It’s easy to spend a fortune creating the kitchen of your dreams. There are countless luxurious finishes available to those who want to step up the style in the heart of their home. The good news is that you don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money in order to integrate a few new finishes in a dated or aging kitchen.
Whether you choose to apply a new coat of paint to cabinets, invest in new hardware, or add a colorful tile backsplash, here are five kitchen finishes that can add value to your home without a significant investment. In many cases, these kitchen upgrades cost anywhere from just a few hundred dollars to less than $5,000.
1. Upgrade Cabinet Hardware
Think of cabinet hardware as the jewelry of the kitchen, says Shannon Kadwell, certified master kitchen and bath designer for the architecture, construction, and interior design firm Anthony Wilder.
“It’s an easy DIY project that can change the look of the kitchen quickly and can add some design flair with fun shapes and finishes,” says Kadwell.
A simple online or in-person search will reveal an endless selection of kitchen cabinet and hardware options that vary in style, size, finish, and price. Expect to spend anywhere between $100 to $500 to update hardware (depending on the size of the kitchen), says Kadwell. And rest assured, it will be money well spent.
“You can’t go wrong investing in good solid hardware you love that will last you a very long time,” she adds.
Related: How to Replace Cabinet Hardware
2. Install Quartz Countertops
While replacing countertops might sound like a pricey endeavor, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Sarabeth Asaff South, a home design expert for Fixr, says quartz countertops are a good choice for remodelers on a tight budget.
“They are very durable and look great with very little maintenance, so they are very attractive to homebuyers,” explains Asaff South. “They’re also very controlled in costs; while natural stone can range from inexpensive to extremely expensive, quartz costs are more homogeneous. The average cost to install a quartz countertop falls between $1,750 and $3,000.”
Butcher-block or wood countertops are also wallet-friendly options that can reinvigorate the look of your kitchen space while also adding value. These materials add a classic look to your kitchen.
“Stone and Corian all tend to start in the tens of thousands of dollars for most kitchens. For clients looking to shave a zero off, I recommend working with wood and butcher block. It’s a look that needs to be incorporated into the rest of the design to exude a classic, and elegant vibe,” says Maryana Grinshpun, a principal with the New York City-based residential design firm Mammoth Projects.
Depending on the size of the kitchen, butcher-block counters can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, says Grinshpun. Like many of the other projects on this list, the money will almost certainly be a wise investment.
“Countertops take a real beating from daily wear and tear and replacing them can have a profound impact on a kitchen’s value,” continues Grinshpun. “While there are many materials to choose from, sticking with a classic palette can provide maximum value over the long haul and helps you avoid any trendy pitfalls.”
Because wood is typically less expensive than stone, it offers a great opportunity to upgrade a kitchen while keeping expenses modest. Butcher block is even less expensive than wood slabs and can often be found at retailers like The Home Depot and IKEA.
3. Paint Cabinets
“White or lighter kitchen cabinets remain timeless and are preferred by most homebuyers nearly 50% of the time,” says Mann. “They can make a space seem larger and can be the backdrop for a refreshing pop of color in an island finish or decorative backsplash.”
Painting your existing cabinetry a lighter color for your personal enjoyment, even before resale of the home, is a less expensive option than replacing cabinets, an endeavor that can be well over $10,000, adds Mann.
For a small- to average-size kitchen with 12 to 16 cabinets, repainting can be done for as little as $4,000, estimates Mann, who adds that this approach typically costs about one-half to one-third less than replacing the cabinets.
Assaf South says giving your cabinets a new coat of paint can come in even cheaper than $4,000, estimating the cost to be anywhere from $1,300 to $2,500 for repainting by a professional.
4. Add a Tile Backsplash
A kitchen backsplash is another area where you can step up the style in your kitchen without investing a fortune. If you’re considering this type of project, ceramic tiles are a design-savvy choice.
“Opt for something in a color or finish that’s on-trend. Shades of green are hot right now,” says Asaff South. “It will instantly brighten up the whole room, and you can find ceramic tiles for under $3 a square foot. Install them yourself to save and get the whole tile backsplash done for under $100.”
Changing or adding a backsplash is also a relatively quick upgrade, one that can be accomplished in just two to three days, adds Kadwell. “Tiled kitchen backsplashes are also functional by helping to keep the walls from getting dirty and are easy to clean,” says Kadwell. “Options are endless as far as color, textures, and design.”
5. Install Modern Lighting
Builder-grade lighting fixtures tend to lower the perceived value of your home. The good news is this is an area where you can easily upgrade the appearance without great expense, says Dan Wiener, founder and lead interior designer for Homedude.
“Replace the lighting in your kitchen with custom fixtures to increase the value of your kitchen. Look for statement fixtures or fixtures that use innovative technology,” says Wiener. “Then add lightbulbs that are a bright white to help your kitchen look bright and clean.”
The cost of this type of upgrade depends on the quality of the fixture, and the complexity of the installation but can range anywhere from $100 to more than $1,000.