13 (Almost!) Free Kitchen Updates

Sprucing up your kitchen doesn't have to take a big bite out of your budget. Small changes will add big style when you think creatively.

  • Decorative Plates

    Play With Your Food

    Who says a kitchen has to be boring? Add a fun touch with plates that spell out whatever's on your mind. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn turned mismatched plates into this very clever kitchen decoration by simply applying vinyl letter decals. Attach plate hangers and display in a grouping for budget-friendly artwork that packs a playful punch.

  • Vintage Cottage Kitchen

    Colorful Island

    White cabinets help a kitchen feel bright, open and clean. But too much white can be too much of a good thing. Change things up a bit by painting just the island a color that really pops, like robin's egg blue. Design by Sarah Richardson

  • Top It Off

    Turn a colorful but unused apron, shower curtain, tablecloth or any leftover piece of fabric into a cute window topper. If sewing isn't your thing, make a no-sew version by simply cutting the fabric to size, then creating a pocket for hanging. Clean the edges with iron-on fusible webbing.

  • Country cottage dining

    Cozy Up

    Add cottage charm and ample seating to your eat-in kitchen by bringing a weathered garden bench indoors. Fill with pillows to create a cozy seat that will invite guests to linger over a home-cooked meal. Design by Sarah Richardson

  • Make Your Mark

    Chalkboard paint inexpensively turns a ho-hum kitchen into a hip family-friendly hangout. Simply paint a wall or section of smooth cabinet doors, then tell your family they can write on the walls.

  • Kitchen shelves

    No Space Wasted

    Turn a sunny window into a spot for displaying a collection of your favorite kitchen items. Vintage pieces in a similar color palette are especially lovely when grouped together. Kitchen window shelves are also the perfect location for growing light-loving herbs and flowering plants.

  • Dining Room with Red and White Patterned Floor

    Don't Forget the Floor

    Spice up an eat-in kitchen with a trendy zigzag pattern painted on the floor. The key to a durable finish is the proper prep. Before painting, remove all traces of polyurethane or buildup of kitchen grease. Prime the surface with an oil-based primer and follow with paints rated to withstand foot traffic.

  • Salvage Chic

    If you're handy with a saw, cut up found strips of weathered wood to give your kitchen island or peninsula a cottage-style facelift. Alternately, you can give new boards a similar look by painting them in different colors, then heavily sanding them.

  • Add a Fresh Pop

    Display fruit in colorful bowls on the countertop. This dish of green apples adds a lovely splash of color, plus you're more likely to help yourself to a healthy snack if it's in plain sight.

  • White Kitchen with Blue Walls

    Modernize Vintage Lighting

    Easily give a dated brass fixture an updated look with a can of spray paint. If you don't feel comfortable removing the fixture yourself, have a friend who's electrically savvy give you a hand. Place the fixture on a drop cloth, cover the sockets with painter's tape, then evenly coat all surfaces with paint. Reinstall the fixture and swap out the traditional candelabra bulbs for frosted globes or Edison bulbs.

  • Easy Artwork

    Forgo several small pieces of artwork and create an eye-catching focal wall by hanging a large section of wallpaper or boldly patterned fabric. Create a frame with trim you already have on hand or can pick up inexpensively at your local hardware store.

  • Cottage Kitchen

    Show Off Your Stuff

    Create the look of a built-in china cabinet by simply removing a set of cabinet doors and filling the space with shelves displaying your favorite dishes. For added pop, line the back of the cabinet with wallpaper or paint it in a complementary color.

  • Jar of Rolled Oats

    Create Custom Canisters

    Give glass canisters changeable labels with chalkboard paint. Check your local craft store for pre-made chalkboard labels that simply stick on or do it yourself by first masking the area you wish to cover, then etching the glass and brushing on the chalkboard paint.

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