In the Home: Inexpensive ways to revamp your kitchen with a little sweat equity

Dark green paint on the cabinets contrasted with some open shelving create an attractive contrast. (Allyson Lublow/Bakes & Kropp via AP)

Changing up the paint color on the walls or cabinets is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of revamping your kitchen. (Dreamstime/TNS)

One of the biggest ways to gain equity in your home is a kitchen remodel. Gutting the entire kitchen and getting brand new cabinets and countertops, though, is expensive.

For more homeowners, that’s a remodel you save up for years for. You may not want to deal with the challenge of living through an entire kitchen remodel, either, where your fridge spends a few weeks in your dining room and you’re cooking off a hot plate for weeks on end.


There are easier ways to update your kitchen’s look without breaking the bank and destroying your routine, according to designer Leslie Gallant of Ridgewood Design in Hartford.

A few coats of paint:

Greens are in, greys are out

“The biggest bang for your buck is paint,” Gallant said. “Change up the paint color on the walls or if you have dark kitchen cabinets, you might consider painting them a neutral color.” Some of the colors Gallant suggests are a white or neutral for top cabinets or perimeter cabinets and a fun color on an island such as olive green or hunter green.

“Greens are what’s trending in kitchen color,” Gallant said. “Gray is on the way out. Olive green, hunter green and rich, historic greens are very popular. Go with oatmeal instead of gray.”

Gallant said the cream family is very classic if you’re in New England.

“It is never going to go out of style,” she said. “It’s coming back in and you can’t go wrong. White cabinets are also a classic New England style.”

If you’re ready to tackle the project of painting cabinets yourself, Gallant said to be sure to go to the local paint store and get the right products.

“It’s mostly the way you prep,” she said. “You cannot use any old paint on your cabinets.”

Cabinet refurb:

If painting the cabinets isn’t your thing, she also suggested swapping some panels out for glass or using some open shelving to change up the overall look and feel of the kitchen.

“Add plates or little succulents and small accessories to open shelving,” Gallant said.

See the light:

Spice up your lighting with rattan patterns and basket weave materials

Another way to change up the feel of the kitchen is in your lighting options.

“What’s popular right now is the rattan looking pendants or basket weave material,” she said. “Perhaps putting a pendant light in if you have tall enough ceilings or a faux beam.”

Window treatments:

For window treatments to work with the lighting, Gallant suggests woven wood blinds.

“It adds a lot of texture and depth to a negative space,” she said. “In a kitchen, most of the surfaces are hard and don’t really have many opportunities to create softness and coziness.”

Cozy cushions:

She said adding cushions to chairs can help add an element of comfort to the kitchen.

Bust out the wallpaper:

Peel and stick wallpaper is multi use, she said.

“It’s inexpensive and can change the look and add some personality,” Gallant said.

You can try using wallpaper on one of the walls in the kitchen or as an alternative to backsplash.

“It’s inexpensive as opposed to real tile,” she said. “If you don’t have a backsplash, peel and stick wallpaper can be great.”

Get crafty with hardware

Never forget the hardware on your cabinets. Changing out those little knobs and pulls can make a huge impact in your kitchen.

Gallant stressed changing the hardware is inexpensive and allows a more modern look to the kitchen. As a kitchen ages, the hardware gets dirty and old. A simple bar pull or something a bit shinier than you currently have may be an easy way to change up a kitchen’s personality.

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