20 Low-Cost Kitchen Updates

15 May
20 Low-Cost Kitchen Updates
Imagination helps stretch the budget when you’re updating a kitchen, so put these creative, money-saving ideas to work.
green/yellow kitchen w/ new light fixtures, butcher-block w/ brackets

Shades of Green

Color takes the lead in making this kitchen look fresh, through freshly painted cabinets and walls, and contemporary glass pendent lights. The island, once a plain base cabinet, has a new surface — beaded-board paneling embellished with decorative trim and a butcher-block top.

shelves w/ decorative brackets

Supporting Roles

Decorative brackets dress up open shelving edged with molding to keep items from falling. Home centers and online sources sell a variety of similar brackets. Or try brackets made from cast iron, painted to match or accent the shelves.

Window between kitchen & utility room

Let There Be Light

Cutting through the wall to add a window does more than create a view and a focal point above the sink. An exterior window in the adjoining utility room now shares its light with the otherwise windowless kitchen.

drawers w/ different colored pulls

Hard to Choose

If variety is the spice of life, then display an assortment of drawer pulls in the kitchen — just for fun. Combine antique glass knobs, pewter pulls with vegetable motifs, or even ones you’ve made by painting wooden pulls in different colors. The more kinds, the merrier.

curtain-rod utensil rack above stove

Cooking Hang-Up

Professional chefs hang their favorite cooking utensils within easy reach, but stainless-steel systems are often expensive. Make a copycat rack with a short metal curtain rod, using steel S-hooks to hold spoons and ladles.

Open shelves on wall at end of peninsula hold white serving pieces

New Found Storage

Put that sliver of wall to work with a stack of shallow shelves to showcase a favorite collection. These natural-finish shelves have brushed metal brackets to complement stainless-steel appliances. Or try contemporary "floating" shelves with invisible brackets, available at home centers. If your style is more traditional, choose shelves with wooden supports, finished to match or accent the cabinets.

grayish glazed and distressed cabinets, granite-tile countertop

Great Cover-Up

No matter how dismal outdated cabinets look, there’s nothing a little paint won’t cure. These formerly blah cabinets have a new finish — cream-color paint sanded on the edges to give an old-world appearance. Granite tiles, less expensive and easier to handle than thick slabs, create an attractive natural-stone countertop.

gold-painted walls, crown molding added to cabinets

Refreshing Change

The quickest way to rev up the style quotient is to roll a fresh coat of paint onto the walls. With so many yummy color choices available in wipe-clean paint, there’s no reason to live with drab kitchen walls. Pale gold gives a sunny wake-up call to all-white cabinets, tempered by a darker floor and door pulls.

Distinctive hardware, ribbed glass cabinets, glass shelves on windows

Window Dressing

A shallow glass shelf runs the width of the window to hold a collection of colored glass and trailing plants. Place supports at each side and also in the middle, if possible. The wider the glass, the thicker it should be for safety, depending on what it will hold.

white kitchen w/ plate rack, wall-hung box cabinet

Architectural Elements

Sleek is the word for this tiny kitchen with a minimum of clutter and a maximum of style. Circa 1950s metal base cabinets have been refurbished for contemporary use. Instead of upper cabinets, the kitchen has a "floating" box, built from medium-density fiberboard covered with plastic laminate. The shallow plate-ledge, built from the same materials, becomes a gallery for art.

baskets on lower shelves, green painted cabinets

Basket Storage

Add variety to boring base cabinets by removing a door and adding roomy baskets atop each shelf. The baskets slide out easily to allow access to contents. Pretty linens are a charming embellishment.

slate backsplash behind stove

Timeless Stone

Capturing the feeling of a natural-stone hearth is as easy as a trip to the tile or home center. Slate tiles come in a variety of sizes, including 2-inch squares that don’t require much sawing. A do-it-yourselfer can install a tile backsplash over a weekend, especially if the design is uncomplicated (shown).

rustic island & painted cabinets

Serving Up Plates

A dedicated plate collector often can’t find enough display space — unless it’s overhead. The soffit above the cabinets, often unused, is perfect for a shallow ledge grooved to hold plates securely. Support the shelf with decorative brackets like these, or attach it from the top with metal angles screwed into the wall studs. With plates along the shelves, the angles won’t show.

Blue & white kitchen w/ shelves over windows and multi-color vinyl tiles

High Interest

A kitchen with windows offers an opportunity to incorporate storage in the window treatments. Install shelves directly over the window trim and paint them the same color for a unified look. This blue-and-white kitchen also has beaded-board wainscoting, simple and inexpensive to apply because it comes in panels that are already cut to the right height.

Painted floor detail

Style Underfoot

Save the expense of buying new floors by painting what you’ve got. Add a couple of coats of polyurethane when your paint is dry to help preserve the finish. And keep in mind that scratches can add to the character, particularly if you’re aiming for a country look.


yellow beadboard w/ white tile border 

Soothing Combination

A beaded-board panel goes a long way when cut into narrow strips to cover a backsplash. Go a step further and insert a tile border for decoration, or set in a horizontal strip of stained wood to match kitchen cabinets. Or cut beaded board to fit the interior panel of cabinets for an updated look.

sleek kitchen w/ curtain rod pot rack over sink

An Arm’s Reach Away

There’s more than meets the eye to this metal pot rack — everything hangs above eye level. Make it from a sturdy curtain rod or strengthen a hollow rod by inserting a wooden dowel into it. Install the rod above a window and use it to store pots or hang sun-loving plants.

blue dresser made into island

Changing Identity

Need a kitchen island but don’t want to spring for one? Any table or chest can be enlisted as an extra work surface, provided it can be made the right height. This vintage dresser, painted and outfitted with paper towels, utensil hooks, and a new marble top, is now a baking center with roomy drawers for ingredients and pans.

stained-glass window over sink

Lovely Solution

If windows look out onto a less-than-desirable view, or the neighbors can see in, cover the window with colorful stained glass. Buy or make a custom-fit window to fill the opening. If you’re on a tighter budget, simply lean framed colored glass against the window. Here, sunlight comes through the translucent window, casting a golden glow.

blue tile backsplash behind sink

Deep-Blue Water

Small blue tiles add waterproof color to the often-damp area behind the sink, where wallpaper or paint might become a problem. Tiling a backsplash is an easy DIY job, particularly with tiny tiles that eliminate the need for a tile saw. The tiles come pre-attached to sheets of mesh to assure proper spacing.

 Add to Technorati Favorites

1 Comment

Posted by on May 15, 2008 in Design


One response to “20 Low-Cost Kitchen Updates

  1. Bobita

    October 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I’m thinking of renovating my kitchen. Nice site!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: