Budget kitchen ideas – easy and practical ways to update your kitchen

Your kitchen might be looking a bit tired, but you don't have to spend a fortune to give it a fresh new look. Our budget kitchen ideas could save you hundreds if not thousands on your kitchen makeover.
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • A u shaped kitchen with peninsula and bright yellow statement lighting

    Looking for budget kitchen ideas? Your kitchen might be looking a bit tired, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to give it a fresh new look.

    Whether you want some easy ideas for a quick update or you need kitchen planning advice, we’ve included it all in this jam-packed guide. All it takes is a little time, effort and creativity to pep up the heart of your home.

    Experts at Magnet say, ‘If money is tight, the first thing to ask yourself is whether you really need to start from scratch, or whether a few clever updates might be enough to give your kitchen a new lease of life.’

    ‘If you do decide to go the whole way and install a completely new kitchen, there are still ways to save money by working with the existing layout, as this will avoid the potentially costly task of rerouting plumbing and wiring.’

    There’s so much you can do with a little imagination. Here are some more clever ideas to transform your scheme, with practical ways to save if you do want to fit a new kitchen.

    Budget kitchen ideas

    1. Upcycle bed slats into a storage solution

    bed slats used as a utensil rack in a kitchen

    Image credit: Future

    This wall rack is actually a set of webbing-mounted bed slats hung from a couple of wall hooks. It is a really cost effective way to add extra storage into a kitchen, it also saves old bed slats from ending up in the bin. If you don’t have any bed slats lying around, leftover pieces of plywood cut into small pieces will also work sell. Just add S-hooks for hanging bits and bobs.

    2. Paint kitchen cabinets

    grey shaker style kitchen with island and wood flooring and Belfast sink

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    These days the best paint for kitchen cabinets delivers a premium look at a budget price point, as long as you don’t mind spending a bit of time wielding a paintbrush. A cream wall colour makes it easy to give your kitchen a fresh feel by choosing to update your cupboards in the latest colours available. If you plan to paint cabinets, just be sure to prime them first. Check out our guide to how to paint kitchen cabinets for all our top tips to achieving a professional finish.

    3. Replace doors

    a concrete effect kitchen with from IKEA with open shelving area

    Image credit: IKEA

    If painting is not enough to change the look, you can look to replace doors and drawer fronts. Rather than buy a whole new fitted kitchen at a cost that could mean remortgaging the house, we’re talking about spending a far smaller amount to make a huge impact still. Take the fronts of the cupboards off and replace them with new doors to give the whole kitchen a brand new look on a budget.

    Pro tip: The finish can instantly change the feel of the whole space, from matt to high gloss or wood to acrylic – a new front is a sure fire way to make a new style statement.

    4. Spruce up a fridge with wallpaper

    a small fridge in a kitchen covered with stylish geometric wallpaper

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If you can’t afford a swanky Smeg fridge but are desperate to give your fridge or freezer a splash of colour, why not get crafty with a can of spray paint as shown in this fridge hack. Alternatively for a less permanent option cover the front of the household appliance with a leftover roll of wallpaper attached with double sided sticky tape.

    5. Install new worktops

    wall panelling in a kitchen with frames with photos and marble worktops

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Dramatically change the look of your kitchen by replacing your existing kitchen worktops. Laminate is the most cost-effective to purchase. If you have spare cash, consider extras, such as heat rods that can be fitted into the surface for a permanent pan stand or a built-in draining board.

    6. Update your kitchen floor

    vintage inspired floor tiles in a kitchen

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If a tatty kitchen floor is letting the scheme down, you don’t need to go to the hassle of taking it all up as you can lay new flooring on top. Most kitchen designers will advise that you can simply run it underneath the plinths, instead of wall-to-wall, which cuts your costs further.

    7. Improve your kitchen storage

    kitchenware racks as a storage solution in a kitchen

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    It’s amazing how much we accumulate over the years. Try setting aside an afternoon to sort out your kitchen cupboards, then organise them so you have access to the things you use every day. Clearing your worktops can also instantly improve your kitchen and it won’t cost you anything at all. Alternatively, try rethinking storage solutions. Put up extra shelving and hanging rails to make use of every available space.

    8. Make your own hanging rail

    open shelving in a kitchen with a roll of parchment paper for notes

    Image credit: Jo Henderson

    By simply attaching two handles and a length of dowel to a wall you can create a storage solution for all manner of kitchen accessories. From foil to kitchen towel, the possibilities are endless. Above we see how two leather handles are making a stylish support for a kitchen memo board, on a roll of brown paper.

    9. Turn a door into a noticeboard with chalkboard paint

    a chalkboard door in a kitchen with kids' artwork

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Get creative and give your kitchen personality by creating a feature wall using chalkboard paint. A simple wall of black paint, specifically designed to be drawn on with chalk, is a great way to add a personal touch to your kitchen space. Not only does it give kids the perfect place to entertain themselves, still within view while you tend to jobs in the kitchen – it also creates an ideal family planner.

