Hang some art, replace hardware
half-gallon of paint and an afternoon of work, said Bennett, who lives outside Toronto. Or paint your floor. “If you have a wood floor but you hate the wood’s color, you can paint it white,” she added. With the right paint, you can also paint tile flooring or a backsplash – Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams have good options, she said. Update hardware Both Bennett and Soria suggest installing new cabinet hardware. “One of the most common questions clients ask is whether all of the metals have to match,” said Soria, who is based in Los Angeles. “But I think you can really mix it up.” He said that black finish looks good with brass finish, or even with nickel zinc. Mix up shapes, too. Try knobs on the upper cabinets and pulls on the lowers, a strategy Bennett employed for her own kitchen. For even less money, you can spray-paint your existing hardware. “I am a spray-paint queen,” Bennett said. “Unscrew those knobs and take them out to your garage.” She suggests matte or brushed gold.
Change out light fixtures
Updating fixtures may seem like a project only for homeowners, but Soria was able to change out the lights in his rental with his landlord’s approval. When choosing a new fixture, consider how much light you want. In a dark kitchen, Bennett said, the lampshades should be translucent or glass. “Then you’ll get a lot more light and not just directional light” shining downward. She finds inexpensive pendants and more at Target and HomeGoods.
“Even just the type or amount of accessories you have in your kitchen can completely change the look,” Bennett said. With a classic white kitchen and black countertops, she’d add natural wood in cutting boards leaning against a backsplash or wooden bowls on a shelf. “A copper or terra-cotta plant pot looks amazing,” she added. If you’re looking for more vibrantly colored accessories, Bennett said to use the color in no more than three accessories. Think, too, of how those appliances on your countertop can be accessories in their own right. Engelbach said Smeg’s appliances in particular are attractive, and added that even a new kettle and toaster can re-energize a kitchen.
Put down a washable throw rug
“They’re making some really good washable rugs for the kitchen now,” Soria said, pointing to Hook & Loom Rug Co. as an example. Try a 2-by-3-foot rug in front of the sink or a 2-by-8-foot runner down a long kitchen. It adds “softness and color,” he said. “And you want a washable rug because, in a kitchen, there are sauces flying everywhere.”
“Something you don’t see all the time is putting up art,” Soria said. “I’ve put up art on my backsplash using self-adhesive foam tape.” He said it can help anchor those organized stations, making them look visually united. Engelbach agreed. “I think it’s nice to have fabulous artwork,” she said. “For people who have open floor plans and open kitchens, they need to be cognizant of the fact that the kitchen is part of the living space.” If you can see a kitchen wall while you’re sitting on your living room sofa, you’ll want it to be aesthetically pleasing.
Try removable wallpaper and tile
For renters and non-renters alike, Engelbach recommends temporary wallpaper. Many companies make these, including Tempaper Designs and Chasing Paper. For a “verybudget update” for a backsplash, Soria suggests self-adhesive penny tile, easy enough to find on Amazon or Home Depot. “If you don’t have the time or the money to actually tile, you can actually use this wall detail.”
Change out a window treatment
Soria just finished his parents’ kitchen remodel and added a patterned Roman shade. “It’s a small update that you can do,” he said. To save even more, Bennett suggests, sew the shade yourself with remnants or going-out-of-stock fabric.
Two easy ways to update your kitchen is to change out light fixtures and add a few well-chosen accessories.