17 Easy and Budget-Friendly Kitchen Updates Under $500

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated September 22, 2022
A bright contemporary kitchen
Photo: rawpixel.com / Adobe Stock

Remodeling your kitchen doesn’t have to eat into your budget

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Remodeling your kitchen can get pricey, but you don’t have to shell out for the whole enchilada. A few easy kitchen updates can make a big impact without requiring a major hit to your wallet. Best of all, they’re perfect for handy DIYers, and many of them can be done in time for supper. Here are 17 inexpensive kitchen updates that won’t break the bank or require a full kitchen remodel

1. Swap Out the Linens

Despite how simple it sounds, adding new curtains, placemats, pot holders, and kitchen towels to your kitchen can quickly refresh the space. If you’re currently working with a hodge-podge of old towels and mismatched pot holders that have seen better days, the impact of a fresh set might surprise you. Go full matchy-matchy or pull colors and coordinate—the possibilities are endless.

2. Paint the Kitchen Cabinets

You don’t have to invest thousands to transform those old cabinets. If your cabinets are in good shape, a fresh paint job is often all you need when updating an outdated kitchen. Plus, if you’re handy, you can paint the cabinets yourself and save major cash.

3. Install Soft-Close Drawers

Soft-close drawers are an understated yet luxurious feature that can make a kitchen feel more modern. Installing soft-close drawers usually costs between $40 and $100 per drawer when done by a professional, but you can also find wallet-friendly retrofits for around $15 to $20 apiece. With this addition, you won’t have to hear anyone slamming the door or drawer again. 

4. Paint the Walls

A man painting the wall of his kitchen
Photo: Kurhan / Adobe Stock

Painting the room is another simple and budget-friendly kitchen update that can result in a total transformation. Choose a pale grey that will make your white furniture pop, or go for a fresh mint green or a classic eggshell white. The possibilities are endless. Add a few coordinating accents, such as placemats or a rug, and you won’t even recognize your kitchen.

5. Update the Window Treatments

If you’re sick and tired of those old carrot curtains, a new window treatment could be the easy and inexpensive kitchen update you need. Whether it’s a sleek set of blinds or a new curtain pattern, changing up your window treatments can mix things up.  

6. Replace Your Old Kitchen Faucet

Your sink is the central hub of the kitchen, and if it’s worn or outdated, it can tarnish the look of the space. A sleek pull-down faucet looks ultra-modern and is super fun to use. Replacing your kitchen faucet is a weekend project you can knock out and get back to cooking a fabulous meal. 

If you’re uncomfortable with this plumbing task, then call a local plumber who can help get your fixture changed. 

7. Hang an Overhead Pot Rack

There’s something about a hanging pot rack that just exudes luxury—not to mention it makes great use of dead space. Pick up a shiny new set of pots and pans, or put your current collection on full display. You’ll feel like you’re stepping into a professional kitchen, and it will free up storage space in your cabinets.

8. Add an Accent Wall

If you’re not into a full repainting project, an accent wall can add a splash to your kitchen with way less work. Go for a bold color, get creative with textures, or add a shiplap wall—it’s a totally blank canvas. 

9. Hang a Chandelier

A luxurious and spacious kitchen with a chandelier
Photo: Ursula Page / Adobe Stock

A chandelier can be a dramatic centerpiece for the room. Plus, if you choose dimmable or ornate fixtures, the lighting can add tons of ambiance. If you’re wondering where to hang it, placing a chandelier over your kitchen island or kitchen cart adds a luxurious feel to the room. 

10. Refresh Your Cabinet Hardware

Swapping out your kitchen cabinet hardware is a DIY-friendly project you can knock out in a jiff. A new set of hardware is an easy kitchen update that will add a finishing touch to freshly painted cabinets. Plus, cabinet hardware comes in an endless variety of styles that can fit any budget.

11. Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

Under-cabinet lighting has an undeniable wow factor. For $500, you can purchase two professionally-installed lights and spotlight your main prep areas. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a more extensive, wallet-friendly option, consider installing peel-and-stick LED strip lighting.

12. Add a Bold, Colorful Rug

If those floors look drab, consider adding a bold and colorful rug to liven up the space. Go for a washable area rug or set up smaller mats to add pops of color. When choosing a kitchen rug, consider adding a nonslip rug right by the kitchen sink to help make doing the dishes more comfortable or a runner down the middle of a narrow kitchen to make the space feel larger. 

13. Install Open-Faced Shelves

Open-faced shelving is refreshingly modern and easy to install. From there, you can display your colorful dishes, shiny gadgets, fancy glassware, or whatever brings you joy. If you’re trying to organize a kitchen without cabinets, then floating shelves can expand your storage and add a modern look. 

14. Hang New Artwork

A spacious kitchen and dining area with artwork hanged
Photo: Mint Images / Mint Images RF / Getty Images

Whether it’s one brilliant focal piece or a carefully-curated gallery wall, artwork can add a lot of visual interest to a kitchen. Hanging your favorite pieces above floating shelves or on a wall adjacent to your dining table will  create a personal feel. Once you’ve found what speaks to you, pull colors from it to inspire your choices for dishcloths and decor. 

15. Get a Kitchen Island Cart

If you’re short on space, a kitchen island cart adds a whole new working surface. Use a kitchen cart to store cookware or small appliances that take up precious counter space. While regular kitchen islands can cost upwards of $1,000 or more, you can find some nice, classy carts for under $500

16. Match Up Your Storage Containers

Pulling together matching containers for coffee, tea, pasta, and more can really make your kitchen space look organized. Uniform containers will look sleek in your pantry or on open-faced shelving. Plus, refilling them is always oh-so-satisfying.

17. Add a New Tile Backsplash

A new tile backsplash can refresh and brighten your kitchen. Professional installations can get pricey, but DIY-friendly peel-and-stick varieties are inexpensive and easy to install. Or, if you’re down for a more involved project, consider installing your own backsplash with subway tile or mosaic tile.

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