Buying a new fitted kitchen can cost thousands of pounds, but there’s no need to spend that much money on updating your kitchen if you don’t want to. There are a lot of ways to modernize your kitchen without spending a fortune, and if you’re creative and resourceful you can get a great new look, even on a modest budget.
1. Paint works wonders
Re-painting your kitchen is the easiest and most affordable way to revitalize the room. If you decide to re-paint your kitchen, choose a latex based semigloss paint, so that you can sponge down splashes and stains easily. Be sure to clean and strip each surface before you paint it, so that the paint adheres to it properly.
If you have wooden cabinets which still have their natural colour, varnish them to prevent them from taking up any stains too easily.
2. Revitalize your walls
If you want an attractive, rustic look for your kitchen but can’t afford to completely remodel, try adding faux stone walls. These “3D” tiles add depth and detail to your room, but are substantially cheaper than the real thing. Be warned, however, cleaning these tiles is much harder than cleaning plain tiles or paint.#
3. Lighting for a new look
Never underestimate the importance of good lighting. Replacing dim CFL lights with high quality halogen ones will not just make your room look brighter, it will save you money on your energy bills too. In addition, the quality of halogen lighting is far superior, making it easier to see clearly when you prepare food, and making your kitchen look nicer.
Don’t just stick to pendulum lighting, install lights over the sink and stove, and consider adding under-cabinet lighting near frequently used worktops as well. Installing the lighting may be expensive compared to some of the updates on this list, but it will be worth every penny.
4. Simple hardware updates
Leaky taps, creaky hinges and wonky handles make even the nicest of fitted kitchens look worn and dated. If there’s nothing particularly wrong with your existing installation other than a little wear and tear, why not take a moment to fix it up? You can pick up replacement hinges, taps and handles quite cheaply at most hardware stores, and even the most casual DIY fan can replace a door handle in a few minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much better your kitchen looks when those little details are in place.
Don’t underestimate the impact of different handles. Using one design consistently through the entire room, whether it’s something modern like this:
Or timeless, but child-like, such as this Tigger themed handle:
It will make a big difference, especially when combined with tea towels, plates and other accessories which match.
5. Resurfacing – cheap and effective
Even cracked and chipped counter-tops can be fixed up. Instead of paying for a whole new fitted kitchen, get your existing countertops resurfaced, or re-paint them to give them a new lease of life. You may have to spend a couple of hundred pounds to get all of your counters resurfaced, but it is significantly cheaper than getting an entire new fitted kitchen done.
You can purchase furniture refinishers quite cheaply and do the job yourself for only a small expenditure; however you should read the instructions carefully before you try the job. The chemicals in furniture refinishers are both highly flammable and poisonous. Do not get the chemicals on your skin or in your eyes, keep them out of reach of pets, and open a window before you start work so that the room is well ventilated. Use a respirator if the instructions recommend one. Stripping the finish may also remove some of the stain, so you should look over the bare surface carefully and apply an extra coat of stain to even out the colour if necessary. Let the stain dry, wipe the counter clean, and then apply a clear coat to give your counter tops a shiny new finish.
Upcycling is the practice of taking old, rickety and worn items and turning them into something new and interesting. For example, you could take an old lamp and turn it into an attractive vase or rescue an old Victorian trunk from a junk yard, fix it up, and use it as a decorative storage box in your bedroom, or salvage an old cabinet and turn it into a fixture in your kitchen.
This battered old cabinet could easily be sanded, stained and varnished to create a rustic and appealing fixture in the kitchen.
7. Be thrifty when buying appliances
Do you really need to spend hundreds of pounds on a new washing machine, or thousands on a fridge with a built-in Wi-Fi screen? If your existing appliances are several years old, and are not Energy Star rated, or have a D rating or lower, then you will save money over the lifetime of the appliance by buying a new one. However, if your appliance is Energy Star A rated and in good condition, why replace it when you can simply hide it behind a cabinet door if the colour doesn’t fit your kitchen?
Image Credit: Kitsch N Kitchens
If you do need to buy appliances, don’t rush straight to the department store. Take a look on Craigslist, Freecycle, Ebay and any local listings sites or notice boards. Often, people get rid of nearly-new appliances when they’re moving house, so you could pick up some brand-name appliances that are in good condition for a fraction of the department store price.
Freecyle users give away old goods for free. If you are lucky enough to get an appliance at an affordable price on Craigslist, and your old appliance is in good condition, consider giving it away on Freecycle instead of paying to have it disposed of safely. You will save money, and someone less well-off than you (perhaps a young person moving into their first home, or someone who is going through a period of unemployment) will really appreciate the help with stocking their kitchen.