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How To Upgrade Your Kitchen Without Spending A Fortune

By Katie Carlson on Sep 2, 2016
How To Upgrade Your Kitchen Without Spending A Fortune

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We all want a beautiful kitchen. It’s where you cook, eat and gather to mingle. There’s no denying that a full kitchen remodel is one project you need to diligently plan, prepare and save up for before you commit.

Don’t let assumptions that you can’t afford it stop you from building the kitchen of your dreams in your current space. There are plenty of tips, tricks and updates that’ll have you smiling ear to ear when you see the final outcome. Prepare yourself for sensible ideas that’ll make it possible for you to upgrade your kitchen without spending a fortune.

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Mix & Match

Mix & Match

Kitchen upgrades don’t always have to involve high-end features that all look the same. Mixing and matching materials, colors, designs and patterns will give your kitchen a brand new look without the extra money and fuss it takes to find identical styles. That’s all you have to do; think outside the box. Leather chairs mixed with fabrics, wood mixed with tile, stainless steel and different shades of paint will give your kitchen a facelift with character.

Display & Decorate

Strategically Display & Decorate

There’s so much you can do to spruce up your kitchen when you put in the effort to decorate it nicely. A few ideas that are simple and budget-friendly include adding a colorful area rug, dressing up your walls with eye-catching images and adding greenery and fresh flowers. Open shelving displays and storage around your kitchen island allow you to show off your favorite pieces and help control clutter.

Crown Molding

Add Crown Molding

I love the idea of incorporating crown molding in your kitchen, either along the ceiling or top of your cabinets. It’s a beautiful decorative element that really boosts the overall appearance of the kitchen. It’s even a project you can DIY to add visual interest and value to your home.

Crown moldings do not always have to be white either. There are a wide variety of crown molding styles to choose from. You should feel free to mix and match depending on what looks best in each room of your home.

Paint Cabinets

Update Your Cabinets & Paint

Not replacing, but updating, refacing or refinishing your kitchen cabinets are all projects that’ll make your kitchen look better without breaking the bank. As you know, your cabinets take up a lot of real estate in your kitchen and set the tone for the rest of the room. If you’re feeling frustrated with how your kitchen looks now, then I’d suggest starting project upgrades with your cabinets. A fresh coat of paint, both on the cabinets and the surrounding walls will do the trick.

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At the minimum, replace your cabinet hardware with something stylish, keeping in mind both shape and finish. Add a pop of color to your cabinets with paint or insert drawer and shelf liners. If you do decide you want to install new cabinets but don’t want to spend a fortune, experts suggest you stay away from name brands. They’re right, while someone may ask you what brand you’re wearing, it’d be a stretch that someone would ask you (or care about) the brand name of your cabinets.

Lighting Design

Enhance Lighting

The two places in your home you want to make sure you have adequate lighting is in your kitchen and bathroom. Illuminate the space by layering your lighting and mixing in different styles and options for setting the mood. If you’re someone who’s big into cooking or entertaining, then this is one area you’ll want to spend a little more time researching and getting right. See the latest lighting trends for your kitchen and bath to learn more about what’s out there and get new ideas for your space.

Replace Sink

Replace Your Sink, Faucet & Appliances

Start by taking a good look at the condition and lifespan of your sink and faucet. These are items that are constantly being used, so replacing them will instantly enhance the appearance of your kitchen.

The most expensive appliances aren’t always the best choice. Experts say that midgrade name brand appliances are sturdy, functional and affordable units that get the job done just fine. Appraisers and buyers rarely value top-of-the line appliances at anything close to their purchase price.

Kitchen Island

Purchase A Kitchen Island

Installing a kitchen island or cart on wheels will add functionality and aesthetic appeal to the room. An island is also useful for extra storage, adding a library of cookbooks or displaying some of your favorite items. The project becomes even cheaper if you build a kitchen island yourself. Get creative with the cabinets and paint color, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying an updated kitchen without blowing your budget.

Affordable Countertops

Be Smart About Countertops

Selecting and purchasing new countertops is a big project, but there are ways to simplify the process. If you want new counters, but are worried about how much they cost, then consider materials that look nice but don’t come with a high price tag. Installing ceramic tile is a great choice for a budget-friendly kitchen countertop.

It comes in any color or style you can think of and costs a tenth as much as stone. Laminate is also a cost-effective option, is easy to install and costs about the same as tile. Also, you’re more likely to get a better price using small local suppliers instead of large brands and chains.

New Furniture

Upgrade Old Furniture

Take a good look around your kitchen and decide if there are old or outdated furniture pieces bringing down the look of the room. It’s possible you’ve let them sit there because you know you don’t have the money to spend on brand new items. Well, you’ll be glad to know there are ways to solve the problem without spending a ton of money.

First determine if a fresh coat of paint will do the trick or if you can build the furniture yourself. If not, then get to your local consignment stores or shop around online for furniture pieces that are stylish and within your budget. They’re out there, but you have to be willing to put in the time, effort and patience to do some thrifty shopping.

Color Scheme

Choose A Cheery Color Scheme

One strategy for sprucing up your kitchen is to get rid of dark and dreary items. Reinvent the space with bright and cheery pieces, paint and designs that make the room come alive. It’s possible there are a few pieces making the room feel dull and lifeless without you even knowing. If you don’t want to mess with the big ticket items, then brush up on your interior design skills and introduce cheerful décor and paint that makes you want to spend time in the space.  

Kitchen Theme

Pick An Overall Theme  

Themes aren’t just for parties, you know. Picking a theme for your kitchen is a great way to funnel your energy and décor in the right direction. A cohesive country, modern or rustic vibe is not only fun to put together, but will act as a general guideline for helping you update the look of your kitchen.

Tile Floors

Choose Your Floors Wisely

Below is advice from HGTV comparing floor options and pros and cons of each.

  • Ceramic tile resists wear, moisture, dents and stains and costs less than wood. Plastic laminate flooring is one of the most affordable options; it is cheaper, easier to install and wears better than solid wood.
  • Solid wood flooring can discolor, is easily dented and wears quickly. It's also pricey and can be harder to clean when something spills.
  • Vinyl flooring is affordable, stain-resistant, easy to install and long-wearing. You can even get vinyl that imitates the look of more expensive materials.

Determine DIY Projects & When to Hire A Pro

After you decide which of the ideas you’d like to move forward with in your own kitchen, determine the projects you can DIY and when to hire a pro to help. Even though DIY is usually cheaper, don’t attempt complex projects you think you can do just to save a buck. It’ll cost you more money in the long run and you'll experience complications if it's not done right the first time. It’s also important you collect multiple bids and not hire just any contractor, but the right one for the job.


Upgrading your kitchen doesn’t always mean you need to invest in a full kitchen remodel. Any or all of the ideas above are ways to get you started on the right foot. It’s a good idea to determine where you want to invest and where you’re able to incorporate upgrades that won’t cost you a fortune.

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