Small Home Style: Five Ideas to Update a Small Kitchen on a Budget

One of my favorite topics to share on my blog is design solutions for small spaces. It's been way too long since I've shared my ideas on how to maximize a small space. I was talking with a girlfriend of mine who recently bought a cute fixer-upper in Southern California about her kitchen. I was sharing with her ways to 'make it work' while she saves up for a big renovation in the future.

I started the blog series Small Home Style to help fellow small home dwellers with design ideas to help maximize their small spaces and tackle design dilemmas. This topic is near and dear to my heart as a homeowner living in a small 1950's rancher with my husband, two kids, and our Chocolate Labrador Oliver. I'm getting back on track, and every Monday will share a post about Small Home Style.

One of the big-reno myths on TV is a person or couple buy a home and instantly put $80K into renovating their house into their dream home with only one tiny $2K hiccup along the way in under 30 minutes, which is fake and misleading. The reality is most people prioritize renovations with needs as in what must be down ASAP to move into the home and then save-up for other improvements.

Today I'm sharing Five Budget-Friendly Ideas to Update a Small Kitchen on a Budget and tide you over for a while saving for a renovation. I honestly believe tight budgets create opportunities to get creative!

ONE // Add Storage

A bookcase is a great edition addition in a kitchen, especially if you have an empty wall and little more storage. Bookcases can easliy be transformed into freestanding pantries. You can use Ikea Billy Bookcases, a leaning bookcase or a wire metal shelf. All three are affordable updates that are under $ 100 bucks, but once styled look incredible.


TWO // Hang Shelves

Adding shelves to an empty wall is a great way to quickly and affordably update the look of a kitchen. Treat the open shelves like a pantry. Raw wood looks incredible and its very affordable! I love that most big home improvements store like The Home Depot, cut down wood for you in-store! Wood shelves paired with pretty shelf brackets is a great way to affordably customize your shelves.

image via  Pinterest

image via Pinterest


THREE // DIY Update on the Floors

Most dated kitchens come with dated floors! Nothing is worse than ugly tile and lots of it! When ripping up all the dated tile isn’t an option, consider painting it! I’ve seen some amazing tile and linoleum transformations with the power of paint! Within the Grove, was a great tile stencil ‘how to’ walking you through the process.

image via  Within the Grove

FOUR // Paint Your Cabinets a Color

There’s no denying it, I LOVE white kitchens! However, I think older kitchen cabinets come to life when not painted white! Plus a white kitchen is almost expected, I love the idea of stepping outside the box and have fun with color. All the dated details of old kitchen cabinets (funky details) fade away. Top off the cabinet makeover with new hardware.

image via

image via

FIVE // Remove Upper Cabinets / Remove Cabinet Doors

If your upper kitchen cabinets have wonky doors, consider removing some of the cabinet doors for a new look. You can paint or wallpaper the inside of the cabinet to create more interest. Or, remove the all upper cabinets completely and install shelves with pretty brackets. The second option requires more work, patches the wall etc. but once those dated cabinets are gone, its going to feel like a new space.

image via  Domino

image via Domino

image via  Decorpad

image via Decorpad

I hope you enjoyed this post and feel inspired to tackle little projects in your kitchen that won’t break the bank! Have you made any budget friendly updates in your home to area?

My Kitchen Design, Six Years Later: What I Love & What I Would do Differently

It’s crazy to think we remolded our kitchen six years ago, our kitchen renovation story is a little different than most, for new people to my blog, here’s a brief background story on our home. Seven years ago, we were giving our kitchen a makeover, working with what we had making budget-friendly improvements. We tore out the old date tile counters and back splash and installed new counters, removed some cabinets to install a wall mount Range Hood above our stove. I was so proud of how everything was coming together, and then a few weeks later, the home next door to ours caught fire, and then caught our house on fire. It was devastating, we lost over 97% of our belongings, our home had to be gutted done to the studs, and we spent a year living in an apartment while re-building our home. It was one of the hardest years of my life, read more about it here.

The light at the end of the tunnel after dealing with the insurance company, mortgage company, contractors, was seeing our home being re-built and making thoughtful improvements along the way. Read more about the Kitchen Design here.

Over the weekend, I gave my kitchen a good cleaning, including cleaning out the interior of the cabinets! That was a huge chore, I checked dates and toss all the old crap, plus updated our spice containers to ones that fit better in our cabinets. Kitchens feel better when clean!

