Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Inexpensive DIY Kitchen Improvements for Your Home

By: Danny Lipford

Watch this video for some innovative ways to improve the function and look of your kitchen, including:

  • Installing kitchen cabinet drawer dividers.
  • Adding a pullout cabinet rack for cookie sheets and trays.
  • Making a rollout kitchen cabinet trash can holder.
  • Adding mitered molding to plywood cabinet doors.
  • Designing a wooden plate rack.
  • Installing a tile or beadboard backsplash.
  • Adding a permanent or moveable island.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we are digging up some cool kitchen tricks to make the busiest room in the house look, function, and feel better. New or old, you’ll find something for your kitchen, so stay right here.

There’s almost an endless list of ideas that you can use around your home to make your kitchen more functional, convenient, and a lot more attractive. Now, this week we’re looking at a lot of different types of kitchens and size kitchens to give you some of those ideas.

We are right in the middle of the kitchen that was extensively remodeled a couple of years ago. The renovation included all new countertops, all new appliances, and all new manufactured cabinets.

And because the homeowners chose to place all the cabinets, they were able to choose exactly what they wanted and all the accessories that went into the cabinetry to make it a very functional kitchen. Now, it’s also very organized. Look at some of the things they chose here.

This is just a simple divided drawer for flatware; pretty inexpensive, but certainly keeps things a more organized. Then, for the pots and pans, this is a pretty neat idea; pegboard in the bottom of the drawer, and the different little pegs that move around that will allow you to keep your pots and pans organized. And they won’t rattle around so much.

Here’s another kind of specialized idea that the homeowners had is to use this as a little baking sheet tray that rolls in and out, so you can see everything you have, but you can tuck it right out of the way.

But something I’m seeing in a lot of kitchens, I particularly like a lot, a plate rack. This one makes a lot of sense, because it’s located so close to the dishwasher. You finish washing the dishes, take the plates out, slip them right in the rack. It looks good and it’s very convenient the next time you need a plate.

Now, I know renovation like this can cost a lot of money, but you can still make some significant improvements to your kitchen and still stay on a budget.

Jodi Marks: You know remodeling your kitchen is an exciting project, but if your budget doesn’t call for tearing out all of your old cabinetry, here’s a trick for you. Instead of tearing it all out, just replace your doors, right?

Allen Lyle: It’s so easy to do. It’s as simple as measuring the opening—width and the height add about an inch—you’re ready to order your doors. You have a lot of choices, too, from different species of wood—cherry, hickory, maple, oak—to different finishes. You’ve got nice stain finishes or paint finishes, or you can even get raw doors and paint them yourself.

Jodi Marks: That’s right cause that’s exactly what we did. Another thing you can do is change your style. If you want a cathedral look, look at this one right here, I love the rope around here that’s embedded. Or, you can get something very traditional, very standard. So, again, you’re imagination is your limitation. And I like this too, you might even want to consider getting some doors with glass in them, so that you can display some really nice glassware.

Allen Lyle: And it really is very easy to install. They usually come predrilled for the hinges, so two screws their installed. Now, that’s for changing the kitchen, the look of it. If you want to change up some space, you need a little bit more of it. Well, here’s an idea, get that microwave off the counter.

Jodi Marks: Yeah, typically a countertop microwave is around anywhere from $100 to $150. So why not invest another 50 or 100 bucks, and you can get a type that can be installed underneath the cabinet and you’ve just added so much more counter space. And if your counter space is at a premium, that’s well worth the money.

Allen Lyle: Now keep in mind, you need a little bit of space between the oven and the bottom of the microwave. You may have to modify a cabinet, like we had to do recently. One other thing, ventilation. It will replace your stove vent in many cases. Will it be compatible, usually it is. Keep this in mind though, you can get some to recirculate the air so you don’t even have to worry about hooking up a vent.

Danny Lipford: One of the big advantages of installing all new cabinets in your kitchen is you’re able to decide exactly how tall your wall cabinets can be. Now the thing is, so many houses the cabinets stop right at 84 inches, or seven feet tall. You know there is a lot of available space above that. Here’s how we utilized it here. We extended the cabinets up a little bit more, but still had room for a nice decorative façade on top, crown molding and the seem molding there.

But other ways that you can utilize that space; one, is to remove any of the soffit or the drywall return that many houses have. Or, it may just be an open area. Either way, make sure your cabinets are secured well to the wall. Then take a nice decorative galley rail, which is a type of molding. Put it right on the front edge of your wall cabinets. That makes available that space up there for decorative baskets or vines, or for extra storage.

