Need to upgrade kitchens in your apartment complex but don't want to fork over thousands of dollars for brand-new cabinets? You're in luck. Simple, decorative elements offer an easy way to spruce up a plain-Jane cabinet without breaking the bank.

The most popular decorative flourish: hardware. Cabinet and hardware manufacturers offer a wide array of knobs and pulls, from traditional to ultra-contemporary. Hardware can be matched with light fixtures, wall colors, and other room components to create a sleek, classy look. A popular combination is matching brushed nickel hardware pieces with the ever-popular stainless steel and black kitchen appliances.

Jazz up any cabinet with the Sonata collection of hardware. These stylish knobs and pulls feature smooth, flowing lines. Finishes include brushed nickel, rustic brushed brass, rustic iron, rustic nickel, rustic black nickel, and rustic copper. For a textured look, try the company's Overture collection, which comes in brushed nickel, rustic iron, rustic nickel, rustic copper, and rustic black nickel.
Berenson Corp. Jazz up any cabinet with the Sonata collection of hardware. These stylish knobs and pulls feature smooth, flowing lines. Finishes include brushed nickel, rustic brushed brass, rustic iron, rustic nickel, rustic black nickel, and rustic copper. For a textured look, try the company's Overture collection, which comes in brushed nickel, rustic iron, rustic nickel, rustic copper, and rustic black nickel.

"Decorative hardware has a huge impact on the look of a kitchen," says Connie Edwards, director of design at Timberlake Cabinet Co., a Winchester, Va.-based cabinet manufacturer. "It can take a simple door style and make it look arts-and-craftsy or contemporary." Timberlake Cabinet Co.'s extensive hardware collection offers everything from an American or French Country look to an Old World or eclectic feel.

Hardware costs vary greatly, depending on the intricacy and material of the knob or pull. "It can go anywhere from less than a dollar for a very simple knob to 3-foot stainless steel pulls that are $30," says Terry Babij, vice president of sales and marketing for Berenson Corp., a Buffalo, N.Y.-based hardware manufacturer.

Another way to bring new life to an older cabinet is to add furniture-like legs, which offer the look of a custom-built kitchen, says Edwards. She also suggests adding a select number of glass door inserts to create flair and give the look of fine furniture.

For those multifamily firms in the market to buy new cabinets, the latest craze calls for a contemporary design with clean, simple lines in dark, rich finishes like glazed maple and cherry, says Edwards. This look is driven by trends in the furniture industry. And since condos and townhomes are often designed to be open to the family room, residents want the kitchen to match and look as good as the rest of the house, she adds.

While dark colors are hot in many higher-end and custom projects, lighter cabinet colors still reign supreme in the average Class B apartment property. "We are trending more towards a very clean, white look if we have a limited budget," says Paul Daneshrad, CEO of StarPoint Properties, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based real estate firm. "We feel that tenants like the cleaner, lighter look." Plus, lighter-colored cabinets are a lot easier to clean and maintain.

For more information, contact Berenson Corp. at 716-833-3100 or visit www.berensonhardware.com.

WINTER WONDERS: Wellborn Cabinet has introduced a handful of new glaze finishes, including two new maple finishes. Nutmeg completes the company's collection of chocolate glazes on maple, while cranberry is a warm, reddish brown maple finish. These finishes meet demands for richer, darker woods and are available for in the company's Premier and WoodCraft series. For more information, contact Wellborn Cabinet at 800-336-8040 or visit www.wellborn.com.

A NEW TRADITION: Go contemporary with the Rainier cabinetry line, which has a fresh look of modern, geometric shapes with the warmth of solid wood. The cabinets feature modified full-overlay 3/4-inch slab doors. Cherry cabinets can be finished in natural, spice, or burgundy; maple cabinets come in natural, sorrel, toffee, caramel, or frost. For more information, contact HomeCrest at 574-535-9300 or visit www.homecrestcab.com.

DOWNTOWN DOORS: The Metro door style is perfect for a hip loft project. Designed to appeal to young urban professionals, the door features a flat, recessed panel and applied molding. Vintage, Shaker, Craftsman, and contemporary undertones offer a wide product application. The Metro door is available in maple, cherry, oak, and rustic alder and the company's new ginger and butternut finishes. For more information, contact Omega Cabinetry at 319-235-5700 or visit www.omegacabinetry.com.

CHERRY TOPPER: Warm up any kitchen with three new cherry cabinet lines: Merrimac, Cimarron, and Cimarron Arch. Merrimac is a flat panel, 1/2-inch overlay, standard reveal shaker door with a 21/4-inch doorframe and solid slab drawer head. Cimarron and Cimarron Arch also offer a 1/2-inch overlay standard reveal door, but with a raised panel and an updated double waterfall inner and outer frame profile. All three lines are available in mocha, cinnamon, and cordovan and come standard with six-way adjustable hinges and a five-year warranty. For more information, contact Armstrong World Industries at 800-233-3823 or visit www.armstrong.com.

QUALITY CHOICES: Stay on budget with two new door styles that fall under the company's affordable Woodstar Series. Seacrest offers a flat panel design with simple lines for a clean, understated look, while Harborview offers a more traditional look with raised panels for rich elegance. Both door styles are available in oak and birch. The company also offers Hancock, a more expensive door with a contemporary, recessed panel design available in maple in six finishes. For more information, contact Quality Cabinets at 972-298-6101 or visit www.qualitycabinets.com.

Hot Product of the Month

FAN FARE: How's this for multitasking? Broan's new lamp fixture not only sheds light, it also offers an inconspicuous ventilation fan. Perfect for a bathroom, these fan/lights exhaust 70 or 80 cubic feet of air per minute via vent openings in the fixture base and feature a sound level of 3.5 or 2.5 sones, respectively. The product comes in five finishes: oil-rubbed bronze, pewter, satin nickel, and white and nutmeg hand-painted cast.

For more information, contact Broan-NuTone at 800-558-1711 or visit www.broan.com.

Q: What high-tech products and services do you offer to your residents?

A: At Waterview Tower, an 89-story luxury high-rise to be constructed in Chicago, we are offering our condominium buyers an array of smart home features. The most notable highlight is a state-of-the-art AMX universal control system, which is standard in all of our penthouse homes and three-bedroom-plus-study floor plans. By using either a wall-mounted or remote touch screen, residents will be able to control many aspects of the home. For example, they can dim the lights, preheat the oven, or access movies from a multimedia content server. The system is also accessible via cell phone or the Internet, so residents can check up on their home while they're away. They can adjust the thermostat [and] monitor the security system.

Additionally, residents can schedule services through the condominium association Web site. For instance, they will be able to call the valet to retrieve their automobile, arrange for dry cleaning and laundry, request maintenance work, make beauty salon appointments, and schedule health club services.

–Ivan Dvorak is the general manager of Waterview, the Chicago-based builder of the 89-story Waterview Tower in Chicago. To participate in future Q&As, contact Rachel Z. Azoff at razoff@hanleywood.com.