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Giving appliances a face-lift

QUESTION: We moved to a home in Whittier last year from Arizona and are doing an update on the kitchen. The built-in appliances (dishwasher, trash compactor, wall oven) in this house are all less than 5 years old and in good working condition. They, like our refrigerator, have white metallic fronts and white plastic control panels.

We would like to change the colors to black or another one that blends with our new granite countertops without having to buy new appliances. Any suggestions?

JULIE AND HARVEY KAHN

Whittier

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ANSWER: You have some options -- but no single solution -- for updating your appliances. You could panel some, powder-coat others, live with or just replace the rest. Knobs are tricky, and may be hopeless. None of these ideas comes easily, so you might consider checking prices for replacements so you know what all your options are.

Your best bet for changing the look of your refrigerator and dishwasher may be to contact Frigo Design, a manufacturer of custom panels and trims, in Brewerton, N.Y. You provide the make, model and size of your appliances, and the company will ship panels that will fit over the doors and sides. The panels, whether they’re stainless steel, framed wood or one of more than 200 acrylic colors, adhere to the doors with foam adhesive.

If your refrigerator has a built-in water and ice dispenser, this will remain white, as will any gaps between freezer and refrigerator doors. New door handles, provided by Frigo Design, will match your new facades. Panels to cover a small refrigerator range from about $883 (including shipping) for acrylic to more than $2,000 (including shipping) for painted or stained wood.

If the facade of your trash compactor is framed, you can cover it with a Frigo Design panel too

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If you are able to dismantle the front panel, you can bring it to a powder-coating company, such as Andrews Powder Coating Inc. in Chatsworth, that will sandblast the existing finish, then bake on just about any color you’d like. Andrews can do the same with the outer panels of dishwashers and exhaust hoods. The cost of the process, for a basic color, starts at about $150.

If your refrigerator has removable stainless steel or aluminum panels or trim, they can be powder coated. But the coating process is not recommended for wall ovens or cooktops, because if the powder-coated surface is in contact with high heat for a long period of time, it can scorch.

If you want to swap out white knobs, contact the manufacturer of your appliance and ask if new ones in the desired color can be ordered.

The work and costs involved in getting all of your appliances to match your granite counters might be the excuse you need for treating yourself to new everything. Craigslist on the Internet at www.craigslist.orgis a good place to sell white appliances, or some local charitable organizations may take them.

Submit questions to the Los Angeles Times, Home Section, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, or e-mail home@latimes.com. Please include city and phone number.


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