Get the look of a kitchen remodel, without the hefty price tag. 

By Caylin Harris
Updated September 03, 2019
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Not all of us are lucky enough to get a complete kitchen overhaul. Renovating a kitchen can be pricey, but just because you can’t redo the whole thing doesn’t mean you can’t make some improvements! You’ll be surprised what a huge difference these small design tweaks can make—and how much money you'll save on a complete kitchen remodel. Here are some smart ideas to help you inch your way closer to your own customized kitchen.

1. 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.

2. Install a new sink and faucet.

Installing a new sink to 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. Try pairing an Elkay Lustertone Iconix Stainless Steel Sink with the Elkay Avado Single Hole Kitchen Faucet for a modern look. Not only do the sleek lines of this sink provide a sophisticated focal point, but the edgeless drain eliminates the typical gap around the drain, so it's much easier to keep clean.

3. 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A new tile backsplash doesn’t have to be complicated—even redoing an outdated backsplash with a simple white subway tile can update the entire room.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.

4. 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.

5. 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.