Now, another way that you can gain that space is something we did on a project a couple years ago where we had our cabinetmaker create cabinets that looked just like the original cabinets. They slip right on top, a little molding there right on the seem, and no one would know what’s original.

But the homeowners ended up with some very good storage even though it was a little bit of a challenge to reach that area, but it was perfect for holiday kitchenware, or just some of the things you have in your kitchen that you really don’t use a whole lot. So, either way, some valuable space up around the upper part of your kitchen. Hey, I wonder what Joe has for us this week on our Simple Solution.

Joe Truini: If you’ve got a faucet that has a leak or an intermittent water flow, you might suspect that there’s a problem with the faucet or maybe the water pressure. But here a cure that works almost every time, and you don’t have to call a plumber.

First, remove the aerator, which is this fitting that screws into the bottom of the faucet. Now, what the aerator does is it mixes water and air to create a nice, even flow. If you ever wonder why you need an aerator, that’s why. Without one, the water just comes shooting out.

Now, if you look closely at the aerator, you see it’s full of small holes and vents on both sides. That’s what allows the air in to mix with the water. But, these little holes an vents also collect mineral deposits and sentiment and they become clogged up. That’s why you don’t have a good flow of water.

So, the cure is to simply put it in a cup, add some white vinegar, which acts as a cleaner and there is enough acid in there that will dissolve the deposits, the mineral deposits on the aerator. So now you just let that set overnight, take it out, rinse it, and replace it.

Now, for only a few cents worth of vinegar, you solve the problem without having to call an expensive plumber.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at a number of can’t miss kitchen tricks. And we’re in the kitchen of Lisa Wages. She and her husband Carl did some very innovative things in their kitchen to do a little upgrading and solve a few problems. What are some of the things that you did in the kitchen that worked out really well for you guys?

Lisa Wages: Well, one of the things we did was put this granite insert in, because I do a lot of baking. And it’s nice to take hot stuff off and put it right on the granite and use it that way. It blends in with the rest of the ceramic tile in the kitchen.

Danny Lipford: Now, did you guys also do the ceramic backsplash on the rest of the counters?

Lisa Wages: We did, we did. We laid the tile ourselves.

Danny Lipford: Well this worked out pretty good though, it’s a nice little accent but also very functional too with all the baking that you do.

Lisa Wages: Right.

Danny Lipford: Perfect, perfect. Now, I also understand you had an innovative way to handle a few extra holes you had in your ceiling.

Lisa Wages: We did. Just to come up with some kind of unique idea, we put these wooden plates, kind of like a medallion I guess, to cover-up some flaws in the ceiling. This one over here there was a light that had a swag and it was off centered. So, to avoid fixing the hole in the drywall, we just put up our wooden plate.

Danny Lipford: Boy that’s not an easy task at all, when you have the popcorn ceilings, to try to repair just a small hole here and there. So that’s a great idea. We’re going to check back with you in just a little bit, because I understand you have a solution for homeowners that need a little extra countertop space.

But right now let’s check in with Jodi who’s in the workshop to show you how you can make a simple plywood door look a lot better.

Jodi Marks: Do you have boring kitchen cabinet doors? Well I’m going to show you a very quick and easy way to jazz them up. Now, what I’ve done is I’ve taken some measurements on my existing door. I came in about two and half inches all the way around, and I made my marks. Now, what I’ve done, I’ve measured these marks and I’ve transferred them to a piece of molding.

Now, I’ve cut all my pieces of molding and I’ve also stained them. Now, what I’ve done is dry fit them into place on my marks, just to make sure that everything still lines up.

And here’s a tip for you. Keep in mind when you put stain on bare wood like this, it will actually cause the wood to swell little bit, so you may have to trim it down a little bit. But, using a nailer, what I’m going to do is make some attachments right here. You don’t need too many because again this is not bearing any weight, you just want to hold your trim in place.

There, and that one there and you just want to make sure that the nails in your nail gun are not too long, so they don’t poke out on the backside. And look, our cabinet door now has a whole new look.

Joe Truini: Here’s a kitchen trick that has much more to do with function and convenience than it does with looks. This clever homeowner took a little used storage cabinet and turned it into a place to keep the trash. Now, you can find this feature on custom made cabinetry, or you can make it yourself.

