How to Update Your Kitchen on a Budget

Follow these expert tips to elevate your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Is your kitchen looking weathered or out of date? It may be time to evaluate the space and add in a few upgrades to refresh the space. With the right planning, this home renovation project does not have to break the bank.

ESTATENVY connected with Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza of House Method and Jillian Gage of JL Powers Design to gain insight into expert tips for updating your kitchen on a budget.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Once you decide to upgrade your kitchen, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of Pinterest boards and intricate project ideas. While these certainly offer a great deal of inspiration for your space, it is important to be realistic about the scale of our project. Small updates can sometimes be the most impactful and affordable route to take.

“A simple coat of paint on the walls, refinished cabinets–painted or stained–and updated hardware are projects most homeowners can take on for less than $500 in total,” explained McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza.

These updates boost the overall value of the space, catching the eye of house guests or potential buyers without requiring a high investment from the seller.

Prioritize Cabinets

Cabinets are a major focal point of a kitchen and they can also be very expensive to replace. However, there are a few affordable ways to update the look of your cabinets without breaking the bank,” said Gage.

Homeowners can simply refinish the surface of the cabinets with a fresh coat of paint. This refreshes the look and gives the illusion that they are new. The process is DIY-friendly and only requires a good primer and the owner’s paint of choice.

For a more advanced upgrade, Gage recommends removing the upper cabinets entirely and replacing them with open shelving. This helps to open up a space and puts dishes on display. As shelving tends to be cheaper than cabinetry, this can be an affordable swap.

Remodel in the Off-Season

A helpful tip for those looking to make a big change is to reserve more costly aspects of your kitchen renovation for less popular months in order to have access to the best deals.

“Cold months are often slow months for contractors, and some offer discounts to drum up business, so shop around. Going for a renovation between November and February could save you serious money,” advised McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza.

Think Outside the Box

Beware of unexpected costs. Gage cautioned that projects like tiling a backsplash can be more expensive and difficult to complete than homeowners initially expect. However, with a little creative thought, you can really upgrade a feature without digging deep into your savings.

“Peel and stick wallpaper is a really fun solution that is easy to work with. Just be sure to look for papers that are cleanable as they are more likely to get a little dirty in a kitchen,” said Gage.

For homeowners who have a pre-existing tile backsplash in need of a refresh, she recommends painting over it as a solution. With proper paint and primer, this can brighten up the look and elevate your kitchen’s overall aesthetic.

Get Organized

“Utilizing your existing storage so you can move the less attractive kitchen accessories off the counter will help to make your kitchen look tidier and bigger. Bring in some greenery with a plant or some flowers and things will immediately feel fresher and more open,” explained Gage.

This simple fix allows for a wide variety of personalization and can suit any budget. There are so many great storage options on the market offered at different price points. An added benefit of this project is the affordability of swapping the containers out later. Mix and match colors, seasonal accents and more to create a constantly evolving system.

Keep Regional Trends in Mind

It can be helpful to note that general style preferences vary by location. There is no one-size-fits-all guide to perfectly updating one’s kitchen. It is important to establish whether the goal of the renovation is to suit your own preferences or to target buyers. If you are selling, seek out a professional for great insight into popular features.

“If you're remodeling to sell, I recommend talking to a local real estate agent to find out what buyers in the area are looking for,” said McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza. “If you want to get back the most value if you choose to sell your home, a broker can advise.”