5 Free Things You Can Do to Make Your Kitchen Look Nicer in 5 Minutes or Less

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

Even on the longest, most brutal days, every one of us can take five minutes to make our kitchens (and dining rooms!) look a bit better. Whether you’ve got guests coming over and forgot to clean, or you just want a nicer looking space because you deserve one (or want a nicer looking space but mostly want to do nothing), you can make a surprisingly big impact with just five minutes.

Here are five things you can do very quickly that won’t cost a dime to do.

The 5-minute refresh isn’t just for when you want to quickly make a kitchen look nicer, either. The 5-minute refresh is a great thing to do in any room, one or two times a day on any day because it’s a fast way to sort of “reset” your rooms back to a neutral position, especially if you’re doing a lot of living in them.

If you have guests staying over, consider setting a mid-day 5-minute refresh alarm. If you work from home, take regular 5-minute refresh intervals. It’s a set of small movements, but it’ll help prevent your home from getting totally out of hand — and may make regular cleaning go more quickly, too.

Think five minutes isn’t enough time to really make a big impact on your kitchen? Set a timer and see everything you can do — you’ll be surprised how much can get accomplished in so little time! And sprinkling a few 5-minute refreshes throughout the day (perhaps one refresh per room) is an even more powerful way to get a lot accomplished in a little bit of time.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

1. Let in more light during the day or dim the lights at night.

Is it daytime? Throw open every curtain, roll up every blind and try to get as much natural light into your home as physically possible. Though that might seem to shed more light on a less-than-clean home, when you’ve got great natural light flooding in through windows, everything just seems nicer. Have a few more minutes? Give your windows a quick swipe to let even more light in. Is it nighttime? Do the opposite. Turn off overhead lights and focus a room into dimly lit pools of warm glow from lamps or under-cabinet lighting.

2. Break decluttering rules.

We often argue against things like junk drawers and overflowing baskets, but when you’ve only got five minutes, ignore all those rules and start tossing clutter into hidden spots as quickly as you can. But only if you promise yourself to declutter those areas when you’ve got more than five minutes to spare.

(Image credit: Liz Calka)

3. Straighten things.

I don’t know what I do in my home that makes every small appliance and table askew all the time, but just the simple act of aligning things back to where they belong can bring order and pleasantness to a room. So readjust any chair that isn’t where it goes. Realign tables that have been nudged out of a place. Adjust a stack of books or magazines. Even straighten any crooked art pieces. It’s not about trying to always live in a state of perpetual perfection — these little straightening movements are just easy things to do to create a pleasant effect on the overall feel and look of the room.

4. Pick up or dust visible dirty spots.

It might be the counters, it might be that rug made of a material that is like a dust bunny magnet — use whatever tools you have at hand (even if it’s just your hands) to quickly remove the largest and most visible spots of dirty. Stray pieces of paper or trash that have fallen on the floor. A quick swipe of a table top that catches the light. Yes, a full cleaning would of course make the entire room look great, but the 5-minute refresh is about keeping up the look of a clean home in between regular cleanings, and doing it quickly so you can get back to enjoying your beautiful home.

5. Spritz a good smell.

Wait a minute, this post title says “look” nicer. Well surprise! Our noses are tied to our eyes in such a way that a room that smells nice and fresh will magically look a bit cleaner and fresher to us. It’s a powerful illusion, so it pays to either invest in plug-in air fresheners (which you can check on and replace during your 5-minute refresh) or you can spray your odor-killing spray of choice on some fabrics or even just spritz a few sprays of organic air freshener in the air.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Master the 5-Minute Refresh: 5 Free Things to Do to Make Any Room Look Nicer