Budget-Friendly Ways To Make An Old Kitchen Feel New

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

It’s no secret that renovating a kitchen is one of the most expensive home upgrades you can do. But what if your wallet doesn’t match your grand ideas and dreams for the hardest-working space in your home? Don’t worry, you don’t need to live with your outdated kitchen. Instead, use these budget-friendly tips to make your old kitchen feel new.

Rethink your color palette, paint the cabinets, and give outdated countertops a refresh to update your kitchen for minimal investment. Keep surfaces free of clutter and deep clean to make your space look and feel fresh. Swap out lighting, plumbing fixtures, and hardware to add modern touches to your kitchen at an affordable price.

Don’t assume you have to grin and bear an outdated kitchen. Even if you’re on a tight budget, simple and inexpensive changes make a big impact. You just need to make sure you’re devoting your time and effort to the right changes.

10 Ways To Wake Up A Tired Kitchen Without Draining Your Wallet

You’re tired of your outdated, dingy kitchen, but your budget doesn’t have much wiggle room these days. Suggestions to replace countertops, get new floors, and swap out kitchen cabinets don’t help because when you say your budget’s tight, you mean it.

But you also don’t want to wait until you can save up enough for a larger renovation. Even a minor kitchen remodel costs an average of $24,000. You’re thinking more like sticking with the under $1,000 range. Big difference, but doable.

You need a few suggestions to help you bridge the gap between your weary kitchen and your future dream space. Well, you’ve come to the right place. These tips are easy fixes and changes you can tackle in a weekend or less and with minimal hits to your wallet.

1. Swap Out Light Fixtures

Trade out the awful boob light (you know the one) or the outdated lacquered brass chandelier above the island for more modern light fixtures. Also, make sure you have a variety of lighting in the space, including ambient, task, and accent lighting.

For example, you may have pendants above the island, a light above the sink, and LED strips running under the cabinets. The lighting in a room helps set the tone for the space, so you want it to look good. But it also needs to function well, especially in a room like the kitchen.

You certainly want enough light when you’re chopping veggies or measuring ingredients. In a larger kitchen, it may also be necessary to add some recessed lighting to fill in any dark spots. Another popular trend right now is to add a lamp on the kitchen counter, island, or similar surface.

2. Evaluate Your Color Palette

The days of overly saturated, bright colors in a kitchen are somewhat gone, replaced with more subdued tones. Even the ever-popular all-white kitchen is somewhat running out of steam, although when styled right, you can still make it work.

However, woods and natural tones are becoming a go-to style for cabinets. Whichever color you choose, strive for a timeless color palette on big-ticket items like your cabinets and countertops. Kitchen remodels are pricey, and you really don’t want your kitchen to look outdated only a few years later.

3. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

Once you evaluate your color palette, it’s likely if your kitchen looks outdated, you need to make some changes. However, this is about updating your kitchen on a budget, so you aren’t going to replace your cabinets. Instead, paint them, or if you’re ambitious, strip and stain them.

Depending on your budget and the number of cabinets, another option is to use veneer sheets for refacing your cabinet and drawer fronts. These sheets come in various colors and styles and can help you get an updated look for less. Whether you decide to paint, stain, or reface your cabinets, use samples to try out your top looks before committing to a final choice.

4. Refresh Existing Countertops

Replacing kitchen countertops costs between $20 and $180 per square foot, depending on materials. Plus, you have additional costs that include things like old countertop removal and edge and corner treatments. As you can imagine, this can add up quickly to a few thousand dollars.

Instead of replacing your countertops, give your existing ones a refresh with an all-in-one countertop refinishing kit. It’s a great way to give your tired kitchen a boost for much, much less.

You can find kits from various companies that come in various styles and colors. They typically require minimal skill and cost about $140 per kit. Depending on how much counter space you have, you may need more than one kit to complete the job.

5. Get Rid Of All The Excess

Take a look around your kitchen. What do you see? Is the first thing that catches your eye bunches of small appliances, utensils, and random objects strewn across the counter? Kitchens are workhorses, and they tend to be a landing pad for lots of other household items.

