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Kitchen Resources

20 Easy Ways to Modernize Your Outdated Kitchen

Is a full-on kitchen remodel out of the question? Not to worry—you can still give the busiest room in your home a makeover so it looks a little less 1970s and a little more fabulous. Read on for 20 savvy ideas that’ll help you modernize your outdated kitchen.

Tuscany - kitchen countertop

Table of Contents

Swap out hardware

Old cabinets can get a simple and quick update by adding new, modern pulls and knobs. Your cabinets might not even have any hardware at all, and if that’s the case, now’s the time to add some. Check out Lowe’s, Home Depot, World Market, and Anthropologie—all these stores carry gorgeous hardware.

Mix up textures, patterns, and colors


Give your kitchen visual interest by mixing and matching different textures and materials throughout. For example, cream-colored kitchen cabinets will automatically lighten the room while adding appealing contrast to stainless steel appliances. If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your kitchen, put up some stylish curtains in a fun pattern. Julia Child hung her pots and pans and utensils from a pegboard in her kitchen—we love that idea.

Show off cherished collectibles

Cleverly use above-window shelving to create a smart, highly-visual spot for your most prized antique collectibles. This approach would work particularly well, for instance, with an antique island, a nostalgic apron sink, cherry counters, and gingham-check wallpaper.

Show off pretty dishware

open shelves for kitchen

Rather than hiding your dinnerware inside cabinets, display them on a pretty rack on your counter for all to admire.

Stick to one special splurge

Dreaming of granite countertops but wary of the cost? It’s okay to splurge on special countertops if you keep a tight budget on everything else. For instance, use inexpensive tile and off-the-shelf cabinetry to save a great deal of money as well as keeping the original layout of the room and not moving the plumbing.

Install creative lighting

edison bulb lighting

Traditional glass pendant lights can easily brighten and charm a kitchen against custom cabinetry. Give your kitchen unique sophistication by using an entire wall of framed and lighted art.

Combine various furniture styles

white kitchen

A bold red-patterned area rug and Windsor stools may be a bit more expected in your home’s living room but can add a whimsical touch when placed in your kitchen. For even more whimsy, use boat hardware on your custom cabinetry.

Open your shelves

Use open wall shelving to create a sense of more space and to show off your attractive dinnerware.

Paint it white

Unify everything in the space with a fresh coat of white paint. Nothing makes a room feel more updated than fresh paint, especially white. One of the biggest offenders in outdated kitchens? The cabinets! Though time-consuming, painting your cabinets a glossy white can completely transform your kitchen.

An all-white kitchen with stainless steel appliances

Recycle and repurpose

Try using a refurbished hardware-store counter as your kitchen island. Another great idea is to simply spray paint your existing island pendants for an instant update for virtually no money at all.

Use spots of bold color

Although most people are afraid of wild, bold colors or patterns, using them in small places throughout adds just the right amount of decor splash in such places as bold-colored tablecloths, artwork, dish towels, or countertop appliances.

kitchen with red walls

Embrace contrast

Black-painted solid oak kitchen cabinetry offers a dramatic contrast to cream or white planked kitchen walls. On the other hand, consider white modern cabinets against strong-patterned wallpaper for an even more drastic but exciting appearance.

Include natural wood accents

An entire wooden island paired with barn wood beams conveys a cozy, traditional ambiance in a kitchen. You can never go wrong with wood.

Indulge in high-end appliances

New appliances instantly make a kitchen feel new and updated. If your budget allows, incorporate a large range, a stainless steel refrigerator, and marble countertops.

Install a fun backsplash

Consider a fun and colorful kitchen backplash in order to add loads of style and charm. Choose from various textures, materials, styles, and colors to complement your kitchen’s overall decor.

kitchen backsplash ideas

Mix the new with the old

Traditional country charm such as beadboard cabinetry, an apron-front sink, and a repurposed barn wood island offer a warm but interesting contrast to sleek stainless steel appliances.

Install an extra-deep sink

An extra deep sink combined with convenient open shelving make cleaning up easy, as well as washing huge pots a breeze. We especially love the charm of farmhouse sinks.

Gorgeous single-basin farmhouse sink.

Create a cozy spot

A cozy window seat looking out to a beautiful backyard makes the perfect spot for morning coffee. Try adding pillows with intricate patterns and bold colors to boost the room’s overall design.

Add unforgettable details

Original hand-carved elaborate scrollwork around the windows paired with functional butcher-block island counters leave a memorable impression on guests.

Liven up your walls

Consider using rich-colored wall paint to accentuate the other contents in the room. This works especially well in a Mediterranean-style kitchen.

Instantly modernize your outdated kitchen without the drama of an entire remodel by incorporating these simple and easy updates and turn your kitchen into a work of art for fun, food, family, and friends.

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