Kitchen Design and Decorating Ideas on a Budget

Updated on May 14, 2019
Lily Rose profile image

In my next life, I want to be an interior designer. I love decorating and home decor, taking on projects, and helping others do the same.

Undertaking improvements in your home can be exciting but challenging when your budget is limited. Making your space more functional or creating a more personalized look can be frustrating when you don't have a lot to invest. Even figuring out where to begin can be hard.

Even though I feel I have a good eye and I think I did a pretty good job decorating my home, I still sometimes stand and look around and feel like I need a change. I get bored. That’s not ideal for someone with a limited budget, but I’ve learned a number of solutions over the years to transform every room in the house without breaking the bank.

This article will focus on kitchen decorating ideas.

Kitchen Decorating Ideas:

  • Keep magazine articles that list low-cost sources for things such as tile, cabinets, and countertops. Clip photos of appealing rooms and color schemes. Research prices and create a spreadsheet to help you adhere to your budget and so you know what to expect.
  • Avoid paying for new cabinets and instead paint old ones that are in good condition. If you do need to get new cabinets, save money by ordering them unfinished and paint them yourself.
  • Give a kitchen island a worn, well-used kitchen look by distressing it. Experiment with your technique on plywood first until you perfect it.
  • Look for affordable details at flea markets to add unexpected touches, like an old decorative iron bracket mounted underneath a stove hood, cabinet ,or breakfast bar (not as a structural support).
  • You don’t necessarily have to replace old laminate cabinets–they can be painted. Ask someone knowledgeable at your local hardware store for a good primer that will stick well to such a surface. I’m actually about to undertake such a project in my kitchen and am crossing my fingers it will work out well.

Example of a distressed finish on a kitchen island.
Example of a distressed finish on a kitchen island.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets: Before & After

Before - dark and dingy!
Before - dark and dingy!
After - Just painting the cabinets makes a dramatic difference in the appearance of this kitchen!
After - Just painting the cabinets makes a dramatic difference in the appearance of this kitchen!
  • If you have problem walls, such as old plaster walls that would cost a lot of money to repair, cover them with beadboard to retain a traditional look.
  • For some whimsy, cover a hopeless surface with stain and water-resistant oilcloth in a colorful pattern.
  • To hide an unsightly wall of appliances, cover the front of your dishwasher with a cabinet panel.
  • Give low-cost or unsightly cabinets a traditional look by simply facing the doors with beadboard paneling.
  • Frosted glass cabinet doors are a relatively inexpensive way to create visual space in small kitchens, while still concealing the cabinet’s contents.
  • If you have a window in your kitchen with a nice view, consider leaving it curtain-less (and shutter/blind-less) to open up the room, allow more light to come in, and make the space appear less cluttered.
  • A window-mounted glass shelf holding glassware allows a collection to be displayed without blocking precious light.
  • Mounting the microwave above the stove can save valuable working counter space.
  • A bamboo or sea-grass rug adds warmth to a kitchen and is an economical upgrade from a worn vinyl floor.
  • If replacing flooring, bamboo, an eco-friendly material, costs half as much as maple and is just about as hard. Painting an old wood floor with a high-gloss enamel can give the room a clean, bright look.

Five Decorating Basics:

  1. Paint: Paint is always the least expensive way to dramatically change the look of any room, and it’s easy to do it yourself.
  2. Slipcovers: Ready-made or custom slipcovers are a reasonable alternative to reupholstering worn furniture and they can make a dull room look new.
  3. Fabrics: If you have a collection of fabrics in your linen closet that you love, don’t keep them hidden away. Use them around your room for impact. Consider making some matching or contrasting pillows.
  4. Artwork: Most of us have more artwork stored away than we have space to display it. Every few months, or whenever you need a change, rotate your artwork for a fresh look.
  5. Windows: There are thousands of window treatments that you can create or purchase on a budget. Just a couple of days ago I decided that I needed curtain panels in my office. I have one large window in there that currently had white wood blinds on it. I just wanted decorative panels on each side of the window, so I found a striped fabric shower curtain that I liked at Target, then went to my local fabric store and purchased one yard of a complimentary solid color for $5. I needed 84” panels and the shower curtain was 72”, so I added a 12” border at the bottom with the solid fabric, which gave it a more custom look. Once hung, I was absolutely amazed at the way the two panels changed the look and feel of my office–instant warmth. Not to mention that I am not a sewer, so I was quite proud of myself for undertaking this project and accomplishing it on a budget! Another option for curtain panels on the cheap is to use sheets if you find something that goes with your décor; the top hem can easily be used as a rod pocket. Add a nice trim and you're good to go!

Great example of the use of frosted glass cabinet doors.
Great example of the use of frosted glass cabinet doors.
Flowers add a lot of personality to a kitchen.  Also shows mounted microwave and corner cubby to hide unsightly appliances.
Flowers add a lot of personality to a kitchen. Also shows mounted microwave and corner cubby to hide unsightly appliances.

A stylish “renovation” doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A little bit of fabric, some paint, and perhaps some unexpected decorative details can do wonders to transform a space. Flea markets are rich resources for furniture and accessories, and if you’re handy or crafty, you can see past a shabby exterior and create something beautiful. Yard sales are another resource for inexpensive items to decorate your rooms, like pottery or quilts.

© 2010 Lily Rose


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Ahh this is a great article! Honestly this is really quite perfect for me at the minute as I’m having an absolute nightmare trying to decorate while keeping my kitchen in budget! The problem is I pretty much want something straight off of Pinterest and with the amount of money I actually have available - this seems exceedingly unlikely! I do like some of these ideas/suggestions though so I’ll be definitely using some of these! Also leading on from this, I know this is a long shot but does anyone here happen to know anything about second hand kitchens? I know it sounds bizarre but my friend mentioned it to me and I googled it and it does actually sound like a really good idea! Basically from what I can tell you just buy showroom kitchen units for your own home, for literally a massively discounted price! And you don't even have to worry about it being in poor condition as it's literally never been used! It sounds great and all but I just wanted to see if anyone had done this before? I’m also not sure which companies exactly do this kind of thing? When myself and my husband have been looking - we keep coming across one called The Used Kitchen Company (this is them: They seem to be sort of like the industry leaders? Has anyone used/heard of them before? I’d love to hear any insight anyone could offer if you have!! I’m quite at sea here so any advice and reviews etc would be fantastic! Thank you everyone!

    • equealla profile image


      10 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Very creative ideas. DV next year some of my rooms will be enlarged. My builder,architect and me are working out strategies of cost efectiveness to be able to do this. Money for nice will be mostly non existent. I will keep a close eye on your tips. They seem to be very useful.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      Wonderful ideas and not too much money spend. Thank you.


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