ABC7 On Your Side: Kitchen remodels

LOS ANGELES Remodeling your kitchen will bring one of the biggest returns on investment. But what if you don't have to spend a lot to make a lot?

Linda Harrison's kitchen cabinets look brand new. All it took was a can of paint and new knobs to completely transform her kitchen, which used to be very dark.

"I'm just much happier. It's brighter. It's more cheerful," said Linda.

Since Linda's cabinets are in good condition, another option would have been to reface them. Either is a whole lot cheaper than buying new ones.

Adding under-cabinet lighting is another inexpensive way to update your kitchen. Consumer Reports tested strip lights and puck lights, which cast a pool of light onto the countertop.

"And they all come in different types of bulb. We have fluorescents, halogens, xenon, and LED," said Dan Diclerico from Consumer Reports.

The tests showed the ones with fluorescent bulbs and LEDs are energy efficient. But fluorescents don't accurately show reds, oranges or purples, which changes the way food looks on your counter. Halogen and xenon lights give much more accurate color, although they do use more energy and get very hot.

Finally, consider replacing your kitchen floor. Consumer Reports tests how well various types of flooring hold up to scratches, stains and dents. Plastic laminates, which are tougher than wood, usually cost a lot less, and they're easier to install.

"You can float them on the surface without the use of fasteners, staples or glue," said Diclerico.

So you don't have to spend tons of money to get a great-looking kitchen.

Appliances can also be big-ticket items when redoing a kitchen. But Consumer Reports tests find price is no guide to getting the best. In fact, among smooth top electric ranges, the most expensive - a $4,000 Viking - came in at the bottom of the ratings.

Click here to visit the Energy Star Web site for tips to save money and energy when remodeling your kitchen

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