20 Low-Cost Kitchen Updates

Stretch your kitchen budget and put these creative, money-saving ideas to work for updates such as revamped cabinets, a fresh backsplash, and more!

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20 Low-Cost Kitchen Updates
Refreshing Change

    The quickest way to rev up your kitchen?s style quotient is to roll on a fresh coat of paint. With so many yummy color choices available in wipe-clean paint, there's no reason to live with drab walls or cabinets. An unexpected color burst of pale green cabinetry cozies up this room, tempered by a white floor and exposed brick walls.

Window Dressing

    Create modern appeal in your kitchen with subtle updates. A shallow wood shelf runs the length of the windows and holds a collection of colored glass and flowers for instant added charm. Get a more tailored look by placing hand-carved corbels at each side for support.

High Interest

    A kitchen with windows offers an opportunity to incorporate storage in the window treatments. Install a shelf directly over window trim and paint it the same color for a seamless look. In this white, green, and blue kitchen, fixed shelving doubles as both storage and an additional window-framing element.

Great Cover-Up

    No matter how dismal outdated cabinets may look, there's nothing a little paint won't cure. These formerly blah-inducing cabinets have a new finish -- cream-color paint with sanded edges gives an old-world appearance. Granite tiles, less expensive and easier to handle than thick slabs, create an attractive natural-stone countertop.

Timeless Stone

    Capturing the feeling of a natural-stone hearth is as easy as a trip to the tile store or home center. Slate tiles come in a variety of sizes, including 2-inch squares that don't require much sawing. A do-it-yourselfer can install a tile backsplash over a weekend, especially if the design is simple.

Serving Dishes

    A dedicated dish collector often can't find enough display space -- unless it's overhead. A row of open shelves atop concealed cabinetry is perfect for displaying occasionally-used items, such as large baskets and bowls.

Shades of Green

    Color steals the show in this fresh kitchen, where painted cabinets and walls and contemporary glass pendent lights shine. The island, once a plain base cabinet, has a new surface -- beaded-board paneling embellished with decorative trim and a butcher-block top.

New Found Storage

    Put a sliver of wall to work with a stack of shallow shelves to showcase a favorite collection. These natural-finish shelves feature brushed metal brackets to complement stainless-steel appliances. Or try contemporary "floating" shelves with invisible brackets, available at home centers. If your style is more traditional, choose shelves with wooden supports, finished to match or accent the cabinets.

Changing Identity

    Want a kitchen island on a budget? Any table or chest can be enlisted as an extra work surface, provided it can be adjusted to the right height. This vintage cabinet, stained and outfitted with wheels and a larger countertop, now serves as both a focal point and a delightful dining area.

Lovely Solution

    If windows look out onto a less-than-desirable view, cover the window with colorful stained glass for added privacy. Buy or make a custom-fit stained glass window to fill the opening. If you're on a tight budget, simply lean framed colored glass against the window. Here, sunlight comes through the translucent window trimmed with yellow stained glass, casting a golden glow.

Architectural Elements

    Sleek is the word for this tiny kitchen with a minimum of clutter and a maximum of style. Circa 1950s metal base cabinets have been refurbished for contemporary use. Instead of upper cabinets, the kitchen utilizes a "floating" box, built from medium-density fiberboard covered with plastic laminate. The shallow plate-ledge, built from the same materials, becomes a gallery for art.

Cooking Hang-Up

    Professional chefs hang their favorite cooking utensils within easy reach, but stainless-steel systems are often expensive. Make a copycat rack with a short metal curtain rod, using steel S-hooks to hold spoons and ladles.

An Arm's Reach Away

    There's more than meets the eye in this metal pot rack: Everything hangs above eye level. Make it from a sturdy curtain rod or strengthen a hollow rod by inserting a wooden dowel into it. Install the rod above a window and use it to store pots or hang sun-loving plants.

Supporting Roles

    Decorative brackets dress up open shelving while molding edges keep items from falling. Home centers and online sources sell a variety of similar brackets. Or try brackets made from cast iron, painted to match or accent the shelves.

Basket Storage

    Give variety to basic base cabinets by removing a door and adding roomy baskets. Buy hardware to accommodate slide-out baskets and contents become easy to access. Use the baskets to store shelf-stable vegetables, such as potatoes, or kitchen linens.

Hard to Choose

    To add some detailed variety, display an assortment of drawer pulls in the kitchen just for fun. Combine antique glass knobs, pewter pulls with fun motifs, or even hand-painted wooden pulls in different colors. The more variety, the merrier!

Soothing Combination

    A beaded-board panel goes a long way when cut into narrow strips to cover a backsplash. Go a step further and insert a tile border for decoration, or set in a horizontal strip of stained wood to match kitchen cabinets. Or cut beaded board to fit the interior panel of cabinets for an updated look.

Let There Be Light

    Cutting through a wall to add an interior window does more than create a view and a focal point above the sink. An exterior window in the adjoining utility room now shares sunlight with the previously windowless kitchen.

Deep-Blue Water

    Small blue tiles add waterproof color to the often-damp area behind the sink, where wallpaper or paint might become a problem. Tiling a backsplash is an easy DIY job, particularly with tiny tiles that eliminate the need for a tile saw. The tiles come pre-attached to sheets of mesh to ensure proper spacing.

Style Underfoot

    Save the expense of buying new floors by painting what you have. Add a couple of coats of polyurethane when paint is dry to help preserve the finish. And keep in mind that scratches can add to the character, particularly if you're aiming for a country look.

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