10 Kitchen Update Ideas That Add Style + Function

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Simple kitchen update ideas that quickly add functionality and style. Inspiration for small decor changes and organization tips that will make your kitchen work harder, and look beautiful!

small kitchen with navy blue island

So…let’s talk kitchens. Like most spaces in our homes, kitchens tend to evolve with our changing needs. Our kitchen has come a long way since move-in day. (See the first time I showed you our kitchen.) Today I’m featuring 10 easy ways to spruce up your kitchen quickly, and without spending a fortune! With a few exceptions, I am speaking from experience with my suggestions and ideas.

I’m not going to address a new kitchen floor, switching countertops, choosing new stainless steel appliances, or any big kitchen remodel ideas. Today, along with my friends, I’m featuring small kitchen ideas that can be accomplished quickly and on a budget.

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

crock of utensils on kitchen countertop

Add new but functional decor to your countertops.

“Beside the stove” accessories are necessary, and a very personal thing. When my pepper mill broke a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to upgrade my salt and pepper situation. I was ready for a matching set that was easy to use, and that looked good. I kept my blue oil dispenser, and everything fit perfectly on this cute little wood board. I don’t need much, but I like salt, pepper, and olive oil on the counter and at my fingertips. The fact that they are pretty is an added bonus!

salt pepper olive oil on small wood tray

Add pretty decor to your countertops that requires minimum space.

I’m a stickler when it comes to providing both form and function in the kitchen, but like any rule, this one can be broken. It’s nice, and unexpected, to add a pretty decor detail as long as it doesn’t take up too much room. One idea is to lean a framed piece of art against your backsplash. It requires hardly any space, and it packs a big decor punch. Another idea is to lean a large wood cutting board against the wall over your oven.

PRO TIP: use this clear Museum Gel to prevent the frame from slipping. The Home Edit girls use this all the time, and it’s amazing! You can also use it to keep bins from sliding around in drawers.

kitchen update ideas new countertop decor

Change the hardware on kitchen cabinets.

One of the most popular small kitchen makeover trends is to change your cabinet hardware. This is an update we made in our Sutton Place kitchen, and it was so worth it. We changed from dated shiny brass to oil rubbed bronze. We have not changed the hardware in our current home because it’s in great shape, and the style is simple. The most important factor is that I like it, and I didn’t want to change it just for the sake of change. If you have hardware that’s worn, or not your decor taste, definitely consider this easy update.

kitchen drawer with dividers

Organize and declutter.

Organization is power. Organization is smart, and it’s necessary in order to have storage space that’s functional. If your counter is cluttered, and there are items sitting around that you don’t need or use, put them away. Clean out your drawers and cabinets. If it seems overwhelming, and believe me I have been there, take one step at a time. Start with one drawer, and move on from there.

kitchen drawer organized with dividers

Insert drawer dividers.

When I discovered these wood drawer dividers, my life literally changed for the better. They are durable and practical, and they install in seconds. I love the way my drawers look when I open them, and nothing slides around. I purchased several of these dividers for help out the Sutton Place kitchen storage situation, and just brought them with me when we moved. So it’s an investment that you can take with you if relocation or downsizing is in your future. Don’t wait!

kitchen update ideas drawer dividers

Replace solid doors with glass fronts.

I’ve added glass doors in both of our kitchens, and it’s something I would absolutely do again. For the kitchen on Sutton Place, I had a carpenter cut out our existing cabinet doors and add glass. For our current kitchen, I ordered new, “glass ready” doors, and had the glass inserted at a local business.

kitchen cabinet with blue and white dishes

The one thing I didn’t consider was the fact that the interior of the cabinets didn’t match the outside. It was the light wood color pictured in the drawers. Once the inside of the cabinets were painted, it all came together, and is exactly the look I wanted. This is a feature that can be easily added to most kitchen designs, and is well worth the time and effort.

PRO TIP: When styling cabinets with glass fronts, less is always more. Keep space between the items, and for a more cohesive look, coordinate the color of your dishes and glassware whenever possible.

herbs on kitchen countertop beside faucet

Use fresh herbs as decor.

Fresh herbs are, in my opinion, one of life’s loveliest pleasures. I love to grow them, and I love to bring them inside so I can enjoy their scent and beauty. They make perfect kitchen countertop decor as well. They are right there and ready when you need them, and by using small mason jars or vases, they don’t require much space.

brushed nickel kitchen faucet kitchen update ideas

Install a new kitchen sink and/or faucet.

