Updating your kitchen can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! With some strategic changes, you can give your kitchen a whole new look and feel without breaking the bank. Here are 11 simple and affordable ways to update your kitchen.

Refresh the Paint

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to instantly update the look of your kitchen. If your cabinets are in good shape, simply painting them a new color is an easy weekend project that can make your kitchen feel brand new. If you want something more dramatic, paint the walls a bold, vibrant shade. Not only will it enliven the space, but it will also make it appear larger and brighter.

Change the Hardware

Replacing outdated or worn hardware is a simple switch that can completely change the look of your kitchen. Swap out old knobs and pulls for new ones in a trendy finish like brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, or matte black. For a more modern look, try swapping traditional hardware for sleek bar pulls or long handles. This update can be done in an afternoon and makes a huge visual impact.

Update Lighting

Lighting can make or break a kitchen. Swapping out old fluorescent boxes and yellowed dome lights for new fixtures will instantly brighten and modernize the space. Pendant lights are a great option over islands and peninsulas, while recessed ceiling lights provide overall illumination. For task lighting, try under-cabinet lighting or sleek LED strips. Dimmer switches allow you to control the ambiance.

Refresh Cabinets with Paint or Refacing

If your cabinets are structurally sound but looking worn, consider painting or refacing them. Painting allows you to inexpensively change the color and is a good option for DIYers. Refacing involves replacing cabinet doors, drawers and hardware for a completely updated look. While pricier than painting, refacing takes less time and allows you to choose new stains, colors and styles.

Change Out Countertops

Countertops take a lot of abuse over the years. Replacing outdated or damaged countertops is one of the most effective ways to update your kitchen’s look. Popular options like quartz, granite, butcher block and concrete are more affordable than ever. If your budget is tight, new laminate comes in stylish patterns and solid surface materials like Corian provide durability.

Update Backsplash

Like countertops, backsplashes also see a lot of wear and tear. Switching out an old backsplash for something new is a weekend project that can give your kitchen a fresh, trendy look. Subway tile, marble and travertine are classic choices, while stone and glass mosaics provide visual interest. Use a bold patterned tile to make a real style statement.

Add or Update Kitchen Island

Kitchen islands are extremely popular right now for their functionality and style. If you don’t already have one, consider adding an island or peninsula. It’s a great way to get more prepping space, storage and seating without a full renovation. If you already have an island but it’s looking outdated, give it a fresh look with new countertops, cabinets, paint or hardware.

Install New Sink and Faucet

Swapping out your old sink and faucet for new ones is one of the easiest ways to modernize your kitchen. Stainless steel, porcelain and composite materials are durable, stylish options. For the faucet, look for a high-arching style if you want a contemporary look. Features like pull-down sprayers and touchless technology lend extra convenience.

Upgrade Appliances

While certainly a pricier upgrade, replacing major appliances gives your kitchen a complete facelift. Look for energy efficient models with smudge-proof stainless steel finishes. If your budget only allows for one big appliance, make it the refrigerator since that gets the most use. Over-the-range microwaves combine two appliances in one.

Add Open Shelving

Open shelving gives your kitchen an airy, modern look while providing handy display space. It’s a great way to highlight your stylish dishware rather than hiding it away in cabinets. Mount shelves on the wall or try a free-standing baker’s rack. Just be sure to use your prettiest cookware and accessories so everything looks coordinated.

Install New Flooring

There’s no quicker way to completely transform the look of a kitchen than installing new flooring. Replace worn, outdated flooring materials like linoleum with contemporary options such as wood laminate, luxury vinyl plank, quartz composite, or tile. New flooring modernizes the space, adds visual interest, and holds up better over time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Updating Your Kitchen

Upgrading your kitchen doesn’t have to be difficult. With some smart planning and strategic changes, you can give your kitchen a fresh new look without breaking the bank. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about updating your kitchen on a budget:

What are the most cost-effective ways to update my kitchen?

Some of the most budget-friendly ways to update your kitchen include painting cabinets, replacing hardware, updating lighting fixtures, installing new cabinet handles and knobs, changing out the faucet and sink, replacing the backsplash, and adding open shelving or an island.

Should I reface or replace my cabinets?

If your cabinets are structurally sound but just looking outdated, refacing them by replacing the doors and hardware is about half the cost of full cabinet replacement. Refacing allows you to change the color and style quickly without tearing everything out.

What countertop materials provide the best value?

More affordable countertop options that still provide style and durability include laminate, quartz, butcher block, and concrete. Laminate comes in many colors and patterns now and is an economical option. Butcher block and concrete cost more but add lots of character.

Should I do the kitchen updates myself or hire a contractor?

If you have some DIY skills, smaller projects like painting, adding new hardware and lighting, and installing a backsplash can potentially be tackled yourself. But major changes like cabinetry, large appliances, flooring and electrical work may require a general contractor or individual trade professionals.

How do I choose new kitchen appliances?

When choosing new kitchen appliances, look forENERGY STAR rated models that will provide efficiency and savings on your energy bills. Measure carefully to ensure new appliances will fit in your existing spaces. Look for quality construction and materials that will hold up over years of use.

How much does it cost to add an island or peninsula?

Adding a kitchen island or peninsula can range from $1,500-$3,500 depending on size, materials, and features. Prefabricated islands are most affordable. Island installation costs more if it requires changes to electrical, ventilation or plumbing.

What’s the best lighting for a kitchen?

For overall illumination, use recessed ceiling lights. For task lighting, install under-cabinet lighting. Use pendants over islands and accent lighting inside glass-front cabinets. Make sure lighting is high quality and energy efficient.

Should I replace or refinish my kitchen floors?

If your floors are badly damaged or worn, replacement is likely the better option. If you have hardwood or tile floors that are in good structural shape but looking dated, consider refinishing them first. This provides a fresh new look for less cost than a full replacement.

How can I make my small kitchen look bigger?

To make a small kitchen appear larger, use light colors on walls, cabinets and countertops which reflect light and create airiness. Add mirrors to double light and views. Keep the space clutter-free and organize items in drawer organizers. Use glass cabinet doors to prevent a closed-in feeling.


Updating a tired, outdated kitchen doesn’t require a total renovation or massive budget. With some clever updates like new hardware, fresh paint, updated lighting and new countertops or backsplash, you can give your kitchen a whole new look and feel. Focus on high-impact changes that make sense for your space and budget. The result will be a revived kitchen you’ll be happy to cook in for years to come.