10 Easy Ways to Transform Your Kitchen On a Budget

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For many of us, the kitchen is the heart of the home, meaning it is important to keep this space looking and feeling at its best.

With the winter months fast approaching, here are some of the best ways to transform your kitchen according to the latest trends, no matter your budget.

Here are 10 budget-friendly ideas to give your kitchen a fresh, transformed look:

  1. Paint Cabinets: A coat of paint can dramatically change the appearance of tired cabinets. Go for neutral tones for a timeless feel or a bold color for impact.
  2. Change Hardware: Update knobs and pulls on cabinets and drawers. Small hardware changes can offer a fresh, modern touch without breaking the bank.
  3. Open Shelving: Remove a few cabinet doors to create open shelving. This allows for a decorative display of dishes or kitchenware, adding personality to the space.
  4. New Backsplash: Use peel-and-stick tiles or even adhesive vinyl for a quick and affordable backsplash update. These come in various patterns and styles.
  5. Update Lighting: Swap out old fixtures for newer, modern designs or even DIY pendant lights. Dimmable or under-cabinet lighting can also create ambiance.
  6. Refresh Countertops: Consider painting countertops, using a specialized countertop kit, or using contact paper for a faux marble or granite look.
  7. Floor Makeover: Use peel-and-stick floor tiles or floor paint to revamp outdated kitchen flooring. Ensure they’re durable and easy to clean.
  8. Add Plants: Introduce greenery with potted herbs on the windowsill or hanging plants. They purify the air and add a fresh, natural touch.
  9. Reorganize and Declutter: Invest in organizers for drawers and cabinets, and get rid of items you no longer use. A clutter-free kitchen immediately looks renewed.
  10. Decorative Accents: Introduce new curtains, a colorful rug, or art pieces. A fresh theme can transform the feel of the space without extensive renovations.

Remember, even small changes can make a significant impact. Prioritize what feels most outdated in your kitchen and tackle those areas first to maximize the transformation on a budget

Simple Budget-Friendly Kitchen Refresh Ideas

Let’s talk about a few of these ideas in more detail.

1.      Cabinet Refresh with Paint

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One of the best ways to transform your kitchen is to replace its fittings. Whilst this can be an expensive task, the reward will be a kitchen that feels brand new.

Some of the biggest kitchen trends this year include dark hued or neutral coloured matt cabinets – a move away from the wooden or laminate finishes that have dominated kitchens for decades.

Adding a more dramatic, yet minimalist, effect by opting for either of these colour schemes is a sure way to bring your kitchen into 2020.

For smaller kitchens, lighter hues such as sage or off-white can help reflect light around the room, opening up the space.

Darker shades such as black or navy are best reserved for larger kitchens with lots of natural lighting.

If your fittings are still in good shape, painting them to your desired colour instead of replacing them will save you a lot of time and money, however this should be done after plenty of research and planning in order to avoid irreversible mistakes.

Here are some of the pros and cons of painting your kitchen cabinets:

Pros:

  1. Cost-Effective: Painting is typically cheaper than buying new cabinets or even refacing them.
  2. Transformative: A new color can dramatically change the look and feel of the entire kitchen.
  3. Versatility: There’s a wide range of colors and finishes available, giving homeowners plenty of creative freedom.
  4. Environmentally Friendly: Painting cabinets can be more eco-friendly than discarding them and buying new ones. Less waste ends up in the landfill.
  5. Quick Update: Painting usually takes less time than a full cabinet replacement.
  6. Hide Imperfections: Properly done, a paint job can mask minor imperfections or wear and tear on older cabinets.
  7. Customizable: Beyond simple paint, homeowners can add effects like distressing or glazing for a custom look.

Cons:

  1. Prep Work: Cabinets need thorough cleaning, sanding, and priming before painting. This can be time-consuming.
  2. Shorter Lifespan: Paint might not last as long as new cabinetry or professional refacing. Over time, it might chip or wear, especially near handles or at corners.
  3. Skills Required: To achieve a professional-looking result, a certain level of skill and knowledge is essential. Otherwise, there may be visible brush strokes, drips, or uneven coverage.
  4. Potential for Damage: If not done correctly, the painting process might damage the cabinets. For instance, sanding too aggressively can harm the wood.
  5. Resale Considerations: While many buyers might appreciate a fresh look, others might see painted cabinets as a temporary solution or a potential project they’ll need to address.
  6. Limited to Surface Issues: Paint can address color and minor surface blemishes, but it won’t fix structural issues or damaged wood.
  7. Possible VOC Emissions: Some paints release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can affect indoor air quality. It’s crucial to choose low-VOC or VOC-free paints if this is a concern.

