Out handyman Mitch Matlock shows how to spruce up a kitchen without breaking the bank


Mitch Matlock can help you redo your kitchen — after all, he did his own. Photo by Arnold Wayne Jones

By Scott Huffman

The prospect of remodeling a room can be daunting at best, but refreshing kitchen updates do not always require a hardhat and a fat wallet. Mitch Matlock, a Dallas handyman, shares five easy tips for sprucing up the home’s most popular gathering area in time for summer entertaining.

Paint. A quick and dramatic way to update a kitchen is with a fresh coat of paint. Today’s chic color is gray — with shades resembling everything from the color of putty to that of steely storm clouds. Also trending are grays mixed with light greens or blues.

“Gray is certainly the new beige,” Matlock says. “In the kitchen, light gray walls contrast nicely with rich wood cabinets for a clean, airy update. And gray stain or paint is also a trending color for older cabinets in need of a facelift.”

Matlock suggests investing a little time before finalizing a new color. “I first like to try three or four sample colors in the space and leave it for a day or two so that I can see the colors in changing light.”

Hardware. Another simple way to update the kitchen is to replace cabinetry hardware. “Outdated pulls and knobs can make the entire kitchen look older,” Matlock says, “and updating is a quick and inexpensive way to get a more modern look.”

Hardware styles are abundant. In general, shiny squared or rounded styles are good for contemporary kitchens, while hardware with decorative elements can complement kitchens with a rustic or provincial feel.

“A good rule of thumb is to coordinate the hardware with kitchen appliances,” Matlock says. “If your appliances are stainless steel, then consider chrome or brushed nickel hardware, and if your appliances are black, then consider oil-rubbed bronze hardware.”

Faucets. The kitchen faucet is one of the most frequently used fixtures in a home. It is relatively easy to update and can have a big visual impact.

“Due to the overwhelming number of options available, selecting a new faucet can be a difficult decision,” Matlock says. “As with choosing hardware, it is wise to select a style that complements your kitchen appliances and that offers functionality to match your needs.”

Current trends include bold contemporary designs, vintage-inspired bridge style faucets and high-end professional grade fixtures. When choosing a new faucet, remember to balance personal flair, functionality, and ease of cleaning.

Lighting. Updating kitchen lighting can have a vivid impact, whether by simply adding dimmer switches and upgrading bulbs or by adding or replacing fixtures. Pendant lights and under-cabinet lights are updates that are quickly becoming kitchen standards.

“A row of pendant lights is a popular way to accent kitchen islands,” Matlock says. “Choose a color and design that complements the kitchen’s style and then hang the lights 32 to 40 inches above the island’s surface.”

Under-cabinet lights are another popular update. Options include do-it-yourself plug-in fittings and more expensive hard-wired fixtures. Under-cabinet puck lights (shaped like hockey pucks) are a good option to add task lighting for countertops, while LED tape or rope lights, available in several colors, are a nice alternative for nighttime accent lighting.

Storage. If your collection of cookware and small appliances has grown unwieldy, consider installing floating shelves or a hanging pot rack for additional storage.

Simply organizing kitchen clutter can generate a stunning impact.

“Floating shelves are an easy way to create open-air storage space that can be both functional and decorative,” Matlock says. “Floating shelves can also help make a small kitchen look larger.”

Hanging pot racks are another eye-catching storage solution. Not only do they alleviate cramped cabinets, but they provide ready access to often used pots and pans.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2014.