Kitchens are the most expensive rooms to renovate—period. But if paying for new counters, updating your backsplash, or switching out appliances falls outside of your budget, there are other ways to give your space a sense of luxury without costing a fortune. If you’d like to take your kitchen’s design up a notch, scroll through these nine ideas that will turn your space from standard to special and ho-hum to high-end in no time.
Paint your walls
If you don’t want to repaint or restain your cabinets, another way to bring in color is by painting the walls. With all of the appliances and cabinetry, kitchen wall space is often fairly limited — which means not only is it quicker to paint, but the color is less likely to overwhelm than in, say, the living room. Try a smoky blue, rich “greige” or warm mocha.
Keep your counters clutter free.
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.
Variety of cabinet hardware
If your kitchen has both large drawers and doors, 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 becoming chaotic.
Lay 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. If you’ve shied away from using a rug in the kitchen for fear of spills and stains, try a chic indoor-outdoor version. These rugs come in beautiful colors and patterns now, and no one has to know about the stain-fighting powers.
Change out your kitchen faucet
Kitchen faucets have come a long way and many large manufacturers are now offering them in a variety of shapes, finishes, and configurations. Swap your standard faucet for something a little more interesting and decorative, in a finish to match your cabinet hardware, to give your space a high-end look.
It is often said lighting is like jewelry in a design because it adds the perfect finishing touch to a room. With this in mind, swapping out a plain ceiling light fixture for something with more style and personality can be done quickly. Your new pendant light can become the focal point of the room and give your space a custom, designer look. Don’t be afraid to go big; even in a small kitchen a sizable pendant looks striking, not overpowering.
Decorate with potted plants and herbs
Add some greenery to your space to give it a lived-in, luxurious feel. Windowsill herbs are a safe bet and are not only beautiful, but also functional. Place small pots scattered throughout the space or opt for a single large planter, placed prominently on a counter or island. Another idea is a pair of topiaries flanking the sink is an elegant finishing touch. If your kitchen gets a good amount of natural light, by all means get real plants — but if not, there’s no shame in picking up a couple of high-quality fakes.
Interesting counter 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 stools 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 add another layer to your design.
If you feel like your walls are lacking personality, hang framed, interesting artwork in the kitchen to introduce color and texture into the space. Break free of traditionally accepted subject matter, like fruit and vegetable still-life paintings, and hang vintage oil works or portraits to create a sophisticated vibe.