Interior Decorating · Interior Design

Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage

The Dog Days of Summer are here. It’s mid-July in North Carolina, and, as my darling Step-Dad used to say, “it’s hotter than a $2 pistol.” Days on end of 90+° have driven me inside where I worship the air conditioning gods and pretend that I don’t notice the proliferation of weeds sprouting in my gardens. To assuage my guilt about neglecting the weeding, I decided to deep clean my kitchen (well, clean it anyway.) As I was scrubbing all the gunk off the burner grates, it occurred to me that I actually like my kitchen. Oh sure, there are things I would like to change. Installing a spiffy tile backsplash and new flooring are definitely on the kitchen renovation list, but for the most part, I am satisfied with both the way it looks and functions.

I have not always felt this way. When we purchased our home, which was built in the late ’90s, the kitchen needed updating. The cabinets were natural maple with brass button knobs. (They were perfectly fine, but I have always wanted a classic white kitchen.) The countertops were a dark brown and black “stone-look” laminate, and the white over-mount sink had an ugly builder-grade black and chrome fixture. I had planned to remodel the kitchen right away, but, as anyone who has ever bought a home knows, other things took precedence, and we ended up living with the “old-style” kitchen for several years.

Original natural finish maple cabinets with little brass button knobs-Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage.
Original natural finish maple cabinets with little brass button knobs.

Inexpensive Kitchen Updates You Can Do Right Now That Make A Big Impact

There were two things that I did change right away because they were low-cost projects we could do ourselves. The first was to replace the cabinet hardware.  I didn’t particularly like the shiny brass knobs (my 90’s house is loaded with brass), and they looked ridiculously small on the 42″ tall cabinets. The black stove-top, ovens, and dishwasher were relatively new, so I decided to go with Black Birdcage Knobs to coordinate with the appliances.

Painted and glazed kitchen cabinets with black birdcage knobs-Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage

Black Birdcage Cabinet Knob--Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage
Black Birdcage Cabinet Knob

Creating an area to display dishes that would serve as a focal point for our open concept kitchen was the other project we tackled right away. We accomplished this by replacing the raised panels of the two cabinets above the stove with glass. (There are many tutorials on how to do this with a table saw, but Christy from Confessions of a Serial DIYer has a good tutorial on how to do this as we did with an inexpensive jigsaw) We also replaced the wooden shelf with glass and added Puck Lights. This was doable because we were able to tie these into the existing electrical of the under-cabinet lighting. My husband, who, bless his heart, is no handyman, did this whole project in a weekend. Poor guy, I keep coming up with all kinds of ideas, and he always tries his best to help me achieve my goals.

Cutting out and replacing the wood raised panels with glass is an easy and inexpensive DIY project that can be accomplished in a weekend.--Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage
Cutting out and replacing the wood raised panels with glass is an easy and inexpensive DIY project that can be accomplished in a weekend.
Puck Lights Illuminate the glass front cabinets creating a focal point in the kitchen and providing a place to display dishware--Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage
Puck Lights illuminate the glass front cabinets creating a focal point in the kitchen and providing a place to display dishware.

A More Substantial Kitchen Renovation

Five years later, when we finally got around to remodeling the kitchen, not surprisingly, since kids are expensive little buggers, we still didn’t have enough money for a total overhaul. The solid wood cabinets were in good shape, so we decided just to add some architectural details and paint them cream with a coffee glaze. We dressed up the cabinetry by adding a more substantial decorative crown molding, light rail molding at the bottom of the uppers, and skins that matched the raised panel doors on the visible ends of the cabinets. We also added decorative wooden appliques to the arches over the stove and the desk. The island got a makeover with black paint, acanthus leaf corbels, and fluted pilasters with rosette medallions.

The big-ticket item in our kitchen redo was the granite countertops. We installed Absolute Black granite on top of the cream cabinets around the perimeter and White Crema granite over the black island. We further replaced the white sink, which stuck out like a sore thumb, with a cream under-mount that coordinated with the countertop. And finally, we replaced the ugly faucet with a beautiful polished nickel fixture.

Cream under-mount sink with nickel faucet--Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage
Cream under-mount sink with nickel faucet

Styling The Kitchen To Play Up Assets And Downplay The Negatives AKA Camouflage

One of the things about my kitchen that I both love and hate is the number of electrical outlets on the wall behind the stove. I feel that the builder must have been having a bromance with the electrician because I could literally plug in every kitchen appliance I own at one time. It’s convenient to have six outlets on one counter-run, but they are not super attractive.