When considering painting kitchen cabinets, it’s essential to evaluate the current state of the cabinets, the desired outcome, budget constraints, and willingness to undertake the project (or the cost of hiring a professional).

If you prefer a more customized approach, consider buying new made to measure shaker doors to perfectly match your kitchen’s dimensions and style, ensuring a seamless and high-quality upgrade.

Choosing the right hardware for your cabinets is also an important part of your kitchen transformation, bringing the whole look together.

Pewter and aged brass-style handles, for example, are two of the biggest trends for kitchen cabinets in 2020, adding an industrial feel to your space.

2.      Add Layers of Lighting

For many of us, the kitchen is an important social hub within the home, used for cooking and eating with our family and friends, as well as a variety of other activities that bring everyone closer together.

A kitchen with lots of lighting is, therefore, essential and will not only make the space appear bigger, but it will also improve its look and feel.

If your kitchen lacks natural light, make the most of what you do have by adding mirrors to the wall facing the window in order to reflect extra light around the room.

Alternatively, try layering artificial lighting in different locations within your space, such as pendant shades above kitchen islands and dining tables, or under-cabinet lighting to illuminate countertops.

Adding extra lighting to a kitchen can significantly improve its functionality and ambiance. If you’re on a budget, there are numerous cost-effective ways to introduce more light:

  1. LED Puck Lights: These are easy to stick onto the underside of cabinets, providing direct illumination to countertops.
  2. String Lights: Draped along walls, under cabinets, or above window frames, these can add a warm, cozy glow.
  3. LED Strip Lights: Similar to puck lights, these are adhesive-backed and can be attached beneath cabinets, along toe kicks, or inside glass-front cabinets for a modern look.
  4. Swag Lamps: These plug-in ceiling lights drape from a hook and can be placed over a dining area or kitchen island.
  5. Battery-Powered Motion Sensor Lights: Ideal for pantries or under cabinets, these lights come on automatically when motion is detected.
  6. Repositionable Wall Lamps: Plug-in wall lamps can be positioned wherever needed and come in a variety of styles.
  7. Reflector Lamps: These are clip-on lights that can be attached to shelves or cabinets, directing light where it’s most needed.
  8. Natural Light Boost: Use mirrors or reflective backsplashes to maximize the natural light coming from windows.
  9. Table or Floor Lamps: Though not traditional in kitchens, a stylish table or floor lamp can add both light and character.
  10. Candlelight: While it won’t serve as task lighting, candles can create a warm ambiance for dining or relaxing. Consider candle lanterns or wall sconces.
  11. Replace Existing Bulbs: Switch older bulbs to higher lumens or a brighter LED equivalent for an instant lighting boost.
  12. DIY Pendant Lights: Use inexpensive hanging lamp kits and shades or repurposed items to create unique pendant lights over your kitchen counter or island.
  13. Clear Window Obstructions: If you have heavy curtains or blinds, consider switching them out for sheer curtains or lighter blinds to allow more natural light in.
  14. Paint in Lighter Colors: While not a lighting fixture, painting walls or cabinets in lighter or reflective colors can significantly brighten a space.

When adding lighting, always be mindful of safety, especially in the kitchen where heat and moisture are prevalent. Ensure fixtures are securely installed, wires are safely tucked away, and always follow manufacturer recommendations.

3.      Add a Kitchen Splashback

Removing and replacing tiles can be an extremely costly and time consuming task, however a kitchen splashback is a practical, stylish, alternative which can be fitted over existing tiles to keep your walls safe from spillages and stains.

The best material to use for kitchen splashbacks is acrylic sheets which can be cut by the supplier to the required size for your kitchen, making them extremely easy to install.

Furthermore, acrylic is very easy to keep clean using gentle products and materials, such as a microfibre cloth. This will help avoid scratching your splashback, however any scratches that do occur can be easily removed by buffing the surface with fine sandpaper.

Additionally, acrylic sheets are available in a wide variety of colours, finishes and tones, allowing you to create your ideal personalised space.

For small kitchens, you might decide to opt for a mirrored splashback to give the illusion of more space, alternatively a matt splashback is the perfect addition to a modern style kitchen.

