10 Insanely Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Right Now

Inside: You don’t need a complete renovation to update your kitchen. Here are the easiest ways to change it up without killing your budget.

10 Insanely Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Right Now | redleafstyle.com

Do you cringe every time you walk into your kitchen?

Is it those 1960s wooden cabinets you haven’t had the budget to replace? Or, the yellow linoleum flooring you try not to look at? Or, the pile of dirty dishes in the sink? (Me too, friend.)

You want to update your kitchen, but something always gets in the way.

Money. Time. Effort. The kitchen struggle is real.

10 Insanely Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Right Now | redleafstyle.com

Right now I’m living with my sister in her urban Kansas City townhouse. The townhouse has potential, but the kitchen looks outdated.

It’s not awful exactly. But the cerulean tile backsplash gives both of our neutral-loving hearts palpitations. The veneered oak cabinets aren’t our style. And, you can’t even set down a cup without staining the laminate countertops. Sometimes we both want to torch the whole room.

So, what’s stopping us from improving the kitchen?

It’s the same reason you’re hesitating. It’s taking the leap.

Kitchen remodels cost a lot of money.

Shouldn’t you plan everything out? Pin tons of beautiful kitchens on Pinterest for inspiration? Have the style, design and layout ready to go right down to the hinges on the cabinets?

(Pssst. No, you don’t have to.)

Because good-enough-for-now is good, too.

When you update your kitchen to make it good-enough-for-now, you can try new elements and see how you like them. You can create a kitchen you enjoy being in, even if it’s not perfect.

Screw perfection. Make your kitchen a room you want to use. Right now. You’ll feel so much happier!

10 Insanely Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Right Now | redleafstyle.com

These Are the Best Ways to Update Your Kitchen Without Remodeling

I’m taking my own advice and sharing my favorite methods to update a kitchen without a renovation.

These are the most simple ideas. The ones that will get you the most bang for your buck. The projects with the most dramatic results and the lowest budgets.

Because a good-enough-for-now kitchen is the kitchen you’ve been waiting for.

1. Paint your kitchen cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets is the easiest way to update your kitchen and make a big change. After all, your cabinets are the biggest showpiece in your kitchen.

Here’s the best guide I’ve come across on how to paint your kitchen cabinets.

Some easy methods to paint kitchen cabinets:

  • Use chalk paint so you don’t have to prime or sand. (Be sure to apply wax.)
  • Skip sanding altogether, unless your cabinets are super glossy (a.k.a. lots of polyurethane.)

Kitchen cabinets painted in neutrals are popular right now. (Think of the farmhouse look.) Go with all white or gray. Or, do the two tone method and paint the upper cabinets white and the lower cabinets gray.

2. Get rid of that funky backsplash

Got a weird backsplash? Get rid of it. It’s totally ruining the groove of your kitchen.

You know how sometimes after seeing something for a while, you stop noticing it? The cerulean blue tile in my sister’s kitchen is not like that.

It needs to go. And, removing your tile backsplash might not be as hard as you thought.

Options to change up your backsplash:

  • Paint over it. (Ask your hardware store about special paint for tile.)
  • Remove it, fix the drywall and add new tile.
  • Remove it and install beadboard or shiplap.
3. Change your countertop

If you can’t stand your kitchen countertop, you have several options to change it up. The method you use depends on your budget.

My sister’s kitchen has a laminate countertop that’s not worth saving. It looks grimy no matter how much you clean it. And it’s lifting up in places. She wants to bite the bullet and get a new countertop.

But if you don’t want to completely replace your kitchen countertop, you have options.

Options to change up your kitchen countertop:

10 Insanely Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Right Now | redleafstyle.com

 

5. Switch out cabinet hardware

Give your kitchen personality without breaking the bank. Swap out the knobs or pulls on your kitchen cabinets for new ones. Or, spray paint your current hardware to give it new life.

Plus, when you use good hardware, you’ll protect your kitchen cabinets from greasy fingers, which can ruin the finish. This is especially important if you painted your kitchen cabinets.

6. Update your faucet

Changing your sink faucet costs more than smaller projects, like changing cabinet hardware. But it can dramatically alter the look of your sink.

7. Create open shelving

Love the look of open shelving? Easily add open shelving to your kitchen by removing some of your cabinet doors.

Tips for making open shelving work:

  • Pare down your stuff to keep the shelves organized
  • Show off your favorite dishes and get rid of ones you dislike
  • Put the most-used items on the bottom shelves
  • Add decorative elements to spruce up the look
  • Paint the insides of the cabinets to add personality

The good news? You can always put the cabinet doors back up if you decide open shelving isn’t for you.

8. Install DIY roll-out drawers

Tired of your stash of reusable water bottles toppling out when you open a cabinet door? Or, spending 10 minutes looking the garlic pepper hidden at the back of the cabinet?

Instead of buying new kitchen cabinets, add roll-out drawers to get the most out of your space.

You’ll have more storage and feel like an organization pro.

9. Add some seating

Nobody wants to cook alone while friends and family lounge in the living room.

