Wednesday, 05 June 2013 13:37

Five Ways to Update Your Kitchen on a Budget

By Jenna Burger | Home & Garden

Because of time and budget, the kitchen is often the last room of the house to get decorating attention—yet for many, it’s the room that is most used by the family and it’s the number one space in a home that will increase the home’s value. Renovating a kitchen can be daunting and many think it’s not within their budgetary means to tackle. But it can be.

Whether your desire is to start from scratch with an entirely new kitchen remodel or you simply want to spruce up your current space with a few new DIY (Do It Yourself) details, the key to approaching a kitchen is to choose elements that will make a big impact for the lowest price possible.

Here are my top five budget-friendly ideas for sprucing up a kitchen.



There is nothing like a fresh coat of paint. Painting the walls of your kitchen is a fairly manageable task and can be the perfect weekend DIY project to update a kitchen. The next step up would be to paint your existing cabinets. Determine if the existing cabinets are worth keeping. If they are in good shape and structurally stable, then they should be good to go. Start by removing the upper and lower cabinet doors and give them a good cleaning (diluted all-purpose cleaner, wood cleaner, or white vinegar with a little warm water usually works). Lightly sand the surface—using a hand sander is best. Before applying your paint, use a primer (Kilz has a great product line) to create a solid base coat for the paint to adhere to. Then, using a roller and brush combination or a handsprayer, apply at least two coats of paint. You’ll be amazed by the transformation.


Cabinetry Hardware

Hardware is like jewelry for your cabinets. Would you leave the house without a necklace or earrings? Cabinetry hardware dresses up the cabinets and adds an interesting architectural element to any kitchen. Whether replacing or adding, hardware is a very inexpensive way to update any kitchen space. Instead of introducing all one style, consider using different hardware for the cabinets and drawers, or mix it up a bit and choose different finishes. Oil rubbed bronze pull cups for the drawers and simple crystal knobs for the doors are a favorite of mine. And don’t forget the hinges—if you have exposed hinges, be sure to replace them to coordinate with the cabinet hardware. For around $100 (or less), your kitchen will be dazzling.


Backsplash Tile

Another huge update for a kitchen can be the backsplash. Whether your current backsplash is bare or filled with old, outdated tile, you can remove and replace it with something that’s more in-trend and fits your design style. Removing tile isn’t difficult, but it can be messy. To remove the tile without damaging the drywall, it’s best to chisel out the grout first, then chip or break the tile pieces. The key is to do it slowly. As an alternative, you can remove the tile and drywall, then install new sheetrock as a base for your new tile. There are many styles, colors, and designs to choose from, but it’s important to choose wisely. A tip to keep in mind is to make selections that you like today and can live for at least the next three to five years (unless you want to remove or install again). Moving forward with a classic, neutral tile with an interesting pattern will allow you to layer in colorful kitchen accessories.



Lighting can make (or break) a room. When all else fails, a good light is all you need. Whether a statement piece or an understated beauty, decorative lighting is key in any room to add height and drama. Lighting also doesn’t have to be expensive. Heck, I just scored an amazing light for $17 at Lowes last week, yet you’d never know. Focus on the style instead of the price tag and any space will go from drab to fab. Ideas for updating lighting in a kitchen could be over the sink, over the island, or a decorative fixture in the center of the space. If you’ve got recessed lights (hi-hats), purchase a conversion kit so they can be changed to hanging fixtures.


Window Treatment

A window treatment is a great way to add softness, color, and depth to a kitchen. With all the hard surfaces of the cabinets, counter, and floor, a pretty window treatment can be just the right added touch to update a kitchen. With a more neutral palette for the cabinets and counter, think color and pattern for your windows. My favorite style treatment in the kitchen is a relaxed roman in a bold geometric pattern.

Bonus Tip: Countertops are also a great way to update a kitchen. They can often be more costly to change and a professional is usually needed (which is why I didn’t include it in the list above), but they make a huge impact. There are a few products out there that are DIY and budget-friendly. In my kitchen, I used the Rust-Oleum Transformations Kit and for $250 it really updated the overall look. It’s not a great longterm solution, but for a quick one to three year change, it’s ideal.

With a background in architecture and interior design, designing and renovating kitchens (and cabinetry/millwork in general) is where the two collide. More so, I enjoy thinking outside-the-box to create not only a functional space, but one that has character, layers, and architectural intrigue. No matter the budget, any kitchen can be jazzed up and brought to the next level with a few added (and budget-friendly) details. If you’re stuck on what to do with your kitchen, I’d love to help. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jenna Burger is a local Interior Designer, Home Decor Blogger, bargain hunter, and avid DIY-er.  She delivers smart, stylish, and sophisticated design solutions tailored to fit the needs and vision for each client’s space. Additionally, her daily design blog is filled with do-it-yourself projects and simple-to-implement decorating tips. To get your dose of design inspiration, visit Jenna at 

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