Design ideas to refresh your kitchen


The simplest changes can refresh any kitchen without the hassle of a major remodel. Paint, tiles, wallpaper and other interesting accents can add a new look to any dated kitchen. The best part is that you can do it on a simple budget.


There is nothing wrong with painting over wood. Paint will give new life to old cabinets and allow you to choose the color and finish you want at a fraction of the cost of refinishing or replacing old cabinets.

Replace old items

Rather than redo the entire kitchen, consider replacing your old sink with a new farmhouse style or a shiny stainless-steel sink, or update your sink with a stylish new faucet.


One of the easiest ways to freshen up a kitchen is to add new knobs and pulls. There is a large selection available, ranging from glass, metal and resin to wood and stone. You can also mix and match different materials and styles to create a custom look. Check out artists that offer a different look—and make sure the knobs are comfortable and match the scale of your cabinets.


Crown molding can add an architectural feature to an otherwise plain kitchen. Use crown molding along the ceiling line, or install a chair rail three feet up the wall. You can also add decorative molding around the windows and doors to add detail and interest to the room.


Here’s another way to spruce up your existing kitchen: add new lighting and light fixtures. Halogen lamps are an excellent way to bounce light off the ceiling for indirect lighting—add a dimmer so you can turn them down for a subtler look.

For task and accent lighting, you can install lighting under cabinets—in many cases, there is no wiring involved.

Don’t be afraid to use lamps and chandeliers in the kitchen; decorative fixtures will not only add light, but can be a simple way to enhance the appearance of the room.


Adding an island can not only improve the look of a room, but also add storage and performance to the workspace.

Islands are very flexible design elements; they come in various sizes and don’t have to match the installed cabinets. They can be attached to the floor or be freestanding. For an example of the latter: antique farm tables make great islands.

Mixed cabinetry and furnishings

No one ever said that kitchen cabinets have to match. If you want a more personal look, shop around salvage yards, antique stores, flea markets and online for furnishings like hutches, baker’s racks, buffets, antique tables and china cabinets that you can add to your kitchen. Adding these items can be an easy way to create a warm, comfortable ambiance in the room when mixed with standard  built-in kitchen cabinets.

Reuse as many cabinets as you can, and spruce them up by refacing or replacing the doors and drawer fronts. You can also replace only the top cabinets and paint the bottom cabinets a different color.


The mix-and-match idea is not limited to cabinetry; it can also be applied to countertop materials. You can save money and create a custom look by using laminate on the counters and granite for the island. Mix butcher block with solid surfacing or laminate counters and concrete for the island. You can also use decorative tile for the backsplash and plain tile for counters, with a matching solid surfacing material for the island.


Vinyl tile or sheet vinyl is an inexpensive way to enhance a kitchen floor. There is an abundance of styles, colors and price ranges to choose from. A checkerboard pattern made of solid black-and-white vinyl tiles can add drama to any size of kitchen. Vinyl sheet flooring is also available in faux-stone designs that can create the look of granite, stone or marble for a bargain price.

Laminate is another way to create a rich look at penny prices. Laminate comes in wood looks as well as colors and is perfect for kitchen cleanup and dampness.  

Add color and pattern to a plain floor with washable area rugs. Rugs can be changed several times a year to create a new look according to the season.

Finding extra storage space in your kitchen

Place open shelving around the perimeter of the kitchen, where the ceiling and wall meet, to store casseroles and decorative containers.

Hang a rack for glassware over the kitchen island.

Divide the kitchen and living room with a half-wall that has built-in storage on one side.

Hang a single rail rack on one wall to hold pots and pans.

Cover a wall with pegboard to hold pots and utensils. Paint the board in an accent color.

Add shallow racks to the inside of cabinet doors to hold flat items like cookie trays.

Hang shallow plastic-coated wire shelving inside cabinet doors for spice jars.

Install an appliance garage between  the upper kitchen cabinets and the counter space.

Add glass shelves across a window to hold small pots of herbs.

Install a pop-out storage drawer in front of the sink to hold sponges.

Hang a plate rack on the wall to display colorful dishes.

Include a fold-down table at the end of a counter to provide extra surface space when needed.

kitchen, design, low-budget


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