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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.


Filtering by Tag: home remodeling connecticut

Give Your Kitchen a New Look with a Cabinet Makeover

Chelsea O'Donnell

One of my favorite ways to give a kitchen new life is by updating the cabinetry.

Many homes in our area of Connecticut were built or updated with darker wood accents, which was a popular remodeling choice during the 1970’s and 80’s. While dark wood has its charms, it can really bring down the brightness of a kitchen, especially during the autumn and winter months when there is less natural daylight.

Of course, replacing your old cabinetry is a great option, but it might not be possible for people on a tight budget. Not to worry, you can still give your kitchen a beautiful facelift by recycling those old cabinets and giving them a great new look. While a quick lick of paint can do wonders in the kitchen, there are a few tricks to ensure your budget reno looks like a million bucks. So, let’s get started!

Firstly, plan ahead for the job. Giving your cabinets a makeover might only take a few days, but during that time, your kitchen will likely be out of commission. Stock up on paper goods to use while your dishware is packed away, and don’t plan to tackle this job right before a major holiday or when you’re having guests over to stay.

Once your cabinets are empty, you’ll want to give everything a very good scrub with a degreaser. Any oil will prevent the primer from sticking, and food particles or build-up will become bumps and lumps in your paint job. Pay special attention to the cabinets closest to the cooktop and hood, as they’ll likely have the most gunk stuck to them.

Once everything is clean and dry, use a hand sander with 100 grit sandpaper to remove the finish from the cabinets. Don’t forget the hard to reach places like molding or other decorative finishes. Sanding creates a lot of dust, so make sure you wipe down all the surfaces thoroughly.

Now it’s time to apply the primer. It’s worth noting that wall primer and cabinetry primer are different because wall primer is made to absorb into the pores in the drywall, whereas wood doesn't have the same makeup. I recommend using a bonding primer which will adhere to the wood and help the paint to really “stick”. I recommend starting in the middle, covering the main panel of the cabinet before moving on to the areas around the molding. Don’t forget to prime all of your edges, as they will be visible when the cabinets are in place.

Unlike walls, cabinets take a fair amount of abuse from daily use. If you have a big family and the kitchen is the major gathering place, you might want to consider adding latex to your choice of paint. Latex agents are made up of ceramic beads which when added to water-based paint will create a bond that improves hardness and will be more resistant to bangs, dings, and scratches. When you’re choosing your paint, opt for an enamel trim paint which will often have a higher sheen and stronger durability. For brushes, you can use a roller for larger areas, a three-inch flat brush for medium panels, and a two and a half inch angled brush to get into the cracks and crevices around the molding. Be careful not to rush the painting process, not letting each coat dry properly can result in bubbles and smudges that will ruin the overall look of the job.

One of the best parts of giving your cabinets a facelift is picking out new fixtures. Depending on your design taste, new knobs and handles can give the kitchen an industrial, contemporary, farmhouse or colonial look for just a few dollars per piece.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.

Key Questions Before Investing in a Fixer-Upper

Chelsea O'Donnell

For a lot of young people, a first step onto the property ladder might mean purchasing an older home that needs a bit of work. Fixer-uppers can be a great way to enter the real estate market, especially if you’re handy around the house and know a thing or two about remodeling.

But if you’re new to the game, getting swayed into paying too much for a rundown home that needs more work than it’s worth can be a real risk. Here are some things to think about before sinking your life savings into a piece of property:

Mr. Inspector

No matter what, always make sure you have an inspector look at the property and report on his or her findings. Lots of homes look perfectly fine on the outside but have expensive or even toxic damage hidden within the property. An inspector will document any issues he or she finds, and at the very least you should be able to use that information to negotiate the price with the seller. If major parts of the house such as the foundation or structural walls need replacing, or if the house has lead paint, lead pipes, or asbestos, you might want to rethink your potential purchase entirely.

Your Budget +15%

Be really clear about how much you are willing to spend to renovate your purchase into the house of your dreams, and be sure to include the cost of materials, the labor and any permits and paperwork in your estimate. Know that very few projects run to budget, so tack on an extra 15% to give yourself some breathing room. Think about what projects have to be dealt with immediately and which ones can wait. Broken stairs might need immediate attention, but the pink sink and bathtub might just grow on you – at least for the first year.

A Piece of History

Make sure you are aware of the historic status of an old home. Many people purchase houses in an area or zone that doesn’t allow the aesthetic to be changed, which could put a real damper on your dream plans. Also, know that historic restoration is much more expensive than a normal remodel, and it often requires specialists to get the job done right. Be aware of this before you buy.

Keep it Vanilla

A lot of young people buy fixer uppers with plans to remodel in a way that suits them personally. This is fine, but consider what types of projects will enhance the resale value of your home and attract a wide variety of buyers. Additionally, make sure that your remodeling plans keep your house in line with the other homes in the area. Real estate experts suggest keeping your home within 10-15% of the median sale price of other homes in your area. The last thing you want to do is spend a fortune to revamp a house and then not be able to sell it when the time is right.  

Your Crew

Once you decide on your fixer-upper, make sure you hire experts to handle each individual job. Many people are tempted to get one handyman to install the flooring, replace the electrical, and fix the plumbing as a way to save money. This usually comes back to bite the homeowner as no general contractor can be an expert at everything. Find a pro that you love and ask him or her for recommendations. Every contractor has other tradespeople that they feel comfortable introducing to their clients because they do great work. Remember, it’s their reputation on the line too.

 Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or request a call. Advice is for guidance only.