Old to New: Easy Kitchen Upgrades that Make a Statement

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Heather Jones
Heather Jones
I'm Heather, an author passionate about home improvements. My writing is your guide to making homes better. Let's explore easy ways to enhance your living spaces, from small fixes to exciting projects. Join me on a journey of making your house a cozy and stylish haven.

Older homes are great. They have good, strong bones and piles of memories and history. While these characteristics are things to cherish, the older kitchen layouts and designs are not. The truth is older designs and layouts are not conducive to modern living.

Homeowners often have big desires and even bigger aspirations to make their homes more functional. The problem is kitchen renovations can be costly and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are easy upgrades you can make that will transform your kitchen from old and outdated to new and fresh. 

While making these changes and upgrades, it’s a good idea to check with your home insurer about updating your homeowners insurance policy. Even if you don’t make structural changes, the updates and changes you do make can have major consequences for your home insurance coverage. 

Updating versus Renovation

Home improvement is one of the many pieces of homeownership. Like anything else, however, it’s important to know and understand what these processes entail. It’s no different when it comes to updating or renovating a space in your home.

Many times people use the words updating and renovation interchangeably. The truth of the matter is, however, that these are two very different ideas. 

Updating, in most scenarios, means a few minor changes to the look and feel of a space. This can mean anything from a fresh coat of paint and furniture to new fixtures and appliances. 

Renovation, on the other hand, is usually more involved. They usually involve more extensive demolition and rebuild: Walls are taken down, the overall layout is redesigned, and modern necessities are added. 

While both updating and renovating are usually processes, the latter is not always financially feasible. Fortunately for many homeowners, an update of the kitchen can make a world of difference. It’s all about knowing where to spend your time, money, and energy to get more out of the kitchen you have. 

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Cabinets and Storage 

It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do. It’s even more amazing what a coat of paint on old cabinets can do. Investing the time and money into repainting old but sturdy cabinets can make all the difference in the world.

Because cabinets often take up the most wall and floor space in a kitchen, choosing a trending, fresh color palette can make a kitchen feel new and fresh. Consider doing two-tone cabinets: Paint the upper cabinets a nice light color and add contrast with a darker color on the lower cabinets. Some homeowners have even been known to add a contrasting color on the island for a little pop. 

Paint isn’t the only way to improve cabinets and storage. Existing cabinets can be transformed into modern and fashionable open shelving with one quick move. You can remove the door from a cabinet and it instantly becomes open shelving. 

This simple trick gives you the same visual appeal of open shelving without any commitment or excessive hassle. The unused cabinet doors can be stored away for future use or other upcycling projects. 

For slightly more effort and a little more cost, you can replace the fully enclosed cabinet doors with glass front doors. This adds a level of sophistication and class without a full renovation or remodel. 

kitchen cabinets

Add Style

A very inexpensive way to update an older or outdated kitchen is to style the space. This entails adding pieces of yourself — your likes, interests, or collection — to the shelves and open spaces around a kitchen.

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If you have open shelving or have created it yourself, use the open space to display your most cherished dishes. You can also add pops of color or interest by placing a few plants or design elements throughout the shelves. 

Another easy and relatively cheap investment is wall paint or wallpaper. Adding a little color or pattern in a kitchen can help modernize an older space. Even if you are renting, you can add peel-and-stick wallpaper for a temporary style update. 

Other homeowners add style through wall art. Kitchens often have space for hanging frames and pictures. You can even create a full gallery wall to add instant character and charm.

These are just a few styling ideas, but the possibilities are endless. You can match your style, personality, and needs with just a few style changes. 

Update Key Pieces

Another great option for a kitchen update is to select a few finishes or fixtures to replace and update. These updates can fit into almost any budget but make a huge statement. 

Take a look at your kitchen lighting. Many homeowners overlook the lighting in their space but a quick change here can make all the difference in the world. Lighting fixtures can really date a space. Consider changing older options with fresh, modern counterparts. 

The kitchen backsplash is another area to consider. The backsplash in a kitchen can take quite a beating. Splashes and spills can stain areas of a backsplash and cause a kitchen to age by a couple of years. 

Consider cleaning, painting, or replacing your backsplash. Depending on budget and accessibility, a quick update to the backsplash can revitalize a kitchen while increasing its overall function. 

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One final update option is the fixtures. Some finishes like brass have come back into style, but the wrong shade of brass can really date a kitchen. Consider swapping out faucets, drawer pulls, and door handles for modern options. 

When determining which finishes to update, consider the function and maintenance involved. Deciding to upgrade your countertops to a natural stone will make a great visual impact, but you’ll spend most of your time ensuring they aren’t scratched or damaged. Look for low-maintenance finishes and fixtures to give you peace of mind without sacrificing style. 

A Little Extra

If your budget and square footage can handle a little bit more, consider investing in a few more permanent additions to your kitchen.

Adding a kitchen island is not only helpful for prep space and overall function, but it can add much to the visual appeal. Plus, a kitchen island adds more seating and the opportunity for family and friends to gather in one space.

Other homeowners might consider the addition of a coffee bar. If you have that awkward and slightly unusable nook or end counter, consider adding some color, pattern, or texture to set it apart from other areas in the kitchen. Then add your favorite coffeemaker and a few coffee mugs, and you have an instant coffee bar. 

Both a kitchen island and coffee bar can require more than a slight update and a slightly higher budget, but both can completely revitalize a kitchen. 

Home Improvements and Your Insurance

Small changes to a kitchen may seem insignificant, but they can and do have big impacts. Not only will a family be able to enjoy and use their space more, but they will see the financial benefits for years to come.

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One area many homeowners neglect to update, however, is their home insurance policy. This can be incredibly costly, especially after any improvements.

Combine bad credit and previous claims, and your homeowners insurance costs could increase for certain renovations. However, some renovations can decrease your premiums, and you can often find cheap homeowners insurance with bad credit if you have the right upgrades.

Even if you aren’t adding additional square footage, some of the changes you make can impact the rates and coverage options you have. The best advice is to cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s. Before you start any work contact your home insurance provider. Review the scope of work and your current policy with your provider and understand all your options.

The worst-case scenario would be a completed kitchen upgrade and a complete loss of coverage. If anything happens to the home or the kitchen, you could be completely unprotected. All the work, time, and money you put into that space could be lost just as quickly.

Don’t waste more time staring at the walls of your outdated and dysfunctional kitchen. Find a few areas to upgrade and see what kind of impact it makes.

Laura Gunn writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, Clearsurance.com. Laura and her husband have updated several kitchens in their lives. She is passionate about other homeowners knowing the power of sweat equity and a job well done. 

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