A cluttered kitchen lacks style, no matter how great the rest of the design is. Make an instant improvement simply by getting rid of excess stuff in the kitchen and storing items properly. First, be honest about what you need and don’t need.

Any duplicates or items you haven’t used in a year or more should definitely go. Be real about how many dishes, cups, and utensils you actually need for the people in your household.

Next, consider your small appliances. Unless you use them every single day, they shouldn’t be on your counter. Instead, store them in a lower cabinet or the pantry. A pull-out shelf or drawer makes accessing these bulkier items much easier.

If there are items you only use several times a year, consider storing them in another location. Some options would be places like a basement, laundry room, or hall closet.

The final goal should be to have at least 75% of your kitchen counters free of clutter. Likewise, keep other surfaces clear, including the top of the fridge, microwave, kitchen island, table, etc.

6. Deep Clean Your Kitchen

After you get rid of the clutter, this is the perfect time to clean your kitchen and make it sparkle. A clean kitchen always looks better than a dirty one. Use this kitchen deep clean checklist to eradicate dirt and grime.

Tackle inside cabinets and drawers, wipe down appliances inside and out, and clean light fixtures. Scrub the sink, freshen the garbage disposal, and clean cabinet and drawer fronts. If you do nothing else but declutter and deep clean your kitchen, it will already feel and look a lot better.

7. Take Down The Words

Word signs became super popular with the farmhouse design style. People were hanging signs all over the place that said things like, “EAT,” and “Happy Kitchen, Happy Home.” On the other end of the spectrum, neon signs also became trendy.

But these trendy decor items ultimately tend to date a space and will rob your kitchen of its timeless look. Word signs also tend to distract the eye and brain; you start reading words and processing the letters without even realizing it.

Therefore, to achieve a more modern, fresh look (and less-distracting space), take down the words.

8. Update The Kitchen Faucet

Replacing your faucet is a great way to update your kitchen at an affordable price. Hardware is like jewelry for your room. Look for modern pieces that you love that offer a timeless look. Make sure the finishes you choose complement other finishes in the space.

Unlacquered brass is a beautiful style for a classic, traditional space. Chrome is everywhere if you like its super-shiny finish. Matte black is another recent popular pick, although it might not have as timeless an edge as others. In addition to the finish, look for updated styles and choose features that make sense for your kitchen (hands-free, pull-out sprayer, etc.).

9. Freshen Up The Island

If you have an island in your kitchen, give it a bit of a facelift with a fresh coat of paint or new hardware. If it’s a portable island, you might want to consider replacing it if it’s extremely old or outdated. You can also use a countertop kit to refinish the island countertop as well.

If you have a smaller kitchen, match it to your other counters to make the space feel larger. In a larger kitchen, you might consider a different countertop. If your island countertop is a smaller surface, you may even want to spring for replacing the countertop for an even more updated look.

10. Change Cabinet Hardware

Replace outdated hardware with new knobs and pulls for an easy upgrade. Make sure to get the correct sizes so you can make an even swap for minimal effort. If you also plan to swap out plumbing fixtures and light fixtures, make sure all of your new choices work well together.

If you no longer want hardware, remove it, patch and paint the holes. (This works best if you’re already planning to paint or refinish cabinets, otherwise, you create a lot more work for yourself.)

A Budget-Friendly Boost For Your Kitchen

Giving your kitchen a facelift and making the old look new doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If a major remodel isn’t in your budget, don’t assume you’re stuck with your outdated kitchen. Choose a timeless color palette, modern light fixtures, and swap out hardware. Get rid of excess stuff and overly kitschy decor that date the space, and deep clean the kitchen.

If you have more time to devote to your kitchen makeover, consider refinishing cabinets and countertops. Painting cabinets is also a great way to completely change the look of your space. Overall, no matter what you decide to do to your kitchen, it needs to work for you.

Don’t choose to make changes merely because they’re the latest design or someone on Tik Tok told you to. If you love something, go for it. If you hate something, take it out. Ultimately, you’re the one who needs to live in the space every day, so you get the final say as to how it needs to look and function.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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