Design to make Visual

Budget kitchen remodel: 8 ideas to refresh your space

Many of us would love a brand-new kitchen, but fitting an entire new set of units and redecorating is a costly process.

Fortunately, it’s possible to give your kitchen a facelift without breaking the bank. 

If you’re looking for kitchen remodel ideas on a budget, these tips will get your tired old kitchen feeling fresh again. 

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1. Paint kitchen cabinets

A lick of paint on tired kitchen cabinets is a quick way to transform your room or add a splash of colour.

Cabinets will need several coats of paint, plus you’ll need to prepare them beforehand (usually by sanding them down, washing to remove dust and grime, and then using a primer or undercoat).

Check the type of paint you use is suitable for kitchen cabinets, and that it’s the correct paint for the material. 

If your cabinets are made from laminate, look for a specialist multipurpose paint designed for wood, melamine and MDF. For solid wood or wood veneer cabinets, look for interior wood paint.

Check out our guide to the best washable paint

2. Replace kitchen cabinet doors

If your cabinets are in good shape, but you still fancy an upgrade, consider replacing just the doors. 

It should be quite a simple process, because kitchen units come in standard sizes to ensure compatibility and ease of installation – the width of base units typically ranges from 500-900mm, in increments of 50mm. 

For this reason, you shouldn’t need to use doors from the same company that made the cabinets, giving you much more choice. Just double check that your new doors are the correct size and have compatible hinges.

New cupboard doors will give your kitchen a fresh look without the hassle of a full kitchen refit.

Find out how much it costs to repair or replace kitchen units, doors and worktops.

3. Change your cabinet handles

You might not have given much thought to your kitchen cabinet handles. While the ones you have probably do the job, a fresh set of hardware is a great way to refresh your kitchen.

Flat or T-bar handles will make your kitchen look more modern. More traditional options, like arch handles or cup pulls, can add a vintage feel to your kitchen. Brass, bronze or gold handles look great against dark blue or green cabinetry. 

If you are happy to invest some time into searching, look for second-hand or handmade cabinet handles. Car boot sales and online marketplaces like Etsy can be great places for unique finds. 

Considering a full kitchen refit? Check out our guide to the best kitchen brands, based on laboratory tests and customer surveys. 

4. Try a new kitchen worktop

Fitting new or replacement worktops is another option for dressing up standard units or giving an older kitchen a new lease of life.

It’s not just the material you choose that determines how much your kitchen worktop will cost. Fitting a granite or marble worktop is trickier than a laminate one, so it will often cost more to install as well as to buy.

For a less expensive alternative, you can use vinyl wraps to give your old worktop a brand new facelift. 

Read our guide to the best kitchen worktops to discover the pros, cons and costs of different materials. 

Laminate kitchen worktop

5. Make the most of open shelving

Open shelving is a cost-effective way to boost your storage space and help keep your worktops clear. 

They work particularly well in small kitchens, as they open up the space. Too many wall hung cabinets can make a space feel closed in. Open shelving also allows you to get creative with your storage. Mix up functional and decorative items to create a more aesthetically pleasing display. 

Bear in mind that open shelves do command more cleaning and dusting to keep kitchen grime at bay, and you will need to keep them organised so they don’t look messy.  

Check out our kitchen design ideas to find more advice and tips for kitchens big and small. 

6. Add a splashack

Splashbacks are typically installed in areas of the kitchen where the walls are most prone to splashes, stains and moisture, such as above the hob or around the sink. Not only do they serve as a protective barrier, they can also be a striking design feature and the focal point of your kitchen. 

Tiles are a particularly popular choice for splashbacks. Metro tiles are a timeless option, for a classic and clean look, whereas mosaic tiles and patterned designs can add visual interest. Glass is another good option – it’s easy to clean, reflective, and can make your kitchen seem more spacious. 

Budget splashback options include acrylic, aluminium composite and even PVC wallpaper murals.

Struggling with excessive moisture in your kitchen? Read how to stop condensation.

Blue kitchen cabinets with white-tiled splashback

7. Set the tone with new lighting 

Well-considered kitchen lighting will not only enhance the functionality of your kitchen but can also transform the look and feel of the space. 

If your room feels too dark, or you are struggling to see while you cook, consider adding energy-efficient LED lights or strip lighting under your cabinets. 

If you want to add warmth and depth to your kitchen for socialising or dining, try incorporating pendant lights over the table or your kitchen island. 

Choose a warm-coloured bulb for an inviting glow. 

Read how to buy the best lightbulbs.

8. Change the flooring

Updating your kitchen flooring is a bit more of an undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a significant expense. 

Laminate floors come in a huge variety of designs, and many feature a click-lock system to simplify DIY installation. 

However, although laminate is generally more durable than it used to be, it’s still susceptible to damage from excessive moisture. Seek advice from the retailer.

For a more environmentally friendly upgrade, consider cork flooring, which has natural thermal and noise-muting properties. Bamboo and linoleum are also relatively popular eco-flooring choices. 

Take a look at our guide to wood flooring to compare laminate, engineered wood, parquet, bamboo flooring and more.

Modern Magnet kitchen flooring

Final considerations

With any renovation project, it’s important to know what you need and how much it will cost. Here are a few further ways you can save money when remodeling your kitchen:

  • If you’re happy with your current kitchen layout, sticking to it will avoid paying to reroute electrics, gas and waste pipes. Remember that you’ll need a Gas Safe registered engineer to fit a new gas appliance or move an existing one.
  • Consider buying ex-display or second-hand kitchen cabinets, which can save you a significant amount. Retailers offer 50%-75% off the RRP on ex-display units, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), and they will have been barely used.
  • Second-hand cabinets will also be much cheaper than new, albeit with some wear and tear. Before you buy, check exactly what condition they’re in, including any scuffs, scratches and missing pieces. Read all our tips for buying a second-hand kitchen.

If you’re not much of a DIYer, choosing an experienced and skilled kitchen fitter is crucial. 

Take care if you’re choosing a fitter purely because they’re cheap – this could be a false economy if you have to pay more to get problems fixed in the future.

Need a kitchen fitter? Read our guide to the best kitchen fitters, or use Which? Trusted Traders to find an endorsed installer local to you:

Be inspired to make home improvements. Sign up for our Home newsletter – it’s free monthly