When it comes to upgrading the kitchen, there seems to be no shortage of things on our wish list. And between mentally updating the refrigerator, the countertops or flooring, our imaginary budget is already blown. Rest assured that even a modest budget of $500 could be used to instantly improve the look of your kitchen.
1. Cabinetry hardware
Believe it or not, your door hardware and drawer pulls can easily look outdated. Fortunately it’s super easy to update or replace the hardware on your cabinetry and drawers. If you love the look of your hardware but would like a different color, there are plenty of spray paint choices, like this Rustoleum Antique Pewter. To spray paint the pulls, remove them place the threaded end into a piece of Styrofoam to hold them upright.
Always spray paint outside and apply thin, even coats until you have the desired color. Estimated cost: about $10 for a can of spray paint.
If you really don’t like your existing hardware there are plenty of places to purchase inexpensive pulls or knobs. If you can, look for pulls that can easily fit into the existing holes of your cabinet doors. If your new hardware is vastly different in size and shape, be prepared to spend additional time creating new holes and possibly filling in the old ones. Keep in mind that some kitchens look great with an eclectic look – think about changing the pulls just on the kitchen island or just the top drawers. You can save extra money but just focusing on certain parts of the kitchen. Estimated cost: about $0.97 for the aged copper round cabinet knob at Lowe’s.
2. New backsplash
The kitchen backsplash is more or less at eye level and it’s one of the first things people notice when entering the kitchen. The backsplash serves an important function as a water barrier between the countertop and the drywall, so most kitchens have some sort of backsplash and it needs to be installed correctly. How to best update your existing backsplash depends upon what you have to begin with.
If you have a short backsplash (about 4” high), it’s possible to add decorative tile above it. You’ll want to find an affordable tile that coordinates with the existing countertop and cabinetry. The trick to having a beautiful backsplash is to plan ahead and have all supplies ready for each step of the process. Some home improvement centers even offer free instructional classes in tiling and it will pay off if you take the time to learn how to do it properly and not practice on your own materials. Outlets and switches will need to be tiled around so you will need to purchase an inexpensive tile cutter for about $20 (you might also be able to rent one from your local home improvement center). Estimated cost: $4.69 per square foot for this mixed mosaic tile from Lowe’s. Plus additional costs for mastic, grout and possible cutting tools.
If you already have a tile backsplash and are dying to rip it out and start over, put down your tools! There are products on the market that mimic the look of tile but are as simple to apply as a sticker.
This “stainless steel” mosaic peel-and-stick wall tile costs $9.98 per square foot and can quickly be applied over drywall or existing backsplash.
Banish dark corners and recessed areas of the kitchen by adding more light. Dark corners can make the kitchen look smaller, so think about how you can add small touches of light throughout the space. It’s easy to add lighting under the cabinets and many of them are designed to screw into the cabinet and simply plug in. Some countertops have room for a small table lamp, which is great on dark nights or early mornings and creates a homey feel to the kitchen.
Sconces can also be added to walls; look for a sconce that plugs in to avoid having to run wire into the walls. A new pendant or lights over the island can instantly update the kitchen as well as add safety when chopping or cooking. Estimated cost: $15.98 for this 18” LED under cabinet light at Lowe’s .
Changing out your lights is fairly straightforward however, if you aren’t confident in minor rewiring, or if you think that your existing lighting has issues, invest part of your budget in hiring a professional electrician. Read this article about how to hire the best electrician.
Every kitchen could use additional counter space. Adding a kitchen island may or may not work for your space. You’ll want to ensure you have at least 36” between the island and your other work surfaces and appliances. If you do have room for an island, look for a freestanding model that offers a sturdy work surface and storage. An island on wheels makes it easy to move however, wheels aren’t as sturdy as regular legs.
The standard height for countertops and islands is 36” off the ground; if you specifically need an island for baking, look for an island that’s a few inches lower. There are plenty of online stores that sell freestanding kitchen islands in all different colors and materials. If you really want a sturdy piece, check out a restaurant supply store. Estimated cost: $279.99 for a stainless steel commercial work table, 30” x 72” with undershelf at Webstaurant Store.
5. Paint walls
Painting the walls of your kitchen is a fairly quick project that can instantly add color and style to the room. Paint and supplies are fairly inexpensive and this is usually a project that can be completed within a weekend. You’ll want to spend a good amount of time taping off the walls and covering the cabinetry and appliances with a drop cloth. You should also take the time to look at samples (or paint samples on your walls) and see how the colors look in the room.
If you have no idea where to begin, try a virtual painting tool like this one on Valspar. It’s a great way to narrow down choices before heading to the paint store. Estimated cost: $34.98 for one gallon of Valspar semi-gloss paint and primer at Lowe’s plus supplies.
6. Add beadboard
Beadboard (sometimes called bead wainscoting) is a traditional tongue-and-groove paneling that lines interior walls. This paneling usually starts at the ground and runs up the wall to about 48” or higher but it can also be used as a backsplash. It is purely decorative, but can add a craftsman look to the kitchen that can’t be achieved by paint alone. You can purchase sheets of beadboard in either wood (which can be painted or stained) or pre-painted PVC and it’s usually offered in different sizes that can be cut to size.
You’ll want to carefully measure how much you need for your kitchen and account for any cutouts for electrical outlets. This project may require a bit more skill and handiwork but isn’t terribly complicated. Estimated cost: $9.97 for a sheet of 4-foot high primed beadboard at Lowe’s.
7. Inexpensive decorative objects
Every kitchen deserves personality and style and this is where accessories come into play. Some homeowners like to switch out their accessories seasonally, and this works especially well in neutral-toned spaces. Towels, rugs and linens are easy to find at discount, so are jars, platters or statuettes. If you want to save money, think about finding glass pieces that can easily be filled with color.
Filling containers or bowls with seasonal fruit, dried goods or natural objects like acorns or branches, can instantly liven up a space. Remember to not overcrowd your countertops as you need this space to remain functional. And don’t forget to accessorize up the walls with framed photos or decorative objects. Estimated cost: $11.95 for this 96 oz glass jar with lid from Crate & Barrel.
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