which could lead to repainting the entire wall or room.

In the kitchen, updating lighting above an island is a project many DIYers can handle. Here too, your current lighting will determine what is possible without a ceiling touch-up. O’Donnell suggested replacing small pendants with the same number of larger or oversized pendants to limit the project scope while incorporating a current trend.

“It’s easy enough to mount a new light,” said Schmidt. “They are pretty standard.” When changing lighting yourself, turn off the fuse for the area and take a picture of the wiring, so you can refer to it when you are done.

White kitchen with three white stools
Photo courtesy of Ferguson

Everything About the Kitchen Sink

For improved functionality or infusing more style, a new faucet makes a difference every day. “Your kitchen faucet is used more than anything in your house and is a focal point in the kitchen,” said O’Donnell. If you have two holes and want to opt for a single-hole pulldown faucet, you’ll need to fill the second hole with something else, such as a soap dispenser, water filtration or even a pushbutton disposal.

While making a big change in your kitchen sink, like wanting to have an apron-front farmhouse sink when you have a drop-in model, might be more than you want to take on because it would mean modifying the countertop and cabinets, you can replace a drop-in sink with another one of the same size. This could mean going from a double- to single-bowl sink, from ceramic to stainless steel or many other possibilities that can offer a new look without a massive project.

Double sink
Photo courtesy of Ferguson

DIY Pitfalls to Avoid

Rachel Baydar, regional manager for Southern Territory, Waterworks says she often hears clients say that they’re simply going to paint the current cabinets or change the backsplash. However, both of these updates are much harder than most clients anticipate.

According to Kara O’Donnell, area sales manager for Georgia, Ferguson Enterprises, changing a toilet is a job for a plumber. Toilet trends have changed, and while many homeowners want a concealed trapway, they may have a different footprint on the floor, especially in older homes, which also often have a different rough-in size. When plumbing or electrical is involved, bring in a contractor.

Painting floor tile and applying a stick-on backsplash might sound like easy updates, but paint on a floor will wear quickly, and if the wall surface is not smooth, a stick-on backsplash will not allow for good adhesion, according to Carla Schmidt, designer, Elevate Property Renovations.

Watch out for a DIY “snowball.” Changing a kitchen faucet can turn into a faucet and a sink, which brings up the idea of adding a hot water dispenser, and a simple change can turn into a full kitchen renovation – not that a new kitchen is a bad thing! Know your scope and plan before you start.

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