Kitchens have a habit of showing their age: the beadboard, the retro appliances, the years of cooking grease coating your cabinet doors. For a complete overhaul, you could be looking at a budget nearly $30,000, mainly due to the refrigerator, oven, stove, and dishwasher that could use replacing. But that’s not mandatory — there are some simple, affordable refreshes you can do to give the room years of its life back while adding a bit of value, too.
Is your house still suffering from a bad case of wall-to-wall carpet? Or is the linoleum flooring starting to peel up near the doorway? Try replacing it. It sounds like an expensive overhaul, but you don’t have to choose costly wood or tile. Instead, you can settle on an attractive, easy to clean and maintain laminate flooring that will give you the look you want for a much lower price.
Your walls are probably covered in residue from years of bacon frying and smoky grilled-cheese-sandwich burning. Try washing them down and repainting them — though you’ll probably shocked and impressed by how different they look after a solid cleaning. Pro tip: Choose a gloss or semi-gloss paint in a light color. The shade will help bounce light around and give your kitchen a welcoming and airy feel, and the glossy finish will make you wall-washing go a lot quicker.
One of the easiest updates to do to a kitchen is replacing the faucet. It can magically make leaks disappear, potentially provide added functionality — haven’t you always wanted a built-in filter? — and give the whole sink area a new feel. If you’re still wanting a little more, consider adding a colorful backsplash as well. Typically, these require only a handful of cheap tiles, and, if artfully done, can act as a focal point, all while hiding those old water stains and preventing new ones.
Like the walls, start with a solid washing, scrubbing, or sanding — whatever it takes to get the grime gone without completely replacing the cabinets. Once clean, try refacing cabinetry with veneer panels and hardware that incorporate modern design elements (think: clean lines and geometric shapes). Alternatively, a fresh coat of paint in a light, contemporary color can also work miracles to make a kitchen look larger, cleaner, and more up-to-date. Or, skip the doors altogether and opt for open shelving to showcase attractive dishware. While you’re already reconsidering your cabinetry, audit your efficiency. Could a few cabinets benefit from pull-out shelves or organizers? They can be very cheap, easy to install, and can finally transform that awkwardly deep drawer into a useful storage spot.
You spend a lot of time in your kitchen — cooking, chatting, or gathering over a meal — so while you’re trying to honor budget, do so while still getting the room you want.
Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, an online apartment marketplace. ABODO was founded in 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. And in just three years, the company has grown to more than 30 employees, raised over $8M in outside funding and helps more than half a million renters find a new home each month.