It's time for an upgrade.

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Kitchen with green cabinets and gold hardware
Credit: Getty Images

Not all of us are lucky enough to get a complete kitchen overhaul whenever we want. But just because you can't redo the entire room right away, doesn't mean you can't make some improvements! You'll be surprised what a huge difference these smaller design updates can make. Here are some smart ideas to help you inch your way closer to your own customized kitchen.

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Paint the Cabinets

Taking the time to refinish your cabinets with a fresh color will make a dramatic difference in your kitchen—and you may not even need to refinish all of them. Choosing a dark color on the bottom and keeping the upper cabinets a neutral will lend airiness to the entire kitchen. Dark colors tend to hide imperfections and spills a little better over time, while grays and whites help to brighten up a darker kitchen.

Use this guide to determine whether it's worth it to refinish or replace your kitchen cabinets entirely. Then, find some paint color inspiration here.

Install a New Oven

If you're going to update just one appliance in your current kitchen, a brand-new wall oven will completely transform the way you cook. The Smart Oven+ from the KitchenAid suite offers interchangeable attachments that allow you to steam, grill, and bake, all using one innovative appliance. Customized installation enables the oven to match the height of your existing kitchen cabinets—no major renovation necessary. This way, you can get your dream wall oven and impeccable craftsmanship, without remodeling the entire room. (Select attachments ship separately upon registration. See kitchenaid.com/redeem for full details). 

Install a new sink and faucet.

Installing a new sink in your kitchen can have a dual effect: it provides a fresh design focal point for the room and even makes things like cleanup and meal prep easier. Consider lifestyle factors, such as how often you wash dishes, to determine what size sink basin to get. For the faucet, don't just consider aesthetics, but also functionality, like touchless operation or a pull-out sprayer. 

Upgrade the backsplash.

A new tile backsplash doesn't have to be complicated—even redoing an outdated backsplash with a simple white subway tile can update the entire room. If your kitchen feels a little cramped, don't think you have to stick with tiny tiles, either. In fact, using a larger tile can actually make the room look larger. The same rule applies to bathrooms, too.

RELATED: 12 Kitchen Backsplash Ideas You Need to See Right Now

Switch up the lighting.

Even if we think about changing and adding light fixtures to other rooms around the house, we often forget about the kitchen. But that ugly, builder-grade fluorescent overhead light has to go. Replace it and then add pendant lighting over the sink, or sconces over open shelving or other pretty architectural details you want to highlight. Choose bulbs that offer better visibility, so you can see what you're chopping, but avoid the harsh light of a cold blue light bulb. A brighter white usually works best.

Embrace open shelving.

If you've got a blank wall, creating your own open shelving will add personality and storage. Try to achieve balance with the style you're going for in your kitchen. There are so many options, sleek and understated floating shelves for the minimalist, or reclaimed wood slabs held up by ornate iron brackets for a modern farmhouse or industrial style. Plus, the extra storage space allows you to pull out some of your favorite pieces of glassware to display instead of hiding them inside a cabinet.