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If a good cleaning isnít enough to add sparkle to your cabinets and new ones are out of the questions, donít despair. There are countless clever (and cheap) ways to add a little pizzazz to your perimeter.

Sometimes a good spring cleaning is enough to give your kitchen that brand new feel. Remove the unwanted layer with a wood cleaner (available at a hardware store) or by mixing a solution of 3 tablespoons turpentine, 3 tablespoons linseed oil, and one quart boiling water. Only use the mixture when warm, and protect your skin with rubber gloves.

If cleaning doesnít cut it, try one of these stepped-up makeover ideas. Note: If you arenít planning to hire a pro to carry out your cabinet makeover, be sure to check with your local hardware store or your cabinet manufacturer for specific instructions before trying the following, as each cabinetís requirements may be slightly different. Always prepare a sample area first.

Bleach isnít just for your whites anymore. The antidote to wood stains, bleach your cabinets to lighten their color and brighten a dull kitchen.

Before you begin to ďundressĒ your cabinets, make sure youíre dressed for the part. Rubber gloves are a must, and goggles are a smart precaution. Put down a drop cloth or newspaper to protect the flooring from drips. Be sure to read and follow manufacturers directions carefully, and test a scrap or out-of-the-way spot (like the inside of a cabinet door) before you tackle the entire kitchen.

To select a bleach, choose either a commercial wood bleach (available at hardware stores or home centers) or make a solution with one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water. Household bleaches, such as CLOROX, are weaker and may require several treatments. The shock-treatments used for swimming pools have a higher concentration and can up the power a bit.

Apply the mixture and let stand for several minutes (the longer it stays on, the lighter it gets). Wash the wood thoroughly with water to neutralize the bleach.

Get out of a fashion pickle by pickling your cabinets. A great way to highlight the woodís natural grain, pickling is best done on open-pored woods like oak and ash, because the majority of the pigment remains in the pores, making the grain more apparent.

Though technically a method, not a finish, semi-transparent white or off-white pickling stains can be purchased. You can also make your own stain; consult your local hardware store for instructions.

Be sure to thoroughly clean the wood before applying any stain. Once the dull task of cleaning is done, the actual pickling method is fairly simple: Apply an even coat to a manageable area. Donít fuss too much over a perfect applicationóapparent brush strokes wonít be a problem. Allow the stain to sit for approximately 10 minutes to permeate the wood. Using a folded wiping cloth, remove the stain in long soft strokes until you achieve your desired look. If the surface isnít dark enough for your tastes, repeat the process. Finish with two coats of satin or flat water-based topcoat finish to protect the pickling.





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