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Frequently Asked Questions #4 thru #6...

#4) Can I change the color of my tiles? #5) Can I paint my cabinets? #6) What color should my countertops and cabinets be?

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Question #4: Can I change the color of my tiles?

Not too long ago, if someone mentioned that they wanted to "change" the look of their ceramic tiles, I have no doubt that that person would have received their fair share of chuckles. But now, advancement in paint technology has allowed a level of creativity that is both easy and economical. For that reason alone, no one should have to endure the agony of avacado tiles with orange daisies. If the color of the tiles is not the problem, rather the general look of them (i.e. BORING!), then there are several options. Rub-on appliques have come a long way as well. The designs are much more contemporary and fashionable in both style and color. Best of all, they require no artistic skills. Look for appliques that require a two-step process. The first sheet consists of the painted design, and the second sheet consists of the detailing like shadowing and highlights. For someone who is not afraid of using their atistic and creative talents, there are two-step stenciling kits available. The first step is to rub-on the outline of the design. A paint that is specifically designed for painting on tiles can be used to fill in the lines. The paint air-dries permanent. After the required amount of drying time has passed, then the second process is similiar to the one second step - you simply rub on the detailing right over the painted design. This creates a professional, finished look. These same air-dry paints can also be used with stamp pads or stencils to create a variety of unique tiles. There are also stains made specifically for re-coloring the grout. Somtimes, boring and plain tiles will come to life with just a different but complimentary grout color. Finally...what do you do about those avacado tiles with orage daisies? Well, short of tackling a major remodeling job - you can "go for it" and totally change the look. It can and will be time consuming, but nowhere near as messy and expensive as replacing them. First, the tiles must be primed with a product like KILZ. The tiles can then be painted, painted and stenciled, faux marbleized, made to look like faux granite, etc. I would suggest purchasing a few tiles to practice on before actually tackling this project. For an authentic look, tape off each tile with masking o painter's tape to give individual character. For example, vary the direction of the "marble" pattern. Then, tedious as this sounds, tape off the tiles so only the grout shows. Work in small areas at a time to kep from getting overwhelmed and confused...and paint the grout your choice of complimentary color that coordinates with the tiles. Use a recommended sealer for long lasting protection. Seek professional advise concerning the best products to use.

Question #5: Can I paint my cabinets?

Cabinets can indeed be painted. A little sanding, a little priming, a little elbow grease...did I mention the elbow grease? Seriously, it truly depends upon the condition of the cabinets. To begin, all doors must be removed from the cabinet base, and all hardware such as handles and hinges need to be removed as well. The old finish will need to be sanded. The amount depends upon how thick the original finish is. Use a good primer. Talk to a paint store consultant about advise on the proper products. This is one project you want to be done accurately. One wrong primer, paint, or sealer can ruin all your hard work and effort. After you have completed the painting process - consider one of these ideas to assure your cabinets have a totally new appearance. 1.) Purchase new hardware. Decorative hinges, doorknobs and pulls can be coordinated with your kitchen theme. There are hundreds of colors and designs available. 2.) For plain front cabinets, consider adding half-round or picture moulding with mitered corners to the cabinet door fronts. Keep the scale of the moulding in proportion with the size of the door. The moulding can be painted the same color as the door, or perhaps one shade darker for a nice but subdued contrast. The inside of the framed door can be painted the same color as the door, or again painted in a darker hue. 3.) Decorative designs that have been handpainted or stenciled give cabinets a designer look. If you're not an artist, look for a college student who will work for cheap. Usually they are looking for ways to expand their portfolio. Choose basic designs like fruits, flowers, herbs, etc...or be dramatic and choose a tromp l'oile. (french for fool the eye.) Also, look into decals. There are several on the market that will look as if a professional artist was hired once they are applied. Stencils can also be used to create wonderful designs. 4.) Consider an antiquing technique. This requires a two-paint color process. For example - basecoat cabinet bases and doors in sage green. Once dried, rub candle wax around corners, on edges, etc - anywhere that natural wear would occur. Apply a whitewash over the sage. Stencil a design such as a bundle of herbs on the front of the doors. Use a light-hand with the paint so the design appears to look faded. Sand the doors and cabinet base with a light-grade sandpaper so the sage undercoat shows thru. Apply extra sanding on corners, edges and the areas where you rubbed the wax. Lightly sand the stenciled design as well. Apply a light to medium stain. (you may want to experiment with this) Use a matte finish sealer. A high gloss sealer will come across as too "new."

Question #6: What color should my cabinets and countertops be?

This seems to be the question that most concerns new homebuilders and those who are going thru a kitchen remodel. I know there have been many sleepless nights spent pondering this decision. When asked this question, I will always give the same answer. Neutral! Choose neutral colors for permanent fixtures like cabinets, countertops, appliances and floors. This sounds like the makings of a very boring kitchen you say? Give me a neutral kitchen and a few rolls of wallpaper or cans of paint, and I will show you a warm, cheerful dramatic room. By choosing neutral colors, you are creating an open canvas that invites any color or pattern you choose - and best of all, it can be changed in a few years when you grow tired of it. Let your walls, window treatments, rugs and accessories carry the color. What seems to be the going shade or hue at present does not mean it will be in a few years. Everything has fads - including colors. You do not have to choose basic white or cream either. There are wonderful taupes, greys, toasts, buttercream beiges and on and on. Two to three hues from the same family can beautifully co-exist in the same room, so don't worry that the taupe you have chosen for your countertops is not an exact match to the almond appliances, etc. After you have decided upon a neutral color, make this part of your Three-Color color scheme to tie everything together. (Visit the section called "Building a Color Scheme") "Building a Color Scheme"