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What's the most cost-effective way to redo my kitchen?

Q: I live in a condo that was built in the eighties and still has its original (ugly) kitchen. I plan to renovate before selling, but I don't want to go over the top: I just want a nice-looking, modern, functional kitchen. Where would my reno dollars be best spent for the biggest payoff?

A: It's difficult for me not to spend money, but I would do as little as possible to make it look fabulous. Start by taking the existing cabinet doors off and having them sprayed a lacquered soft grey (try Benjamin Moore's CC-910). If you think that the existing doors are too dated, replace them with simple slab doors for a sleek, modern feel. Change the knobs to simple, elegant ones in a polished nickel finish.

And if the countertops needs replacing, try a Bianca Carrera marble that is white/grey and inexpensive, keeping the profile detail square-edged and -mitered so it appears solid. Of course, you could always string yellow caution tape across the entrance to the kitchen and leave a $10,000 gift certificate for a new one, avoiding the work altogether and letting the new owners have the headache.

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Architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace is the president of Taylor Hannah Architect Inc. in Toronto. Have a design question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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