Frugal Decorating: The $95 Kitchen Make Over

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A kitchen make over can transform a cluttered, unappealing kitchen into a highly functional and attractive part of your apartment. Luckily for the apartment dweller on a budget, small space design can be inexpensive and relatively simple with a little DIY intuitiveness.

Clean Up

Before your kitchen make over can truly begin, use effective homemade cleaners to safely kill bacteria and clean the kitchen from top to bottom. Use a spray of distilled white vinegar or up to 50% white vinegar and 50% to clean all hard surfaces, including kitchen counters and cabinets. (Do not use to clean stone or marble.) You can even use vinegar and water with a mop to clean wooden or linoleum floors. Stains on counter tops can be scrubbed away with lemon juice. You can also make a scrub solution for hard stains in your sink from 3/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water. Cost: $5.

Refocus the Walls

Ask your landlord if you can use paint to redecorate your kitchen. A bold color is key in small space design to make the room feel less compact. Plus, you can get off-color cheap for a steal at most local hardware stores or even leftover paint for free at your local hazardous waste recycling center.

If you can’t paint the walls in your apartment, you’ll have to liven up the decor with a simple work of art, poster or wall decal. If your kitchen has a window, see if you can change the drapes with something you find at a thrift store. Or use the existing drapes (preferably a bold color or an attractive pattern) as the focus of your kitchen. Cost: paint: free to $20; wall decor: $10 to 20; drapes: $20 to 30.

Change the Cabinets

Replacing the cabinets costs too much–and you might not have permission to change the structure of your apartment significantly. Find out if you have permission to paint the cabinets. Painting cabinets to a uniformed dark or light wood color, depending on the theme of your kitchen, can make the cabinets look brand new.

The kitchen make over is incomplete without opening up some cabinets. Remove the cabinet doors on some of the cabinets (make sure you can put them back if you move) to create an open look. Purchase or make cabinet organizers to add shelving space and function to both your open and covered cabinets. Cost: paint: free to $20; cabinet organizers: $20 to $30.

Upgrade Kitchen Appliances

While you can’t afford to throw out everything you have and purchase replacements, you’ll have saved enough money on your kitchen make over so far to splurge a little on kitchen appliances that function best in small space design. Buying a combination toaster/microwave or coffee maker/egg cooker or a multi-tiered steamer or electric grill, for example, means you can get rid of twice as many items as you keep. Making room on your kitchen counters by using space-saving kitchen appliances is a smart way to make your kitchen more functional and appealing. Cost: $40 to $60.

A kitchen make over needn’t be expensive when you work with the space you have and shop smart for what you need. Turning a small space kitchen into a functional part of your apartment won’t cost you much!

One Response to “Frugal Decorating: The $95 Kitchen Make Over”

  1. November 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm, Linda L said:

    These are some great ideas! If you have a landlord like I do, who gives you no permission to do much of anything, my tip is to use removable wall decals. I use the ones from – they have a matte finish so they look like they’ve been painted on the wall (or cupboards, or mirrors,etc. – they stick to just about anything) by a professional. You can get a classy look and your landlord won’t have anything to complain about.


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