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10 Affordable Kitchen Upgrades to Make Your Kitchen Look More Expensive

You don't need a big budget to upgrade your kitchen. A few smart upgrades can give your kitchen a whole new look for a lot less.

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Kitchen Interior with Island, Sink, Cabinets, Stainless Steel Refrigerator, Pendant Lights, and Hardwood FloorsBreadmaker/Shutterstock

Swap Out Lighting For Brighter, More Innovation Options

If you are still using older lighting (especially ugly fluorescent tubes) in your kitchen, consider installing new lighting fixtures for a low-cost project that can make a big difference. Your kitchen may look very different under brighter hanging lights! Plus, today’s hanging light fixtures come in a vast number of shapes, sizes and styles, making them an ideal option for adding personality to your kitchen. Consider lower hanging lights, floodlights and sconces for particularly dark areas of your kitchen. LED lights are expensive but save the most energy and tend to last a long time.

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Warmly lit kitchen with wooden cabinetszhu difeng/Shutterstock

Strip Away Old Paint and Redo Your Cabinets

Many older kitchens are weighed down by poor cabinet surfaces that have been scratched, stained and worn down over the years. But a weekend project can transform them at low cost if you are willing to work at it. Sand down the old paint or stain on those cabinets and see what lies beneath. If the wood has a rich grain, restore it and preserve it with a varnish. If you prefer to paint, then choose a color (lighter pastels are the latest trend) that goes with your walls and appliances. You will be amazed at how different your kitchen will look with new cabinets.

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Gray colored tilesTom Gowanlock/Shutterstock

Replace Old Flooring with Vinyl Tiles

Flooring is often an expensive project because of the materials used and labor required, but today there are many options for inexpensive flooring projects. If your kitchen has decades-old linoleum, it’s time for a redo. Explore vinyl tile styles and colors to find something you like. Today’s vinyl tiles are affordable, very easy to install, and can even mimic the properties of other, more expensive surfaces for a high-end look.

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White kitchen with high wooden shelvingArchiVIZ/Shutterstock

Open Up Doorways and Cabinets

If your kitchen feels trapped behind doors or rows of closed cabinets, take them away! Remove the doorway and add extra plaster or molding to turn it into an archway (you may also be able to cut out unnecessary walls at the same time, but check for wiring and plumbing first). Detach the doors and backs of your hanging cabinets and give them a new paint job to transform them into open-air storage. Now enjoy your new open and connected kitchen! If you want a slightly more expensive project, consider replacing cabinet doors with glass to create even more of an open feeling.

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Expandable Shelves in CabinetsOmiStudio/Shutterstock

Install Expandable Shelves in Cabinets

Expandable or pullout shelves are an easy way to add extra room to your kitchen without changing anything else. This is a relatively small project and you can typically find a very good pullout shelf accessory for around $50—or you can make your own.

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Opened drawer in a kitchenzhu difeng/Shutterstock

Replace Hardware

Take a look at your handles and knobs. If they are showing their age, consider picking up a new set and installing them. You may be surprised how much difference new hardware can make in your kitchen. An old drawer can look new again with a sleek, clean handle. Even sink fixtures like faucets are usually quite affordable and easy enough to switch out for a quick renovation.

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Stone counter with a matching grey and brown tiled backsplashGoodMood Photo/Shutterstock

Add a Peel-and-Stick Backsplash

The backsplash is the section of wall just above your counter that tends to get, well, splashed. It’s a great opportunity to add some color and personality to your kitchen. Some backsplashes can be very expensive, so search for peel-and-stick tile backsplashes that look great and are very easy to install.

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Wood surfaceS_Photo/Shutterstock

Turn Dated Countertops Into Cutting Boards

Countertops tend to show their age, especially if they are an outdated color or worn out material. Countertops are a tough sell for a cheap kitchen upgrade because new materials tend to be very expensive. An affordable option you should consider is taking off a section of old counter (preferably the worst part) and installing butcher block or other cutting board-style material instead. This adds new functionality to the kitchen and provides a clean, minimalist look.

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Kitchen with under the cabinet lightingLukasz Stefanski/Shutterstock

Pick Out Some Under-Cabinet Lighting

We talked about overhead lighting, but adding new task lighting in the form of under-cabinet lights is also a worthy project. Under-cabinet lighting doesn’t have to be expensive! LED ropes, for example, are highly affordable and easy to install. While it adds a new dimension to your kitchen, it also highlights dust and dirt, so keep your counters clean!

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Brightly color red kitchen with a small wooden islandArtazum/Shutterstock

Build Your Own Island

A kitchen island sounds like one of the most expensive projects out there, but if you have the space it’s actually very easy to construction a simple island of your own to add more space. For an especially cheap kitchen upgrade, transform a rustic table with a butcher block surface and use it (with a few aesthetic improvements) for your island.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman