Full-scale kitchen remodels can take months of labor and tens of thousands of dollars or more. But giving your kitchen a little refresh doesn’t have to take all that work and all of your money. While you save up for the big kitchen gut job, you can make several subtle, inexpensive changes that will help bring your kitchen into the current decade. Here’s how.
Update the lighting in your kitchen
Outdated kitchen lighting can make even the most modern kitchen look drab. Unfortunately, rewiring is probably not an option on a budget—but you can change the style of the lighting easily and affordably. Try installing a hanging pendant light with a decorative shade. Plug-in, hanging pendant lights serve as an affordable way to brighten your space without calling the electrician.
You can also switch out the current light cover to something more modern. If you have fluorescent lighting and can’t afford the $300 price tag that comes with removing it, there are affordable upgrade options. You can replace the fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs, for example, to save on energy and update your kitchen’s look.
Reface the cabinets
Giving your cabinets a facelift sounds like a big job—but it can be as easy as a fresh coat of painting or new hardware. In fact, if the cabinet doors themselves are in decent shape, those two things combined can give the illusion that you’ve splurged on all new cabinets.
To make a real statement, choose a bold, modern color like navy blue or matcha. For the handles and knobs, brass and gold are popular choices right now, and they’re a cost-effective way to make your kitchen look updated. If you want to can keep the old hardware (and spend even less money), get yourself a good can of spray paint to turn that silver into gold.
Add a feature wall and backsplash
If you did only one thing in your kitchen, let it be this: Create a feature wall that distracts everyone from your tired cabinets and mismatched appliances. Here are a few ways to do that.
Consider a peel-and-stick backsplash
Backsplashes are often used to create a bold focal point in the kitchen—but hiring professionals to install real tile can be pricey. Instead, consider the peel-and-stick variety.
You might be inclined to dismiss the peel-and-stick option as looking too cheap, but these tiles have actually come a long way. This one, for example, looks like real subway tile and costs about $10 per square foot. Some are even made of real stainless steel or aluminum, which will run a little higher at approximately $16 per square foot, but goes a long way toward modernizing an outdated space.
If you have an old tile backsplash, you can also paint over it instead of ripping it out and replacing.
Paint an accent wall
Painting your kitchen is one of the easiest ways to bring new life to your cook space. Make sure you are using semi-gloss paint to stand up to the heat, splashes, and spills that are bound to happen in the space. And, sure, you can give the whole kitchen a fresh coat—or you can choose just one wall to accent with a bold color, or by creating a pattern using painter’s tape.
Use wallpaper as a backsplash and accent feature
Replace that old faucet
If you’ve made a bunch of these small updates, and you’ve still got a little wiggle room in the budget, you would probably do well to replace that old faucet. Start by determining what kind of faucet fits your current sink (unless you want to replace the sink entirely, but now the job is getting pricey). Faucets can cost upwards of $300, but there are some nice middle-of-the-road options that will only put you back about $100-$150.