6 Features That Are Dating Your Kitchen—And How to Fix Them

Does your kitchen look like it’s past its prime? Renovating a kitchen can be an overwhelming and costly prospect, and sometimes it can be tough just figuring out where to begin. Fortunately, the pros know which changes will have the biggest impact in bringing your kitchen up to date.

This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are consistent with those of BobVila.com.

  1. In Need of a Face-Lift

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    In Need of a Face-Lift

    Step into a kitchen, and you can immediately guess the decade when it was last remodeled, thanks to the presence of once-trendy color schemes, outmoded appliances, and retro cabinetry. And these are just a few of the telltale signs that give away a kitchen’s age! Indeed, because a kitchen involves so much more than simply four walls, this room tends to get stuck in time more easily than others in the house.

    As the heart of the home, though, the kitchen also has a lot more on the line. It is the site of family gatherings, after-school snacks, intimate weeknight meals, and elaborate holiday potlucks. So it’s no wonder that a kitchen update tops many a homeowner’s wish list. After all, who wants to invite guests into an embarrassingly outdated kitchen? Or have good memories marred by a lackluster backdrop?

    Fortunately, freshening up a kitchen may not require a wholesale renovation. Some features play an outsize role in anchoring your kitchen to the past, so switching up just a few of the biggest offenders can rocket your kitchen into the present day. If you’re up for an à la carte makeover, we’ve got the scoop on which updates promise the biggest impact. Dave Lincon, Director of Product Management and Business Development for Sears Home Services, identified the features that most often date a kitchen and suggested remodeling projects—both do-it-yourself-friendly and professional—that can make it look more current. With his advice and assistance from the Sears Home Services team, you can replace or spruce up those out-of-date elements and whip up a fresh, modern look in time for the kitchen’s busiest season: the holidays.

    RELATED: The 6 Best Reasons to Renovate Your Kitchen

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  2. 1. Drab and Dreary Colors

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    1. Drab and Dreary Colors

    Some colors scream out their decade. If your kitchen is bathed in one of those shades, a can of fresh paint and a weekend at home can go a long way toward changing its entire look and feel. The trend today is to make kitchens feel roomier and brighter, even if they’re already plenty big. Lincon advises homeowners to opt for light and natural colors, such as lighter shades of gray, combined with white trim, to add a feeling of openness. Then, paint the ceiling white: “A pure white ceiling gives the impression of being a higher ceiling.”

    Don’t, however, use white on the entire kitchen—cabinets, walls, trim, the works—especially if you plan to resell your home. Potential home buyers tend to see all-white kitchens as hard to keep clean.

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  3. 2. Dirty Old Accessories

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    2. Dirty Old Accessories

    As they say, it’s all in the details. Cracked mini blinds, dirty cafe curtains, tarnished cabinet pulls, faucets splattered with hard water stains, smudged switch plates—no matter how small the accent, its condition reflects on the entire kitchen and makes even the windows and cabinets appear drab. Cleaning or replacing these small items will instantly amp up appeal.

    “When it comes to window treatments, opt for ones that let in more light,” Lincon says. Heavy curtains are out; sheer shades mounted inside the window frame are in. Light-colored fabrics are ideal, because they’ll offer a bit of privacy when closed without cutting off all natural light to the kitchen.

    Swapping out old cabinet hardware is yet another high-impact change. Installing new hinges, knobs, and pulls in a different material or shape than the old ones can dramatically refresh old cabinetry. Depending on the hardware you select, you may even completely alter the style of your kitchen.

    But one of Lincon’s favorite budget-friendly ways to dress up a drab kitchen is to simply replace switch plates and outlet covers. Though easy to overlook in the grand scheme of a redesign, the white and cream outlet covers of yesteryear tend to yellow over time and will stand out like a sore thumb in a repainted kitchen. Try replacing them with outlets in “colors (even designs) that complement your appliances,” he suggests. “It’s just a great and inexpensive way to bring a nice, updated look to the kitchen.”