For those looking to add a striking focal feature to their space, acrylic sheets are also available in a wide variety of shades from fluorescent to primary colours.

Looking to take it to the next level? Adding some backlighting to your kitchen splashback will enhance the ambience of your space, creating a warm, cosy environment for the winter months ahead.

4.      Include Clever Kitchen Storage

kitchen storage containers
Image: Dunelm

Maximising your kitchen’s storage potential is the best way to keep counters and surfaces as tidy as possible if this is a problem in your home.

However, a tidy kitchen can not only open up the space, making it appear bigger, but it will also help have a positive impact on your mood.

If you have a small kitchen with minimal storage space, finding the balance between cluttered and orderly can be difficult.

Glass jars and decorative food storage containers can sit on open shelving whilst still looking organised, however leaving packets of food and ingredients on exposed shelves can make a kitchen feel busy.

Try adding some drawer organisers, cupboard door storage racks or stackable containers for some additional space.

If you’re installing all new cabinets, think about how you can maximise storage space, for example by extending cabinets as close to the ceiling as possible or opt for some custom shaped pull out pantry drawers to make use of every inch of space.

Additionally, building appliances into the cabinets, such as the microwave and oven, will help your kitchen appear more streamlined and less bulky.

Maximizing storage in a kitchen can refresh the space by reducing clutter and improving functionality. Here are 10 budget-friendly ways to introduce clever storage solutions:

  1. Pegboards: Install a pegboard on an empty wall or inside cabinet doors. It can be used to hang utensils, pans, or other kitchen tools, freeing up drawer and counter space.
  2. Magnetic Knife Strip: Instead of using a bulky knife block, a wall-mounted magnetic strip can hold knives and other metal tools.
  3. Under-Shelf Baskets: These baskets can be slid onto existing shelves, creating additional space to store items like mugs, dish towels, or cling wrap.
  4. Stackable Shelves: Use wire or plastic stackable shelves inside your cabinets to maximize vertical space, allowing you to store more dishes or pantry items.
  5. Tension Rods: Install them vertically to create dividers for trays, cutting boards, or baking sheets. Placed horizontally under the sink, they can hang cleaning products.
  6. Door-Mounted Organizers: Attach storage racks or organizers to the insides of cabinet doors. They’re great for spices, pot lids, or other small items.
  7. Rolling Pantry: In the narrow space between the fridge and the wall, consider a DIY or store-bought rolling pantry. It’s a slender storage solution perfect for canned goods, spices, or snacks.
  8. Storage Containers: Invest in clear, stackable containers for your pantry. They not only create uniformity, but they also let you see exactly what you have, reducing waste and simplifying grocery shopping.
  9. Lazy Susans: Use turntables in corner cabinets or on countertops to make items easily accessible, especially in deep or hard-to-reach areas.
  10. Pull-Out Bins: Install pull-out bins or baskets under the sink or in lower cabinets. They make it easier to access items at the back and can be used for trash, recycling, or storing pots and pans.

Bonus: Over-the-Door Racks: Especially useful for pantry doors, these racks can hold a variety of items, from spices to snack foods, maximizing what would otherwise be wasted space.

5.      Add Some Top Trending Details

The final touches to your kitchen that will help bring the whole space together are often the smallest details, for example an art print, decorative vase or fruit bowl.

These types of decorations should reflect your own tastes, making your space unique and personal to you.

If you prefer to have completely clear countertops and surfaces, try adding a plant either to a shelf or the corner of the room to introduce a splash of colour.

Plants are great mood-boosters and have the ability to perk up any space. If you lack a green thumb, opt for a hardy variety such as a snake plant or rubber plant, both of which require minimal effort to care for.

A kitchen that feels up to date and personal to you and your family will not only encourage more time to be spent there, but it will also help to improve your overall mood and wellbeing.

As we continue to spend more time at home than ever before, now is a great oportunity to rethink the design of your kitchen in order to perk up your home before the winter months set in.

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Jen Stanbrook
Jen Stanbrook

Jen is an award winning digital publisher and has been creating interiors and home decor content for over 10 years.
She has an insatiable love of home interiors, has worked with hundreds of brands, and currently supports many bloggers within the creative industries to share their expertise through writing.
She spends most of her time in her little garden office pod, has 2 daughters and 2 (fighting) cats.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram

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