Genuinely quick kitchen fixes you can do yourself

Even if only a fraction of your kitchen cabinets are actual wood — perhaps just the doors (not the cabinet boxes) or drawer fronts, in part or in full — you may have noticed your kitchen reacting to the changing seasons. Maybe every summer, that one cabinet door starts sticking, or every winter, a gap appears between two doors.

Wood, as a natural product, expands and contracts as temperature and humidity change: This can translate to your cabinets changing by fractions of an inch as the weather fluctuates. What many kitchen users do not realize, though, is that many cabinets are designed to be adjusted through the year! To see if yours were, simply open a door. If there are multiple screws within the hinging hardware itself (beyond the required screws that attach the hinge to the door and the hinge to the cabinet box), try adjusting these additional screws by a full turn. Especially if your cabinets are good quality, many hinges are designed to adjust how a door sits against a cabinet box along three axes: up and down, left to right and in and out.

Regardless of quality, your cabinetry will probably sustain some degree of wear and tear over the years. A scratch here or a chip there — known as “memory marks” to those who accept, rather than resent, their existence — happen even in kitchens with careful cooks. This is such a fact of life, and cabinetry, that nearly every manufacturer offers a solution: the touch-up kit. This “kit” may take the form of a pen, marker, crayon or spray and can, ordered to exactly match the finish of your cabinets, if you happen to have that information available. If not, most hardware stores offer a popular range of colors to help you try to best match your finish. Watch in awe as years of scratches disappear before your eyes!

Touch-up kits are not the only magical tricks of the trade for making blemishes disappear. Fixing scuff marks and other smudges on your walls can feel like a hassle to touch up with paint — and even when you go to the effort of digging out the matching paint can from the bottom of the closet or back of the basement, it never blends in perfectly, unless the rest of your walls are freshly painted. Magic Erasers, however, are both convenient and effective at removing most wall scuffs — and far less effort. With a few quick swipes, your walls — and even grimy baseboards and windowsills — can be looking like new before you can even ask, “Where’s my paintbrush?”

Lastly, granite countertops are beautiful natural stones and typically low-maintenance, but they are not no maintenance. To best protect your stone from stains — especially on stones that are lighter in color, as they are more porous — you should seal your stone. This is typically done by the fabricator when the stone is installed in a kitchen but generally is not permanent: You should be resealing your granite counters far more often than you reseal your driveway. Thankfully, it is a much easier process! Most supermarkets even carry spray-on granite sealers that should be applied every few months, depending on your stone. Some, like Dupont’s StoneTech, are even a 2-in-1 sealant and cleaner so you can help protect your stone every time you wipe down your kitchen.

The kitchen as the heart of the home is an age-old adage that has not wavered amid the pandemic. The amount of time spent in your home — especially the heart of it — has probably changed dramatically over the past few months, though. You can embrace the extra “home time” with little fix-improvements across your kitchen: Your cabinetry, walls and even countertops are just a few minutes away from some savvy homeowner handiwork to improve their condition and better ensure future longevity.

Stephanie Brick is the owner of Stephanie Brick Design in Baltimore.

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