If your kitchen doesn’t have an adjoining dining room, add seating. Seating encourages others to hang out while you cook. It’s an easy way to update your kitchen and make it more livable.

Easy ways to add seating (even in small kitchens):

  • Tuck a bistro set into a corner
  • Make a window seat with a shelf and stools
  • Use a drop leaf table
  • Add a kitchen island with bar stools
  • Place a bench near a window

10 Insanely Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Right Now | redleafstyle.com

10. Downsize and declutter

Imagine cleared off countertops. A place for each glass in the cabinets. Spices lined up in rows instead of crammed together.

Adding new features or fixtures aren’t the only ways to update your kitchen.

Give your kitchen a whole new feel when you get rid of stuff.

What to donate or trash:

  • Dishes you don’t like or use
  • Anything that’s broken
  • Kitchen gadgets you don’t use
  • Old spices

10 Insanely Easy Ways to Update Your Kitchen Right Now | redleafstyle.com

The kitchen you’ve been waiting for is a few projects away.

Don’t hesitate. Take the leap.

You got this.


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These Are the Most Genuine Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You

Inside: How to find those special travel souvenirs you’ll love forever.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

A month ago I was in Amsterdam.

Staring at a closed door. Locked out of the apartment my sister, my friend and I were renting.

Not my proudest travel moment. But good things can come out of bad times.

While my friend waited on a locksmith, my sister and I explored the city.

We walked the cobblestone streets and analyzed each step of how we managed to lock ourselves out. How did we do that? But as we turned a corner, the happy white tents of a flea market greeted us.

We found the best souvenirs of our two-week trip at that flea market. (Scroll to the end to find out what we scored!)

Besides including a good story to tell people back home, those souvenirs were also the real deal. There were genuine finds that I’ll love forever.

Talk about a serendipitous moment. If we hadn’t locked ourselves out, we never would have found that flea market.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home | redleafstyle.com

Why Choosing the Right Travel Souvenirs Matters

The souvenirs you bring home from your travels should make you feel good.

You want them to spark memories, be useful or purely enjoyable.

None of us will remember every aspect of our trips. But like a good photo, the right souvenirs will remind you of the good times.

Don’t buy a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of the place you’re visiting simply for the sake of buying a souvenir.

Instead, look for travel souvenirs you’ll love for a lifetime.


10 Genuine Souvenirs To Remind You Of Your Travels

These are the best travel souvenirs to bring home with you.

1. Local artwork

Keep an eye out for local art. Whether you’re wandering the streets of Paris or road tripping through Minnesota.

There’s nothing like decorating your home with uncommon art from your travels.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

Every time I look at the hand drawn sketch of the Eiffel Tower on my wall, I remember buying it. I bought it from a street artist selling his sketches on cobblestone avenue near Notre Dame. It was money well spent compared to buying the same cheap tchotchkes sold in stalls all over the city.

Travel tip: Look for street artists, art galleries or boutiques. These are your best bets to find local artwork to fit your style and taste. (And to find art not sold by every tourist vendor in the area.)

2. Mugs or pottery

Every morning when you sip from that handmade ceramic mug you picked up on your travels, you’ll remember where you bought it.

As a coffee addict drinker, I love buying mugs when I travel because I use them in my everyday life.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

But, don’t stick to mugs alone. Any pottery vessel makes a great souvenir. Think cups, plates and bowls.

Travel tip: Scope out art fairs, local coffee shops or small art galleries. These are the best spots to find handmade pottery. Besides mugs, I also like to buy small plates or shallow bowls to hold jewelry or small trinkets.

3. Clothing

When I travel abroad, I always pack light and plan on buying a piece of clothing at my destination.

Clothing doubles as a functional item and a travel souvenir.

Whether you need a raincoat in London, a dress in Paris or a sweater in Reykjavik (all items I’ve purchased,) be sure to choose a piece of clothing you’ll want to wear again.

Every time you pull it out of the closet, the memories of where you purchased it will return.

Feels more genuine than a plastic statue of the Empire State Building, huh?

4. Locally-made soaps

Buying locally-made soaps as travel souvenirs will remind you of your travels, even if the soap bar doesn’t last forever.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

Every time I suds up with my patchouli soap bar scented with patchouli, sandalwood, myrrh and vanilla, I feel a humid Arkansas breeze blowing across my face. I smell the dust from the gravel road sifting through the rolled down windows of our Toyota Four-Runner. I remember the rural country store we pulled into, where I bought the soap and lingered over jams and jellies, ice cream and gifts.

Travel tip: Even if you’re not a bar soap fan, opt for the bar. It travels better than liquid. Choose small hand soap bars if you don’t think you’d use a full body bar. They’re smaller and less expensive—both useful qualities when traveling.

5. Scarves

I never pack scarves when I travel.

I’m not forgetful. I always plan to buy one.

Why? Scarves are more than great travel souvenirs that you’ll wear again. They’re also useful while traveling.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home | redleafstyle.com

Handy uses for scarves while traveling:

  • Wrap a scarf around you or use it as a blanket on chilly airplanes
  • Pull a scarf over your head if you’re caught in an unexpected downpour
  • Add some style to your outfit if you forgot to pack accessories
6. Non-perishable foods

Loved the tea in England? Gorged on stroopwafels in Amsterdam? (Oh wait, that was me!)

