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5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}

by | Feb 23, 2016 | Decorating Inspiration, Kitchens

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5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}BHG

Dreaming about a remodeled kitchen (or what it might feel like if you tore out a few walls here and there) can help you to imagine how you might love your home even more. I love dreaming! But dreaming big isn’t the only way to love the kitchen you have. In fact, sometimes the smaller projects bring as much joy (or a more special kind of joy!) as the bigger ones.

It is all in the way you look at what you have, isn’t it?

To really love your kitchen and be happy with what you have, I think the actual decisions about how to update it have to spring from reality. Questions like what we can live with and what do we think is essential or are reasonable updates for this kitchen, this house and this season of our life?

Remodeling isn’t always an option or even necessarily the best choice in every situation, but I believe every kitchen can be made more lovable.

There are always tips in magazines and blog posts that might seem pretty boring (like, DUH! I know I can do that) but let’s explore how to take an idea that might seem obvious and actually use it to make a kitchen fabulous.

Here are five ways to show more love to the kitchen you have, without a major remodel!

5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}

A painted chalkboard door via Lemonade Makin’ Mama

1. Fix What You Don’t Like.

It is funny how a feature we don’t like becomes almost like a beacon of light, pulling our attention right to it. Every day we think about it. Even if no one else would notice it, WE DO. If you don’t like it, it might seem like an obvious question, but what CAN you do about it? What we CAN do might not be as perfect as what we WOULD do if circumstances were different, but it is what we actually DO that will make the difference.

So many times over the years I have found all it took for me to love my room more was a little creativity to conceal features I didn’t like. Chalkboard paint is one of those concealing miracle workers, isn’t it?

I had a door in my English kitchen that just felt like it was out of place. It was a ho-hum brown oak door when the rest of our house had more charming painted doors and wood work. I dreamed of a new door for years until one day I had an idea, instead of hating it for one more day I could fix it! We painted it with chalkboard paint (we used this brand) and it went from being an unfortunate feature to a feature I really loved.

5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}BHG

2. Feature walls are still cool.

Extensive remodels can be amazing, but you don’t have to remodel the whole kitchen to get a new look. Focus on one wall and give it the WOW factor! Brick walls are always a dramatic focal point. Try a brick veneer product for a DIY treatment (like this brick) and even great looking brick wallpapers (I think this brick wallpaper looks pretty realistic, doesn’t it?). A feature wall might be the best thing that ever happened to your kitchen!

5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}

Update a dark kitchen with paint via Julie Blanner

3. Freshen it up with white.

A dark kitchen might tempt you to gut the whole thing to get your dream kitchen. But as cliché as it might sound, it’s true. White paint can do wonders. It can prolong the life of your kitchen, offer a fresh backdrop to the heart of your home, or give you your dream kitchen on a budget that you can live with. What would it take for you to love your kitchen more? If it is within your budget and makes sense for your home and family, it might be worth the investment. Appliances aren’t cheap, but they too can freshen up an outdated kitchen. There are many ways to update a kitchen without a complete remodel. Simple changes can give you what you really want, the opportunity to love working in your kitchen on a reasonable budget.

5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}

My kitchen island in BHG!

4. Add a cheery personality with pattern.

Perhaps the simplest way to bring your own personality to a kitchen is to add a pattern you love through runners, throw rugs, window treatments (tea towels can make adorable cafe curtains) or hand towels on hooks. Yes, this tip might seem to be one of those updates that doesn’t work as well if you don’t have a perfect backdrop to show off the tea towels. But I can say after touring hundreds of houses for sale online and in person when we were house hunting, there were many original “unremodeled” kitchens or more basically updated (i.e. boring or standard) kitchens that would have improved (or benefited) from cute towels and rugs! Kitchens will always feel more lovable if they are cheery!

5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}BHG

5. Infuse a pop of color

“Add a pop of color” might be the most overused phrase in home decor, but the truth is if you do it right, it works. Color draws your eye towards something you want people to notice. If the rest of your kitchen isn’t bringing you rave reviews, focus on something that will! Paint an island, the walls, your table or chairs, window trim, your cabinet doors, backs of cabinets, a free-standing cabinet, rugs or accessories are all places where a new color might transform the feel of a kitchen.

5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen {Without a Major Remodel}

Does your kitchen need a little TLC?


  1. Stacey

    Great ideas! Our house is pretty new so my favorite way to update is with a few new accessories and a good scrub. :)

  2. Linda Stoll

    I do love switching out accessories … crocks, wooden spoons, old kitchenware, vintage hand towels … from time to time, giving all my favorite things center stage yet one more time.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It’s so nice to have things you love and enjoy seeing in your kitchen! It makes it feel so homey.

  3. june

    Love all the pictures…especially the ones with the pop of color. I have been pondering how to bring a little color into my kitchen…great inspiration.

  4. Jo Jo

    We’ve been living in an apartment for the last 7 months ( after being homeowners for 39 years) while we are waiting for the completion of construction of our new home out of state. The kitchen is dismal beyond words…BUT to make the UGLY faux granite- looking Formica counters more attractive AND practical I placed ( just layedthem on top) 8 12″X12″ porcelain floor tiles ( A pretty creamy beige) on top of the small counter. Sonow, not only can I place hot pots and pans, dishes down without a second thought of burning the counter, it really brightened up the kitchen! (The cabinets are a VERY dark stained oak and have a very shiny varnish finish on them…eek!) and I also brought in a roller type 3 shelf cart and am using it as a freestanding island to make up for lack of counter space. I have my pretty kitchen towels hanging over the small handle and v’oila!….I was able to make lemonade out of a sour lemon temporary kitchen! ???

  5. Patricia

    I remodeled my kitchen in 1987 and am still quite happy with it. I repainted it last year and it looks a lot fresher. I still need to recover my breakfast nook cushions, but that’s an easy fix. A few years ago I painted one of our doors with chalk paint and my granddaughter makes a beeline to it whenever she visits.

  6. Dianne

    Excellent article. One question for you though. I’ve purchased several cute striped rugs for my kitchen, bath and laundry from HomeGoods. Unfortunately they are not washable and the white stripe is looking dingy. Any ideas to clean them? I wish I’d noticed the tag before I purchased them. Thanks!

  7. Seana Turner

    Very nice ideas, Melissa. I love the photo with the hooks along the side of the island. This isn’t something that people often think of, but it can provide simple, easy-to-use storage!

  8. Dana

    Where did you get your white island you had for the other house?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It was an unfinished furniture piece we got years ago at a local store. I’ve seen similar ones online!

  9. Marianne Kenney

    Great ideas! Thanks for these!

  10. Julie Blanner

    Thanks for including my kitchen, Melissa! Great tips!

  11. Kari

    These are great ideas! Especially for us who can’t do too much to change things.

  12. Bonnie

    I have a wonderful kitchen, but I live in a rental apt. so can’t really do anything permanent. However, there is a space between the top of my cupboards and the ceiling that I placed baskets of different shapes, sizes and colors, also some crock pitchers. It really makes the kitchen a more cheery space.

  13. Lesa

    Yes my kitchen need tlc. Not a little alot. I only wish I had them resources in money

  14. Patryk Stanisz

    Thanks for ideas! I am going to add a pop of colours to my kitchen

  15. ldeely

    Love the chalkboard door—Where’s the cute bag from next to the door??!! ; )

  16. Leigh

    Great ideas! I recently painted our kitchen white and that really made me like it now! :) And I have plans for a chalkboard wall…when I find the time!

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