Kitchens are expensive. Even budget kitchens are costly once you add up all the costs of everything involved in a complete kitchen revamp. Having a few renos under my belt, I know it’s always the kitchen that costs more than the rest of the house, put together. Luckily there are other ways to update an old or tired looking kitchen that won’t cost nearly as much as a full reno.
Whether it’s the layout or the look of your kitchen that you want to change, these tips will give you lots of ideas. For some, you need barely any budget while others need more but they all still cost considerably less than a complete renovation would.
How to update an old kitchen on a budget
1. Add a lick of paint
I often talk about the power of paint because paint has the ability to transform and it’s so affordable. If I had to pick just one item to change a room — any room — it would be paint, every time. So even if you do nothing else on this list except give your kitchen walls a fresh coat of paint, you’ll see a big difference. I always opt for white or pale coloured walls for kitchens as it makes your kitchen look brighter, bigger and fresher.
2. Update the handles/knobs
This is a simple update that can lift up a boring or tired looking kitchen quickly and without much expense at all. There are so many different types of handles to choose from but going for a minimalist design will help your kitchen look cleaner and less cluttered. IKEA do plenty and they are very budget-friendly as you would expect. And don’t forget, if the colours not right, you can always spray paint them.
3. Change the layout (without buying a new kitchen)
Yup, you heard me right – change the layout of your kitchen using your existing cabinets and appliances. Sometimes, it’s the layout that’s the problem and not the kitchen itself. This is a hugely overlooked idea but you can completely change the look of your kitchen by moving everything around. While this will require some budget (unless you’re a dab hand at DIY), it will be a lot less than buying a whole new kitchen. Chances are you’ve got some kitchen design ideas in mind. Once you’ve decided what works for you, you may need to invest in a few new pieces — perhaps you want add an island or some more storage — whatever it is you can create the design you’ve always wanted without the cost of a whole new kitchen. One caveat: This only works if you have a kitchen thats in decent condition. But luckily most kitchens are built to stand the test of time.
4. Change (or paint) the door fronts
If the layout isn’t the problem but it’s the look of the kitchen, changing the door fronts of your cabinets can completely transform your kitchen giving you big results without the big cost. And it will be a lot less hassle too. It will look and feel like you’ve got a brand new kitchen. My aunt did this in her 23 yr old kitchen and her space was unrecognisable — her cabinets were still in good shape which is important but the doors were looking very tired. If I hadn’t known otherwise, I would have sworn that she’d done a complete reno! If your budget won’t stretch to changing the door fronts, paint them instead. This will take a little time and effort but the results will make it totally so worth it.
5. Change your worktops
Old worktops (unless they’re ones that get better with use) can really date a kitchen. If they’re stained or damaged or just look dated, changing them will have a big impact on the overall look and feel of your kitchen. While you do require some budget, it really doesn’t have to be much. Worktops come in a huge range of prices so there will be one to match your budget. But if you have a bigger budget, go for the best you can afford so that you don’t need to replace it anytime soon. And generally, surfaces like natural stone will elevate a kitchen more than manufactured materials.
6. Add a decorative feature or two
Sometimes a tired or lack-lustre kitchen may just need a few carefully selected decorative touches to make it look fresher. This can help when you have very little budget to make any bigger changes. Things like adding a feature light and/or some artwork can make a difference. Or perhaps if your kitchen looks cold and clinical, a vintage touch can help or maybe display some of your favourite pieces of pottery or ceramics. Even adding a plant or a combination of a few of these things can help. There are lots of little things you can do to bring your kitchen to life. And if your kitchen is old, simple details like these will add focal points to your space, helping take the focus away from the parts you don’t like.