Kitchen renovations are the most expensive of all rooms—period. But if paying for new counters, updating your backsplash, and switching out appliances fall outside of your budget, there are other ways to give your space a sense of luxury without spending a fortune. From upgrading your cabinetry hardware to swapping out an outdated light fixture, or even hanging an affordable piece of art, you'd be surprised at just how many budget-friendly kitchen styling tricks there are for creating a chef-worthy space on a dime. Even if you do just one of these things, your space will instantly look more luxe—trust us.
If you'd like to take your kitchen's design up a notch, keep scrolling for 20 kitchen design ideas that will transform your space from standard to special and ho-hum to high-end in no time.
Upgrade Your Hardware
If your kitchen has both large drawers and cabinets, consider using different hardware for each to bring additional details into your décor. Use both pulls and knobs, but keep the finishes the same to prevent the look from clashing. Upgrading to high-quality hardware can make your cabinets feel revamped without splurging on brand-new installations.
Add some greenery to your space to give it a lived-in, luxurious feel. Windowsill herbs are a safe bet—and they're not only beautiful, but also functional. Place small pots scattered throughout the space and around the windows, or opt for a single large planter placed prominently on a counter or island.
Update Your Light Fixtures
We've often said lighting is like jewelry in a design because it adds the perfect finishing touch to a room. With this in mind, switch out your light fixtures to upgrade your kitchen. Choose unexpected shapes and designs for items with a little more personality to give your space a custom, designer-inspired look.
Personalize With Accessories
To create a rich, special space, consider how you can make your kitchen stand out. Layer unexpected and unusual elements like wall ferns, decorative accessories on shelves, personal mementos, and interesting textiles to create a unique design. Your home should feel like a place that reflects your own style and personality—so extend it to the kitchen for a completed look.
Lay Down a Rug
By adding a runner or area rug to your kitchen, you'll add warmth to your space while also keeping your feet comfortable as you cook. This will make the space feel just as decorated as the other areas of your home. An outdoor rug is a safe bet to withstand the beating it will likely take, and it will also help ensure easy clean-up in case of spills.
Opt for Stools
Many kitchens lack the space to have additional furniture items, so counter stools are often the only way to add personality to the room with furnishings. Opt for barstools in interesting shapes and materials to add an unexpected element to your décor. If your space doesn't allow for an island or bar area, tuck a single small stool into a corner to not only create a spot to rest while cooking, but also to add another layer to your design.
Swap Out Your Faucet
Faucets have come a long way. Many large manufacturers are now offering them in a variety of shapes, finishes, and configurations. Swap your standard version for a unique kitchen faucet with a decorative finish that matches your cabinet hardware to give your space a high-end look.
If you feel like your walls are lacking personality, hang an interesting piece of artwork in the kitchen to introduce color and texture into your space. Break free of traditionally accepted subject matter, like fruit and vegetable still-life paintings. Hang vintage oil works or modern portraits to create a sophisticated vibe.
Paint the frames of your artwork in the same color as your kitchen cabinetry for a unique, cohesive look that feels intentional.
Piles of mail, dirty toasters, and wet sponges definitely make a kitchen feel less-than-special. Keep your counters organized by corralling necessities that you can't hide in cabinets in decorative trays and baskets. Make room in cupboards or high cabinets for small appliances you don't use every day, and hide cleaning supplies in a caddy beneath the sink.
Paint Your Cabinets
This simple kitchen design hack is a great way to completely revamp your space at a low cost. Remove your cabinet doors and hardware, sand down your cabinetry, and add a fresh coat of paint to the cabinets and doors. Choose a paint color that complements the rest of your décor and reflects your personality for a unique touch.
Add Open Shelving
Open shelving is a staple of many high-end kitchens, and it's actually easy to install yourself. If you have an unused wall that could use some attention, find an affordable style of shelves that suit your room's design to fill the space. If you have extra cabinets filled with beautiful kitchenwares and dish sets (but don't want to break the bank on brand-new cabinetry), open shelves are a much more budget-friendly option to upgrade the room and display your favorite items.
Unify Your Décor
If your kitchen is currently designed with a mix of modern, boho, eclectic, or traditional décor, an easy way to upgrade the space is by choosing one style. Make a commitment to your favorite type of design. If you're a fan of modern finishes, opt for stainless steel storage containers, hardware, and utensils. If you're going for a cozy, inviting vibe, choose wood and woven materials that make the space feel warm.
Style the Counters
Many expensive kitchens look complete thanks to interior designers taking care to style each corner beautifully. Create the look in your own space by adding intentional décor: Fresh flower vases, knife and utensil holders, or cutting boards on the room's counters can make a high-quality statement (even in an outdated kitchen).
Deep Clean Your Space
This simple tip doesn't cost a dime. If your kitchen is starting to feel dated or you're tiring of its design, it might just need a good deep cleaning—and all of those beautiful designer kitchens that catch your eye are sparkling with clean, fresh vibes. Edit down the items in your space to remove any unnecessary clutter, then deep clean from floor to ceiling. You'll be surprised at the difference it makes to scrub your cabinets, polish your sink, and clean the grout on your backsplash and tile floors.
Add an Island
Kitchen islands don't have to be built-in—or come at a high cost. If you've got extra space in the center of your kitchen, opt for a rolling island that can be moved around easily. Many styles start at less than $200 for high-quality materials, and you can even find brands that use butcher block on the surface (so you can say goodbye to clutter in your cabinets with cutting boards).
For an extra expensive-looking touch, remove the wheels from your rolling island and style it in a dedicated space. It'll make the furniture look more built-in, and it will also stay still on the floor when you're using it for chopping vegetables, preparing meats, or laying out freshly-cooked dinner plates.
Style a Wine Rack
Do you have a collection of wine glasses taking up space on your kitchen's open shelving? Opt for a wine rack instead to remove clutter from shelves (and make your space look elegant at the same time). Many modern styles come in metal finishes that can suit a sleek kitchen, and a farmhouse kitchen looks beautiful with a natural wood rack hanging above the island or installed below the cabinetry.
Personalize Pot and Pan Storage
Pots and pans scattered about various shelves can make your kitchen look unorganized, so personalize your storage to complete the room. If you prefer a pot rack over a wine rack, for example, try hanging a high-quality style from the ceiling. On the other hand, if you'd rather hang them on the wall, a simple utility rail can make it easy to arrange pots and pans on an unused wall (and save valuable shelf space).
Display Spices and Teas in Matching Containers
We've all picked up spices and teas from various brands that come in very different containers—and they don't display well on the same rack. For an affordable design upgrade, find a set of glass tea or spice containers that suit the style of your kitchen (like wood lids versus metal, or handwritten labels versus a modern font). Switch over your spices and loose-leaf teas from their old containers for an attractive rack that you'll be proud to use each time you cook.
Style a Baker's Rack
Baker's racks are a classic kitchen staple, and on top of looking attractive, they'll also add extra space for stowing away items in style. Unlike built-in cabinetry, baker's racks are an affordable option to add a pop of personality to your kitchen without breaking the bank. Choose styles that come in high-quality wood finishes, or paint a standard wood rack to match your cabinets for a cohesive look.
Upgrade Your Storage Solutions
Rather than displaying snacks, oats, flour, coffee grounds, pasta, or other daily food items on the counters in their original packaging, opt for a unified set of storage containers. By standardizing the design across your kitchen, you'll be able to keep these necessities on hand while upgrading the look of your space. Many heavy plastic containers can also replicate the look of glass on a budget (and without any worry of damage if one gets dropped by your family members).