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Take a good look around your kitchen. Chances are there is something about it that bothers you.

Cabinets may be water stained or damaged, or the golden oak is just looking tired. Drawers don’t slide out easily, and they are packed to the brim. There’s spaghetti sauce or grease splatter all around that just won’t clean off. The granite that looked so great 10 years ago isn’t shiny anymore, and it’s too dark. Sigh!

You turn away and go to Houzz or Pinterest and find dreamy kitchens, but you know that no matter how little HGTV can spend to redo a kitchen, that’s not going to be your reality. But don’t despair! There are options to update a kitchen without paying for an entire remodel and local business people to help you through the process.

But first, let’s talk realistically about what a full remodel might cost.

“Well, I like to say, ‘How much is a car?’” says Andy Mathis of Kitchen Tune-up Flagstaff.

In other words, the range of home remodeling costs can be as broad as sticker prices at an automotive sales park. Cost depends on many factors and options are endless, but Mathis says there is an industry baseline that relates remodeling costs to the market value of a house. For a total kitchen remodel, plan on spending between eight and 10 percent of the value of your home, he says.

If you still want some hard numbers, Houzz earlier this year provided those in its 2018 Kitchen Trends Survey. It found that major kitchen remodels—all new cabinets, counters and appliances—on average cost $42,000 for a kitchen 200 square feet or larger, and $25,800 for smaller kitchens. 

If those prices seem exorbitant, consider spending much less on a like-new refresh for your kitchen cabinets. Or, completely reface or re-door cabinetry for a fraction of the price of a full remodel. Such work is the forte of Kitchen Tune-up with its proprietary, proven and award-winning methods for making dingy cabinets look pristine again.

Kitchen Tune-up started in 1988 as a family business by a cabinet distributor in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The aim was to create a process to keep wood surfaces looking fresh and new. There are now franchises in 31 states with at least six operating in Arizona. They specialize in wood restoration, cabinet refacing, cabinet re-dooring, and new cabinets for both residential and commercial customers. Cabinets are the focus, but franchisees may also offer replacement hardware, cabinet accessories, countertops, granite restoration and storage solutions.

Kitchen Tune-up Flagstaff is owned and operated by Andy and Laura Leigh Mathis, Texas transplants that began their business in northern Arizona in 2014.

The flagship service is a “one-day wood restoration, where we can get your cabinets looking new again,” says Laura Leigh. The process includes a thorough cleaning, blending in color where staining has occurred to seamlessly match the original finish, and adding two coats of protective polyurethane.

She said most people don’t realize the layers of grease, grime and dirt that can stack up over time.

“When they see our results, they are just so happy, and wonder, ‘How did you get my cabinets to look like that?’”

Besides the restoration service, Kitchen Tune-up Flagstaff specializes in cabinet refacing solutions, which can give a kitchen new style and flair. Some transitions are dramatic, like refacing old white melamine-fronted cabinets with warm knotty alder. Kitchen Tune-up will also assist with design, new countertops, backsplashes and flooring. In some cases, they work with local partners for additional work and requests.

Andy Mathis points to cost savings, quick results, convenience and conservation as the selling points of their services.

“Restoration or replacing just doors and drawer fronts appeals to people because you’re not ripping out stuff that’s good and putting it into a landfill,” he says. Also, many Kitchen Tune-ups services are completed in just a few days, while your kitchen remains accessible and usable. 

The couple says their customers also value competent and responsive service.

“Some people are just so amazed that we answer the phone and return phone calls,” says Andy. “And, we also do what we say we’re going to do.”

If you need more time to save for a professional kitchen update, here are a few DIY refreshes that take little investment.

Remove clutter.

Consider taking down kid artwork, photos and notes from the refrigerator. Frame the pictures you like best, and locate wall space for those. Utilize a smartphone or other devices for notes, shopping lists and reminders. Find a place to store seasonings and spices other than the kitchen counter. If you have a window with a sill, clear and clean it, and place small matching pots with succulents or a small herb garden there.

Clean cabinets and appliances inside and out.

Sort dishes, tableware, pots, pans and glassware. Purge items that are broken or unusable. Giveaway items you haven’t used in the past year. Relocate utensils, dishes and pans to places that make more sense. Put glasses near the fridge, spatulas in a drawer by the stove, plastic containers near the microwave, etc.

Add or replace cabinet knobs and handles.

There are endless style options. Follow the instructions “How to Replace Cabinet Hardware” provided by Better Homes and Gardens at www.bhg.com.

Add new lighting.

Even replacing an old flush-mount light over the sink with a glowing pendant light can add a simple, stylish focal point.

Refresh walls.

Walls in a kitchen quickly get covered with grease and grime. Painting is the most economical and quickest way to boost a kitchen’s appearance. Prior to painting, clean walls with a mild soap and water.

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