How to: Affordably update your kitchen

Looking to update your tired kitchen but can’t afford an entire remodel? Or are you looking to sell and know how a kitchen can make or break the deal?

Today we’ve got renovation royalty Naomi Findlay with us to share her top ways to update your kitchen without breaking the bank!

The good news is you can create a new kitchen look and feel without having to go all out and remodel — minor kitchen renovations are one of the most cost-effective upgrades you can make. From spraying your cabinets to replacing your tapware, there are a few simple upgrades that can have a significant effect on your kitchen’s appeal and can help produce a higher sale price too.

Related article: Slim shaker cabinets and marble mosaic splashback are a dreamy combo in our latest kitchen renovation project
Related article: 11 types of white kitchen splashback tiles: Add interest with shape over colour

Noami Findlay renovation expert

Words by Naomi Findlay

Reface your cabinets

Once upon a time, those 1980s-style oak cabinets were the hottest new thing, but today’s buyers want cabinets that look up-to-date. Plus, dated cabinets can create the impression that the whole kitchen needs to be gutted and redone, which isn’t exactly the thought you want to put into a potential buyers’ head.

But new cabinets don’t come cheap, which is why you should consider re-facing them instead. Sanding, degreasing, and staining or painting the cabinet faces will make your dated kitchen look sleek and new again, for a fraction of the price of a complete cabinet replacement.

Update your splashback

Replacing your kitchen splashback can deliver a huge refresh without hitting the hip pocket too hard. For example, while glass splash backs were all the rage in kitchens for many years, it’s a look that is deemed increasingly clinical. For very little money, you could install an inexpensive subway tile for example — it’s a classic, textured look that will instantly update the space.

Check out these 11 types of white splashback tiles that offer broad appeal but add interest with shape.

Vertical stack handmade subway tile
Image via Bicker Design

Update your hardware

Replacing your cabinets’ old handles and pulls with new hardware can go a long way toward updating your kitchen. In fact, it can completely change its look. Remember, when selling your home, staying neutral is key, so consider handles in timeless styles, like brushed pewter or nickel, that will appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Check out this list of the top places to buy stylish handles.

Upgrade your countertop

A countertop upgrade adds instant value and appeal to your kitchen — choose a laminate in a neutral colour for a budget-friendly option or granite or quartz for a more luxurious feel.

Other eco-friendly benchtop options that take it easy on the earth (and on the eyes) include:

  • bamboo
  • recycled glass
  • recycled paper, and
  • resin made from cashew nuts.

Another idea is to makeover your existing counter. For example this DIY concrete kitchen bench tutorial is simply applied over an existing laminate bench.

Shelf detail from Naomi Findlay kitchen renovation affordably update your kitchen
In Naomi’s most recent kitchen project, she used Smart Stone engineered stone as the benchtop and splashback

Add extra lighting

When potential buyers see your kitchen for the first time, you want to make an impression of bright cleanliness. So adding extra lighting is always essential!

If you have the option, installing a large window is a great idea as it allows for the natural sunlight to beam in. Alternatively, installing downlights is a great idea for kitchens — these lights are out of the way and are a timeless option. Similarly, adding downlights in your cupboards is always a great idea and it’s a detail most people miss. Cupboards are dark places, and when renovating you want to make your kitchen as convenient as possible to use.

You could also consider under-cabinet LED strips to add ambience and showcase those lovely new countertops. Alternately, replace dated pendants with fresh, new (yet neutral) hanging lights.

Basket pendant lights are trending and here’s a round up of the best buys!

Add a kitchen island

Adding a kitchen island to your kitchen will instantly increase its appeal. Not only does the space act as another work surface, but it also provides more storage in the kitchen. Kitchen islands also make the space more user friendly. Given it’s a space where more activities than just cooking can occur — not only can you eat a casual meal around a kitchen island, but the kids can use it as a space to do their homework, too.

Black kitchen with integrated appliances
Veronica used Talostone Superwhite engineered marble in her dream kitchen. See the full tour and get her tips on where to splurge vs where to save in a kitchen

Add storage

No one has ever said that their kitchen has too much storage, so why not maximise your space and use empty wall space to your advantage? Installing cupboards that reach the ceiling is a great way to incorporate more storage in the kitchen. You can use the space to store items that are rarely used, freeing up the lower kitchen storage for high-rotation items. Additionally, you can look up experts on localsearch who provide oven installation services so that your kitchen appliances are seamlessly integrated, enhancing both functionality and aesthetics.

Replace the tapware

For a low-cost upgrade with a big impact, replace your old tapware with a new, modern model. For the most impact, choose a timeless, visually-appealing model with added value like a pull-out spray handle or touchless on-off feature. Or for just a couple hundred dollars, new tapware can make a big splash.

Black and marble kitchen affordably update your kitchen
Image via

What do you think of these tips to affordably update your kitchen? I’d love to know if you plan on using any by commenting below.

About Naomi Findlay

Naomi Findlay

Naomi Findlay is Australia’s Rapid Renovation Expert and she loves helping everyday people create a profit when renovating property. If you are ready to learn how to create a six figure income renovating property then learn how to choose the right property with her FREE success tips resource here

Instagram: @naomifindlayofficial

Read more of Naomi’s renovation tips here

This article was first published in May 2017 and continues to be updated with the latest tips and images.

Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

We're on a mission to help you create a home you love. And with plenty of tips and tricks, tutorials and other home inspo, we give you all the tools to achieve it!

I’m Gina, Founder and Interior Designer, and you can read more about Style Curator here.


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    1. Thank you Naomi for these great ideas! I’ll need to completely redo my kitchen but it will take a while to save for that so I might just do some of these things to make it ‘tolerable’ for now 🙂


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