14 Kitchen Updates That Cost Less Than $200

Six of our favorite interior designers share their best budget-savvy updates.
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November 25, 2014

Photo By: Jennifer Kesler

Add Texture With Tile

Brian Patrick Flynn, decordemon.com:
To add architectural interest to any kitchen, carry the same tile used on the backsplash up onto the rest of the walls. Hardly a budget-buster, 12" x 12" sheets of penny round tile average just $10 per square foot. Image courtesy of Brian Patrick Flynn

Stylish Storage

Anisa Darnell, Milk & Honey Home:
Open shelving is a great way to wake up a bland kitchen while creating a functional place to display your favorite dishes. Rip out a few upper cabinets and replace with unfinished pine at least 12 inches deep for plates, add wood or iron brackets, and paint everything the same color for a custom look. Image courtesy of Anisa Darnell, photo by Jennifer Kesler Photography

Add Personality

Brian Patrick Flynn, decordemon.com:
A small backsplash can quickly be personalized by having a favorite photo printed onto commercial-grade billboard vinyl, which is easily wipeable and flame retardant. A standard 18" x 6' print will cost approximately $200 and even a small section will add a lot of visual impact. Image courtesy of Brian Patrick Flynn

Pendants With Panache

Anisa Darnell, Milk & Honey Home:
At its heart, the kitchen is a workspace making task lighting, like properly placed pendants, essential. Add style and illumination to your island or peninsula with unique pendants. Try vintage lanterns or depot lights, basket lights, hurricane pendants or even mini chandeliers. Image courtesy of Anisa Darnell, photo by Jennifer Kesler Photography

Cover Up With Carpet Squares

Brian Patrick Flynn, decordemon.com:
Easily (and affordably!) disguise dated tile floors by applying carpet squares over the old tile. You'll save the cost and effort of tearing out and replacing each tile, plus carpet squares add cushion underfoot and a cheery punch of pattern. Image courtesy of Brian Patrick Flynn

Focus on the Backsplash

Rouzita Vahhabaghai, Ita Design:
The backsplash is where you can add a lot of style for a little cash. Chalkboard and whiteboard paints come in an array of colors and will create a noteworthy background in any kitchen. Wallpaper is available in an assortment of patterns and finishes like vinyl for easy cleaning. Laminates include a brushed stainless steel finish to mimic the look of metal without the cost. Porcelain tiles can be cost-effective and come in a range of patterns and textures.

Make a Statement With Lighting

Don Raney and Jaymes Richardson, Civility Design:
Consider swapping a boring flush-mount ceiling fixture for a chandelier. Modern chandeliers are available in clear and colored crystals. If you prefer the look of a vintage piece, visit local resale shops, antiques stores or architectural salvage stores. Your new lighting will change the look, energy and drama of any kitchen while providing an immediate wow factor.

Work With What You Have

Amy Bubier, AB Design Elements LLC:
If your home is on a slab, update your kitchen by simply tearing out the existing flooring. Rent a concrete sander/grinder to prep the slab and use a soy-based concrete stain, like Soy-Crete, to give the concrete a nontoxic, easy-to-apply coating of sheer color. The freshly stained surface is a perfect complement to contemporary or modern kitchens and is a snap to keep clean.

Go Glitz With Lucite Knobs

Don Raney and Jaymes Richardson, Civility Design:
One of the quickest updates is to change your cabinet hardware, but instead of the ubiquitous steel pulls, choose a fashion-forward option like Lucite knobs. Set them off by spray-painting a large-diameter washer chrome or a complementary color to create a decorative backplate. It creates a very glam effect and makes the cabinetry look more like furniture pieces.

Declutter for a Fresh Look

Amy Bubier, AB Design Elements LLC:
For a free kitchen update, clean out the clutter. Remove everything from the walls, countertops, windows and tops of cabinets so you can see the kitchen as a clean slate. Accessorize with a few well-proportioned, carefully placed items to reinvigorate the room with a fresh style.

Add Texture to the Walls

Luis Caicedo, Luis Caicedo Design:
Paint is the fastest and easiest update, but for this kitchen I used Venetian plaster instead. It's roughly the same price as a gallon of paint but creates a luxurious feel that is pretty easy to clean. Tiny mosaic tiles placed in a dramatic way maximize the visual impact. Shop around at tile outlets for leftover lots of tile to save money. The combination of plaster and glass tiles is timeless and luxurious, yet simple, modern and elegant.

Freshen Up With Paint

Don Raney and Jaymes Richardson, Civility Design:
Painting the cabinets will create a dramatic change, even on basic stock oak cabinets. Clean the surfaces well to remove any cooking grease or dirt, and for best results, use a small foam roller rather than the one you would typically use to paint walls. Dark paint, such as black or deep brown, especially when paired with new hardware, results in a very sexy kitchen with a high-end look and lounge-like feel.

Start With a Plan

Amy Bubier, AB Design Elements LLC:
Before beginning work, first identify a design style that speaks to you. Do you respond to a minimalist modern interior space or a more layered, richly colored and accessorized space? Every good design begins with a plan, and identifying your design goals is the first step. Making style choices later will be easier if you know what you want. Maybe all your kitchen needs is a kicky new wall color inspired by a photo you've seen online or in a magazine.

Get the Look of Stone Without the Cost

Luis Caicedo, Luis Caicedo Design:
The countertops in this kitchen are quite small but could have been expensive to replace. I wanted a natural-looking surface, something like a huge slab of rough stone. To achieve the look on a budget, I created a faux-finished texture of concrete and plastic wood over rough wood, finished with many layers of protective varnish and wax.

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