Pack those non-perishable foods in your suitcase and bring them home to remember your trip by.

Travel tip: Non-perishable foods like coffee, tea, candy, wine and packaged cookies make great souvenirs (and gifts.) When you’re back home, they’ll give you a taste of where you’ve been.

7. Something you need

Do you always forget to pack something while traveling?

Who doesn’t?

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

It may sound silly, but that practical item you need right now also makes a great souvenir.

That umbrella, pajama shirt, pair of shoes, hat, raincoat or backpack will remind you of your trip every time you use it.

8. Jewelry

You probably wear jewelry to express your style, for sentimentality or simply to feel good.

Those are all great reasons to buy a new necklace or bracelet as a souvenir from the place you’re visiting.

Besides looking stylish, you’ll have an accessory that’s also a memory.

Travel tip: You don’t have to buy expensive jewelry. Scope out flea markets, craft fairs and boutique stores for unique, inexpensive jewelry.

9. Postcards

When traveling, I always send postcards to family members and friends—and myself.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home | redleafstyle.com

Mailing yourself a postcard is a fun (and inexpensive!) souvenir. Be sure to write a short message on the back like, “Enjoying Copenhagen! June 5, 2016”

When you get home, you’ll get excited to find the postcard in your mailbox alongside the usual utility bills and grocery store flyers.

10. Flea market finds

Shopping flea markets filled with vintage and antique items from the country, state or town you’re visiting is fun in itself.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

If you find a unique necklace, houseware, tool or sign you can’t leave without, well, that’s the cherry on top.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

Bonus souvenir idea

On the last day of a trip to Paris, a flea market popped up right outside my hotel.

I’d already purchased my metro ticket to the train station and I had one euro left in my pocket.

Hauling all my luggage—my travel backpack on my back and a smaller backpack on my front—I scoured the flea market for something I liked marked at one euro or less. After rummaging through a one-euro bin, I found a little blue pill box I loved.

Silly experiences like that make souvenirs memorable.

The experience is what means something to you. The souvenir is a reminder.

Look for experiences, not souvenirs.

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home | redleafstyle.com


So, what did I find at that flea market?

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com

Here’s what I found:

  • Two Delft blue bowls with lids for €3.75 each
  • A vintage Delft blue tea strainer for €5
  • A vintage tin made in Holland for €2
  • Two yellow license plates for €4 each.
  • (The poster and the wooden shoe in the picture weren’t from the flea market.)

These Are the Best Travel Souvenirs to Bring Home With You | redleafstyle.com


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How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath

Inside: Discover how to create a faux succulent wreath in an unexpected way.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

When I plant succulents, they’re happy one moment and dead the next.

While I consider myself a plant-savvy person, succulents are my downfall. A perky cactus deflates like a balloon. Purple echeveria browns within days. Jade shrivels away from me like I’ve scorned it.

So, when I saw the living succulent wreath trend that’s been making the rounds on Pinterest and home decorating websites, I knew no way would I keep one alive for longer than a few days.

Rather than killing some pretty succulents, I opted for a different option.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.comHow to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

This is the Easiest Way to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath

I decided to make a faux succulent wreath. Fake it til you make it, baby.

What you’ll need:

  • 10 – 15 faux succulents (I got mine at the Dollar Tree)
  • Wreath form (I used a wire form because it’s what I had. A straw or foam wreath form would also work well.)
  • Burlap ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.comHow to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

Your handy hot glue gun will handle the bulk of this project. Since I’m no expert at sewing or using power tools, I use hot glue a lot. It’s a DIYers best friend.

Ready to make your faux succulent wreath?

Step 1: Wrap it up
Start by wrapping your burlap ribbon in even layers around the wreath form.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

Step 2: Trim off
Once you wrap all the way around your wreath form, trim off the burlap. Then, secure the end with a dab of hot glue. Make sure you leave enough ribbon so you can secure the end of the ribbon to the back of the wreath form. You want to keep it pretty, you know?

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

Step 3: Prepare the succulents
The faux succulents I purchased came complete with mini pot. So, I had to detach them from the pot then trim the stems off. This way I could hot glue the succulents down flat to the wreath.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

Step 4: Hot glue the succulents
Carefully hot glue the back of each succulent to the wreath. I decided to concentrate my succulents in one area, but you could cover the entire wreath in succulents if you like.

Once you’ve hot glued all of your succulents, your faux succulent wreath is complete!

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

Full disclosure: When I went to hang my faux succulent wreath, I noticed that my wreath wanted to dip toward the side with all of the succulents because the weight of them was pulling it down. After some finagling, and placing it just so, I managed to get it hung straight.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com

This faux succulent wreath looks fancy, and I love that it’s made from simple craft store items. And, the best part? No plants were harmed in the making of this wreath.

How to Make a Faux Succulent Wreath | redleafstyle.com


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