Ten Ideas for Updating Your Kitchen on a Budget

Budget Curtain Rod Kitchen Rack
A wrought iron curtain rod makes a budget utensil rack in your kitchen. Photo: George Mayer

Updating your kitchen can bring a high return on your decorating investment. But a major kitchen remodel can be very expensive (take this quiz to find out how much you know about remodeling a kitchen!). Making minor improvements over time is one of the best (and smartest) ways to keep this high-performance room in good working order as well as looking updated.  Here are a few simple and inexpensive ways to give your kitchen a fresh look:

  • Strip and Paint. If you have are lucky enough to have solid wood cabinets, strip the paint or old finish. Then add a couple of drops of yellow or green oil pigment (available at your local craft store) to your favorite stain and apply to the cabinets. The stain color will have more depth with this small addition. Here are some more ways to update your existing kitchen cabinets.
  • Apply molding. Apply molding from your local home improvement store to your cabinet tops for a classic and updated look. Moulding and other cabinet details is a trend that never seems to go out of fashion
  • Backsplash Adding beadboard as a backsplash can be an inexpensive update. But be sure to use a quality paint that can be easily washed! If beadboard doesn't fit your kitchen style, try tile. Tile is a traditional kitchen backsplash material to use as it's water resistant and easy to clean. 
  • Towel rack. Mount a wrought iron curtain rod to the wall about 6 - 8 inches under your cabinets. Use the rod to hand towels, cooking utensils or pots. You can hang the pots or utensils from large S-hooks which hook over the rod. This is considered a really low-cost but functional update to the kitchen. 
  • Adding color. Add color to white cabinets by painting small frames red or your favorite accent color. Mount them to the front of the cabinet. You can add pictures to the frames if you wish or leave them as just a graphic element. Adding color to the kitchen can be even easier than that: try adding new towels, a rug or countertop accents. Not only is this easy to do, it's a good way to "test" out new colors without committing to new paint. Speaking of paint, not all kitchens have walls that can be painted. If you are considering the walls you do have, read these tips for selecting the right shades for your kitchen
    • Blackboard. Have kids? How about using blackboard paint for the backsplash area above the countertops? You can write notes to the kids, grocery lists and art masterpieces on the area.
    • Using tile. If you don't want to tile your entire backsplash, mount terracotta tile or pavers in a strip, rectangle or square pattern. Check your local home improvement store for broken lots or discontinued patterns that cost much less than a current or unopened box of tile. You can install this yourself but if you've never done it before, or want to install something really easy and quick, try a peel-and-stick tile backsplash. Read more about this here.
    • Decoupage. Remember decoupage? You can decoupage your cabinet fronts in a variety of woven or canvas pattern papers. You can even find papers that look like leather. Scrapbooking papers are especially popular now and come in wonderful patterns.
    • Grass inserts. Glue inexpensive rectangles cut from woven grass placemats from the dollar store to your cabinet doors. Frame with thin strips of molding to simulate grass inserts.
    • Put a cork in it. Cork squares can also be used as dramatic interest to the front of cabinet doors. And the cork is useful for leaving messages!

    As you can see, a dramatic makeover in your kitchen needn't cost the moon. All it takes is just a few inexpensive touches! To see more inexpensive kitchen upgrade ideas, click here.