You may love your new house or apartment, but the kitchen area leaves you a little cold. Even if you don't have a millionaire's budget to spend on remodeling and revamping your kitchen, you can still make several small but important improvements that will turn the kitchen from a room you dread to go into to one you enjoy spending time in. Before starting your kitchen redo, make sure you set a firm budget. Choose the maximum amount you can spend, and don't go over it.
Paint the walls of your kitchen. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint is all you need to completely revamp the look of your kitchen. Choose a bright, friendly color for the walls, such as sunny yellow, white or baby blue.
Repair and redo your cabinets -- don't replace them. Getting new, custom cabinets costs a lot more than you probably want to spend. A quick way to make tired cabinets look new is to paint them or apply a veneer coating. Use a screwdriver or drill to remove the doors from the cabinets, and paint those separately. You can also sand away the original finish and re-stain and polyurethane them. While you are at it, replace the old door pulls with shiny new ones.
Choose your countertops wisely. Formica is a budget choice. Granite or marble countertops are known to be high quality but costly. Try to mix and match if you can afford it. Select granite tops for counter areas that will see frequent use and less expensive counter tops for other areas.
Replace only the appliances you need. If your refrigerator is making a strange clattering noise or uses enough energy to power a studio apartment each month, you may need to work that into your kitchen budget. Look for bargains on new appliances, and shop when there are sales. You can save a lot of money if you choose to buy floor models of appliances. These appliances may have a visible scratch but should operate well and may cost you less than half as much as brand-new ones.
Add lights. Install a few inexpensive lights underneath your cabinets to brighten the room. If you have the counter space, you may want to put a table lamp on it to give more light to your work space.
Get rid of kitchen clutter. One reason many kitchens look sad is because they are packed full of stuff, such as single-use appliances, a collection of wooden spoons or spatulas that would put Martha Stewart to shame, or too much food in the pantry. Donate or get rid of the excess in your kitchen to improve its appearance. While you are at it, take any take-out menus, pictures or magnets off the refrigerator to streamline the look of your kitchen without spending a dime.
Based in Pennsylvania, Emily Weller has been writing professionally since 2007, when she began writing theater reviews Off-Off Broadway productions. Since then, she has written for TheNest, ModernMom and Rhode Island Home and Design magazine, among others. Weller attended CUNY/Brooklyn college and Temple University.