This is one of my favorite ideas bouncing around the design blog world. Paint an empty wall—it can just be a strip of wall next to a door, or space above a counter—with chalkboard paint, and create an instant place for phone messages, grocery lists, recipes, or your kid’s budding art genius.
If the area behind your sink isn’t impervious to water, it will soon become pretty gross. Install a backsplash just above it, so even the most enthusiastic dishwashers wont’ be responsible for rot. You can use leftover tile, ceramic, metal—pretty much anything that water won’t hurt.
If you can’t afford to replace the whole cabinet—one of the pricier fixes you could pursue—why not replace just the hardware? Buy some handles and latches you really like, and replace the existing ones.
Paint, or repaint
Painting may not sound glamorous, but it may be all your kitchen needs to look brand spankin’ new. If you’re lacking color, try some bold trim. If the walls are looking dingy, repaint—possibly with a new color that will make the space feel more exciting.
Like paint, curtains can drastically change the feel of a room. If you can’t find great ones within your price range, try making them from scratch; sometimes, buying the fabric is much cheaper than the finished product.
Want a 30-second upgrade? Toss those old kitchen towels, and maybe the potholders while you’re at it, and put some bright new ones on the rack. You can use the ones you’ve replaced as cleaning rags to assuage your guilt over unnecessary purchases.
The absolutely free makeover: clean everything and throw away the junk
You can make your kitchen look like new just by giving it a good scrubbing. By good scrubbing, I mean dedicating most of the day to the task. See what you can do to rearrange things so they work better and feel fresh.