You don’t need to gut the entire space (or your wallet) to get a whole new look.
The average kitchen remodel costs a staggering $18,856 — and high-end ones average $54,909. No bones about it: That’s a whole lotta cash.
But you don’t need to shell out big bucks to make a big impact in an outdated kitchen. Whether you’ve lived in your house for years or you just got the keys, here are some easy ways to give it a refresh:
1. Get new handles and pulls.
“Changing out cabinetry hardware is one of the easiest and quickest updates,” says HGTV’s Scott McGillivray, author of How to Add Value to Your Home. Look for colorful options or Scott’s favorite, a brushed nickel finish. But resist the temptation to get something too personal or cutesy. “I’ve seen people use hardware that looks like forks and spoons or mini chickens. Those options are fun, but they get old fast,” Scott warns.
2. Consider painting your cabinets.
Kristy Kropat, an interior designer based in San Francisco, recently moved into a new home, but she didn’t love the kitchen. A complete overhaul wasn’t in the cards (new cabinets are pricey!), so instead, she gave the cabinetry a fresh coat of paint.
The countertop was black, so she picked a light gray for the uppers and lime green for the lower cabinets to brighten things up. “Citrus-like colors — orange, yellow and green — look great in a kitchen,” she says.
3. Swap out (or even remove) cabinet doors.
“Replacing existing doors with glass-paneled ones looks like a major upgrade,” Scott says. Opt for frosted glass, if you feel like your shelves aren’t display-worthy.
Or, ditch the doors altogether to create the effect of open shelving. “I’ve done this in kitchens to create a lighter space,” Scott says. Display your favorite dishes and bowls to add a bit of interest to the room.
4. Paint an accent wall.
Not game to spend hours painting cabinets? Quickly do a single wall instead. “Go darker than you usually would,” says Scott. “If I’m painting a room light gray, I’d add an accent wall that’s two shades deeper.”
5. Hang a pendant light.
If you’re irked by your kitchen’s decades-old light fixture, replace it with a colorful pedant. Since lighting is so important in any room, this one change can totally transform the entire space. “Find inexpensive lights at all modern.com,ylighting.com, and ,” says Kristy.
6. Think of small appliances as decorative accessories.
An orange fridge might be too bold (and too expensive) for most homeowners. But go nuts with everything else — like a cobalt toaster, or a cherry red mixer. “These things are like jewelry for your kitchen,” Scott says. “You can always move them around or put them away.”
7. Hang window treatments.
New drapes can really spruce up a space, but think twice about the type of treatment you hang on the window above your sink. “You don’t want something with too much fabric that could get ruined from splashing,” says Scott. He suggests an option that fits within the window — like a roman shade that you can easily pull up while you’re washing dishes.
8. Place a rug in front of the sink.
It does double-duty by making your workstation more comfortable on your feet, and adding a splash of color. (Triple duty, if you count covering any ugly flooring!). Kristy suggests an indoor/outdoor option from Chilewich. “They look cute and they’re durable; if you spill on them, you can just hose them off outside.”
9. Add a backsplash.
“The beauty of it is that it’s very limited in square footage,” Scott says. “The average backsplash is between 10 and 40 square feet.” His point: It’s an easy-to-tackle area that won’t break the bank. “Even if you’re spending $5 a square foot, you’re talking about a couple hundred bucks in tiles.”
Don’t have the skills to install tile or cash for a contractor? Try paint instead. Just make sure you pick up a semi-gloss, Kristy adds. The glossier the paint, the more it will resist moisture — and you can simply wipe it clean when dinner is over.
10. Replace the countertop.
This job is less expensive than you think — and it can make ho-hum cabinets look more special. According to Scott, you can get a new laminate surface for a few hundred dollars. Turned off by anything but stone? You might be surprised by the nicer laminate options (like this marble lookalike) that have surfaced since you last shopped for counters.