In this case, the homeowner made basically just a shallow drawer out of half-inch fir plywood. The joints are just butted and screwed together. In the front you’ll notice there is a really tall panel that got screwed to the back of the cabinet door. Then, on the side of the drawer near the bottom, he attached drawer slides.

These are 22-inch long drawer slides. And the other part of the drawer slide is mounted at the base of the cabinet. You just put it in there. If there is any shelving in there, you have to remove the shelving. And then you see at 22 inches, you have room for extra bags and for an average sized trash can.

Now, you can go to home center store and buy wire rack hardware that will work similar to this, but the advantage of this system is you don’t have to open up the door and then pull out the trash. Here it’s all done in one simple motion.

Danny Lipford: Boy, that turned out nice. So you started with the base cabinet and then you build the rest of it on.

Lisa Wages: Right. We were needing some extra counter space. My husband built the top, and added this section on to what we already had. And we just kept the wooden theme throughout the kitchen with the bullnose and the legs match the table that he built, also. It turned out real nice.

Danny Lipford: It sure did. Even the backsplash there. Then I guess when you use the ceramic tile here on your counters and backsplash, and of course you extended it there. But you guys were pretty ambitious. Not just regular 4×4 tiles, you put the inserts and all of that. How challenging was that?

Lisa Wages: It was a challenge. But you know, the outcome was good.

Danny Lipford: It really does look nice. Now, I see you have the stool under here, does anyone ever really use this space?

Lisa Wages: My children use this to eat snacks or do homework, you know give me advice in the kitchen while I’m cooking, so it’s a good space.

Danny Lipford: That’s perfect. I can see where that was well thought out. And again, counter top space is just so valuable.

Lisa Wages: Right.

Jodi Marks: How many times have you been working on a project and just needed an extra set hands? I think Dremel developed this new vice for people who need a multipurpose clamp that’s really easy to set up, take down, and fits almost anywhere.

This attaches onto a surface up to two and a half inches thick, which means even my kitchen table is fair game. And because the jaws are cushioned, you can tighten delicate items without marring their surface.

The clamp has a ball and socket design that lets it rotate 360 degrees and tilt at 50 degrees, so you are bound to find a comfortable working angle. The quick release button means easy and fast operation, while the removable jaws mean that in no time you’ve got a stand alone bar clamp if you need it.

The V-grooves help secure round and odd shaped objects, while the holder turns a rotary tool into a stationary sander, grinder, or polisher. Secure a project nearly anywhere and have free hands for more control. A pretty good deal if you ask me.

Danny Lipford: Hey, we’re about to look at a few more can’t miss kitchen tricks. Now one of the most popular videos we have on our website, and one of the most common e-mails we get, is how to install a kitchen backsplash.

These homeowners did a great job on their backsplash. And they didn’t stop with just putting simple tiles up. They cut different sizes and shapes to really give it a distinctive look. Also, all the materials they used on the backsplash are the same materials they used on the countertops. Boy, it blends just perfectly.

Now, you can go a step further than this and actually use a mosaic type of approach to create a scene or a feel for your kitchen, maybe a nautical theme or maybe the basket of fruit. And those type of kits are available all over the Internet, as well as at the home centers.

And very simple to install. Just take one piece at a time and before long you’ve created your own little masterpiece. Now ceramic tiles’s a great choice for backsplashes, but you also can use wood.

Allen Lyle: So let’s talk backsplashes. I’ve seen tile, tin, stainless steel, plexiglass. But something I rarely see, but really gives a kitchen some character, beadboard. And here’s the creator in this kitchen, this is Lisa Brodie. Lisa, tell me about the inspiration behind beadboard.

Lisa Brodie: Well, we have an old house, and we wanted something that looked authentic. We always have kind of dreamed of having a house that looked like the Waltons. And so, we just thought that the beadboard backsplash would be the way to go.

Allen Lyle: This looks great. Now, it really opened up the kitchen with that white.

Lisa Brodie: It really did. What we found is that you know because the house was older, there was not lighting underneath the cabinets. So once we put a backsplash up and painted it that bright white color it really brightened up our whole kitchen.

Allen Lyle: How difficult was it?

Lisa Brodie: I felt like it was very easy. In fact I did most of it by myself. I did it all in a day, with the exception of the painting. All the installation was done in one day, and then the next day we painted and did all the caulking.

Allen Lyle: Even got that old country feel with the trim work.