Plate Hanger Easels camouflage a plethora of outlets--Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage
Plate Hanger Easels camouflage a plethora of outlets.

I would like to put in a tile backsplash, but the outlets make it problematic for a DIY project. I also would prefer to replace the flooring before deciding on a tile for the backsplash. My “temporary” fix for this situation is to hide the outlets behind transferware plates hung on the wall and by placing appliances and other decorative objects on the countertop in front of them. This “hide and seek” outlet game is not ideal, but the plates are pretty, and it works for the time being.

Flowers, plants, and fruit add life and color to the kitchen. I always keep a bowl of lemons or apples on the counter. They are inexpensive, and people can eat them or, in the case of lemons (which would be gross to eat), they are conveniently available for cooking. I don’t get enough direct light in my kitchen to grow countertop herbs, but in the summer, I regularly clip herbs from my garden and display them in bud vases as part of my outlet camouflage. Boxwood cuttings from my yard also add greenery, are free, and look fresh for over a month at a time.

Boxwood sprigs, lemons, and decorative plate serve as outlet camouflage -Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage
Boxwood sprigs, lemons, and decorative plate serve as outlet camouflage.
Fresh herbs, colorful salt and pepper grinders and an urn full of utensils add additional cover for electrical outlets--Inexpensive kitchen Updates And Camouflage
Fresh herbs, colorful salt and pepper grinders, and an urn full of utensils add additional cover for electrical outlets.
Yellow flowers, low-light plants, lemon scented candle, and fruit help to dress up the bar top counter --Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage.
Yellow flowers, low-light plants, lemon-scented candle, and fruit help dress up the bar top counter.

Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Kitchen Camouflage

Someday maybe, I will be able to do a total kitchen renovation, but for now, I am happy with my Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage. Now, if I could just get someone else to clean it!

For more ideas on styling your kitchen check out my Spring Home Tour.

By adding a few light and bright elements, like a yellow lampshade or a vase of tulips, you can easily style your home for Spring --Spring Has Sprung A Spring Home Tour

Inexpensive Kitchen Updates & Camouflage For A 90's Kitchen

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46 thoughts on “Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage

  1. I just replaced my old wooden knobs with brushed nickel handles that I found on Etsy of all places. I searched the usual stores and when I couldn’t find anything, combed Etsy and found more than a few that I could love. That site is always a welcome surprise. This is the vendor that I used.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. Your tip about checking Etsy for knobs is great. It would not have occurred to me.

  2. So cool how small changes can make such a difference. The kitchen looks beautiful! I love the look of white cabinets but my kids are so messy I feel like they would never not be covered in smeared peanut butter or washable marker.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I really appreciate it. As long as the marker is actually washable, you are good.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I am happy that my Kitchen Camo tips may be of some help to you.

  3. Kitchen are deadly expensive to update. I have no recollection of my mother or any of her friends discussing kitchen decor. I wish the style changes would stabilize on these big ticket renos.

    I can’t afford to overhaul my kitchen every five years so these little small changes a bit at a time make much more sense and are more appealing than a total reno ever would.

    Great tips and thank you for the real story behind it. Much appreciated.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment on my Kitchen Camo post. I totally agree with you about huge renos. I am always stunned when I watch House Hunters and people go into homes and say that they would have to gut everything. I really don’t know how people afford that.

  4. WOW!! Your kitchen is beautiful. Our cabinets are white washed maple and they were custom made for this kitchen (not by us). Now it’s 12+ years later and I’ve wanted to do something to the kitchen for years. I’ve hated the turquoise laminate counters and backsplash and we already did take out the brass knobs. To make a long story short – we’re planning on moving so we’re not going to change anything. But your kitchen is a dream.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments about my kitchen. I’ve lived with a lot of ugly kitchens in houses we’ve owned over the years. It’s definitely a bummer when you think how much time you spend in them. I hope that when you move, you are able to find a home with a kitchen that makes you happy!

  5. Oh your kitchen is gorgeous. I love the black and yellow touches, they look perfect. I really like your granite detail choices too on the remodel. Beautifully done and a great layout.

  6. I love what you’ve done with it – I also really think your decorations go a long way to making the kitchen look nice and stand out in a pretty way. I think a lot of people underestimate that lots of fancy “stuff” (marble or quartz countertops, high end appliances, etc.) don’t really mean much if you don’t also have nice touches, like your handle fixtures and decorations.

