10 ways to upgrade your kitchen for under £500

10 ways to upgrade your kitchen for under £500

By Anna Samson

Want to revamp your kitchen without breaking the bank? From upcycled cupboards to slick splashbacks, it’s time to give your kitchen a new lease of life.

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The kitchen is arguably the most important room in your home because it’s where you cook, eat and socialise.

With many of us opting for open plan living, making the kitchen look gorgeous should be at the top of any renovation agenda.

“The kitchen is the most-used room in the house,” says Lia Briamonte, interior designer and owner of Anemone Interiors.

“I’ve lived in houses where the living room is larger than the kitchen, yet everyone gravitates to the kitchen. It’s where everyone wants to be, and is certainly worth investing in.”

The kitchen should be a place you feel proud of, according to interior designer Lizzie Green. “Preparing food and eating at home has become more and more informal throughout the last century.

"It's important to make the space serve you in the best way possible.”

But being in constant use coupled with heat, water and grease means kitchens often end up looking worn-out and tired.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to give this hardworking room a facelift, making it stylish and functional without busting your budget.

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Spruce up your splashback

The tiled areas behind your oven and sink are exposed to water and heat, which can make them look grubby and tired over time.If your existing tiles still have life left in them then pick up a tin of tile paint for around £20 and give them a coat. A jolly shade will make washing up less of a chore and can tie into your chosen colour scheme at the same time. Re-grouting also helps tiles look brand new. Use a grout removal blade to get rid of as much of the old grout as possible, before wiping down with a damp cloth. A grout pen

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Do up the cupboard doors

If your wooden kitchen cabinets have seen better days, you can easily pick up a paintbrush and completely change their look in an afternoon.There’s no need to take out whole kitchen units. Updating the cupboard doors is a low cost, high impact solution that will give the whole room a new feel.Take the doors off and clean them thoroughly, as there will be some residual kitchen grime. Sand them down, then use a wood primer before you start painting.

“I am all for colour in a kitchen and would always team natural materials with colour to balance out the scheme,” says Lizzie.

“If you decide to go for pink, green or blue doors, always go more powdery with the shade then introduce wood flooring, stone surfaces and metal handles.”

Make sure you pick a paint that’s suitable for use in a kitchen, so the cupboards stay looking polished for longer. A tin can cost as little as £10. 

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Get flawless flooring

In a kitchen you want a floor that is durable and easy to clean, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.“Investing in your floor can make a huge difference to your room,” says Lia. “There is a huge trend for coloured tiles, in stripes or random patterns, and this can change the whole look of a room taking it from tired to trendy instantly.” Tiles can be very cheap if they’re plain with a pack of 25 costing about £25, but you will likely have to pay for a tradesperson to fit them for you which can bump the cost up considerably. “If you can’t afford tiles, there are many fabulous floor paints and stencils available now too,” says Lia. Just plan out what you want to achieve before you start and remember your trusty masking tape. 

Look for vintage pieces

Second-hand furniture is more environmentally friendly and there’s the potential to find a quality bargain that’s full of character.Search Freecycle, Gumtree and eBay for vintage chairs or a dining table that could transform your kitchen. To help you find what you’re looking for, search for specific woods, colours and brands. Even if you can’t afford that G-Plan sideboard or Ercol dining table, you can always customise a vintage piece with paint or varnish. Once you’ve found your dream chairs, place matching cushions on them to encourage people to linger at the table over a glass of wine. Packs of four cost around £30.

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Pick statement lighting on the cheap

It’s hard to overstate the importance of lighting in a kitchen.

Not only does it need to be bright and direct enough to show you what you’re doing while chopping, it also needs to be inviting enough to make dining comfortable and cosy.“I would always advise my customers to invest in their kitchen lighting,” says Lia. “It has such a huge effect on a room.

"Although spotlights are the most obvious kind, as everyone loves a brightly-lit kitchen, consider installing a dimmer switch. Once the cooking is done and the pots are away, it’s nice to enjoy making a cuppa with soft lighting.”

Dimmer switchesstart at about £10.Above the dining table, low hanging pendant lights are a great option. Not only do they illuminate your meal, they also provide an intimate, restaurant-like feel. Choose between modern, industrial or softer shapes.

Everything but the kitchen sink 

If buying a whole new sink will eat up too much of your budget, replacing the taps is a cheap way to breathe in new life. 

Great taps can start at around £50 with vintage-style faucets giving a warm, country kitchen vibe, while sleek steel taps will instantly modernise the room.If you’re installing them yourself, give yourself a couple of hours to do this and make sure to follow a guide. Once your new taps are in, add a new draining rack for as little as £5 and simply give your old sink a thorough scrub. It will look as good as new.

Get a handle on it

New handles can make old drawers and cupboards look up to date, and are easy to install yourself with a little preparation.First, remove the old handles and use wood filler and paint to disguise any holes. Measure out where your new handles need to go, and mark up using a pencil. Use a drill to make your new holes, keeping steady and applying even pressure. Then screw in your new handles, and you’re done. Remember that functionality is just as important as style when it comes to the knobs and handles you pick for your cabinets. Make sure that they are a good size and easy to pull open in a busy kitchen.

Overhaul your crockery and cutlery

Mismatched crockery is a definite no-no in any sophisticated kitchen, but picking up new plates and bowls doesn’t have to be expensive.If you want simple white dishes that let your cooking speak for itself you can find them in supermarkets for around £20 for a multipack. Or, use this as an opportunity to flirt with patterns by selecting plates and bowls with personality. A shiny new set of cutlery is another way to add style to your table (it can cost about £15 for a brand new set) while a wooden chopping board adds a touch of rustic charm to your kitchen counter for around £10.

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Accessorise for impact

“If you keep your units a clean and contemporary white or neutral tone, bring colour in with artwork, lighting or seating,” says Lizzie.

Filling empty walls with framed posters and prints is the cheapest (and coolest) way to inject some personality into the room.Sticking to a food theme is always a winner, and vintage-style adverts look great. Find pictures that fit into the palette of your colour scheme to tie the room together. Candles also add atmosphere. Buy an upcycled candlestick from a charity shop for next to nothing, and use white tapers for dramatic dining.

Smart storage solutions

Space is everything, so make sure you know where everything is when cooking.Keep your utensils handy by repurposing an old jug, pot or vase and placing it next to your hob so it’s easy to grab when you need it. A hanging pot rack can free up space in cupboards and your culinary equipment will look great on display. Racks can cost around £30and are easy to fit yourself.And finally, the bin is not glamorous but it is a necessary part of any kitchen. If you have space, keep it out of sight in a spare cupboard. Otherwise, keep it simple and as clean as possible, and replace it when necessary. A new bin will only set you back around £15.

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