50+ Budget Fixes for Dated Kitchens

Find inexpensive ways to update kitchen backsplashes, countertops, storage and more. 

Is your drab kitchen leaving you uninspired to cook? Which means you’re eating out more which is causing you to spend more money and eat unhealthy foods? Check out these low-cost updates that can give you and your kitchen a whole new outlook.

Cover the Backsplash in Beadboard

DIY Bead Board Backsplash

DIY Bead Board Backsplash

You don’t need to finance a whole renovation to get a spectacular new look in your kitchen. With a few panels of bead board and a couple of hours, you can turn your tired kitchen into a colorful, updated room without the stress and dust of major demo!

Instead of tearing out your old backsplash, just go over it with beadboard. This project is a winner because you can paint beadboard any color, it’s inexpensive, it has a cute farmhouse vibe, and the only power tool you’ll need is a circular saw or table saw. Get the step-by-step instructions >>

Go Metallic

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

If you’re looking for a little bling with a touch of traditional style, install tin tiles on your backsplash. Originally these metal tiles were made for ceilings, but their classic look and durability make them a win for kitchen and bathroom surfaces. See how it's done >>

Pegboards Include Storage



Photo by: Susan Teare ©Joanne Palmisano

Susan Teare, Joanne Palmisano

Pegboard panels were cut to size and screwed on to the wall to create a backsplash where you can hang utensils and colorful dishware. This is a great project for renters: you can just unscrew the panels from the wall and patch the holes when it's time to move out. Take a look at the how-to instructions >>

1 Backsplash, 7 Ways

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White Kitchen With Map Covered Backsplash

Take this idea and run with it. We used maps, but you could use wrapping paper, comic strips, magazine covers, whatever. Cut a thin piece of plywood to the exact wall size, glue the paper on top, then apply shellac. When it's dry, attach the plywood to the wall.

Photo By: Susan Teare

White Kitchen With Pegboard Backsplash

A pegboard backsplash allows for extra storage as well as display space. The inexpensive panels are fastened to the walls, then hooks from the hardware store are used to hang utensils and kitchen gadgets.

Photo By: Lindsay Raymondjack ©Designs by Joanne Palmisano, photos by Susan Teare


Photo By: Susan Teare ©Joanne Palmisano

We did six other backsplashes in the pegboard kitchen pictured above, all renter-friendly and all inexpensive. We used maps, vinyl tableclothes, old fence pieces and more, check it out >>

Tile Can be Painted



Photo by: Susan Teare ©Joanne Palmisano

Susan Teare, Joanne Palmisano

If you’ve got a boring tile backsplash that looks lifeless, try stenciling it. No power tools are required, you can wipe off any mistakes while the paint is still wet and it’s very inexpensive. Once you get your design looking just the way you want it, make sure to apply a sealer to protect your gorgeous artwork. Get the step-by-step instructions >>

Stainless Steel Paint



If you’re dreaming about a stainless-steel upgrade for your appliances, but you can’t justify the cost because they work just fine, then look to stainless-steel paint. There are brush-on paints that can give you that high-end stainless look. If you’re looking to paint a hood vent, stove or toaster, make sure to get a paint that is made especially for high-temperature surfaces. Get more details >>

Wallpaper the Fridge

Photo by: Bethany Nauert

Bethany Nauert

If you’re a renter with a fridge that's a humdrum big white box, try covering it with removable wallpaper. There are plenty of patterns and colors to choose from so you can get as funky or subtle as you want. And when it’s time to move out, just peel the wallpaper off. Get the step-by-step instructions >>

There's Always Artwork

Photo by: Bethany Nauert

Bethany Nauert

If your landlord won’t let you paint or replace anything, hang bold artwork to draw the eye away from the not-so-pretty aspects of your rental. Plus, it’ll give you an opportunity to show off your personal style.

6 Easy and Stylish Updates for Rental Kitchens

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Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Fold-Away Dining

Make a Flip-Down Table 03:12

See how to make a space-saving flip-down table for a tiny kitchen.

Is the lack of adequate dining space an issue? Build a flip-down table with a piano hinge so that your table can lay flat against the wall when not in use. 

Use Every Inch of Space

Wood Breakfast Bar With Extra Shelving And Stools

Wood Breakfast Bar With Extra Shelving and Stools

A half-wall that separated the kitchen from the living area was turned into a breakfast bar with extra shelving. The vertical support holding up the table is hinged, allowing the tabletop to be folded down.

Here's another example of a genius flip-down table. This half-wall that separates the kitchen from the living area was turned into a breakfast bar with extra shelving. The vertical support holding up the table is hinged, allowing the tabletop to be folded down.

Trick Out Store-Bought Furniture

Tricking Out a Rolling Cart

Tricking Out a Rolling Cart

Need additional dedicated space in your kitchen? Take your cooking to the next level with a tricked out rolling kitchen cart. This is an easy DIY project that will bring a ton of charm and convenience to your kitchen.

Plain kitchen carts and portable islands are readily available in many big-box stores. You don’t have to keep their look plain and generic, see how this one was tricked out with a little paint, hardware and some handy hooks

Storage Solutions

Wire Racks in Cabinets

Cabinet Racks

To maximize cabinet space try stackable wire racks. The racks come in different heights and widths, and they allow various sizes of plates to be stored neatly within the same cabinet.

If storage is the main grievance with your kitchen, there are plenty of store-bought options that will help you make the most of your space. Add-ons like these wire racks can increase storage capacity and at the very least, make it easier to reach your dishes. 

Pantry and Kitchen Storage Hacks

Laurie March, the House Counselor, share tips on how to expand your kitchen storage. 

7 Ways to Organize Your Pantry

Make a place for everything in your pantry with clever tips from Laurie.

Here are more ideas to help you keep your kitchen tidy. 

29 Clever Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Organized

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Breakfast Storage Bar

Ever since blogger Tonya Staab and her family moved into their new home, she longed for more storage space in her kitchen. Since she uses her kitchen island for prepping meals, she came up with the idea of adding shelves under one side of the island. She uses the wooden crates to store vegetables, cans and recycling.

Photo By: Tonya Stabb

Paper Towel Drawer

An open-face drawer with a built-in paper towel dispenser makes the towels easy to reach but it is not an obvious part of the kitchen. Design by John McGilvray.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Looking Upward

Don’t overlook those hard-to-reach spaces. With a handy sliding ladder in place, access is a fingertip away. The shelf over the entryway stores cookbooks, and the circular lazy Susan is mounted on the wall to hold spice canisters. Photo courtesy of DIY Showoff.


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