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.
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.
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 The townhouse has potential, but the kitchen looks outdated.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!
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:
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. 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
The kitchen you’ve been waiting for is a few projects away.
Don’t hesitate. Take the leap.
You got this.