All of us who have older kitchens occasionally find ourselves dreaming of a new one. Often though, it stays in the dream-world, mostly due to the expense of getting new fitted kitchens. But the beauty of most modern kitchen units is that you don't have to tear everything down to give your kitchen a new look and a new lease of life. The trick is to simply replace what is visible and leave everything else as it was.

The easiest things to replace are the kitchen unit doors and kitchen worktops. With the doors, it is as simple as screwing them off their hinges and putting on new ones. You will first have to track down the right size of doors of course, but this is often doable - certainly if you decide to have some custom made. But you don't even have to replace the doors - you can simply paint them! A friend of mine recently redid his kitchen, and what made the biggest difference was changing the color of the kitchen unit doors from a dull blue to a rather more vibrant green. He also took off the old plastic laminate worktop and put on a new one made from exotic hardwood. None of it cost him very much either.

You do need to think about whether or not you can do these things yourself or you have to hire someone. With a bit of care, anyone can give their kitchen unit doors a new coat of paint, but it helps to have tried something like it before. For instance, don't paint them while they are still on their hinges - take the doors off, unscrew hinges and handles, lay the doors flat on a worktable and then paint. Don't put on too much paint in one pass either, settle for several thin coats of paint, and allow for it to dry between each coat. If after drying you see lumps or droplets of coagulated paint, take the time to sand them down level, before continuing with another coat. Also be realistic with your amibitions for this makeover. Modern kitchens use all sorts of fancy materials to achieve ultra-smooth or glossy surfaces, and these would be very hard for you to match without the help of a professional painter. Just accept the fact the there will be brush strokes and little flaws, and you will be much happier with the result.

Kitchen worktops are also within the realm of what is possible to replace yourself. These are usually just screwed onto the kitchen units from the underside. If you open one of your cupboards and stick you head in there, you will most likely see where those screws are. Then it is just a matter of unscrewing the thing. your kitchen tap will be screwed to the worktop also, and will actually need to be removed temporarily from the water pipes, in order to get everything taken apart. To do this, you need to find the stop valves for hot and cold water, and make sure you can cut off the supply to the kitchen tap. Then you can find your plumming tools and remove the tap. The sink is easily removed after that - you will figure that out in no time. Make sure you don't get rid of the old worktop before you have transferred its dimensions to the new one. After all, it is going to fit in the same place as the old one. Don't forget not to cut the hole for the sink to the measurements of the outside perimeter of the sink! If you can handle that, you are more than suited to give makeovers to fitted kitchens!