14 simple yet effective kitchen updates

A kitchen revamp doesn’t have to cost the earth. These simple but effective tricks will breathe new life into the heart of your home


14 simple yet effective kitchen updates to jump-start your dream kitchen

The kitchen is called the hub of the home because it’s the most used space and a favourite gathering point. It’s not surprising, then, that it’s also the most expensive room to renovate. We hear time and time again that kitchens sell houses, but if replacing yours is simply not an option, all is not lost. If your kitchen still functions well but looks a little dated and tired, try some of these simple updates to give it a facelift – with its fresh new look, you’ll probably fall in love with it all over again!

1 Paint/re-spray the walls, cabinets or floor

Paint is the most cost-effective way to change any room. A new coat of paint on the walls or cabinets can instantly change the feel of your kitchen and won’t break the bank. If your kitchen is small, opt for white or a light colour on the walls as this will help to create the illusion of space. It’s fine to paint your walls and cabinets the same colour, too. However, if your cabinets are lacquered or made from a laminate, painting them is not an option, but there are lots of kitchen companies who offer a re-spray service which can give your cabinetry a whole new lease of life at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

2 Replace cabinet doors 

Sometimes the style of cabinetry doors and drawers is the main culprit, making the whole kitchen look out of date. As long as the carcasses are fine and sound, you can modernise the cabinetry by simply replacing the doors and drawer fronts. Chat to kitchen design companies about getting this done if the doors and drawers are your main bugbear.


3 Update the benchtop 

Replacing your old benchtop is less expensive than you might think and it will give your cabinets a boost, too. With so many finishes available – from marble effects to textured surfaces – and given its prominence in the kitchen, a benchtop upgrade will deliver a massive transformation.

4 Improve the kitchen storage 

It seems we can never have enough storage in a home and one room that seems constantly under pressure in this area is the kitchen. If you want something less permanent and have a spare nook, consider adding a free-standing storage unit to hold cookbooks, serve ware, glasses etc. If space is tight, a simple wooden shelf with brackets, or a floating one, will provide extra display space.


5 Invest in some splashback tiles

The average splashback does not cover a massive area, so updating it is generally achievable on any budget. If you’re not keen to add tiling to your CV then spend the money and get a professional in. There is an amazing variety of tiles on the market in every style and price point.

6 Refresh the flooring

There are several options for refreshing your kitchen floor, from painting it, to laying a laminate floor, to putting down new tiles. If you choose to paint the floor white, be aware that it will show every mark and crumb (pale grey would be more forgiving than white). Laminate flooring is a relatively affordable choice to give your kitchen a lift and can generally be installed quickly and without the help of tradies; the key is to ensure the floor is level before you start. Replacing floor tiles will not only transform the space but could enable you to change the whole style of the kitchen.


7 Eliminate clutter in the kitchen

Streamline your kitchen by planning built-in systems to conceal everyday eyesores like rubbish bins. Hideaway Bins are ideal for hidden storage anywhere in your home, but especially the kitchen. There are three ranges available including soft-close, antibacterial and deluxe features. Buckets are made from food-grade, recycled polypropylene and there are four sizes to choose from, including double or single configuration. Prices start from $223 at


8 Change the tapware

Changing your tapware is a very straightforward way to upgrade your kitchen. It is also a small investment for something you use multiple times a day. Tapware style is generally determined by the style of the kitchen but this is only a guideline. Black and brass finishes are on-trend at the moment and can be just the detail you need to take your kitchen from good to great.


1. Nud gold pendants, $140 each, from Mr Ralph. 2. Nigella ceiling light in Conical, $129, from Freedom.


9 Add some new lighting

Add a new focal point to the kitchen by swapping out dated lighting for a stylish pendant or cluster of lights. Since lighting is so important in any room, this one change can totally transform the space. If lighting is poor over the bench and prep areas consider getting LED strip lighting installed under the above-bench cabinets.

white kitchen, Finland, open plan kitchen


10 Hang some art

While not commonly seen in the kitchen, art can add a focal point to the area. Colours in the artwork can then be pulled out and added through accessories such as tea towels and crockery.


1. Neo pull handle, $10.55, from Elite Hardware. 2. Maddison knob, $7.91, from Elite Hardware. 3. Contemporary square handle, $14.21, from Elite Hardware.

11 Swap out the hardware

Switching your old handles, knobs or pulls for something more modern or decorative can really transform the look of your cabinets and is probably the most common kitchen update. The price per item can add up fast, though, especially if you have a large kitchen with lots of cabinets. When selecting handles consider the finish on your appliances. If they all have square handles then you should probably follow suit with your cabinet handles.


12 Add or replace chairs

Adding or replacing the seating is another simple way to revamp the kitchen zone. However, finding the perfect stools can be challenging as there are many things to consider including practicality, height, material, back or no back. Metal is an easy choice because it’s a great material for easy clean-up, while the warm tone of a wooden stool will soften a minimal kitchen. If you’re after a pop of colour, bright stools are a good way to do it. Fabric seats may be super-comfy but will be hard to keep clean if you have little ones.

13 Think about decorative accessories 

Sometimes all it takes is a few new decorative accessories to give your kitchen a re-fresh. If you are looking at bringing an accent colour into your kitchen, this is a great way to do it – through canisters, kettles, toasters, tea towels, crockery, plant pots and so on.


14 Replace big-ticket appliances 

Tired appliances can really bring the look of a kitchen down. If you are considering replacing big-ticket items such as a fridge or dishwasher, it is a good idea to stick with the same finish across your appliances. This will keep the space uniform.

Words by: Vanessa Nouwens. Photography by: Maree Homer, Nick Watt, James Henry/ and Helen Bankers.

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