    10. Create a feature wall… or two!

    dark grey units and palm print wallpaper in a kitchen diner

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Wallpaper is a great way to add colour and vibrancy to an old kitchen. You can either cover the entire wall, or create a feature wall for a cheaper but equally stunning look. Make sure you choose wallpaper that is specially designed for the kitchen so it is heat and steam resistant.

    Get the look
    Buy now: Ideal Home Pair of San Fran Dining Chairs – Black, £149, Very

    11. Change your cabinet handles

    wood kitchen worktop with dark grey cabinetry and leather handles

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    If the basic structure of your kitchen is in good condition, you can change the look of the room by simply replacing the handles. Right now, leather and brass are hot finishes.

    12. Liven up your scheme with fun accessories

    open shelving with decorative jars

    Accessories will brighten your kitchen in an instant and you can choose a theme to bring the look together. Display selected items on open shelving and think about reorganising your worktop so you only have your favourites on show. If you have a dresser, this is the perfect place to show off neat stacks of crockery, cups and glassware.

    13. Use new fabrics

    a tree print cushion on a yellow metal seat in a kitchen

    Image credit: David Giles

    From new seat cushions for tired old chairs to pretty blinds and tablecloths, fabrics can work wonders and don’t have to cost the earth. Even a change of tea towels can make an impact.

    14. Install extra lighting

    A u shaped kitchen with peninsula and bright yellow statement lighting

    Image credit: David Giles

    Lighting can make a big impact to a kitchen’s look and feel. Ideally, you should have task lights, such as spotlights, over the worktops, halogen bulbs on the extractor and overhead lighting with ambient light in a dining area. Always use a qualified electrician for anything complicated – visit the Electrical Contractors’ Association to find one in your area.

    15. Buy a new statement appliance

    an orange smeg fridge in a white kitchen with metro tiles

    Image credit: Fiona Walker-Arnott

    New appliances can refresh your kitchen without changing any of the furniture. You’ll need to ensure that they will fit into the existing space, though. Freestanding appliances can be replaced more easily – and can make a real impact if you go for something brightly coloured, like this Smeg fridge. A new kettle or toaster will make a splash, too, and won’t cost the earth.

    16. Add some panelling

    blue panelled wall with open shelving unit and coat rack

    Image credit: David Brittain

    Panelling the walls is a great way to give a kitchen a fresh, country look without breaking the bank – and, best of all, you can do it in a weekend.

    17. Change the tap

    black tap and accessories by a sink in a kitchen with metro tiles

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Taps add distinctive character to a kitchen and you can change the feel of yours in a jiffy by adding a copper tap or one with white ceramic handles for a country look, a stainless steel design for a contemporary feel or a distinctive black one to make a real statement.

    17. Cover up with a curtain

    a country style white kitchen with Belfast sink and a curtain to hide appliances

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Integrating appliances can be a costly business but leaving them exposed sometimes means they can spoil the look of your kitchen. Soften the scheme by making a pretty curtain to conceal them and cover up any shelves or crannies that don’t have unit doors. Choose a fabric that emphasises the theme of your kitchen and links with the colours of the walls and accessories – whether it’s something muted like this, or a bolder pattern.

    18. Introduce vintage furniture

    industrial bar stools in a wood kitchen with bench and kitchen island and large copper globe lighting

    Image credit: Holly Joliffe

    It’s easy to give an industrial slant to your kitchen and introduce a completely different feel with vintage furniture. Scour charity shops, car boot sales, reclamation yards and even skips (ask the homeowner first before you take anything). After all, what’s one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure! Old stools teamed with a row of stylish pendant lights can be used to create an edgy breakfast bar. And if the finish isn’t to your liking then a quick coat of paint can easily sort that out, check out our guide to the best paint for furniture to find the right shade for the job.

    Vintage cookware adds charm to classic and country kitchens – antiques shops, charity shops and eBay are great sources. Affordable pieces such as a vintage dresser with glass doors, or budget kitchen furniture can be used to store and show off your favourite china.

    19. Display colourful wall art

    framed pictures on a picture ledge

    Image credit: Colin Pole

    Add playful personality to a scheme and introduce a retro vibe with eye-catching wall decor. For maximum effect, display against a cool white backdrop and bring in blasts of bold colour with pop art and signage in a palette of primary shades that can be picked out in your accessories. Vary the way artwork is displayed by hanging some on the wall and propping other pieces casually against it for an informal feel.

    20. Hang a pan rack

    range cooker in an exposed brick chimney stack with metro tiles and copper cookware

    Image credit: David Giles

    If you’re short on storage or simply want to have kitchen essentials close to hand, invest in a spacious ceiling rack for your big and bulky pans and utensils. It’s a great way of making a feature of a kitchen island and lending a period feel to a scheme. Soften the look by decorating with dried flowers and rustic baskets.

