Projects Under $500 That Will Transform Your Kitchen



Kitchen with backsplash, white cabinets and freshly painted walls
Making simple, affordable changes — a little paint here, a new backsplash there — can completely transform your kitchen.

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to transform your kitchen. Here are some DIY projects that won’t even cost you $500 to tackle. 

Young woman painting a blue wall
A fresh coat of paint — especially in a different color — can completely transform your kitchen walls.

Paint the Walls

The biggest change you can make to your kitchen is to paint the walls. It doesn’t cost much if you do it yourself, and the impact is instant, especially if you want a drastically different color. 

But this isn’t a home improvement project you should rush into; if you’re new to painting, it helps to take our crash course. That way, you’ll know exactly what to do before and during the job to achieve professional-grade results. 

Here’s our three-step guide: 

Chelsea Lipford Wolf installing kitchen backsplash
Installing a backsplash instantly boosts your kitchen’s design. (Backsplashes are also great for catching cooking grease!)

Install a Backsplash

It helps to have something other than drywall between your countertops and cabinets, where spills are likely to occur. 

Installing a backsplash in this space makes cooking grease, water and other stains easy to wipe off. Better yet, it offers another design opportunity! 

Depending on the space, you could install a backsplash for less than $500 if you’re willing to do some light manual labor. 

Installing a backsplash using a self-adhesive mat, such as SimpleMat, is much faster than using thin-set adhesive. 

Here’s how to go about it.

1. Remove any lumps or bumps from the drywall and make sure the surface is smooth.

2. Clean any grease or dirt off the drywall and allow the surface to dry.

3.  Mark the area you plan to cover with a backsplash, making sure the lines are plumb and level.

4. Peel the backing from one side of the SimpleMat and stick it to the drywall, making sure it’s flush with the lines.

5. Drag a rubber tile grout float across the mat to press the adhesive firmly into the drywall and remove any air bubbles.

6. Peel the backing from the front of the adhesive mat, and press the tile in place, cutting any tile as needed to fit. Use the rubber tile grout float to firmly press the tile into the adhesive mat.

7. Use the rubber grout float to apply grout to the joints between the tile. Use a damp sponge to remove any excess grout, and allow the grout to dry.

Open shelving in a kitchen
Look at your kitchen’s blank walls as opportunities for additional storage.

Add Floating Shelves

You can never have enough storage, but if you think you’ve run out of cabinet space, don’t forget about the walls.

Floating shelves are an enduring design trend; homemade ones look great and can significantly expand your storage space — the perfect blend of form and function! 

To make some, you just need some boards, 12-inch pieces of galvanized threaded pipe with floor flanges, wood screws and pipe caps.

1. Screw pre-painted supports into the wall studs with 3-inch-long wood screws. You’ll have two supports for each row of shelves; that means they are about 48 inches apart.

2. Check the level between the two supports before securing them in order to have about a 7-inch overhang on each end.

3. Cut your 2-by-12 shelf boards so they’re 62 inches long. After sanding the boards, apply a coat of stain to all sides of the wood, let it dry and apply a coat of clear polyurethane to all sides.

4. Once the boards are dry, put them in place to complete the shelves.

Puck lights under kitchen cabinets
Battery-powered puck lights are easy to install under your cabinets — just peel and stick. (DepositPhotos)

Add Accent Lighting

Your kitchen has two basic types of lighting: task lighting — lights you need to see what you’re doing — and accent lighting — lights that add ambiance and make the room look better. 

You usually don’t have to worry about adding task lighting because it comes with the house, but that’s often not the case for accent lighting. 

Now, you could install elaborate, expensive lighting setups to give your kitchen a warm glow, but you could achieve the same effect at a fraction of the cost! 

To light space above your cabinets, use two strands of LED battery-powered lights on top of the kitchen cabinets — one along the wall and one behind the crown molding. Put them on a six-hour timer so they turn themselves on and off each evening.

To light the space under your cabinets, head to the home center and purchase a bunch of LED, battery-powered puck lights. It’s best to find a set that’s remote-controlled or motion-activated for convenience. 

Installation is a breeze — usually, you just peel and stick a self-adhesive magnet underneath your cabinet. The puck light then pops right onto the magnet and is ready to shine its classy little spotlight on your favorite pottery or plant. The magnet has a dual purpose because you can easily remove the light and refill it with three AA batteries. 

Do you have ideas for affordable kitchen upgrades? Share them in the comments!


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