10 (Surprising and Inexpensive!) Ways to Improve Your Dated Kitchen

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Most kitchens aren’t perfect. Some are too tiny, some are too dark, and some are too outdated with a fat chance that they’ll ever come back in style. That last issue is a real doozy. Trust us — if we could call in your fairy godmother for some Bippity Boppity Boop action and, BAM, you all of a sudden got the kitchen that you’ve been wishing for upon a star, we would. But life isn’t a fairy tale.

Instead, might we suggest 10 tips for making your dated kitchen feel brand new? Short of a gut renovation, here are some surprising (and surprisingly inexpensive) ways to improve the space you have.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

1. Update your faucet.

Installing a sleek new faucet is a low-lift way to make a high-impact upgrade in an older kitchen. Designers often talk about faucets as “jewelry for the kitchen,” and we totally see why. Just get one that will fit the existing holes of your old faucet and changing it out is a quick Sunday afternoon project.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

2. Swap out hardware.

Cabinet pulls might seem like bells and whistles, but don’t let them be an after-thought. It’s a little thing that can make a big difference — and also show some style and personality.

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

3. Paint your cabinets.

Do you hate your cabinets? Don’t worry, lots of people do! They’re such a focal point that it’s impossible to love your kitchen if you don’t love your cabinets, and the best way to transform them (aside from getting entirely new ones) is to paint them. It’s not hard to paint your cabinets — you just have to make sure you do the proper prep.

(Image credit: Home Depot)

4. Refresh your countertops.

If you’re lusting over granite countertops, might we suggest a more budget-friendly way to alter the space you have? Make a quick trip to Home Depot where you can find Giani Granite countertop paint kits. They cover up to 35 square feet of space, and for just $80, that’s a whole lot cheaper than a slab of granite. And you can get it done in a weekend!

(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

5. Give your backsplash a makeover.

Completely new backsplash tiles can be pricey, but the visual impact is unmatched. Instead of taking down your old backsplash or calling in a professional, check Etsy for little decals that can go right on top of the tiles you already have.

(Image credit: Black & Blooms)

6. Add lots of plants.

This “after” photo from this kitchen makeover over at our sister site, Apartment Therapy, proves that plants have the power to completely transform the space. Does anything scream new and fresh more than something green?

(Image credit: Sandra Regalado)

7. Swap out your light bulbs.

Bad lighting has more of an impact than you may think. We asked light experts for their best advice for creating the right glow in your kitchen and they all recommended LED bulbs, which are energy-efficient and dimmable.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

8. Dress up your appliances.

Sure, it’d be nice to go out and buy a matching suite of new appliances. But that is not inexpensive! Instead, consider just updating what you do have. You can paint an ugly stand mixer, or add a stainless steel finish to your oven, or cover your fridge with contact paper.

Read more: 8 Smart (and Inexpensive!) Ways to Make Cheap Appliances Look So Much Better

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

9. Remove cabinet doors.

If your dated cabinetry is past the point of no return, rip the doors off. Seriously! If your doors are ugly, the wrong stain, or just not your taste, take them down and reveal DIY open shelving. Just make sure everything inside is organized to eliminate visual clutter.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

10. Put down a rug.

Rugs are a quick and easy way to hide a floor you detest. But before you just go ahead and get any ol’ rug, here are four things to consider when adding one to your space. May we suggest you look at the options from Wayfair, World Market, or even Amazon?

Do you have a dated kitchen? What have you done to make it just a little bit better?