Lisa Brodie: We did. In fact, this trim actually came, it was the facing around a door in an old house in a nearby town. The house was being torn down, and it was just an older house, and we thought it would be a great thing to put to use.

Allen Lyle: So, reuse. It’s even a green kitchen.

Lisa Brodie: Yes

Allen Lyle: Very nice. Hey, right now let’s catch up with Danny and Joe. They are in yet another kitchen with another cool kitchen trick.

Danny Lipford: Joe, I’m not sure what you’re building now but it’s not even matching the kitchen.

Joe Truini: No, but hopefully it will soon. The homeowners are interested in putting in a kitchen island. And I’m not sure its going to fit in this space, so what I did is I mocked up a full size model of an island using these cardboard boxes.

Danny Lipford: Looks like you’ve been in a furniture store.

Joe Truini: Yeah, furniture store. Appliance store is another great place to get boxes. Now, the National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends a 42-inch space between countertops. And you can see here, I’m almost a good eight or ten inches short, so I’ve got to go that way with it.

And you really should maintain these distances, otherwise the traffic patterns will get really clogged up. Now I can see already, that this is going to be too big for this space. It’s already encroaching in the hallway. So, give me a hand, we’re going to shrink down this island. I cut down the box so we can just pull it together.

Danny Lipford: Oh, okay, I got you.

Joe Truini: Now, imagine doing this with cabinetry or plywood boxes.

Danny Lipford: Or even a piece of tape on the floor, just won’t give you the idea.

Joe Truini: No. This really shows very clearly what the island’s going to look like in your kitchen. All right, see there we go, that’s very close right there. And here you got plenty of walking space between the refrigerator, you should have about 36 inches or so. And it’s the correct height, about 36 inches, so it gives a real feel for what the island is going to look like.

Danny Lipford: This is really a good idea. And probably also a good idea to leave it here for couple days to make sure it works out in your kitchen.

Allen Lyle: OK, so you’ve tried Danny and Joe’s box trick, you still don’t have room for an island. Not a problem, because some of the best ideas are some of the oldest and some of the simplest. Right Lisa?

Lisa Brodie: That’s right, our family doesn’t really have enough space to have an island that’s stationary and stays there all the time. So we have just found using this microwave cart, for when we have guests over is a great way, you know, to have extra space.

We use it for serving, sometimes we’ll put either the plates and the napkins on it. Usually we just pull it out and put our dishes out on it. You know whatever we’re serving for the night.

Allen Lyle: So it’s a temporary island, temporary fix, sometimes. Hey, you know what would be great right now?

Lisa Brodie: Tell me.

Allen Lyle: Popcorn. You got popcorn?

Lisa Brodie: I do.

Allen Lyle: All right, let’s have some popcorn, and enjoy Danny’s Thinking Green.

Danny Lipford: There is nothing green about paying bills, unless you pay them online or the company provides recycled envelopes. But you know, there’s another envelope you should take a close look at and that’s the thermal envelope of your home, which is your living space. It’s important to have proper installation, otherwise you’ve got a real problem with that envelope.

Up to 40% of a homes heat loss or gain is due to leaks. Insulating the attic is only the start. You need to make sure all gaps around windows and doors are sealed. The areas around plumbing pipes, as well as heating and cooling lines also need to be sealed.

And don’t forget about any electrical switches and outlets on exterior walls. You’d really be surprised at how big of an energy loss they can cause. Simple gaskets can take care of them, and it will be one of the cheapest improvements you can make.

There’s an awful lot you can do to make a kitchen more useful and enjoyable. You can add new cabinet doors, or dress up the ones you have. You can customize the back splash for the look you like or customize the counters for the way you cook. Even the garbage can is fair game when it comes to cool kitchen tricks.

Allen Lyle: We’ve covered a lot of cool ideas this week and if you would like to revisit them, just take a look at our website at dannylipford.com for all those ideas plus a whole lot more.

Danny Lipford: You know Allen, it always amazes me how homeowners come up with these great ideas for their kitchen. You know you can tell that people spend a lot of time in this room. What was your favorite tip?

Allen Lyle: I have to admit I love the granite insert. Great idea. But the very best trick I learned is when you’re talking to a homeowners, I can raid the refrigerator.

Danny Lipford: You see what I’ve got to put up with here. Hey, from Joe, Jodi, hungry Allen, I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you next week.

Improving your home’s curb appeal helps the look and the value. Next week, a look at a big transformation.


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