9 Cheap But Chic Ideas to Refresh Your Tired Kitchen

The kitchen is a hyper-functional space, which is, perhaps, why it’s so easy to neglect its design appeal. We think your kitchen should nourish your body and your soul, so here are nine (renter-friendly) options to make your kitchen as good-looking as your home cooking (sorry, I had to).

1. Display Art

While art may not be as multipurpose as your 5-in-1 KitchenAid stand mixer, the one purpose it does serve is arguable more valuable than grinding meat or kneading dough. Art makes us happy and why shouldn’t you feel as good as those delicious dishes you’re preparing? Subject-appropriate art, like delicate framed botanical or fruit prints are a great option, but we’re also into a more over-the-top display, like in the New Orlean’s home of artist Olesya Ianovitch. Hot tip: if you’re renting or have an impenetrable backsplash, Command hooks are a great alternative to a hammer and nail.

2. Decant

Free up cabinet space and add character to your kitchen countertops by decanting your frequently used ingredients into attractive containers like designer Orlando Soria did here. Not only do pretty pieces, like these vintage-style West Elm Utility Canisters, act as a design element in your kitchen, they make loose ingredients like flour and sugar easy to access so you can avoid messy mishaps.

3. Add Plants

If anywhere in your home deserved a lush pop of the outdoors, it would be the kitchen. Your fresh produce and leafy herbs once shared a home in the dirt with your planty pals, so why not reunite them for one last hurrah (too morbid?)? Of course, we must look to The Queen of the Jungalow, Justina Blakeney’s kitchen for picture perfect plant inspo.

4. Streamline Dinnerware

If you’re like most people, your kitchen cabinets are a hodgepodge of accumulated plates and cups that rival the “eclectic” variety of a secondhand store. Not only can mismatched dinnerware look messy and disorderly, it’s often hard to stack and organize, resulting in a “why bother” aesthetic. Keeping within a color palette, or, perhaps easier, going all neutral (like this Detroit couple), looks and feels clean and put together.

5. Add Hanging Ceiling Racks

If cabinet and/or wall space is limited in your kitchen, why not take advantage of the “cabinet adjacent” prime real estate known as your kitchen ceiling? This DIY drying rack from the Vintage White Blog was DIYed from driftwood and copper piping. While there are an array of DIY and store-bought options for hanging racks, be sure to display your prettiest pots and pepper in some fresh herbs to dry.

6. Throw Down a Vintage Rug

Gone are the days of boring, flimsy kitchen rugs that probably double as bath mats—vintage patterned rugs have been given the green light for kitchen use. Perhaps the reason why this seems to be a controversial and an underused design element is fear of not being able to clean foodstuff out of precious Persians, but we say, if it’s good enough for the dining room, this logic is debunked. Regular deep-cleaning is worth it to have a kitchen as beautiful as the one in this famed costume designer’s Laurel Canyon home via The Style Saloniste.

7. Paint

While not a revolutionary idea, painting is such a game-changer, it can’t go unmentioned. Just look how a fresh coat of deep blue transformed this honey-oak-ladden kitchen into a cozy cook’s quarter with a fresh feel. Also, with kitchen wall space being limited amongst cabinets and appliances, adding a coat of color often serves as a pop vs. a huge life-altering design choice.

8. Take Off Cabinet Doors (aka Open Shelving)

A great option for renters, this open-shelving hack is invaluable for those who loathe their kitchen cabinetry. This Australian couple realized their open-shelving dreams by simply unscrewing and removing their cabinet doors to reveal the beautifully organized and streamlined contents behind them (okay, maybe the organizing and streamlining came after).

9. Change Out Hardware

If you can’t quite commit to #8, this is another solution for renters with undesirable cabinetry. The green glass vintage-style knobs in this CEO’s Super Stylish Spanish-Style Bungalow transformed humdrum white cabinets into works of art. Of course, we wouldn’t mind that green tile backsplash either…

If Kitchen Nightmares is more than a Gordon Ramsay show to you, consider sprucing up your kitchen with one (or all!) of this easy kitchen refreshers. There’s no reason why food prep shouldn’t be fun!

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