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Budget facelift does without the sledge hammer

Emily and Martin are newlyweds who just bought their first home. They were excited to start their lives together, but once they moved into their new digs, all they seemed to do was work. Evenings, weekends - all of their free time was spent renovating the 80-year-old house. They were tired. And frustrated. And that's no way to start a marriage!

But for all of their toil and trouble, the couple put only a small dent into the much-needed renovations. What they really wanted was to turn their dark, drab, open-concept kitchen and dining room into a bright, inviting room for informal entertaining. The problem was they didn't know where to start - and, like many newlyweds, they were low on funds. So they called me in to help them with a budget-conscious kitchen/dining room facelift that would reflect their casual, contemporary style.

Because I had to keep dollars and cents in mind, I gave Emily and Martin the look of a new kitchen without gutting it. The couple had stainless-steel and black appliances and had painted the walls a greyish-blue, so I chose a design scheme to complement the existing elements: a colour palette of bold black and clean white, with accents of blue and silver.

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When you're on a budget, paint goes a long way in making old look like new. I started off in the kitchen by giving the existing cabinets a fresh coat of paint - white for the upper cabinets and black for the lower cabinets. I then added jewel-like hardware to give them a bit of sparkle. To tie the area together, I put up a stunning linear backsplash in a cool blue glass tile.

I kept the kitchen's appliances, but replaced the single basin sink with a beautiful, modern under-mount sink with a stunning faucet that is sure to be a conversation piece.

I then replaced the pink countertop with beautiful taupe quartz with flecks of silver and blue. I put the same quartz on the kitchen island, which separates the kitchen from the dining room, and added a few funky stools around it.

Emily and Martin wanted the dining room and kitchen to flow into one another. So, in the dining room, I incorporated store-bought cabinetry that has a similar style to the kitchen cabinets. I stacked white-base and glass-fronted cabinetry into two columns and placed a black leather and chrome bench between them. Above the bench, which also functions as a banquette, I put up a chalkboard wall for messages.

To warm up the dining room, I put in a new walnut table, a few wood and black-leather chairs, and added a heap of blue, brown and geometric black-and-white pillows on the bench.

To brighten things up, I installed a host of new lighting: task lighting over the sink, two pendants over the island and an elegant chandelier in the dining room. I also added ultra-modern blinds to the dining room window and framed these up with crisp, white cotton-linen drapes that are banded with black fabric.

After a few final accents and accessories - an area rug, a modern mirror, a few lamps and a cool wine rack - the redesign was complete.

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This dated, dysfunctional space needed an infusion of style and substance. So I united contemporary colours, cheerful lighting and lots of function, and turned Emily and Martin's first house into a comfortable and classic "home sweet home." Now that's divine!

To see where Candice shopped for this episode, you can find the resource guide at

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