Make Your Kitchen Look Fab on $500

Our design pros show you how to get a great new look in your kitchen for $500 or less.

According to Nikki Trivisonno, president of the Ohio State Chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the average cost of a mid-level kitchen renovation is $35,000. But, she says, all is not lost for the budget-minded homeowner. For $500, the clever do-it-yourselfer can give any tired-looking kitchen a makeover without having to replace a single cabinet or appliance.

Clean, Organize and Add Storage Solutions

"Many kitchens aren't really in bad shape, they're just very poorly organized," says Betty Nairn, general manager of Cabinet-S-Top in Medina, Ohio. The first place to start in any kitchen makeover, she says, is with a good scrubbing and reorganization plan. Hiring a maid service to do the heavy cleaning and a professional organizer to design better systems and processes is money well spent.

Clutter will make even the priciest kitchen look cramped and unattractive. Nairn recommends removing every last item from countertops, draweras and cabinets, throwing half of it away, and returning the rest to its rightful place. "Kitchens should be divided into zones for prepping food, cooking and cleaning," explains Nairn. To optimize a kitchen's functionality, items should be stored as close as possible to where they are used — cooking utensils should be by the stove, cleaning supplies by the sink and dishes near the kitchen table.

Adding storage accessories to the inside of drawers and cabinets won't make your kitchen any more attractive, but they will certainly make it more enjoyable to use. Found in home improvement stores, these affordable organizers include drawer dividers, roomy sliding drawers, pull-out recycling and trash centers, tiered spice racks and lazy Susans. Wall-mounted knife magnets can replace clunky counter-bound knife blocks and a hanging pot rack can free up an entire lower cabinet.

Paint

"Painting is the most cost-effective way of giving your kitchen a facelift," explains Nairn. For less than $100 in paint and supplies, a thrifty homeowner can transform the look and feel of their kitchen in a weekend.

The most obvious place to start is the walls. For smaller spaces, consider a bright, cheery hue to add energy and excitement to the room. A semi-gloss finish will provide the durability a kitchen wall requires.

If your kitchen cabinets appear dated but are still in good working order, Nikki Trivisonno suggests a fresh coat of paint. While not as straightforward a job as painting the walls, painting the cabinetry is an affordable and relatively simple task that provides a huge return on the investment. As with all paint jobs, the prep work is the most important step. "If your cabinets have a strong wood grain, it will show through the paint if you don't sand and prime really well," Trivisonno warns.

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