Since it has been six years since I designed my kitchen, I thought it would be fun to share what I still love and share what changes I would make if designing my kitchen today. Below is my kitchen, don’t peonies my it prettier? Oh, I also gave the grout behind my stove a little refresh, with the help of this Grout Pen it comes in a two pack! I have a few more areas to touch up in my kitchen and then time to tackle a few areas in my bathroom, trust me if you have white grout you need this!


My Kitchen Design, Six Years Later: What I Love & What I Would do Differently

Below are my thoughts on my kitchen design, highlighting the major components of my kitchen.

LAYOUT DESIGN: We have a small kitchen, only nine feet wide. I’m so happy I changed the layout from L Shape kitchen with a floating fridge to a U Shape Kitchen Layout. The U Shape Layout of the kitchen creates a nice ‘working triangle’ and fully utilizes the floor plan our spaces and maximizes it. I love how the refrigerator area of our kitchen is built, fully incorporating it into the design. Most often fridges look like after thoughts and just randomly attached to the wall.

So yes, I would still go with the U Shape Design!


WHITE CABINETS: I love my all white kitchen, BUT there have been plenty of moments over the years when I’m over washing them to stay clean. For the size and layout of my kitchen and lighting, I prefer white cabinets, both lower and upper. In my next kitchen, when and if we ever move I can see myself playing with the idea of going with darker cabinets of the bottom and white upper cabinets. This two-tone kitchen below makes me smile.

image via  Grant K Gibson

image via Grant K Gibson

CABINET STYLE & STORAGE: Personally, I love classic shaker cabinets, depending on the other elements in a kitchen they can go country, boho (when paint a fun color) or modern. I love these style cabinets so much, I made turned our basic ‘flat front’ cabinets in our master bathroom into shaker style cabinets (see here) One thing we should have splurged for was a Lazy Susan in our lower corner cabinets (on either sides of the stove) pulling out pots and pans and other dinnerware is such a chore, and its so hard to see what’s down there. In my next kitchen Lazy Susans will be a must!


OPEN SHELVES: that it breaks up all the cabinets and creates a special moment in my kitchen for display storage: for bowls, cookbooks, cookie jars, etc. I can't see myself forging all upper cabinets, ‘I like things out of sight’ such as spices tucked away in the cabinet, or cereal boxes hidden. We don’t have a separate pantry in our kitchen, having upper cabinets keeps clutter on my counters at bay. I realized over the weekend in my next kitchen; I still don't want a pantry! Instead, I would love a Butler’s Pantry to hold all my entertaining items: platters, cake stands, bowls or all sizes, plus a small built-in wine fridge! A girl can dream right!


KITCHEN FLOORING: Hardwood floors in a kitchen can be controversial, some people our on camp tile or wood. Give the small layout of our home and our eat-in dining room, keeping the flooring our living areas all hardwoods was a must! I know people say, only tile is practical in kitchens, but let’s be honest is you spill water you still have to wipe it up, if something leaks, you’ll have to replace it even tile. Knock on wood, that doesn’t happen regardless of the flooring material you choose.

BACK SPLASH: In our kitchen, I went with classic subway tile, I love its timeless look at affordable price point, now would I do subway tile again? YES, its affordable and easy to care for. Marble back splashes are so pretty, but they also stress me out. ! I might not do just white tile and instead opt for color tile or a crackle glaze subway tile to mix it up, I also love the idea of a little niche shelf above the stove, like below its so cute!

image via  Traditional Home

APPLIANCES: The next time we purchase all new appliances for our home, I doing a crazy of amount of research and reading all the reviews! We replaced our dishwasher two years ago, after repairing our dishwasher a few times and for the past year we’ve been dealing with bottom freezer drama. The bottom drawer is very hard to open and hard to close! We’re going to have a repaid company checkout the issue and decided if we want to repair or replace. Ugh the annoying part of home ownership! Lesson learned do the homework and take your time when selecting appliances, I personally feel like they should last at least 10 years below replacing. We do however LOVE our built-in range and I would be buy it over and over! It’s amazing and a workhorse and so pretty!! Our range is Frigidaire Gallery, with convection oven and all the fun features.


If you were designing your kitchen today, what changes would you make?

I learned to do the research when it comes to selecting appliances, that timeless kitchen vibes appeal to me long-term and that splurge on interior organizers, like Lazy Susans in small kitchens, its worth it!