    PS. So glad I found you from the Savvy Southern Style link party! 🙂 My husband and I are big DIYers too… even though I’m not the handy one haha

    1. Thanks so much Melissa. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment on my kitchen update post.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I completely agree with you. I think that knobs are like jewelry. If you accessorize properly, it makes all the difference.

  7. There’s always a kitchen that’s not nearly as pretty as yours and we have it. Our home is a single wide mfg. home which had owners who made decor choices not in my idea of pretty at all, lol. I have worked at making decorations, painting, doing anything I can to make it better. We need new counter tops something awful, try to figure out ways to make it look better, Being able to buy new things isn’t an option very often. We live in expensive area for people who live on SS so when I want something changed it has to wait quite awhile.
    Good challenge for me but Mr. isn’t into making things nicer unless they break. I waited over 8 yrs. just to get living room painted. Kitchen cabinets need it badly, I am not able to do much due to disabilities. My endurance for painting for example is limited but do what I can.
    Your kitchen looks gorgeous to me but realize every body has an idea in their head what they really want, you have done great job of getting closer to your goal. Love your ideas to cover all those outlets. And those gorgeous plates, love them so much.
    Have wonderful weekend

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on my Kitchen Camo post. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a great weekend too!

  8. You have a lovely kitchen. You’re right about making those little upgrades – they can really make a big difference. I’ve often thought about installing glass in a few of the cupboard doors along with puck lights. So glad you included the tutorial on this – will need to visit this when we decide to do this ourselves! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments about my kitchen post. I am glad you are thinking about adding glass and lights to your cupboards. It is a totally doable DIY project and as you said, it really makes a difference to the look of your kitchen. Thanks again for visiting my blog.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my post. You are absolutely right about simple changes making a difference. I think sometimes people get stymied because they feel overwhelmed by the cost or scope of a project when small simple changes can have a big impact.

  9. What a great idea to hide outlets. It’s a positive and negative to have that many outlets. Your kitchen is gorgeous.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and for your kind words about my kitchen updates. You are right, the outlet situation is definitely a mixed blessing.

  10. Your kitchen is really beautiful! I love the trim you added and the black/white accessories. I hide those backsplash plugs with my accessories. A plate here and a vase there works!

    1. Thanks, Stacey. I am glad to hear that I am not the only person who is involved in Operation Kitchen Camouflage!

  11. The kitchen looks fantastic! Isn’t it amazing what just a few DIYs can do for a space? I think the idea of using the plates to camo the outlets is brilliant. I would have never guessed that’s what you were doing when I first saw the pic. Thanks for sharing some great ideas.

  12. I’m so glad to see someone else has a “thing” about exposed electrical outlets. While my kitchen doesn’t have an abundance of them, it seems that they aren’t where I would like them to be, so I try to cover the unused ones with something pretty or interesting. I’m in the middle of a cabinet color change – from oak to painted white and I’m loving what I have done already – can’t wait to have them all finished. Countertops are next (they now make beautiful laminate which is the only thing I can afford) and I’m looking forward to that. Just recently had wood (again laminate) floors installed in my great room and kitchen so things are looking much better. We do what we can …

    1. Sounds like the updates you are making to your kitchen are really going to be transformative. It’s amazing how a few little tweaks and some artful camouflage can make such a change. I know that painting my cabinets lightened everything up and made it a lot more pleasant to be in my kitchen. I hope it will be the same for you. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  13. Stopping by from Share Your Style link party and so glad I did! I’ve wanted to paint my small kitchen’s cabinets for a long time. Maybe one of these days.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment on my kitchen camo post. I would definitely encourage you to take the plunge and paint your cabinets. It made such a difference in lightening and brightening my kitchen.

  14. Love those birdcage knobs the most but your granite is gorgeous too! There is always something we would like to change in the kitchen, isn’t there! Yours looks fabulous and I love the decor. #merrymonday

    1. Thanks so much Shelley. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. It’s surprisingly easy to paint cabinets. I say go for it!

  15. Your kitchen is gorgeous! I love how you hid the outlets.
    I have oak cabinets in Arizona and would love to paint them but… we have renovated our LakeHouse in Pennsylvania and this girl is just tired of projects.

    However, I may take an idea from you and add hardware.

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Nancy. Simply changing out the hardware can make a surprising difference in the look of the cabinets.

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