    21. Make a statement with lights

    a modern grey kitchen with island and rooflights

    Image credit: Darren Chung

    Shed new light on a budget kitchen scheme by incorporating dramatic ceiling lights. Oversized metal pendants are the perfect way to make a statement and introduce an industrial feel. Hang them over a table or island to create a focal point and provide both task and mood lighting. If you choose a smaller design, follow the stylist’s tip and hang them in threes for maximum impact.

    22. Alter the splashback

    green kitchen units with large range cooker and decorative printed tiled splashback

    Image credit: David Giles

    Splashbacks are perfect for protecting kitchen walls. Glass and stainless steel can be expensive options, but sometimes less is more and you can use a small amount to make a statement. Tiles, on the other hand, are a good budget buy and a great opportunity to add colour and pattern, although grouting needs to be regularly cleaned to prevent mould and mildew. Take your pick from standard size, mosaic or brick, and a selection of materials including ceramic, glass and stone.

    So there you have it – proof that you don’t need oodles of cash to create a stylish kitchen on a small budget.

    4 ways to fit a kitchen on a budget

    We’ve come up with some sure-fire ways to save money on your new kitchen. So read on for expert advice, DIY tips and the low-down on credit cards.

    1. Do as much of the fitting yourself

    The simplest way to save money on your new kitchen is to do as much of the fitting yourself as possible.

    Fitting cabinets yourself can save you hundreds of pounds in installation costs. Take a look at this guide to buying cabinets for advice, and use Ikea’s fantastic kitchen planner for help with the layout.

    You can install tile, laminate and wooden worktops yourself, but you’ll need a specialist fitter for granite, marble, stone and glass. While vinyl tiles, ceramic tiles, wooden and laminate kitchen flooring are all relatively straightforward to lay for flooring.

    If you’re a confident DIYer, you should be able to fit your sink and taps, especially if you haven’t needed to move any pipework from your old scheme. If the plumbing needs to be moved however, it’s best to get the professionals in.

    Painting and Wallpapering are the simplest of tasks, and an easy way to save a couple of days’ labour costs. See our video on how to wallpaper. And if you’re using tiles for your kitchen splashback, this is another way you can save money by doing the work yourself.

    2. Re-use your appliances

    Kitchen appliances are often the most costly elements of designing a new kitchen. If your old ones are in good shape, consider re-installing them in the new design, or only replacing the ones that are on display, such as the hob.

    If you do need to buy appliances, make sure you scour the internet and the high street for the best bargains. It’s often cheaper to source the appliances yourself, rather than let the kitchen design company do it for you.

    And if you are buying new appliances, make sure you invest in energy-efficient models that will save you money on running costs in the future. The Energy Saving Trust has a full list of appliances and their energy ratings to help you choose.

    3. Consider a facelift

    If the basic layout of your kitchen is sound, you can make a dramatic difference to the look by updating a few key elements.

    Change up worktops

    Replacing an old laminate worktop for a new granite one, for example, will have a huge impact. You can also refresh tiled splashbacks by painting them with special tile paint.

    Repaint your cabinetry

    If you have solid-wood cabinets, sanding them down and repainting them is a quick and easy way of achieving a striking new look at a fraction of the cost.

    If your cupboards are a bit dated, in terms of style and or colour, why not consider just replacing the doors if the framework is still in good shape? There are a host of companies that specialise in providing replacement doors.

    Alternatively, simply give your cabinetry a quick refresh with a few coats of paint. Both of these ideas are a lot cheaper and less hassle than replacing the entire kitchen. Paint in general is easiest and least expensive way to transform a kitchen. Look for a rich, yet calming shade that allow you to relax in your space.

    Try to avoid anything that’s too extreme, as there’s already a lot of activity going on in the kitchen and you don’t want it to seem even busier. And always opt for a high-quality paint to ensure a durable finish. Finishing touches such as artwork, soft furnishings and shelving displays make open-plan schemes warm and inviting, and they are easy to replace and update seasonally or whenever you fancy a new look.

    Even small touches, such as replacing old-fashioned cabinet handles with new ones will make a difference.

    Invest in cabinet doors

    If you don’t think there’s anything from your old kitchen worth saving, then make sure you spend your money in the right places. You can use budget cabinet carcasses with more expensive doors, and consider installing a budget sink and spending the cash on more luxurious worktop instead.

    4. Research and haggling

    The internet is a great place to find discounted kitchen appliances, second hand kitchens, cabinetry and fixtures and fittings, so make sure you spend time investigating all the options available.

    Kitchen suppliers run sales several times a year so it’s always worth holding out for sale prices. Use sites such as Kelkoo and Pricerunner to track down the cheapest prices available on appliances.

    Finally, it’s worth haggling with kitchen suppliers. Getting two quotes from two separate suppliers and playing them off against one another is often a good way of getting money off the cost of your kitchen.

    All the latest from Ideal Home