homey modern kitchen with a vase of tulips on the table

DIY Updates for an Outdated Kitchen That Won\’t Break the Bank

With the current buzz surrounding the housing market, many potential homebuyers are finding that the saying, “Beggars can’t be choosers,” is proving true. With demand outpacing supply and the cost of home materials continuing to rise, there are far fewer new construction homes available for sale. What’s left are existing homes of various ages and in various conditions of style and function. 

It’s often said that kitchens sell houses. Not only are kitchens functional for preparing meals and entertaining, but also they are considered the centerpieces or “heartbeats” of the home. Whether you are in the market for a new house and may have to settle for less than your dream kitchen, or you’ve been in your current home for a while and simply want to spruce up your existing kitchen, below are three areas to consider switching up an outdated kitchen that won’t break the bank. 


Windows are an area of a kitchen that can have a huge impact on the look of the room with some very minor changes. If the current kitchen has outdated window treatments or blinds, consider removing them altogether. This change could be a way to instantly brighten up the room and allow extra natural light in the space. Inversely, the opposite advice may also be true. Adding an updated or trendy Roman shade, a valance, or grasscloth blinds can instantly bring your kitchen esthetic up to date.

Walls + Woodwork

Another area of major impact in a kitchen that feels out of date is to address the woodwork via the cabinetry as well as improve the look of the walls. Painting dark wood cabinets in a bright white or trendy color can have such a significant visual impact and happiness boost in a kitchen. The same is true of the wall color.

Before undertaking cabinet painting yourself or by hiring a professional, it’s wise to do considerable research. This project can take a significant amount of time and cost as well as leave your kitchen out of commission for weeks. If an entire cabinet overhaul is not an option, consider painting just the lower cabinets or an island. Additionally, changing out the handles and hardware is an alternative that can be inexpensive.

As for the walls, this may be a simpler option than painting the cabinets. Wall color added to the kitchen space to brighten or add a pop of color might be one of the biggest payoffs for a kitchen upgrade that you can do yourself. If painting is out of the question, consider wallpaper. Beyond traditional wallpaper, these days there is removable wallpaper as well as wall decals that can highlight or accent one or more walls in the space. 

If you aren’t into undertaking a major painting or wallpapering project, adding a large-scale piece of interesting artwork, an eccentric gallery wall, or a strategically placed mirror is a way to add fun and visual interest in a space with less commitment. 


A complete overhaul of flooring may not fall under the “won’t break the bank” category, but there are some options that might update the look of your kitchen. Some types of laminate flooring can be layered on top of existing flooring. Consider adding tile or wood floors over old vinyl floors. 

If there are existing hardwood floors that are in poor shape, there are options for either completely painting over the wood or partially painting over them with a funky pattern or floor stencils. 

Again, if paint or something more permanent isn’t a viable option, consider adding an area rug for a pop of color or to camouflage the floors. Large rugs or runners can help anchor the space visually as well as draw the eye away from an outdated floor. 

According to Home Advisor, in 2021 the average cost to totally remodel a kitchen hovers just about $25,000 or around $150 per square foot. Whether it’s a budget issue, a time issue, or a convenience issue, doing an overhaul of this magnitude might not fit your life. Updating a kitchen doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. 

By tackling a few DIYs with the windows, walls, and woodwork, or walkways, there are no limits to what kinds of changes can be made in a kitchen. Sites like Pinterest, Houzz, and HGTV can provide incredible inspiration and even offer the steps to get started and execute these projects. Even small changes can lead to big results in finding contentment with an outdated kitchen.