Your kitchen is calling from 1988, but your bank account doesn’t want to answer. We get it: According to Remodeling Magazine, a minor kitchen makeover averages $20,122, while a major renovation can hit a you-gotta-be-kidding-me $60,000.
If you’re looking for something a whole lot more budget-friendly, a mini kitchen makeover for about $500 can go a surprisingly long way. Check out these eight cheap remodels to get your kitchen renovation cooking for a whole lot less.
1. Declutter the counter space
Kitchens tend to collect tons of stuff—like Mr. Coffee coffee makers, George Foreman grills, and weird canisters of wooden spoons—on countertops. An easy way to dramatically transform a kitchen is to simply put all that junk away. For around $490, you can install two separate shelving units to transform the dead space in that cabinet under the sink that no one ever uses
“Glide-out shelving can get around obstructions like pipes or disposals and make the kitchen a more useful space,” says Nina Ward, interior designer and regional director for ShelfGenie. Plus, the shelves can hold up to 100 pounds of kitchen detritus—that’s a whole lot of paper towels.
2. Paint just about everything
A chorus of experts says the most affordable and transformative kitchen makeover is to paint, paint, paint—and not just the walls, points out Tracy Kay Griffin, lead designer at Express Homebuyers, a real estate investment company based in Springfield, VA.
You can also paint the kitchen cabinets (NuVo Cabinet Paint Kit in taupe, $70), laminate countertops ($22 a gallon), formica countertops (Rust-Oleum Light Base Satin Cabinet Resurfacing Kit, $75), or even old appliances (12-ounce stainless-steel appliance paint kit, about $25). In short, you can make an old kitchen look like new, proving that beauty is only skin-deep.
3. Add an island
If a kitchen lacks an island, consider adding this popular workhorse.
“An island not only increases the use of the space and offers storage, but it also creates a wonderful social hub,” says Amy Bell, an interior decorator with Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, NC. A good option is Wayfair’s Dorothy Kitchen Island With Wood Top because it “offers lots of functionality at a reasonable price” of $324.99.
4. Make the dishwasher pop
Colors such as orange or red immediately “spice up” your kitchen, says Sean Juneja, co-founder and CEO of Decor Aid. A new Viking red stove can cost upward of $5,000. But a stove panel that’s easy to install can quickly and easily cover your existing dishwasher. It costs about $500 and comes in vibrant shades like cherry red and pink lemonade. It’s like a quick shot of decor adrenaline.
5. Amp up the lighting
One of the single most important elements that have a profound effect on any space is whatever devices are holding the humble lightbulbs.
“Changing out fixtures can not only update your space but also provide ambiance,” says Juneja. “A new pendant upscales the kitchen instantly and provides the biggest bang for the buck.” He likes this West Elm pendant style for a sleek yet warm look, or you could go for a bit of drama with this bundle of glowing orbs from CB2. Handy? Buy black cables from your local hardware store and hang generic lightbulbs for approximately $100 plus an electrician (maybe another $100 to $150) to make sure everything is safe.
6. Reface upper cabinets with glass
There are some things in your kitchen you definitely want to hide, like that family-size bag of Cheese Balls. Other stuff you want people to see: the vintage barware you scored at a garage sale. Swap out the heavy wooden doors on your kitchen cabinets for ones with glass to display your cute dishes and glassware.
“It instantly modernizes and opens up a kitchen,” says Juneja. It costs approximately $500 for an average-size space.
7. Update tired flooring
“If you have outdated vinyl or linoleum flooring in your kitchen, a fresh wood-looking floor can make a huge difference in the overall appearance of the room,” says John Horner, founder of Central Ohio Home Buyer.
Depending on the size of your space, a nice wood laminate can easily be put in for about $500 in material.
“Many of the laminate flooring found in your local home improvement store is either click together or stick down, and very simple to install yourself.”
We found some options that start at about $2 a square foot.
8. Replace outdated countertops
Another inexpensive way to transform your kitchen from something “dull into something amazing” is to install new laminate countertops from your local home improvement store, which often carries its own brands.
“New countertops can drastically improve the look of your kitchen for a very reasonable price,” says Horner. “For a medium-size kitchen, they can cost around $500 and installation is easy.”
Typically, you’ll have two to four different styles of laminate countertops and colors to choose from.