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RISMEDIA, May 22, 2008-After downsizing to a historic 1920s cottage, a music-loving couple found perfect harmony with a kitchen makeover. They bought a fixer-upper after their daughters left the nest, and wanted to update the kitchen without spending a fortune. The couple chose mainly off-the-shelf products (with the exception of Special Order countertops) and created a space that’s jam-packed with personality.What They Did

The Challenge: The kitchen’s inefficient layout and outdated appliances provided little inspiration for the homeowners. They wanted to infuse the warmth of a European bistro into the room’s new design and achieve a customized look.

The Solution: Open shelving and a harmonious color palette make the room feel larger. Sticking to their budget, the homeowners salvaged the hardwood floors underneath the tile and painted unfinished in-stock oak cabinets. They chose a suite of stainless appliances to bring the kitchen up to date. The new refrigerator was placed across from the sink for a better workflow, and improved lighting provides ample illumination in the work areas.

Here are 5 ways you can also get a custom look for less:

1. Prepare. Developing a game plan from the beginning helps you stay focused and stick to a theme and color palette.

2. Paint. By coating unfinished wooden cabinets with your desired color, you can get a bold look for a fraction of the cost.

3. Personalize. Do-it-yourself shelving or a breakfast bar maximizes space and adds a one-of-a-kind, professional feel.

4. Pick a suite. Choosing appliances from the same brand with the same finish will give the kitchen a more cohesive appearance.

5. Pad with finishing touches. Unique additions, such as a chalkboard wall or framed travel photos, make a kitchen anything but ordinary.

Source: Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine, May/June 2008