Upgrading the Kitchen

Giving the kitchen a lift doesn't have to shrink your wallet. Try one or two of these easy ideas to upgrade one of the hardest-working spaces in the house.

Small Change
Instead of everything but the kitchen sink, how about just the kitchen sink? Replacing a dated faucet does wonders for overall style.

Surface Value
The whole kitchen will get a lift if you fit the island with a new marble or granite top. It's far less expensive than refurbishing all the countertops, but adds a very high-end element to the kitchen.

Less is More
Tiling an entire wall or backsplash can be a dollar-draining proposition. Instead, create a fancy medallion with clearance tiles that will pop on the existing wall color.

Soft Touch
Cover kitchen windows with basic cafe curtains instead of pricier blinds or layered treatments. A flounce or a valance up top and a half-curtain hung at the middle of the window frame is just enough for a kitchen.

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Lighten Up
Adding new fixtures above an island or counter not only adds style, it improves lighting over key prep areas. Don't be afraid to mix and match; just keep pieces unified with one consistent element, like a color or finish.

Quick Contemporary
Fake a modern makeover in three steps: Strip down old window treatments and leave windows bare, paint walls and woodwork a fresh trendy hue, and ditch stained wood barstools for plastic or metal seating.

Splash of Color
Try a focal wall painted in an unexpected hue to add a modern touch for under $20—you'll only need a quart of paint! No-cost idea: Ask friends or neighbors if you can dip into their stashes of leftovers from their recent projects.

Bits & Pieces
Add color and texture with high-impact accessories. A new table runner, fruit bowl or set of countertop storage canisters can be an instant, low-commitment update.

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