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5 Inexpensive Ways to Freshen Up Your Kitchen

Large luxury white kitchen with large island

Even if your kitchen was exciting and stylish when installed, over time it can look tired. Even dated. Cabinetry, countertops, and appliances may desperately need a makeover.

But you may not be quite ready to spend the equivalent of a tropical island getaway or more to spruce up your kitchen.

There’s got to be some kind of alternative — a fresh kitchen, after all, is a joy to work in.

So how do you inexpensively create the feel of a newer kitchen? By this we mean no new cabinetry, appliances, sinks or countertops. And no hiring of professionals or overhauling the layout by knocking out walls and rearranging cabinetry.

It’s obvious that all those things can dramatically alter your kitchen. That’s why they can be a major investment – one that you may not be ready to make.

And yet, there are some simple things you can do – that don’t cost a ton of money and that can be done in a short period of time by yourself – that will brighten the look and feel of your kitchen.

So roll up your sleeves and see the effect that little differences can make in your kitchen. For even more budget friendly DIY Kitchen remodeling tips, visit our special gallery by clicking here!

5. Replace Hardware

This is an easy one. Go browse the hardware section of your favourite home store and see what would work in your kitchen. Choose something fresh and interesting.

If your kitchen is a little bit country, pick something that reflects that in a new and fresh way. If you already have a contemporary look, update that look to today’s standards.

The following are some examples to get you started.

The type of hardware installed in this kitchen below can look great in traditional looking kitchens:

Large white kitchen with grey island and light hard wood floors designed with contemporary hardwar

Similar type of hardware:

White kitchen cabinet with silver hardware fixtures

These rod-like handles can look great in any kitchen:

Wood kitchen with stylish silver hardware on the cabinets and drawers

Remember, whatever you choose should feel right for you. Not just the look, but also the feel of opening door and drawers with your new hardware.

The issue with new hardware, of course, is replacing your old handles. If you can find the same type of installation configuration, you’re way ahead of the game. If not, you may need to remove the old hardware, sand, fill holes and paint, and then drill the new hardware into place.

Finally, those kitchen doors and drawers that currently have no hardware but were meant to be opened from the bottom out, can benefit greatly from the addition of hardware. And the best part is, you just need to drill holes for them to fit in!

4. Change Light fixtures

Pendant lighting over an island can really help create a more contemporary look for a kitchen, as well as providing more light over your work surface.

Here are some great looking examples:

Stainless steel adds a contemporary look. Contrast the pendants with the dated track lighting behind and note how the pendants take center stage, fooling the eye into ignoring the track lighting.

Kitchen with stainless steel pendant lights

Some additional pendant lighting looks:

White kitchen with 3 white glass pendant lights

These are understated, yet elegant:

White kitchen with 3 silver pendant lights from white ceiling

If you like color, you may find these fun:

Dining table illuminated with orange and yellow pendant lighting

Square pendants are unusual, but can add plenty of visual impact to a room:

Kitchen with contemporary white box pendant lights

Try these 60’s inspired globes for size:

Contemporary kitchen renovation using 3 large silver pendant lights

Lighting with a strong industrial bent can also have its appeal, depending on your kitchen:

Bright airy kitchen with large hanging pendant light and 2 white round pendant lights

Lastly, don’t overlook lighting areas such as under cabinetry and over tops of cabinets. Although some configurations may require wiring, you may be surprised at the choices of lighting available to make this task easy.

Changing your lighting fixtures can make a huge difference in your home, as well as providing added functionality:

Contemporary kitchen design with cabinet back-lighting

3. Invest in new counter stools

By changing the key pieces of furniture you have in your kitchen, you can make a major difference.

Even though your stools or chairs may be perfectly functional, they may sorely lack in design points. Swap them for some stylish pieces to achieve a big impact.

Imagine the same kitchen below with some plain-jane round bar stools, or worse yet, padded versions from the ‘90s. Now look at what the impression these sleek finds make:

Contemporary kitchen design with peninsula lined with 5 contemporary orange bar stools

We love the cool blue gray blacksplash in this kitchen! Click here to see more great kitchen backsplash ideas!


