9 Low-Budget Ways to Upgrade Your Kitchen

We often refer to the kitchen as the heart of the home, and that’s no surprise. For families big and small alike, it’s the meeting point on busy mornings and the place to connect after long days at work or school. With this in mind, it’s clear why most homeowners want to make this space as attractive as possible.

white over-the-range oven

But there’s a catch.

Kitchen renovations are expensive. The average renovation will cost anywhere from $20,000 and upwards, with high-end remodels often nearing the $100,000 price point. Now, for some, the budget won’t be a problem. However, not everyone can afford to redo the entire space – especially if you consider that most kitchens are built to last anywhere between 10 to 15 years.

So what can you do, on a budget, to improve the appearance and functionality, and most importantly, improve the rental value, of this family space? Well, you can start with the following low-budget upgrades.

1. Do a Deep Clean

Now, if you’re really tight with money, you’ll be happy to find that elbow grease is 100% free. A deep clean of your kitchen will not only allow old and battered cabinets, floors, and appliances to shine again. Even more, it’ll have a significant effect on the energy-efficiency of your home.

As you cook, your stovetop and oven will inevitably become soiled with grease and food. If left to accumulate, these can start impacting the efficiency of these appliances, which already use up a big chunk of energy in your home.

So, the first low-budget way to upgrade your kitchen would be to give everything a good scrub. You’ll be happy with how the place looks, but more importantly, you might even make some savings on your next electricity or gas bill.

2. Declutter & Organize

While you’re cleaning, why not take a look at all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years? Chances are, there’s quite a lot of it – and you may only need a small part.

Decluttering is one of the easiest ways to improve the looks of any space. As it encourages you to do away with any items you’re not using, you’ll be left with a clean, minimalist looking area once you’ve finished the process. Then, you can choose a few eye-catching design elements to improve your kitchen’s appeal.

You can take things a step further and start organizing what you have. If you’re one for Pinterest boards, you probably have a bunch of saved images with perfectly organized pantries and countertops. And, you’re more than likely to have a few empty jars lying around the house, so all you need to do is get to work.

3. Update Your Cookware

Do you live in one of those households with a mix and match of pots and pans? If yes, then you’re more than likely to be overwhelmed with the variety. Unless, of course, you’re here for that boho-chic look.

But, what many people don’t know is that, in addition to looking less than ideal, old cookware can also be detrimental to your health, especially if you’re using anything with Teflon, i.e., nonstick.

The good news is, you can easily switch to stainless steel. Not only is it safer for you, but it also looks fantastic. The alternative would be to go with old-school cast iron, but that requires a significant commitment most people simply aren’t prepared to make.

4. Hang New Curtains

Another way to update the look of your kitchen? Curtains.

It may seem like an obvious choice, but it really is effective. Not only will curtains add aesthetic appeal, but they also play a functional role. Plus, you can get them cheap at your local home-improvement store or Amazon. Unless, of course, you’re up for a DIY project. If that’s the case, you’ll be saving even more and getting a product that’s 100% unique.

5. Add New Hardware to Your Cabinets

Now, many resources will tell you that to update your kitchen, you need to switch out or paint your cabinets. But unless you’re a pro, this is not the type of undertaking you should be doing on your own.

Nonetheless, you can still make things look more modern by switching out the hardware. You can pick some up at Home Depot or turn to brands like Anthropologie and Zara Home. Or, if you’re after something one of a kind, definitely check out Etsy. You might be surprised by the choices you can find.

6. Change the Lights

Lighting has such a profound effect on how you feel throughout the day. So why not ensure that the heart of your home is lit just perfectly?

You can buy new fixtures if your budget allows it, but even choosing the right bulbs will have a wonderful effect on the space. For functional lighting, go with white hues to ensure maximum visibility. For mood lighting, on the other hand, opt for incandescent shades, which will help you relax. 

You could even opt for smart lights in your kitchen so that it’s absolutely attuned to your needs. While Philips Hue is a great option, it can be pricey, so make sure to also check out bulbs by Efuy or Ikea’s Tradfri line.

7. Add Music

What better way to improve your mood than with a good tune? If you’re looking for a low-budget way to make your kitchen more comfortable, you could decide to add a speaker.

If you’re one for smart home gadgets, then definitely go with the mini options from Google or Amazon. If, however, you prefer things to look and work old-school, you can check out this retro radio from Tivoli.

8. Plant an Herb Garden

You’ve got the music and the lights, and all that’s missing now is the greenery. Not only will plants improve the air quality inside your home, but they’ve proven to boost mood and creativity, as well as lessen stress and anxiety.

Now, if you’re one for pretty vases and colorful flowers, your task is simple. All you’ve got to do is take a trip to the farmers’ market every week and pick up a beautiful bouquet (or order one online). If, however, you’re looking for something a bit more practical, then you might want to start a small herb garden. It won’t require much work, and you’ll have fresh spices all year long. What more could you ask for?

9. Swap Out Your Appliances

We’ve saved the most impactful method for the last. Swapping out your appliances requires a heftier initial investment, but it’s an excellent way to save money on outdated, energy-inefficient devices. Plus, if you combine it with other utility bill-lowering techniques, you’ll be seeing considerable savings in the next year or two to come.


As you can see, upgrading your kitchen doesn’t have to cost a thing. Even just a few improvements, most of which will keep you under the $100 mark, can make a big difference.

However, if you’re ready for a more significant change, make sure that you do your planning well before you get started. This way, you’ll not only get the best possible results, but you’ll also avoid the common mistakes homeowners make when remodeling their kitchen.