Happy 2016, Fix-It Friday friends! In this “fresh start” part of the year I’d like to focus our attention on getting our homes shipshape for 2016. So all month long, I’m dedicating each of my weekly Fix-It Friday columns to 4 different, but major areas of our homes. By the end of January, you’ll know my Top 15 Ways to Get Your Home in Shape for 2016!

So let’s get started with the room that for most of us is the real heart of our homes… THE KITCHEN.

Top 4 Ways To Improve Your Kitchen

1. Restore Your Wood Cabinet Finish

Detail of Cherry Wood Kitchen Cabinet Door with Handles

Over time your cabinets will inherently develop minor scratches, grease build up, and discoloration. Restoring them is as simple as cleaning and polishing.

To Prep:

  • Remove articles from the countertop.
  • Spread newspaper or a tarp beneath cabinets.
  • Remove knobs/pulls by unscrewing them from behind with a screwdriver—give them a good cleaning and store them in a safe place.

To Restore:

  • Give the cabinets a good initial washing with Murphy® Oil Soap—follow instructions on dilution. If there are still minor scratches use Old English® Scratch Cover in light or dark—rub it over the entire surface of the cabinet.
  • Give the cabinets a final coat of Howard’s Feed-N-Wax® to buff and protect the finish. This product is recommended to be applied and left on for about 20 minutes—then buffed off.
  • Make sure the knobs/pulls are thoroughly dried before fastening them back to the doors and drawers.

2. Update Knobs and Pulls

door pulls

It’s amazing what a small piece of hardware can do to change the look of your entire kitchen. You can create style and theme with these little guys—a lot of power packed into something whose literal purpose is to simply open and close doors and drawers. Maybe that’s why some knobs and pulls can be priced upward of $25… each! Wrought iron, hand-painted ceramic, brushed nickel—your choices are limitless! Just be sure to bring the old hardware with you for proper fit.  The length and diameter of the screw of the hardware can vary, as well as spread between screws.

3. Restore a Solid Surface Countertop

refinish counter

Scratches and stains on a countertop can make your entire kitchen look worn out. Happily, solid surface countertops (synthetic sheets formed by polyester and/or acrylic resins), allow you to buff away most unsightly marks. Blemishes on soapstone are also easily sanded away.

To Prep:

  • Using a sponge or rag clean the countertop with a mild liquid abrasive cleanser. In a circular motion work through all surface residue.
  • Wipe down the countertop with water and dry it with a towel.

To Restore:

  • Buy an abrasive pad kit for countertops or pack of sandpaper ranging from fine to superfine. Examine any stains and scratches and determine which pad in the kit is abrasive enough to work through them—no need to abrade much deeper than the blemishes.
  • With the proper grit pad, sand back and forth over the scratches/stain, going slightly beyond the damaged section (in order to blend with the rest of the surface). Then switch directions, so the motion goes from a north-south sanding to east-west. Wet the area with water slightly as you’re working.
  • Repeat step 1 with the next finer grit pad.
  • Continue to buff out the blemishes, moving to finer and finer pads until the desired finish is achieved.
  • Finish by applying a polish and protector suitable for your surface—check with your countertop manufacturer for the proper product.

Note: The manufacturer of your countertop may have specially designed powders, sprays, or creams that will aid in removing blemishes and return it to its original finish.

4. Organize Your Cabinets and Drawers

utensil drawer

Who likes digging through 9 circles of cookware hell to get to the food processor? Rifling through dozens of spice jars to find the paprika? Fighting with pots and pans to find a matching lid? Happily there’s a world of organizer solutions on the market today. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Expandable cutlery and gadget trays
  • Roll-out lid and cutting board organizers
  • Over-the-door hanging racks
  • Pull out cabinet organizers—these are awesome but will require installation and often minor assembly. The manufacturer will provide assembly and installation instructions.

Now that you’re armed with the know-how to spiffy-up your kitchen, stay tuned for next week’s home shape-up, as we head into… THE BATHROOM.

Norma sig

Got A DIY Question? Ask-The-Expert!

If you have a DIY home repair, maintenance or improvement question for Norma, now is your chance to ask-the-expert and have her answer. Your burning question may just be the “star” of an upcoming Fix-It Friday column.

Add your question to the comments section below or email it to Women You Should Know.

Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.