25 (Almost!) Free Kitchen Updates

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

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Rethink Your Layout

Rearranging furnishings and accessories you already own is a favorite budget-friendly tip for living spaces. Of course, cabinets and appliances make kitchens a little more, well, permanent. However, it doesn't mean you can't move things around. Take everything off your countertops and remove any furniture, such as china cabinets, moveable islands or butcher blocks, and play with a new arrangement. Bonus points for decluttering countertops and open shelving, which instantly refreshes your space.

Organize for Efficiency

Speaking of rearranging, don't forget to look inside your cabinets and pantry. See how you can make your space work for not against you. Move the glasses closer to the refrigerator or silverware in the drawer under your plates. Laying out your kitchen in the most functional way possible doesn't cost you a dime. Also, look for simple, inexpensive updates that go a long way. Add a divider to separate your pans or install pullouts to make the most of your deep cabinets.

Charming Displays

Freshly cut blooms from your yard combined with potted plants guarantee a homey, inviting atmosphere. Just like your bookshelves in your living room, you can create beautiful eye-catching vignettes on open shelves in your kitchen. Gather lovely accessories, greenery and a few kitchen essentials to add personal style to the heart of your home.

Accent Wall at Its Best

We've long ago reembraced wallpaper and the major style points it can add to any space in your home — especially in a concentrated dose. Cover one wall to create an accent piece that adds panache to your kitchen. Make use of leftover wallpaper from another project or invest just a bit of money. If you're covering a small area, it won't break the budget. This country chic kitchen has floor-to-ceiling cabinets in a soft green that look even better paired with this vintage floral wallpaper.

Grounded in Style

Adding rich color in small doses makes a big impact while keeping your budget low. Not only does the saturated runner bring much-needed color to this all-white kitchen, it adds softness underfoot — especially important in front of the stove and sink where you spend a lot of time standing.

Accessible and Stylish

Handy storage is a must in any kitchen. Coordinating baskets are used throughout the space for a cohesive look that maximizes organization. Fruits and veggies are stored under the open island to keep them close-at-hand for easy dinner prep, while baskets on the shelves hold other pantry staples and kitchen tools.

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. Create a pocket for hanging and clean the edges with iron-on fusible webbing.

All the Snuggles

When the weather turns chilly, your hard metal or wood dining chairs can get a little frosty. Grab fluffy throws to bring welcoming coziness to the seats. Faux fur or sheepskin throws add the complete cuddle factor to these simple wire armchairs.

A New Hue Perspective

Paint a slightly hidden spot, like the beadboard under this island, for an unexpected pop of color. Classic navy adds depth and richness to this bright and airy kitchen that's filled with whites and pale woods. Jazzing up a small area doesn't require a ton of paint, so grab some leftover paint from another project or buy a sample can to cover the space for around the cost of your venti coffee.

Leave Out Your Showstoppers

Don't hide your beautiful cookware away. Showcase it on your stove or artfully arrange it with other stunning essentials on your countertop. If your pieces are both functional and eye-catching, take advantage of them by letting them add color or metallic shine to your kitchen.

Color the Island

White cabinets help a kitchen feel bright, open and clean, but an overload of white can be too much of a good thing. Change things up a bit by painting the island a shade that really stands out, like this delightful cadet blue.

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 fun family-friendly hangout. Simply paint a wall or section of smooth cabinet doors, then tell your family they can write on the walls.

Groceries With Style

Create a showhouse-worthy display in your kitchen. If your favorite water or snack has can't-miss-it packaging, let it work for your design instead of stowing it away in the pantry. Plus, you'll have your pick-me-ups right on hand as you run through the kitchen.

Cover It Up

Freshen up barstools with brightly colored slipcovers. Weathered woods combine with a simple white color palette in this contemporary-meets-cottage kitchen. Tailored slipcovers for the barstools give the space a burst of turquoise. Plus, the ability to throw them in the washing machine for a quick clean means you can rest easy when your kiddos are eating.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Right Setting

Show off your DIY and money-saving skills by tackling a small backsplash project. Opt for tiles on mesh backing to make the project even easier. These petite rectangular tiles in shades of cream and brown make for a graceful backdrop and will be more durable than a painted or wallpapered backsplash.

Paint Always Works

Oh, the wonderful things a fresh coat of paint can do. Transform boring barstools and inject a splash of color by painting barstools a striking shade. This all-white kitchen gets an upgrade in color with the addition of the robin's egg blue stools.

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.

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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