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How to refresh your kitchen on a budget

It’s perfectly possible to revamp your kitchen on a tight budget - and it will help sell your home.

An attractive kitchen is top of the wish list for most homeowners. So, what should you do if your kitchen gives you a sinking feeling?  Luckily, a facelift doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are ten top tips.

Keep the existing layout

One of the easiest ways to stop costs spiralling out of control when refreshing your kitchen is to avoid changing the layout. Try to keep the sink and cooker in the same locations as this will save money on electrics and plumbing. Decide your priorities. If you love cooking, it may be worth investing in a new appliance as a statement piece, such as a range cooker. Prices start at around £1,000. If style is a top priority, reuse your existing appliances and focus on the décor, such as cabinets and worktop.

Refresh with a new worktop

It’s possible to dramatically improve the look of your kitchen by replacing a tatty worksurface. Laminate is the most cost-effective worktop to buy. It’s available in styles that mimic the natural beauty of stone, granite and wood but at a fraction of the cost. If your budget will stretch, invest in a higher quality laminate with a 100 per cent water seal on the underside. Or consider a composite or solid wood worksurface. Two metres of oak is about £130-£250, excluding installation ( – prices correct July 2019).

Laminate worktop - photo supplied by Dream Doors
Laminate worktop - photo supplied by Dream Doors

Update your kitchen floor

If your kitchen floor is old, worn or just plain boring, vinyl flooring is wallet-friendly and works well in areas of the home that require frequent washing. Vinyl can replicate wood, stone and porcelain tiles and is available in colours or monochrome patterns. Choosing a strong design, such as classic chequer board, for your kitchen floor is a brilliant way to refresh your decor.  If your subfloor is in good shape, you may be able to lay it right on top avoiding the expense of new underlay. Different types of vinyl include tiles, planks and sheet. Vinyl flooring starts at around £20 per metre (

Dress-up  budget cabinets

If your heart is set on a new fitted kitchen, but you can’t afford custom-made, check out the mass manufacturers. With savvy online shopping you could bag a bargain in the clearance sales. It’s perfectly possible to dress up low-cost white cabinets with designer handles and a lick of paint. For example, B&Q offers an eight-unit Sanford galley kitchen for £899 and Homebase’s classic Shaker-style kitchen starts at £670. A basic white ready-to-fit kitchen from Wickes will set you back £658. Remember prices exclude installation and fitting costs can triple the price of budget kitchens.

Reuse and recycle

Still too expensive? If the carcases of your kitchen cabinets are still in decent shape, why rip them out when you can simply change the cabinet doors, drawers, plinths and panels. There are companies that specialise in replacement cabinet doors (between £2.50 to £50-plus each). Take your pick from traditional, contemporary, solid woods, laminates, painted finishes, stainless steel and glass. You can also replace hinges and drawer mechanisms. You’ll be surprised how different your kitchen looks with new cabinet doors.

Perk up with paint

A fresh coat of paint is possibly the cheapest and easiest way to update your kitchen. Painting your cupboards in the latest colours can give an inexpensive white kitchen a designer look.  If you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, it should be possible to get a good professional finish. B&Q, for example, sells a range of primers and matt cabinet paints from £18 per litre. If you’re not confident with a paint brush, there are companies that spray paint kitchen cupboards. Alternatively, you may opt to paint a feature wall, or all the walls, in one of the season’s latest shades.    

Tiled walls

Tiles are a good budget buy and a great way to inject fresh colour and pattern into your kitchen. While tiling an entire wall can be expensive, sometimes less is more and you can use a small number of tiles to make a statement. There’s a huge choice from colourful mosaic to large stylish white tiles in different materials including ceramic, glass and stone. Mix and match plain factory tiles with hand-painted ones to give a unique look without blowing the budget.

Little bit of luxe

It’s the finishing touches that lift the look of an average kitchen to super stylish. You can add a little bit of luxe with a copper tap, high quality cabinet handles or beautiful wall art.  Lighting can also give style to an inexpensive scheme. Consider including statement pendant lights or wall lamps. You could also add a splashback in an on-trend material, such as tinted glass, to protect your walls from stains and splashes from cooking up and washing-up.  

Splashback Feature - photo supplied by Dream Doors
Splashback Feature - photo supplied by Dream Doors

Shelve it

Make the most of every inch of your work surface. Banish anything that takes up space on your countertop and could be stored elsewhere: herb rack, paper towels, food processor, car keys. De-cluttering your worktop doesn’t cost anything and can instantly improve the look of your kitchen. Sort out your kitchen cupboards and put up extra open shelves to show off pretty crockery or large kiln jars of home-made preserves.

Clean up

Never underestimate the power of elbow grease. Cleaning the oven is one of the most hated chores in the house. There are, however, cleaning companies that tackle even the dirtiest ovens, removing all traces of grease to restore that shiny, new look - for about £30. Some also clean white goods, such as fridges and freezers. You could save thousands by keeping your existing appliances. Dirty grout between wall tiles can also look messy.  Fortunately, grout can easily be cleaned using simple household products, such as baking soda and vinegar.

There are multiple ways to give your kitchen a makeover on a modest budget. Focus your spending on the most visible parts: worktop, cabinet doors, floor, walls or splashback. If you change all four elements it will appear almost like a new kitchen.