Easy (and Cheap!) Ways to Update Your Kitchen

Let’s face it – there have been some unfortunate kitchen trends in the last 50 years that you may be well acquainted with in your own home. In fact, there may be so many things that you’d like to change that it feels overwhelming to try and narrow things down. If you need a little bit of help determining what to do to modernize your kitchen, below are a few ideas to help you get started.

Easy (and Cheap!) Ways to Update Your Kitchen

(Pixabay / kirkandmimi)

Look Up

The Ceiling

The ceiling is probably one of the most neglected places in your kitchen, but giving it a facelift can really jazz up the whole space. Updating your kitchen ceiling doesn’t have to be an intense or expensive upgrade, either. If you have a popcorn ceiling, for instance, start by removing it, patching any cracked places, and repainting everything a matte white. Popcorn ceiling is especially terrible in the kitchen because the steam, grease, and dust accumulate on all of that surface area, making everything look dingy and dirty—and it’s virtually impossible to clean. It can also hold on to bad smells like fryer oil and failed dinner experiments.

If your ceilings are in pretty good shape already, consider adding some crown molding around your upper cabinets and around the room to give the space a more elegant feel. You could also install textured wood or tin paneling to create a unique focal point.

The Lighting

Last, but not least, as you’re looking up in your kitchen, take a moment to upgrade your lighting. Switch recessed lighting to pendant lighting and vice versa. Pendant lighting can be incredibly unique and can really influence the mood of your kitchen, while recessed lighting can create dramatic effects without taking up a lot of space.

Look Down

The Floors

Once you’ve massaged out the crick in your neck from looking up, take a moment to look down. Are your floors made of cracked tile or faded linoleum? Updating your flooring can be a fast and relatively inexpensive way to improve your entire kitchen. Hardwood floors are always in style, but wood-like tile is a popular and durable alternative. Similarly, you can find a natural stone to fit almost any design motif.

Look Around

The Cabinets

Your kitchen cabinets take up more real estate than any other part of your kitchen, but they also can make your kitchen feel cramped and outdated. Thankfully, there are several approaches you can take to make your kitchen feel like a new space.

  1. Remove the uppers altogether. Removing the uppers is trending because it almost instantly lightens up the space and makes it feel bigger. It also gives you a good reason to invest in either an open plate rack (to show off those fancy dishes) or some stylish open shelving.
  2. Add crown molding. If you don’t want to remove the uppers, try installing some crown molding to create a more finished look between the ceiling and the cabinets.
  3. Refinish. Certain styles of wood cabinet look particularly outdated, but even some painted cabinets could use a little makeover. If you can’t afford all new cabinets, grease up that elbow and refinish your existing cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or a new stain.
  4. Brighten your kitchen with under-cabinet lights. Under-cabinet lights come in all different styles, colors, brightness, and DIY-ability. From simple touch lights that adhere with an adhesive pad, to string lights that need to be wired into your existing switches, under-cabinet lights are a pretty inexpensive way to add more light to your kitchen.
  5. Remove some cabinet door face panels. Most kitchens need a few cabinets with solid face panels to hide the mismatched dishes or pantry items, but you might be surprised by how removing just a couple panels in your kitchen can make a difference. Replacing the face panel with glass will make your kitchen seem bigger and brighter, and it will give you a chance to showcase some of your pretty dishes. If you’re looking for a more rustic feel, try replacing the panel with chicken wire for a different effect. Read here for more information on glass cabinets.

The Décor

The kitchen can very easily become the dumping ground for loose papers, knick-knacks, and other clutter. As you look around, take a moment to focus your décor so that it is cohesive and minimal. Plants add a pop of color while cleaning the air and, in the case of herbs and flowering plants, adding a delicate perfume. Your artwork should also be tasteful and add to the space instead of being distracting.

Where possible, you should remove fabric and other loose material in your kitchen (ex: curtains and dust ruffles). Fabric in the kitchen tends to get grimy quickly due to the grease and moisture in the air. When you remove it, you’ll be letting in more light while keeping away dust and grime.

The Sink

Sinks are expensive to replace, but if you’re looking to modernize, they can really make a difference. Farmhouse sinks are trending right now, but stainless steel is always a classic design. You could also switch from a single to a double basin sink or vice versa.

Additionally, you could always replace your current fixture with something more modern. Metals like bright gold, black stainless steel, and nickel are popular choices at the moment, and there are even some faucets that are touch-activated, so you don’t have to touch the handles with raw meat on your hands.

Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to break the bank. It can take just a few minor tweaks here and there to transform the space from “blah” to “ah!”