Paint, Molding and Lighting
There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint -- it's a tried and true design axiom for a good reason. If you're looking to redo your kitchen on a budget, this is a good way to start. When deciding on color, don't be afraid to go bold. Adding bright, colorful walls will bring a breath of fresh air to your tired kitchen. Pale yellows and lighter blues are soothing and energizing at the same time. And the best part is, depending on the size of your kitchen, you can most likely buy the paint and supplies for less than $100. If you already have pans, rollers and a drop cloth, even better -- this means more money for other projects. Go with a semi-gloss finish, which is more resistant to cracking, peeling and moisture. Too much of one shade can be overwhelming to the eye, so you should follow the 60-30-10 rule. This means you should have three different shades in your kitchen -- 60 percent one color, with 30 and 10 percent for the other two. Your walls may take up 60 percent, with your cabinets and countertops covering the other 30 and 10 percent [source: HGTV].
Adding molding is another creative way to change the look of your kitchen. Crown molding, decorative trim that goes where your walls meet your ceiling, can give a designer look to an average kitchen. You can do this yourself if you have a miter saw. Miter cuts are diagonal and allow the molding to meet flush at an angle in the corners. If you don't have a miter saw and you're scared off by the $100-$500 price tag, kick it old school and buy a miter box and hand saw for less than $20 or see if you can rent tools from your local home improvement store. Paint the molding before you install it to save time and mess. Fill in the nail holes later with wood putty and some touch-up paint.
You can also add smaller molding to your cabinets to give them a new look. Plain, flat-front cabinets really benefit from some simple trim pieces lining the edges. To keep within your $1,000 budget, look for discounted trim molding in the throwaway bin at the hardware store. There may also be a discount retailer where you live. These warehouses have everything from windows and doors to molding and cabinets available for 10-40 percent less than you'll pay at the big-box retailers.
Aside from painting, installing new light fixtures may be the easiest way to add personality and pizzazz to your kitchen. Task lighting is very popular and installing inexpensive fluorescent lights under the kitchen cabinet will have a dramatic effect. These lights don't require any wiring -- all you need to do is mount and plug in. If you're set on replacing the overhead lights, that will require a wiring job, and unless you have experience doing so, it's not recommended that you try it yourself. Electricians can cost anywhere from $15-$75 per hour [source: payscale.com]. Look again to Craigslist to find less expensive alternatives like multiskilled handymen. You can find all kinds of helpful services under the "Skilled Labor" heading. Even if you go with a licensed electrician at $40 an hour, wiring some new lights shouldn't take more than a couple of hours and won't chip away too much from your budget.
In the next section, we'll wrap it up with some tips for adding artwork and giving new life to your worn-out floor.