The kitchen is a room that enhances your property’s overall value. But that doesn’t mean you need to pour thousands of dollars into updating it. There are several ways to update your kitchen affordably that any cost-conscious homeowner can handle.

    Here are five budget-friendly, DIY kitchen upgrades to consider.

    1. Paint Old Cabinets

    If you want to instantly change the look of your kitchen on a budget, consider painting your cabinets. Cabinets often take up the most visual space in a kitchen, and refreshing them can completely transform the room’s appearance.

    When selecting a color, consider the look of your other features, like appliances and backsplash, along with your personal preferences.

    For a timeless aesthetic, classic white or black cabinets are always in style. However, you could also choose a bold color like navy blue or emerald green to make the cabinets a focal point.

    Painting cabinets is an affordable upgrade because it requires minimal supplies. All you’ll need is a high-quality primer, paint, brushes, and other painting tools. I also suggest sanding down the existing finish for proper adhesion. Although the process takes time and labor, the result is worth it.

    2. Hang Open Shelves

    Another budget-friendly upgrade is installing open shelves. This can add attractive display space in your kitchen for items like glassware, cookbooks, spices, and decorative pieces. Shelves provide extra storage and accessibility without major renovation.

    Keeping things organized and visually cohesive is the key to pulling off open shelving. Use matching containers for your spices and snacks, and display glassware neatly in rows. Grouping similar items together helps maintain a clean look.

    Floating wall-mounted shelves make for the easiest DIY shelving project. However, anchored floating shelves or shelving units are sturdier options that may last longer.

    3. Update Lighting Fixtures

    The lighting in your kitchen serves the all-important function of illuminating your workspace for cooking tasks. However, it also influences the overall aesthetic and ambiance of the room.

    Outdated lighting can make any kitchen feel old and dark. Replacing light fixtures is an easy upgrade that can brighten up your cooking space.

    Swapping out an old dome, fluorescent light, or outdated fixture for something like a row of modern pendant lights over your kitchen island can provide style and better illumination. Try sconces or flush-mount lights along the walls for a lighter, airier look.


    LED lights are affordable options that provide bright lighting while saving energy. New lighting enhances usability and visibility. I recommend hiring an electrician if you feel uncomfortable working with electrical wiring.

    4. Replace Cabinet Hardware

    modern gray cabinets

    The knobs, pulls, and handles on your kitchen cabinets likely get heavy daily use. These small details can start to look grimy, loose, or dated over time. Replacing hardware is a simple upgrade that can completely reform the visual appearance of your space.

    Consider metal finishes like matte black or brass for a contemporary style or antique-inspired hardware for a more traditional look. 

    5. Update Backsplash

    Refreshing your backsplash can instantly give your cooking space a facelift.

    Protecting the walls around your cooktop, sink, and countertops is the practical reason for a backsplash. But this element also provides style through the materials, colors, and designs you select.

    This is another visual element worth upgrading if your current backsplash is outdated or worn down. Like cabinets, the backsplash takes up a significant amount of visible space in a kitchen.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    On a budget, use affordable materials like ceramic tile or vinyl. Avoid pricier stone, tile, or steel. Accent your work area behind the sink with a mosaic focal point for added personality. Updating your backsplash, painting, or restaining your cabinets coordinates everything for a put-together look.

    So, Is Updating Your Kitchen Worth It?

    Refreshing your kitchen on a budget is well worth the effort and moderate investment. Even simple upgrades like new backsplash tile or a new paint color for cabinets can give your kitchen a completely updated look.

    Open shelving provides added function and storage, while new lighting enhances usability and visibility. Easy fixes like changing out the hardware give the space a style refresh.

    The right updates make the kitchen more enjoyable to spend time in. Plus, a kitchen remodel adds value to your home, so you’ll see a return when it comes time to sell. 

    Get Your Estimate From Kitchen Experts
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    FAQs About Updating Your Kitchen

    How much does it cost to update a kitchen?

    The cost to update a kitchen varies widely based on the scope of work, materials, and whether you DIY or hire out the labor. Simple upgrades like painting cabinets, adding new hardware, or installing vinyl backsplash tile can cost under $1,000. More extensive upgrades with new countertops, sinks, appliances, and flooring cost can cost anywhere from $20,000 to 50,000.

    What are the most cost-effective kitchen upgrades?

    The most budget-friendly kitchen upgrades include painting cabinets, adding open shelving, updating lighting fixtures, installing new cabinet hardware, and refreshing the backsplash. These are mainly cosmetic updates that provide a big visual impact without replacing cabinetry or appliances.

    Should I update my kitchen before selling my house?

    Yes, updating your outdated kitchen before selling means you may recoup the cost through a higher home sale price. Even smaller upgrades like new hardware and a backsplash refresh modernize the space. Doing larger renovations isn’t always necessary.

    How do I choose a backsplash tile on a budget?

    Good backsplash choices on a budget are ceramic subway tile, glass tile, or vinyl/peel-and-stick tile. These cost less than stone or stainless steel. Add visual interest by doing an accent or focal point behind the range with mosaic tile. Coordinate the tile with your cabinet color.

    What are the trends for kitchens in 2023?

    Popular kitchen trends in 2023 include two-tone cabinets, open shelving, black stainless steel appliances, brass hardware, blue and green color schemes, natural stone backsplashes, and statement lighting fixtures like pendant lights.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Jonathon Jachura

    Jonathon Jachura


    Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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    photo of Lori Zaino

    Lori Zaino

    Lori Zaino is a freelance writer and editor based in Madrid, Spain. With nearly two decades of editorial experience, she’s written and edited for publications like Forbes, CNN, Insider, NBC, Newsweek, The Points Guy, The Infatuation, and many others. Having just completed her first home renovation, she’s more interested in home improvements than ever, dedicated to bringing you fresh and accurate content to help you update your living spaces.

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