The kitchen is one of the most heavily trafficked and closely examined rooms of the house. It’s one of the first rooms your guests see when they walk in, it’s where you do your food preparation, and it’s probably where people linger when you’re throwing a party. Accordingly, it’s also a popular room to renovate.
The problem is, kitchen renovations can be expensive. Even a simple remodel can easily cost $4,000, with more expensive jobs totaling $55,000 or more. If you don’t have that size of a budget, you may feel like a nicer-looking, more inviting kitchen is beyond you—but that may not be the case.
Inexpensive Ways to Improve a Kitchen
These are just a few of the ways you can improve your kitchen’s image without spending a fortune:
- Upgrade the window treatments. For starters, you can upgrade your kitchen window treatments. Instead of letting your windows be framed by old, dusty curtains, why not replace them with faux wood blinds, or something that matches your flooring more closely? One room of window treatments shouldn’t cost much, but it can change both the lighting and the overall vibe of the room.
- Replace an appliance. Replacing an appliance isn’t cheap, but it’s still much less expensive than attempting a full-room makeover. For a few hundred to a thousand dollars, you can swap out one of your decades-old kitchen appliances for something shiny and modern. Not only will it look better and perform more reliably, but it will also be more energy efficient—possibly paying for itself in the long run.
- Invest in new handles and pulls. Ripping out your old cabinets and replacing them with new ones can be expensive—especially if those new ones are particularly nice. However, you can get a similar effect if you simply invest in new handles and pulls. These pieces are inexpensive and easy to install yourself, but they can make your drawers and cabinets look much more modern—and may even make them easier to use.
- Paint or refinish the cabinets. If you don’t like your current cabinetry but can’t afford a full-scale replacement, you also have the option of painting or refinishing your cabinets. Painting can be risky, but with the right color and a high-quality paint, they can really come alive and make your kitchen more inviting.
- Hang brighter, tasteful lighting. Even the best-designed kitchens can look terrible in bad lighting, and conversely, a kitchen that leaves something to be desired can still look great if you’ve installed the right lighting. Bright, modern lighting options can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars (plus the time it takes to install), but it’s much cheaper than a full-on renovation.
- Consider small appliances as décor. Your kitchen’s image partially depends on your smaller appliances, like your toaster, your automatic mixer, or your microwave. Putting a bit more money into these appliances, and making smart choices when it comes to color and finish can take your kitchen to the next level.
- Think carefully about your rugs and mats. Another small touch that can make or break your kitchen is your rugs and mats—which you likely need if your kitchen has a hardwood or tile floor. You can pick an entire set of new rugs and mats up for less than $100, even if you’re looking for top-of-the-line materials.
- Get creative with the backsplash. The backsplash often goes unnoticed, but it has the power to reshape perspectives on your entire kitchen. Consider upgrading it with a new color, or tiling that makes it stand out. You could even adorn it with a unique design that ties all the themes of your room together.
- Replace the countertop. Because you spend so much time preparing food on and sitting at the countertop, it’s one of the most important features of the kitchen. The cost to upgrade your counter is going to be somewhere between $40 and $100 per square foot, which can be pricey but is much cheaper than a full remodel.
- Paint accents. You can also use accent colors in your room to make your kitchen pop. Think about bright, complementary colors, and ones that align with the color of your cabinets and appliances. Combined with the right lighting, it can give your kitchen an entirely different vibe.
Keeping Up With Your Kitchen
You can also improve your kitchen’s overall image and feel by keeping up with it—regularly cleaning not just the main surfaces, but the cabinets and your appliances as well. Regular tasks like cleaning out the freezer or cleaning behind the microwave can improve little details, which can add to the overall appeal of the room.