10 DIY Ways to Upgrade your Kitchen without Breaking the Bank

Posted in Home Improvement on Oct 22, 2012, tagged with buying and selling your home

A kitchen that boasts a fresh and modern look can go a long way to improving the value and resaleability of your home. On the other hand, a new home with a dated kitchen gives you the opportunity to turn the space into an oasis that suits your design tastes and cooking needs. If your kitchen is still living somewhere between the 1970s and 80s, don't panic. Whether you're selling your home or moving into a new one, there are a number of low-cost, DIY solutions you can implement to bring your kitchen into the 2st century at a fraction of the price of a total kitchen overhaul. Here are 10 of our favorite DIY ideas:

1. Reface & paint your cabinets 

Do you have old cabinets that don't match rest of your new home? If you want to upgrade your kitchen without completely gutting the whole thing, try buying new cabinet doors, and then give the existing cabinets a fresh coat of paint.

When it's time to buy new cabinet doors, start by measuring your current doors to see what sizes you’ll need and how many, then make a list. Do some research before you make your purchase. Ordering new cabinet doors online can sometimes be cheaper than home improvement stores, but you might also find deals at local stores if they have any specials or closeouts that match your tastes. 

2. New cabinet hardware

Once you've added new doors and a fresh coat of paint to your cabinets, complete the look by updating your hardware. Target, Lowes and Home Depot stock many options for new hardware at great prices. You might spend $100-$200 on hardware, but this simple upgrade can make a big difference.

3. New countertops

An up-to-date countertop can make your kitchen look brand new. You don't need to purchase real granite countertops to have a beautiful kitchen. Laminate countertops are a durable option that comes in different colors and styles, and is super easy to clean.

4. Countertop resurfacing

If you're especially handy, consider purchasing a countertop resurfacing kit. These are typically specialized painting kits that help you add a new look to the countertops, with no installation or demolition involved. There is one caveat: it will take at least one full day to set before you can use your counters. If you like the sound of this option but you aren’t so handy, some carpenters and handymen will help for a reasonable fee.

5. Tile backsplash

Tile backsplashes can add some serious pop to your kitchen. A backsplash covers the wall area between the countertop and the bottom of the cabinets. You can choose from countless varieties of tiles, and because you’re not buying too much tile, the cost of the materials is relatively low, depending on the size of your kitchen. There are some tile kits that are made for the DIY type, and require no real tiling skill. Just measure out the space and make sure you make the right cuts for your outlets and wall switches. There are even “grout-ready” tiles, which have a self-adhesive backing (like a sticker) that you peel off and stick it right on the wall. Again, if this isn’t something you want to do (but you love the sound of the idea), a good contractor can help you out.

6. Under cabinet lighting

Under cabinet lighting is your kitchen's best friend. By installing lights under your cabinets, you add subtle accent lighting, as well as functional task lighting that will help you get your meals ready in a breeze. There are lots of varieties to choose from, and they are easy to install. LED strips and pucks can be attached without requiring any wiring, but you can also instal permanent wired under cabinet lighting with the help of an electrician. 

7. Kitchen drawer and cabinet organizers

Nothing reminds me of my mother's kitchen like a drawer exploding with utensils. It's easy to get your clutter under control using drawer and cabinet organizers. You can do the same for spices (which add levels) so you can see all of your spices without looking through the whole shelf of them.

8. Wall-mounted accessories

Hanging some of your most frequently used items to a barren wall space can add some functionality, as well as some design pop, to a dated kitchen. You can easily add a spice or wine rack, or even a pegboard wall for hanging your favorite pots and pans. 

9. Modern kitchen art

If your kitchen walls still have the same dusty framed art from the good old days, add some fresh flavor by buying a couple of pieces of modern framed art.

DECOR TIP: Instead of hanging art, showcase your best Instagram shots and family photos.

You can even frame famous family recipes—if you don't mind sharing them.

10. Vinyl flooring with grout 

For only a couple hundred dollars, you can add a brand new floor that looks like real tile, cleans like real tile, and even feels like real tile but at half the price. Adding grout between the tiles helps to make the tile look real. Try doing it yourself


Don't despair over your dated kitchen. These DIY upgrades can transform your kitchen into a bright, modern space:

  1. Reface and paint your cabinets
  2. Add new cabinet hardware
  3. Install new countertops, or...
  4. Resurface your countertops
  5. Add a tile backsplash
  6. Install under cabinet lighting
  7. Organize your drawers and cabinets
  8. Hang your most-used tools and accessories
  9. Update your wall art
  10. Freshen up your flooring