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If you’ve got an enormous home improvement/decorating budget, the task of making your kitchen look marvelous isn’t that challenging (Bring on the granite countertops/stainless steel appliances/new cabinets!)
Fortunately, not every kitchen improvement needs to cost as much as granite countertops, and working with limited funds just calls for a little more creativity and elbow grease.
Here are seven ways you can make your kitchen a lovelier place without blowing your budget.
1. Get rid of extra stuff. (Cost: free)
Even if you can’t increase the square footage of your kitchen, you can make it feel larger by removing excess kitchen equipment and clutter.
Go through your drawers and cabinets and donate any items that you don’t use over the course of a year. Focus especially on large items that you rarely or never use (Think bread maker, ice cream machine, quesadilla maker), and look for unnecessary duplicates (Do you need 15 coffee mugs?)
Kitchen counters especially tend to attract paper clutter, so clear those off and enjoy the extra work space.
2. Clear your fridge surfaces. (Cost: free)
There’s a reason the beautiful kitchens you see in magazines or on Pinterest never have fridges plastered with coupons, school papers, photos, and recipes! The fridge is usually the largest appliance in the kitchen, and having clutter all over such a large visual space makes a kitchen feel very not classy.
You don’t necessarily have to take everything off of the fridge, but do remove any unnecessary items (expired coupons, old photos, extra magnets) and arrange the necessary items neatly.
3. Change your cabinet hardware. (Cost: $50-$100)
If a cabinet upgrade isn’t in your budget, consider a hardware swap. Depending on the size of your kitchen and the hardware style you choose, this can cost less than $100, and requires almost no home improvement skills. You just need to be able to operate a screwdriver.
If your hardware has classic lines but you simply don’t like the color, an even cheaper option is to spray paint your existing hardware. Spray paints come in a wide array of options these days, like rubbed bronze, or brushed nickel. Even a simple flat black spray paint designed for metal can turn ugly handles into something stylish.
4. Paint the cabinets. (Cost: $150-$200)
Cabinet painting is one of the most low cost/high impact kitchen projects you can tackle. Supplies necessary for this project include degreaser, spackle, primer, and high-quality cabinet paint. An orbital sander is also well worth buying if you don’t already own one.
The main cost of this project comes in man-hours, but if you’ve got more time than money, you’ll want to go the DIY route. Hiring a cabinet painter could easily cost upwards of $4000, so you can save a very respectable amount by tackling the job yourself.
5. Paint the walls. (Cost: $50)
If you’ve got a small kitchen and the walls have dark paint or patterned wallpaper (or wallpaper borders), you can make it feel larger and brighter by painting the walls with an airy color.
Most kitchens don’t have a whole lot of exposed wall space, so a gallon of paint should be more than sufficient. You’ll also need painter’s tape, a roller, and a small paint brush. Choose a paint finish that’s eggshell or semi-gloss so that you can easily wipe it when you clean your kitchen.
6. Replace light fixtures. (Cost: $75-$150)
Most kitchens have only one main overhead light fixture, and it’s not very difficult to find an updated one for less than $150. To swap them out, you’ll just need some basic electrical skills, and your new unit should come with instructions to help you out.
If you have trouble with your kitchen becoming uncomfortable hot during use, consider installing a ceiling fan with a light fixture.
If your current light fixture has stylish lines but a dated color, you can opt to spray paint it, and that will bring the cost of this project down to about $5.
(Bonus tip: While you’ve got the spray paint out, consider spraying any outdated vent covers or switchplate covers.)
7. Paint dirty grout lines. (cost: $10)
If your kitchen has old tile on the floor, counter, or backsplash, you’ve probably got dirty grout on your hands. Clean it with vinegar and a toothbrush, and then buy some Polyblend grout paint. It comes in multiple shades, and since it’s an opaque paint, you can choose a shade that’s different than the original grout color. If you’ve got dark grout, consider choosing a lighter shade to help brighten up the look of the tile.
To apply, simply brush the paint on with an old toothbrush and wipe off the excess from the tiles. Grout paint contains a sealer, so the new, clean finish will be simple to maintain.
Once you’ve got all these projects done, maybe you’ll love your kitchen so much, you won’t even be lusting after granite countertops and stainless steel appliances anymore!