Switch out a light fixture. Whether it's a pretty pendant over your sink or a chandelier over your table or island, you can get a whole new look on the cheap with light fixtures. Paint. This is the quickest and cheapest way to update a room. Go with a popular neutral such as gray, or rev up the walls with an eye-catching accent color. Hot colors now include all shades of green and all shades of red (including pinks and oranges) to purple. Remember the ceiling -- which is the fifth wall -- doesn't have to be white. Paint it the same hue as the walls, or a couple of shades lighter than the walls.
Add wallpaper or fabric. Bring instant character to a room and totally transform it with wallpaper. To lend softness to a room, add fabric. A new rug, easy window treatment, and even a pretty little tea towel, can bring a dash of style to your kitchen.
Display a collection. This can be as simple as hanging a collection of plates, a grouping of favorite black and white prints, colorful teapots, or cookbooks. The options are almost limitless. Hang art. But make sure it is large enough to be a focal point in the room, or, group a number of smaller items into one display. Experiment with placement by taping paper templates on the wall. Go for pops of color. Accessories such as canisters, serving bowls, and vases can break up monochromatic kitchens.
Consider recycling an item. Reusing an old table, old chairs, or an antique hutch imparts instant personality to a room. Mix it up. Pair an antique light fixture with modern chairs. Try teaming old barstools with more contemporary cabinets. Incorporate whimsy. Use oversize letters from a crafts store to spell simple phrases such as, EAT or YUM on a wall. Or use a wall decal, a framed inspirational message, or an eclectic vase to add a touch of whimsy.
Add aluminum bins by a desk area. Place a wine rack next to the fridge, add trays or a row of apothecary jars above your refrigerator, or stack chopping boards upright on the backsplash to give you easy access to everything you need in the kitchen. Add shelves for a pretty display. This might be a simple floating shelf or a piece of furniture with open shelving. Add your favorite cookbooks, some fresh flowers, and other accents to create a personal look. Add a cart or island. If space is an issue, go for a small cart. Consider out-of-the-box solutions for an island, such as an old chest or tea cart. This piece creates space for you to add bowls, trays, and pitchers that lend character to your kitchen and are practical for day-to-day cooking.