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How to Update Your Kitchen on a Budget

Whether you are planning to do a whole kitchen remodeling or invest in some select improvements, it's important to choose the right projects for your budget. You will want to make the most dramatic impact for the lowest price possible.

From paint and hardware and sources for budget materials, here are some ideas to help you plan your kitchen update.


Think of using strip lighting on the underside of your cabinets that plug right into wall outlets. It is an affordable way to brighten up your kitchen, and an easy DIY job.

Glass pendant lights can be a beautiful focal point of the room without breaking the bank.

Target light to the places it’s needed most, such as the counters where food is being prepared. Go Green and use LED lighting.


Changing to a more stylish hardware is an important upgrade. It is a subtle change that can dramatically enhance the look of your kitchen space. If you have lots of cabinets, be aware of how the price will add up. With all the beautiful offerings out there, there is no need to blow your budget if you shop carefully.


Change, Refinish or Paint the Cabinet Doors. 

If you are unable to afford new cabinets on your budget and your kitchen cabinet doors are dated or just beat up, think of refinishing and staining, or paint the existing cabinet doors for a more reasonable option. If you have solid wood cabinet doors that are in good condition, definitely consider refinishing. If you are painting, you may want to consider painting the base of cabinets and the kitchen island, black, paint the upper cabinets a stark, clean, white for a modern high-contrast look. You could go with a traditional solid white, cream, or go with a colour. Some versatile choices like light grey, pale sage green or duck egg blue are popular colours right now.


Replace Counters.

Prices vary widely based on the material you choose. Common countertop materials include:

Laminate. Made from particle board or compressed paper, covered in a thin layer of hard plastic. Easily installed, it comes in a variety of colors and patterns. It scratches easily if you cut on it.

Solid Surface. Solid-surface counters, such as Corian, are made from acrylic, polyester, or a blend of the two. Stain-resistant and available in a wide range of colors. It scratches easily, but small nicks and scratches can be sanded out. 

Butcher Block. A butcher-block counter is made from thin strips of wood bonded together into a slab. It’s easy to install but it’s vulnerable to stains and scratches. 

Granite. Natural granite counters were one of the most durable types in tests, resisting heat, cuts, and scratches. Each slab has a unique pattern. Granite has to be sealed regularly to resist stains, and the corners can chip. 

Quartz. Quartz composite, also known as engineered stone, has the look and hardness of a natural stone slab, but it’s actually made from chips of quartz bonded together with acrylic or epoxy. Consumer Reports found it the most durable counter type of all, resisting scratches, stains, and heat damage. Its only problem is that sharp corners can chip. 

Other Stone. Many homeowners love the look of natural stone, such as soapstone, limestone, and marble. However, these stones are costlier than granite or quartz and not as durable. They all scratch and stain easily, and marble can also be damaged by heat. 

Swap out your old Sink and Taps

Need I say more? A clean, unscratched, modern sink and fixtures will immediately freshen up your kitchen. When changing the fixtures, change the hose coming from the on-valve to the tap, after five years or so, it can deteriorate.


If your kitchen has old vinyl flooring, it could be worth lifting the old floor up to have a look at what’s underneath. Sometimes, you can find good hardwood floors that can be refinished.

Peel and stick tiles are easier to work with than sheet vinyl, making installation a fairly easy DIY job. If your floors are reasonably undamaged, you can apply the new tiles directly over the old flooring.

Paint over old vinyl flooring. Clean the floor well, and scuff it lightly with sandpaper. Then roll on a coat of primer and paint it with tough porch and floor paint. You can add a coat or two of water-based polyurethane to protect it. If you wish, you can add patterns or stenciled designs.


One of the most popular ways to transform the look and brighten up a kitchen is to add a lovely tile backsplash. Tiles can vary widely in cost, depending on the material, including colorful glass mosaic tile, plain white subway tile, and even stone.

Budget-friendly building materials

For bargains on light fixtures, check the outdoor lighting section of your favorite stores. Use your local Craigslist and Kijiji to source materials. You can often find sinks, taps and hardware, as well as floor tiles, and tile backsplash for your budget kitchen remodel.

No matter how much you pinch your pennies, sometimes you just can’t afford a total kitchen remodel. In this case, consider remodeling your kitchen in stages, rather than doing everything at once. You can replace the cabinet doors this year, get new counters next year, and add a backsplash, floors and new lighting in the future when it’s affordable.

Doing a remodel in stages gives you more time to save money for each project. You can break up the work into manageable chunks and gives you a chance to live with each stage of the changes for a while. You will then have a better idea of how you would like to proceed.

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