Having an awesome kitchen doesn’t require a huge budget. Instead, rethink a few everyday items to come up with your own epic-level improvements. Your friends will think you’re a creative genius.
1. Raising the Bar
A towel bar isn’t just for towels – it makes an amazing, out-of-the-way holder for those always-in-the-way pot lids. Look for thin, inexpensive towel bars that stick out about two inches, since these are an optimal size for holding lids in place. Install one or two on the inside of a wooden cabinet door. Transfer all the lids on to the towel bars and you’ve just gained loads of cabinet space.
2. Vertical Horizons
Cookie sheets, baking pans, muffin tins: great to own, not so great to stack or sift through when dealing with limited kitchen cupboard space. Solution: tension rods. You know – narrow, expandable curtain rods like you might use for the window near a kitchen sink. Install a few of these vertically in between shelves in the cupboard to create “bays” for your baking sheets, muffin tins, platters and anything else that’s large, relatively flat and awkward to stack. You’ll never again have to dig or ask everyone in the house where the pizza pan went. (Been there, done that. Too many times to admit.)
3. Spicy Storage Solution
Countertop space is some of the most valuable real estate in the kitchen; it seems like there is never enough. Eliminate one more item from the countertop – a spinning spice rack – and replace it with a magnetic spice rack. Purchase a sheet of magnetic metal sheeting from a metal shop or home improvement store, then cut it to fit the side of a kitchen cabinet. A metal shop may even cut the metal for you and drill holes for the screws.
Buy a set of small mason jars with lids, then epoxy a really strong magnet onto each lid. Label each jar with the name of a spice, fill the jars, then group them on the spice rack as you may use them: Italian spices, seasonings you use every day, and so on.
4. A Sharp Idea
Your cutlery tray is beyond the clutter phase and those oversized specialty knives sure don’t help. Simple hack: Fill a vase or container with bamboo skewers, points facing down. Insert those extra-long knives for an instant knife holder. No skewers? No problem – use colorful dried beans, rice or popping corn instead.
5. Super Simple Wine-Glass Storage
Wine glasses: Can’t stack them, can’t leave them on the countertop. Solution: build an under-cabinet hanging system for stemmed glasses of all types. Inexpensive T-molding from a home improvement store and a handful of short screws are all you’ll need. Cut the molding into strips several inches shorter than the depth of the kitchen cabinet, then attach one to the underside of a wooden wall-mounted cabinet with two screws. Slide the stem of a wine glass into the slot created by the molding to figure out the ideal spacing for the next piece of molding, then attach it parallel to the first. Add as many strips as needed.
This simple molding system can also be installed on the underside of a wooden wall shelf or even on the inside “ceiling” of a wall-mounted cabinet.
6. Magazine-Rack Makeover
That cabinet beneath the kitchen sink tends to collect, well, I’ll just say it — everything but the kitchen sink. In my kitchen, rectangular boxes of foil, plastic wrap and wax paper live here, too, without a dedicated place of their own, contributing to the pile of stuff. Give those boxes a home of their own and attach an old magazine holder to the inside of the cabinet door. Even an inexpensive cardboard holder will do, but you can pick up nice metal ones at thrift stores on the cheap, too.
While you’re at it, repurpose a couple of meshy metal magazine holders into tidy under-sink storage for potatoes and onions. The holes allow adequate ventilation to keep the items fresh, plus you can see in an instant when it’s time to shop for more.
7. Rustic Repurposing
A vintage garden rake head may seem like a worthless item without its handle, but think again. Its durable tines are perfect for hanging up kitchen utensils such as a slotted spoon, spatula and whisk. Hang the clean rake head on the wall or side of a cabinet so the tines stick out horizontally, then add your utensils. Have another rake head? Use it as a rad retro holder for extra stemware.
8. (Kitchen) Island Amore
An island is one of those things that can turn a kitchen into a dream kitchen. Make your own island – without breaking the bank – out of short bookcases and an inexpensive countertop or butcher block. Ikea has just about everything you’ll need for the project, but you can save even more money if you buy used materials from a thrift store or salvage shop such as Habitat for Humanity ReStore. You can even customize the shape and size of the island to suit your kitchen. Just attach the bookcases to one another to make the base, then add a countertop or even a repurposed solid wood door. Dress up the island with bead board or faux tin tiles for a snazzy, jazzy look.
9. Beautiful Budget Backsplashes
Add a backsplash to give your kitchen’s personality a huge boost. Cover the wall with wine corks, paint the walls in chalkboard paint, or use faux tin tiles for a classic touch. Wondering what to do in a rental? No problem – just make the backsplash on a piece of MDF, cut to size. You can take it out when you move, returning the kitchen walls to their original look.
10. Hanging Herb Garden
Fresh herbs taste far better than their dried counterparts. Instead of running to the store for fresh cilantro or parsley, grow your own in a beautiful kitchen herb garden. Hang hooks from the window frame near the sink (or any kitchen window that gets a lot of light), then add small planters made from plant pots or mason jars with homemade hangers. Add your favorite organic herb plants, some organic potting soil and your garden is ready to grow.
If you have plenty of window sill space, you can also make a non-hanging version.
11. Dresser, Redefined
A kitchen with a bit of unused wall space – even a narrow wall – is the perfect place for more storage. Add an unneeded or thrifted dresser or sideboard to add storage space for kitchen linens, pot holders, crock pots – you name it. Paint the dresser to go along with your kitchen’s theme and it will look like it was meant to go there all along.
An old nightstand or side table from a yard sale can also be repurposed for that awkward, otherwise unused corner of the kitchen.
12. Let There Be (Accent) Light
Lighting can really set the mood for a space – especially lights that set off an ambient glow when the overhead lights are off. Add low-profile LED lights or thin rope lighting beneath or directly above wall-mounted cabinets, or use it near the toe kick to illuminate the area just above the floor near your cabinets. Instant luxe look on a low-end budget.