Designer’s Top Tips for a Kitchen Makeover

Interior designer gives her top tips for tackling a kitchen refresh project.

Linda's refreshed kitchen has a Parisian accent.

Linda's refreshed kitchen has a Parisian accent.

Linda Merrill enjoys the fruits of her efforts: a Parisian-themed kitchen she is proud to show off to friends. Photography by Michael J. Lee.

Interior designer Linda Merrill.

Interior designer Linda Merrill.

The author, Linda Merrill. Photography by Gretje Ferguson.

Linda's refreshed kitchen has a Parisian accent.Interior designer Linda Merrill.


By Linda Merrill
Duxbury, MA

Interior designer and blogger Linda Merrill refreshed her kitchen  with a budget of $500, and a little help from her friends.  Here she offers ideas to help you get the look you want for less.

1. Know Your Taste

Eco-friendly burlap has a texture and homespun feel that keep the gathered skirt and matching window treatment from looking too precious. Burlap’s popular right now, and you can’t beat the price, about $2 a yard. But if I hadn’t liked the look, and some people don’t, it would be no bargain. Make choices you can live with.

2. Shop Around

Find deals online or at local thrift stores, and be flexible. The clear cabinet pulls I liked in an upscale showroom would have cost $700. I bought similar ones on eBay for less than $50, mixing two similar styles because I couldn’t find 20 that were identical. They’re not crystal, they’re not vintage, but they look like it. I even played up the mix by installing some oval pulls vertically and others horizontally. Another savvy substitute was embossed wallpaper instead of pricey beadboard. Four rolls, at $22 each, covered the walls. Crown molding installed around the room’s perimeter hid edges where wallpaper met the ceiling.

3. Keep What You Can

My Formica countertops and cabinets were both in decent shape, so I saved them. Fresh paint made a world of difference for the cabinets. I used two shades of dark-green exterior trim paint for the outside, then sanded with fine steel wool to “age” it. The hinges and brackets were reused and I repainted the cabinets’ interiors apple green. My existing pot rack, made of plumber’s copper pipe, just needed polishing before I reinstalled it to hold my copper pot collection. Keeping my flooring, sink and faucet also saved money.

 4. Experiment!

Realize that not everything will work out as you plan. But never let that stop you from trying something else. My original plan to cover the cabinet shelves with burlap proved impractical. But the repurposed door as counter worked wonderfully! I can even drop appliance cords through the doorknob hole. Velcroed to the wall for added stability, the counter rests on a lumber frame we built, with plastic shelves underneath for storage, and the whole piece can be removed if the appliances need to come out. Those triumphs make a project not just budget-smart, but fun, too.

About our expert: Linda Merrill of Duxbury, Massachusetts, writes for ::Surroundings:: and other blogs that feature her expertise in interior design combined with her background in marketing and media communications.

lynn tobert 1 December 31, 2011 at 1:18 am

I have been a long time subscriber to Country Woman and am really enjoying your website. I especially liked the article by Linda Merrill. I love to take used items and repurpose them. It’s so much fun and very gratifing. I also really enjoy ” Whats it Worth.” Thanks for many hours of enjoyable reading and rereading. Lynn Tobert


Luciana 2 November 13, 2012 at 7:20 am

è tutto molto bello ma purtroppo non capisco la lingua.

Perccato, comunque complimenti

Luciana (Livorno_Toscana_Italia)


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