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5 Kitchen Upgrade Ideas for DIY Homeowners

A full kitchen re-do costs upwards of $20K and can take weeks to complete. This puts everyone in your home out, having to cook and eat in other rooms, which is inconvenient and potentially messy.
Save yourself the time and headache by choosing a few small DIY projects that make a big difference. Refresh your cabinets, buy a few new accessories, upgrade your backsplash and much more with these simple ideas.


Spruce Up Your Cabinets

Instead of replacing all your cabinets, make a few small changes that give them the facelift you’re looking for. Here are a few ways to do that.

  • Paint them: If you want a totally new look, a fresh coat of paint will be just what you need. Get some inspiration from HGTV’s Color Ideas for Painting Cabinets.
  • Update the hardware: Replace all your hardware, knobs and handles, with a brand new set. Paired with the new paint, they’ll shine like new.
  • Clean your cabinets: Don’t just clean your cabinets with soap and water. Go with something more specific and effective: “Take Murphy Oil Soap and hot water and use it to scrub the outside and inside of your cabinets. The clean should remove all dust and residue that has built up over the years,” suggests Alexa Collins in 8 Kitchen Upgrades That Cost Less and Make You More.


Upgrade to Epoxy Flooring

Rip out the old tile and upgrade to epoxy flooring. Epoxy is perfect for the kitchen because it’s hypoallergenic, durable under excessive wear and tear, and easy to clean. What’s more, it’s ideal for hygienic areas like bathrooms and kitchens because it’s waterproof and doesn’t hold bacteria, according to experts at Garage Floor Epoxy.

If you’re going the DIY route, it may be wise to choose epoxy coating, rather than the full flooring, the latter of which is more complicated and challenging to install. To “install” epoxy in your kitchen, you’ll need to prime the flooring below your tile, apply the coating, and seal with a sealant. Despite being less thick than professionally installed flooring, you can choose from a variety of resins to adjust the hardness, and therefore make it as durable as you want.


Apply Peel and Stick Subway Tile

Subway tiling in the kitchen looks modern and sleek, and now you can bring it to your home with much less manual labor. Peel and stick tiles are easy to apply, cheaper to buy, and available at most large hardware stores. To prep, Elise Larson from A Beautiful Mess, used an X-Acto knife to cut the tiles and purchased waterproof caulking to use around the sink.

One of her most important tips: “It is very sticky! Once it is stuck, it IS STUCK. It will literally rip off your drywall if you try to remove it. For this reason, we wouldn’t classify this project under “renter friendly” unless your landlord is OK with you adding these permanent stick-on tiles, of course!”


Add New Whimsical Accessories

Sometimes your kitchen doesn’t need a change, it needs some new accessories to make the space feel more fun and enjoyable. Here are a few DIY ideas to give your kitchen a whimsical feel.

  • Chalkboard paint: Paint a small square on the wall with chalkboard paint and create your own border with small, thin pieces of wood that will frame the chalkboard. You can use this to write family notes, new recipes or fun meal ideas.
  • Plate display: Purchase used plates from your local second-hand store, looking for ones that have fun patterns and styles that match your kitchen. Hang them on the kitchen wall in a pattern of your choice to create a fun DIY display. You can even paint words onto them, like the display below.



  • New barstools: If you have a bar in your kitchen, find fun new barstools or re-do the ones you already have. Add a fresh coat of paint or wood stain, or reupholster the cushions.
  • Pop of color: Buy a bright new fruit bowl, cookie jar, utensil holder and more. A bold pop of color may be just what your kitchen needs and doesn’t have to be expensive.


Install a Pull-Out Shelf

Add more space in your kitchen with this simple DIY kitchen upgrade. This shallow drawer, which sits at the bottom of any cabinet, can hold pots and pans or other large, bulky kitchen items like a food processor, crock pot or blender.

To build and install you’ll need a few pieces of hardware, plywood, drill, and measuring tape. Get all the information you need from This Old House’s step-by-step tutorial.



Make the kitchen your favorite place in the house with these simple, yet refreshing DIY projects. With a little work and creativity on your part, everyone will want to spend more time in your modern and classy kitchen.

Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She's worked with a variety of real estate and home goods organizations and has written for Forbes, Inman, House Hunt Network, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.