These white chairs may be more to your liking, or suit your kitchen better. Again, they make a big statement:

Black and white kitchen with 3 white bar stools lined up to the kitchen island

Zen-like stools can take you places your old round stools would fear to tread. Also, they are much more comfortable:

Luxury white kitchen with 4 black bar stools at the large all-white island

You can also play around with the chairs around your kitchen table for the same effect.

The big take-away point is: Don’t overlook kitchen furniture when thinking about major style impacts in your home.

Love the look of barstools around an island? Check out our buying guide to find the perfect style for your kitchen.

2. Install a pot rack

This is a simple, but visually arresting addition to a kitchen. Not only does it free up space from the cupboards, but it can add an appealing element to the room.

There are many different kinds of pot racks to choose from. Depending on the design, you can achieve an industrial look, a country look, a contemporary look, or any other look you desire.

As a functional element, a ceiling hung pot rack adds a charming punch to your kitchen. It announces that your kitchen means business. And that’s what a kitchen should boldly do, in our opinion.

Here are some ideas for you to consider:

Rich wood and granite kitchen with stylish pot rack hanging over the kitchen island

Sure, copper pots look the most luxe and the most professional, but don’t despair at your pots. Pots are inherently industrial and functional looking. So no need to invest in a pricey binge on copper pots. Just use what you have.

Large commercial kitchen with copper pots hanging from a series of pot racks


Large pot rack with many hanging pots over the kitchen sink

Even herbs can serve as decor and be both beautiful and functional. Find out what the best herbs for your home kitchen are by clicking here!

1. Consider Open Shelving

In some kitchen, the cabinetry evokes only one word: Yikes!:

Small kitchen with outdated cabinets in need of renovation

Or maybe two words: “Oh no!”

Outdated white kitchen

Above are examples of cabinetry that was very sleek and contemporary looking in its time (1980s and 1990s), but now broadcasts a rather dated look.

What to do with these types of cabinet doors short of replacing them?

One inexpensive option is to remove the upper cabinet doors, provided the cabinets themselves are in good condition. Sand and paint or paper the interiors, as well as the frames where the doors were attached.

Stack good-looking plates and cups in the now open cabinets. If all your dishes and glasses are mismatched in a non-stylish sense, buying a new set of inexpensive but contemporary looking glasses or plates won’t break the bank. And can have major impact in your kitchen.

You may even consider going to a flea market or antique shop and pick up some interesting looking jars, casserole dishes and teacups. Not only can they look good in your now open shelves, they are also useful.

White kitchen shelves with dishes

Note that only part of the shelving is open below:

White kitchen with open cabinets and shelving

Here is a very rustic example, but can give you an idea of what minimalist shelving can feel like:

Simple kitchen shelving design idea

Imagine this kitchen without the doors that the installer is currently hanging. We think it would look better, only because the doors are not particularly stylish:

Custom cabinet installer installing open-faced wood kitchen cabinets

The natural wood look of these cabinets is beautiful, but for a quick, inexpensive facelift for your kitchen learn how to paint them white by visiting our special DIY feature here!

Here’s a kitchen where only some of the cupboards are left open. This is a great option if you want to hide some of your more prosaic kitchen tools and dishes:

Grey kitchen design with some open-faced cabinets

More open shelving:

Elegant white open shelving in kitchen

Note the open shelving filled with books in this kitchen:

Kitchen shelving with books

And again here:

Woman in kitchen that has open-faced shelving used for storing cookbooks and recipes

Again, just one cabinet left exposed:

Green wood kitchen with elegant lighting and open-faced cabinets

Remember, it’s a look you’re going for. So be sure to investigate and visualize what your kitchen would look like if you implemented this concept.

If you can’t quite imagine it, it’s not a huge task to remove some of the cabinet doors and take a sneak peek. If the look doesn’t quite measure up to your liking, paint the doors if you can (depending on the material) and change or add hardware (see above).

Many times, details can make a huge difference in how a room is perceived.

The above are all ideas for you to consider. Some may work in certain kitchens, but not others. Make sure you really look at what you are working with to ensure that the idea will work in your home.

Happy kitchen tweaking! Because in the end, a happy kitchen makes for happy and enjoyable meals.

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