Kitchen remodels are the most expensive project you can possibly do in your home. Because of this, a lot of people just live with the kitchen they have and avoid the upgrades altogether. But you don’t have to be stuck with a kitchen you don’t like, and you don’t have to wait until you have $50,000 for a full remodel either.
These affordable upgrades range from free to a couple hundred dollars but make a huge impact on your space. Even one simple change can shift the entire look of your kitchen, so by working in small batches you’ll have it looking new in no time.
1. A Simple Paint Upgrade
You’d be surprised how much a room can be transformed with just a gallon of paint. If your kitchen seems dark and dreary, grab a bucket of crisp white, soft gray, or even a sunny pastel to instantly lighten it up. You can take it a step further by painting cabinets also.
In my own kitchen, I stuck with a soft off-white for the walls, crisp white for the cabinets, and accents of dark navy blue to keep it balanced. Although my own kitchen doesn’t get a ton of sunlight, the shades of white keep it looking bright, even when it’s not.
2. Update Your Hardware
This is another incredibly easy way to change the entire look of your kitchen. By switching out the old cabinet hardware for fresh new ones, your cabinets instantly look brand new. Hardware can get pretty expensive if you buy it from big box stores, so start your search on Amazon or Ebay first.
I bought some modern stainless steel long bar pulls from Amazon for less than a fourth of what others charge. To see how easy it is to change them out, check out this post I wrote with my super simple hardware installation tips.
3. Add A Fresh New Backsplash
Nothing changes the look of a kitchen like a backsplash. And although a lot of options are very expensive to install, there are some incredibly affordable varieties that look just as great as the pricey stuff. Plain subway tile is easy to install yourself with the help of a Youtube video, and usually costs only twenty cents or so a tile. Then wait for grout to go on sale at your local home improvement store and borrow a tile cutter from a friend.
If you’re not into cutting tile, you can implement an ultra modern vibe with a sheet of painted glass, like this one from Amy Howard Home. They ordered custom cut glass sheets, which are very affordable, from Ace Hardware, painted a pretty pattern, and adhered it with construction adhesive.
If you lack every bit of DIY home improvement skills, peel and stick tiles are the way to go. They are so easy to install, they go up in no time, and they don’t have cure time either, so your kitchen won’t be out of commission at all. Plus, they are easy to remove, so if you plan to get expensive tile later but want a temporary aesthetic boost, this is your best option. I have this brand in my kitchen and I absolutely love them.
4. Install A New Faucet
More than likely, you probably have a plain Jane builder-grade faucet. And while this is fine, it makes the entire sink area look plain Jane, too. With sites like Amazon, Overstock, and even Walmart, upgrading your kitchen faucet doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lots of great options for under $100 that have all the same features as the big brands do, and they look identical also.
Let’s be real here, nobody is inspecting your faucet to see what brand it is. I doubt you even know offhand, do you? Ignore the brand names and buy one in the style you love. But be sure to read the reviews first. You’ll want at least 4 stars and 80% of reviews to be positive before you put in the work of changing it out.
5. Try Out Open Shelving
This is as cheap as cheap can get when it comes to upgrading your kitchen. So cheap it’s free. By removing some of your cabinet doors, this gives you open shelving to display your prettiest dishes, as well as making things quicker, easier, and more efficient during prep time.
Strapped for storage and don’t want the clutter to show? Try only taking off a few doors and leaving others intact.
And utilize baskets to corral things you’d like to hide. I did this in my own personal kitchen for three out of twelve cabinets and I’m loving the look. Dust really isn’t that big of an issue either because I filled the open shelves only with things I use frequently so they’re constantly being moved around.
6. Pick Up Modular Storage Solutions
The thing most of my clients complain about most when it comes to why they want to remodel their kitchen is the lack of storage. But there are so many ways to improve your storage problem without shelling out 50 g’s to reconfigure it all. Things like rolling islands, free-standing cabinetry, bar carts, and low-cost shelving do everything your kitchen cabinets do, except put you in debt.
In my kitchen, I don’t have a built-in pantry, so I made one using Ikea shelves (see it here), and I needed extra counter space so I got a rolling island. I also needed a space to store cat food and treats, plus my cookbooks, so I added a $25 cube system that holds it all.
When it comes to storage, don’t automatically think you need more cabinets. By organizing and decluttering the ones you have, then adding modular pieces, you’ll realize you have a lot more storage than you initially thought you did.
7. Add Some Large Rugs
Have ugly floors that you can’t afford to replace at the moment? Cover them up with easy to wash throw rugs. Switch out your small mats with larger ones or long floor runners. They add color, texture, and a much-needed cushion for your feet.
In my own kitchen, I’ve got old ugly faded linoleum [that I hate] so I plopped a couple of large low-pile rugs from Homegoods (they were only $19 and $12) on top of thick Gorilla Grip rug pads to add some softness and keep them from moving around. They demand all the attention and no one even notices the old floor anymore.
BONUS! Get New Lighting
I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but one of the biggest and easiest changes to make to any room is updated lighting. It’s what designers always change in every space, it’s what home stagers suggest for every house on the market, and it’s also what most homeowners seem to forget about.
In most cases, you don’t even need an electrician to change them out either. The process is super simple and can be completed by two people, even novices, in less than an hour. Changing out lighting, and outlet switch plates (which is beyond cheap), needs to be on your to-do list for every room in the house.
By implementing even just one of these strategies, you’ll shift the whole look of your kitchen.
Share Your Tips!
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite budget-friendly kitchen updates? I’d love to hear your comments below!
Also, for more on my recently updated kitchen, check out the full tour here. Make sure you’re subscribed to my email list so you don’t miss more room tours and makeovers! You can sign up here for blog post updates.