Low Cost Kitchen Updates
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Walking into a tired and outdated kitchen can bring a homeowner's mood down when your budget doesn’t permit an expensive remodel or refinish. However, there are a few easy ways to update and spruce up your kitchen without having to make a major investment.

We all know about painting and adding new curtains, but what else can we do to give your kitchen a new look?

New lighting
One of the simplest ways to add character and a contemporary feel to the kitchen is by using lighting. Replacing your fluorescent fixtures with flexible track lighting or one of the attractive new pendant-style fixtures will give your kitchen a new look. Track lighting is relatively inexpensive where you can get an 8 foot track for about $15 and each track fixture for about $10 each. These have the added bonus of being adjustable so you can direct the light toward different areas in your kitchen like the sink and countertops. Another way to give your kitchen a modern look is by adding under-cabinet lighting. These are relatively easy to install on the underside of upper cabinets. A single halogen spot is about $3 per light.

Add a kitchen island
Adding an island or a new rolling workstation can be very attractive and useful if your kitchen has room. If you're a do-it-yourself person, you can build your own, or pick up an unfinished one from your local home improvement store. If your budget doesn't allow for a built-in model, a ready-made rolling island will only cost you between $150 and $500. These are convenient because when you're finished using them, you can just roll them into the corner until the next time you'd like to use it. If you're pressed for storage space in your kitchen, kitchen islands can provide you with more storage room for kitchenware.

Spice up storage options
Kitchen storage doesn’t have to be boring. For a few hundred dollars, you can add decorative flair to kitchen cabinets, shelves and other storage areas. Here's how:
When re-facing kitchen cabinets, pick a few that will be used for open storage. Remove the cabinet door and add a decorative curtain. Add a baker's rack with a long curtain; add decorative roping to partially tie back the curtain. Add roll out drawers in your newly refaced cabinets. This type of system is ideal for storing pots and pans.

Make a backsplash
Adding a backsplash can be a fun project and there are now many options you can choose from. A tile backsplash is an inexpensive way to go if you want to have something practical as well as attractive. Tiles are available in both hand-made and mass produced and can be purchased for about $4 per square foot for an affordable manufactured plain coloured tile. To add more interest to your kitchen, adding a few hand-painted tiles with unique designs will make your kitchen unique. All the required materials will cost around $100 or less if you do it yourself and buy good yet inexpensive tiles.

New counters
Countertops are one of the most important features in your kitchen because a good horizontal surface is all about the work. This means they should be of good quality to handle all your work and look stylish. Of course everyone knows that granite is very expensive, but it’s not what everyone wants for counters. There are several nice alternatives to granite that are functional and beautiful.

Laminates are the most popular choice for an inexpensive, long-lasting, easy-to-clean countertop. They come in myriad colors and cost about $25 per linear foot. As a do-it-yourself project, there will be some trickiness to attaching laminates, but if you’re motivated, you can get the job done right. Other work surfaces that might work well include tile and linoleum. Linoleum counters are similar to laminate, but with a somewhat more trendy appearance. For some kitchens, wood counters might be just the ticket too.

Don't overlook the value of coordinating various types of counters. For example, tile next to the sink and stove are heat and waterproof, but a wood counter is ideal for a baking centre. Laminate on the other hand is designed for kids.

Reface the cabinets
While replacing cabinets in your kitchen can cost you lots of money, refinishing them can be a much less expensive way to make them look new again. Replacing hardware on cabinets is also a very economical way to add style without going broke.

A typical refinishing job costs only approximately $200-$500 if you want to tackle it yourself. It's messy and time consuming as there really isn't a tidy way to get old paint or finish off cabinets, but when you've re-varnished or painted the cabinet, it can literally look brand new. Plan on devoting a month of weekends though. A good refinishing job takes time. And instead of refinishing, you could also repaint cabinetry to eliminate the old, weathered look.

If you have lower cabinet doors with just shelves and few drawers, consider mounting some of the pull-out drawer assemblies that are available in stock sizes for many cabinets. These are often available at storage and organization-type stores. You'll find that you will be able to store more and find what you have more easily. That alone could prevent you from pulling your hair out trying to find the elusive widget.

Another idea is to take the doors off your upper cabinets for a more open look and feel to the kitchen. If you do decide to remove the cabinet faces completely, a neat idea is to paint the inside backing of the cabinets a different colour or alternating colours to add a sense of depth and texture to the room. You could take down the upper cabinets entirely and hang artwork, especially if you've been able to streamline and improve the functionality of the lower cabinets.

Update the kitchen sink
The kitchen sink is used every day and nothing is more tiresome than a kitchen sink that is so worn and never comes clean. If you've been considering the newest stainless steel sink bowls, you'll be happy to know that they cost about $100 but their price will go up as the quality improves and new designs are developed. Other standard size sinks, which are available in porcelain, cast-iron, composite, acrylic and solid-surface, can start at $40 and up. Installing a sink isn't hard but if you don't have any experience with mechanics, seek the help of a handy friend.

You could also add a new faucet for some genuine dishwashing pleasure. With the right tools, most homeowners can manage installing faucets. Faucets have a broad price and quality range so look around for the best cost-value that suits your needs before settling on one.

Change kitchen cabinet hardware
Cabinet hardware is another inexpensive change that can make a world of difference to your kitchen design. Look for metal tones that will blend with other accents around the kitchen, such as lighting, door hardware and appliance handles.

There are plenty of ways to update your kitchen design without breaking the bank. The trick is to select a few key areas and get creative.