    RELATED: Don't Make These 6 Common Mistakes In Your Kitchen Renovation

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  4. 3. Short Backsplashes

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    3. Short Backsplashes

    Backsplashes have changed dramatically over the past couple of decades, transitioning from a 4-inch-tall strip of laminate that matched the countertop to an expanse of eye-catching wall tile that runs from the counter to the base of the upper cabinets. If you’re happy with both your countertop and your cabinets, “you can update the feel of your kitchen just by installing a trendy backsplash,” Lincon says. Today’s hottest backsplash trends include high-gloss tiles, subway tiles, translucent small-format tiles (2 inches across or less), and shiny iridescent glass tiles.

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  5. 4. Worn-Out Flooring

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    4. Worn-Out Flooring

    While wood-look and stone-look linoleum floors were all the rage 20 years ago, they can make today’s kitchens look cheap and cut-rate—and that’s before even considering what shape they’re in! Newer kitchen flooring choices include large-format porcelain tile or natural stone tile, luxury vinyl (with antibacterial protection), and high-grade, moisture-resistant laminate. But it’s not just the materials that are brand-new: If your kitchen floor is more than 15 years old, you may not be aware of all the new colors that are available today.

    When you request a free in-home Sears Home Services consultation, an experienced representative will bring samples of the most popular floor coverings, which you can view against the backdrop of your kitchen, and offer selection advice based on your lifestyle, design preferences, and budget. “It’s like having a kitchen showroom right in your home,” Lincon says. And, if you decide to have new flooring installed, Sears Home Services will handle everything, from measuring the floor and ordering the flooring to professionally installing it.

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  6. 5. Old-Fashioned Cabinetry

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    5. Old-Fashioned Cabinetry

    Kitchen cabinets that have seen better days can make the whole kitchen feel tired and worn out. But don’t think that a kitchen remodel requires completely ripping out the upper and lower cabinets. Instead, if the cabinet bases are still in good shape, Lincon suggests that homeowners consider cabinet refacing. This remodeling shortcut involves removing and replacing cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones, and then applying matching veneer to the front and sides of the cabinet bases. Voilà! Brand-new style without brand-new cabinets. “It’s an amazing way to update any kitchen,” he says, and it’s one of Sears Home Services’ most popular requests. “Refacing doesn’t change the footprint of the kitchen, nor does it require new countertops or changes to the plumbing, so it’s a good option for homeowners who don’t want the expense of a complete remodel.”

    Your cabinets may be good candidates for refacing if the bases are structurally sound, but just dated in appearance. Sears Home Services offers 13 different cabinet door styles, each available in a variety of colors and finishes, so you can get a custom look without completely replacing the cabinets.

    RELATED: 9 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look and Feel Bigger

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  7. 6. Passé Countertops

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    6. Passé Countertops

    Because they’re a major focal point in the kitchen, worn-out or out-of-style countertops will draw the eye and detract from more modern features in the room, like new stainless steel appliances or your crisp, monochromatic paint job. Investing in new, professionally installed countertops can be a game changer in a kitchen refresh.

    “Sears Home Services installs everything from solid-surface countertops to quartz and granite,” Lincon says, so they’re bound to have a material to suit every homeowner’s style and budget. A Sears Home Services rep will not only help homeowners find the right countertops (including material, color, texture, and edge style), but will also oversee everything from measuring and fabrication to the professional installation of the new work surface.

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  8. Your Best Bet: Mix and Match Solutions to Save

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    Your Best Bet: Mix and Match Solutions to Save

    If more than one or two areas of your kitchen are past their prime—say, cabinets, countertops, and flooring—you probably have a larger-scale project on your hands, and it will need to incorporate all or most of the above fixes. Luckily, Sears Home Services offers a way to get more bang for your buck: Save money by enrolling in the “Shop Your Way” rewards program. “For every dollar homeowners spend on a kitchen remodel, they earn points that can be redeemed at Sears retail stores,” Lincon explains. One of most popular ways homeowners use the program? Turning their collected points into savings on new kitchen appliances purchased at Sears.

    But consolidating your remodeling projects with Sears Home Services does more than just save you some money on other purchases—it can save you stress too. Sure, you could look around and find your own cabinetmaker, flooring installer, painter, and countertop contractor, but when Sears Home Services handles the project, they’ll coordinate every step so you can sit back and relax, confident that you’ll soon be enjoying your brand-new kitchen. Connect with a representative for your free in-home consultation today.

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