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5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen Without Remodeling

Kitchen remodels evoke the idea of a big change, tarps over every surface, and ongoing lack of ability to use your kitchen during the proceedings. Updates, on the other hand, can be done in a weekend or a week, can be done piecemeal if needed to accommodate DIYing. Make the best of your time and money with a few smaller updates and see if you don’t find yourself with a wonderful, useful, and contemporary kitchen.

Remove Cabinet Doors for Open Shelves

A modern trend that, in many cases, can be accomplished without a full-scale remodel is removing cabinet doors and using the shelves inside as open shelving instead. A relatively recent trend, displaying one’s most beautiful or quaint kitchen accessories on open shelves has become a way to decorate and modernize. Just taking down the cabinets and either repainting, covering in paper, or otherwise changing the shelves can be enough to totally change the look of an older kitchen, especially if the cabinet doors were made of dark wood that was making the kitchen feel less bright and cheery.

Add an Island or Bar Cart

While some kitchens cannot accommodate an island without a kitchen remodel, some are just waiting for one to be installed, no renovation or demolition needed. For smaller kitchens, adding a bar cart or utility shelf and outfitting it with attractive and useful kitchen items can help you reclaim counter space, modernize the look of the space, and even navigate the space easier.

Find and Install Pull-Outs In Place of Cabinets

Cabinets that don’t currently have any shelves are ripe for adding pull-outs, from interior drawers to suspended trash cans to spice racks. It is a modern trend to hide away items like recycling bins or to store lids and pans in roll-outs instead of just haphazardly in the cabinet itself. Adding these items makes your kitchen easier to use, but also makes the space feel a bit more on-trend when you’re cooking in it.


One of the easiest non-remodel updates is to repaint. Select a modern neutral color or consider whether staining and refinishing wooden cabinets could bring back some of their old luster. The brighter the paint, the more modern your kitchen will feel, but definitely think through your paint choice to make sure it will work with any elements you aren’t currently updating.

Change Hardware

Another smaller change that has a big impact is hardware. Older hardware from the 1970s and 1980s has a pretty dated feel these days, and subbing in more stylish new handles and knobs can make what was once a very 1970s kitchen into a quirky twist on a contemporary kitchen. Make sure you get a matching set for all knobs and hardware throughout the kitchen, of course, but even an entire kitchen’s worth of hardware is usually possible to redo quite quickly.

No matter which updates you choose, making smaller updates instead of a full-scale renovation can be both helpful for making your kitchen feel new to you and help you sell your home if you know you’ll be doing that soon.