You need a plumber or a bit of plumbing knowledge, but if your kitchen sink or faucet is outdated, you will not go wrong by replacing one or both. We opted to keep the double, stainless steel sink, but we installed a larger and more functional faucet. I have always wanted a farmhouse sink, but adding that would be a major renovation to our kitchen island. I’m hanging in there for now with what we have, but I haven’t given up the dream completely!

small kitchen update ideas

Kitchen Lighting Ideas

Pendant lights over your kitchen island, or a ceiling fixture of any kind, can be easily switched out and updated. It’s also a way to bring in your own personal style, without major kitchen renovation or expense. The lighting fixtures that were here when we moved in had glass shades, and I knew right away that they would have to go. I had glass shades in the bathrooms on Sutton Place, and they were nearly impossible to keep clean. By choosing metal shades for our current kitchen, I completely eliminated that aggravation!

gray marble hexagon tile backsplash

If you’re missing a backsplash, add one.

The list of backsplash ideas that are available for kitchens is long, and the prices vary wildly. It starts with simple painted beadboard, and ends with luxury marble tile. A new tile backsplash is an investment, but it can be accomplished in just a few days. Even if you have quartz or granite counters, a backsplash will add to their beauty.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to color. First, it makes sense to keep your backsplash neutral (think white subway tiles) so you aren’t locked into a particular color scheme. Second, it’s a space where you can add color and style, so take advantage of it. That’s a hard choice! As always, my best advice is to follow your heart, and choose what you love.

dining nook with shelves table and chairs

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Bonus Tip: Incorporate Open Shelving.

One of the best kitchen update ideas that is currently popular is to incorporate open shelves. They add lightness and interest, and it’s also very fun to accessorize them with seasonal decor. (I know we said we weren’t talking about the dining area, but in the image below you can see the open shelving, and it’s right next door to the kitchen.)

Shop + Source

Click any image below to be taken directly to the product listing. Every effort has been made to provide sources for the items found in this post. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.

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  1. Anita Woods says:

    I am looking for bird prints similar to the one you have on your countertop. You also have one in another post on foyer table ( I think). Where will I find these type prints.
    Thanks, Anita

    1. Hi Anita! I have two sets of bird prints. The first is an original set of Audubon prints I found when we emptied out my in-law’s home. The second set is by Arthur Singer from the 50’s. These were given to me by my grandmother before she died. Sometimes you can find reproductions at a reasonable price. I don’t know what your budget is, but here is a link to a large set of Arthur Singer prints on eBay and they look like they are in great condition. Don’t wait though if you want them! https://rstyle.me/+URoGaajQ6X9e5uo1tXlcWg Good luck!

  2. Quinci Haller says:

    Wow, this is a terrific post! We are looking to remodel our outdated kitchen in the next few months. We are just debating on a few things like if we need a dumpster rental, what style of kitchen we would like, and what colors, etc. This post is inspirational and we will be using some of these ideas!

  3. Ann I have followed your blog for many years and have always loved your decorating style. I love blue and miniature schnauzers. We had our little Maggie 16 years….she was a wonderful member of our family and even after two years I still miss her everyday. Thank you for sharing your home and life with us!

  4. Tina Sipe says:

    Your kitchen is one of my favorites! I love the island and seeing all of the ideas you give using plates! Your decor is always so fresh and uplifting with all the plates and flowers!
    Love that look for sure!!

  5. Jeanie Nichols says:

    I love reading your blog, Ann. I sometimes get a little behind, but eventually I catch up. Blessings to you.

  6. Ann
    You have a beautiful home. It is so warm and inviting. I absolutely love your kitchen. I always wanted glass doors. Maybe when we downsize I will be able to get them.

  7. I contacted you before re the blue/white pitcher which I would love to have, but I misplaced your info. I have collected blue/white for years, including “flow blue”. Could you send me an enlarged pic of your pitcher, the name, maker (listed on the bottom), and where you purchased if you remember. I would love to change a few of my solid cabinet doors with ones with panes.
    Thank you in advance. I “steal” your ideas quite a bit

  8. This post is full of such valuable information and inspiration. I just love your backsplash!

  9. Sarah Sieling says:

    I love your new house. Can you tell me where you bought the counter kitchen stools?

  10. Your blog is so “real people” friendly. Feel as though we could be neighbors! Thanks for keeping it real, Anne

  11. You have me thinking, I love all you included and the glass in the cabinet and the open shelving I’m considering.

  12. 5 stars
    This is a beautiful kitchen and I love the blue. Thank you for sharing all your purchases. Jean

  13. You have lovely taste & your new kitchen is beautiful! I loved your Sutton Place house as well and all you did to update it. Thanks !

  14. Mabel Goddard says:

    Your kitchen is beautiful! It looks so spacious and bright!
    Thank you for sharing👏👏👏💕