Your kitchen is your home’s central gathering place and activity center, but as time marches on, kitchens – like any well-used room subject to wear and tear – can begin to look a bit rough. At the same time, the design choices that seemed cutting-edge a decade ago can begin to appear stale and out of date.

Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a lackluster kitchen is a top-to-bottom replacement, with new appliances, cabinetry, floor, backsplashes, plumbing and electrical work. For kitchens whose design and construction are basically sound, but just lack pizazz, it’s possible to achieve a fresh, inviting look without spending big bucks. Here are five affordable and easy steps to consider to spice up your kitchen.

New color for cabinets
Cabinets – because they take up so much kitchen visual real estate — are natural candidates for a color makeover. Cabinet doors are heavily used, and over time are subjected to nicks, scratches and paint wear. A fresh coat of paint can provide the visual spice you want. Applying a light color to a once-dark surface increases the amount of reflective light, brightening things up. Though, bold colors – say blue or orange – can provide more of an opportunity to make a “statement” about the mood you’d like to encourage in this all-important room. Be forewarned: you’ll likely need to remove cabinet doors and hardware before painting them, because refinishing cabinet doors entails much more than simply slapping paint on wood or laminate. You’ll need to remove old paint/varnish via sanding and/or chemical treatments in order to develop a suitable surface for priming and painting, and these chores are best carried out in spaces remote from the kitchen itself.

Better under-cabinet lighting

Under-cabinet lighting fixtures improve the visibility of kitchen workplaces, making food preparation easier and more fun. In the past, your choice of bulbs used in under-cabinet fixtures were limited to fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, and these bulbs all had limited life. Today, LEDs and long-life Xenon bulbs provide extended life, plus more interesting color options. Multi-set light kits are widely available for under $50 from a range of manufacturers, making them ideal DIY projects for those with electrical skills.

Bolder backsplashes
In many kitchens – especially those built on a tight budget — the backsplash is made from the same material used in the countertops, which is fine for a visual consistency standpoint, but represents a lost opportunity for visual drama. Today, a multitude of dramatic backsplash designs – from tile to tin to glass  – are available to make backsplashes beautiful, but be aware that some of these materials can be pricey. If you’re on a budget, peel-and-stick backsplash tiles provide a quick-and-easy, affordable alternative that might not be as long-lasting as tile or glass, but will provide the fresh visual effect you’re looking for.

Fresher faucets
Faucets are prominent kitchen fixtures whose styles – modern, traditional, transitional or even retro – help to define the overall visual statement made by your kitchen. Faucets come in many different styles today, from pull out/pull down to separate spray and multi-handle designs. Some exotic faucet designs are expensive – up to $1,000 – but most are available for just a few hundred dollars. Faucet replacement isn’t for everyone of course, and those without plumbing skills should leave this job to a professional. Though, a faucet replacement project can make your kitchen look more stylish – and your kitchen sink more functional – without breaking the bank.

Better-organized cabinets
The functionality offered by cabinets has been expanded in the past decade, making them more efficient fighters against kitchen clutter. Base cabinets with pop-up or slide-out shelves can serve to stow appliances, crockery and other items best kept clear of the countertop. A multitude of DIY kitchen cabinet accessory kits are available from a wide range of manufacturers, and most can be installed with simple hand tools, making them ideal weekend (or after-work) projects that will make your kitchen a vastly more efficient – and more fun — creative space.

If you’re craving for even more quick, easy and affordable kitchen design ideas, Home Design Key has a list to brighten up your cooking space. If you’re looking for a permanent kitchen design overhaul, give NDA Kitchens a call—we will work with you to create the kitchen of your dreams!