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10 DIY small kitchen ideas on a budget for big style

If you think that having a small space and tight budget limits the overall look of your kitchen, then it’s time to think outside the box. I’m here to show you some design elements that make a big impact in a small area without breaking the bank.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores and contains affiliate links, however all opinions and recommendations are my own. Please see my full disclosure policy for more details.

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Lowe’s on a project that is very near and dear to me; my parents’ kitchen.

Specifically, the kitchen area where all of the prep work and cooking magic happens. We love bringing the grandkids over to my parents’ home for Sunday dinners. It’s a chance for both my kids and my parents to make memories crafting, cooking and laughing together.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

But as you can see from this photo, my parents have a very small kitchen coupled with limited cooking space. A bit of a recipe for disaster if you will when you’re trying to fill it with your large family.

Time and again, I could see the stress in my dad’s eyes as he would rush to clear space for everything so that we could enjoy our time together. 

And I watched while my mom silently lost her joy for cooking as it became a chore to create special meals for the people she loves. 

I wanted to do something that would give them enough space for cooking and entertaining while also providing a new look to help make the space feel refreshed. 

Before I dive into my favorite small kitchen ideas on a budget, I want to mention that this is really just a first phase in what I hope to be a full kitchen remodel.

But in an effort to not waste any materials, everything newly replaced will eventually be re-used in their new kitchen since we’ll be working within the same layout.

10 DIY projects for a small kitchen space

1) Re-think your cooking space

Most of us tend to accumulate kitchen gadgets and small electrics for their convenience. But when you don’t have the luxury of storing or displaying these items, then it becomes a matter of determining what’s really necessary, or in this case, finding the perfect multifunctional pieces to accommodate the space. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

Since my parents’ range was on its very last leg, I started looking into new ovens. Thanks to changing technology, today’s options are built for way more than just traditional cooking methods!

small kitchen ideas on a budget

Isn’t she pretty?!!

small kitchen ideas on a budget

When I found The Frigidaire Gallery 30″ Front Control Induction Range with Total Convection I was a tad jealous that I didn’t get one for our recent remodel.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

It features a powerful convection system, with over 15 cooking modes like No Preheat, Air Fry, Slow Cook, Steam Bake, Steam Roast, Air Sous Vide, Convection Roast, Convection Bake, Bread Proof and more.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

I knew this was the perfect opportunity to free up some of their precious counter space and pair down some of their small electrics, like the air fryer, crock pot and even the toaster. The multi-functionality alone is a game changer, but then I discovered the induction cooktop.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

You can get dinner on the table faster with the induction cooktop, which boils water faster than gas or electric.

It’s also a much safer option with little hands always around.

I had no idea you could touch the top right after cooking, That’s because only the cookware is activated. So all of those messy caked on spills are a non-issue when you can immediately wipe them up.

2) Address the limited space

Regular decluttering is always a good idea when dealing with small kitchen layouts. It’s all too easy for items to build up over time, so taking regular inventory and assessing your needs is a must. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

I dove straight into the countertops and began creating “homes” for all of the loose items and eliminating some of the excess that never really gets used. Side note, this step is highly therapeutic and can quickly become addicting, but hey, if you’re creating extra counter space, I say go for it!

I did however, uncover rotting Formica countertops which spiraled into a whole new project itself. But beyond worth it.

3) Create a focal point

Next to that gorgeous new stainless steel range, the rest of this kitchen nook started to look pretty rough. I wanted this new piece to stand out, but in a good way. So I opted to replace the small amount of countertops with butcherblock, which happened to be a very affordable option. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

I purchased this countertop from Lowe’s and templated it to fit the existing cabinets. Eventually it will be installed on brand new cabinets, but the timeless design lends itself to pretty much any style. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

I also opted to replace the shallow kitchen sink with a brand new extra deep option. I must’ve gone back and forth multiple times on whether or not to use the coveted workstation sink in this space. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

In the end, I decided that since this kitchen had no room for a dishwasher, that a separate basin was necessary for my parents to be able to wash and dry their dishes.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the concept of the workstation sink and the built in drying racks, but they’re really meant as a short term solution for small loads of dish washing. My parents needed an entire section for this. And it’s working out wonderfully.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

In fact, I think my dad’s favorite feature is actually the new sink and faucet and the fact that he can actually refill his Keurig reservoir without having to tip it and spill it to fit under a tight faucet area.

Now that the kitchen is broken up my multiple countertop materials, it allows the eye to focus on the new cooktop area and makes this small kitchen appear less busy. 

4) Install or replace a kitchen backsplash

Replacing or installing a backsplash is one of the easiest ways to make a huge impact on a small budget. You don’t need to use expensive materials to make a statement here. In fact, I used some scrap shiplap boards from previous projects to create an affordable cottage like paneling.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

You can find the full tutorial on how to install vertical wall paneling here. I’m also linking my must have tools for this project below.

The fact that this look is timeless made it blend perfectly with the existing green cabinetry and will pair nicely with new cabinets when that time comes. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

But what I love most about this design element is that the vertical panels tend to draw the eye up, providing the illusion of more space in this small area. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

5) Add a fresh coat of paint

You don’t always have to opt for white walls, but a new coat of paint will undoubtedly make a big difference in the appearance of any kitchen. Since I plan to replace all of the existing cabinetry, it didn’t make much sense for me to spend the time refinishing them. 

What I did do is tone down the bright colors by pairing the current light green paint with a beautiful creamy shade of simply white. It was the perfect way to tie in the upper cabinets with the new countertops to feel more cohesive. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

A common myth when working with smaller spaces is that you have to paint light colors. When actually, a technique called color drenching, works just the same to make a space feel larger. It’s when you cover all surfaces (walls, trim, cabinetry) in the same paint color, and use accent pieces to highlight the room.

6) Install new light fixtures

Whether you’re dealing with little to no natural light, or even dated fixtures, a great way to brighten up a small kitchen is to install new fixtures. Especially in work areas that would do well to have good task lighting available. 

My parents had an early 90’s dated half moon fixture over their sink. You know the type I’m talking about. The challenge in this small area was finding something short enough that wouldn’t interfere with the new sink faucet or overheat the wall cabinets above it.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

I settled on this gorgeous tulip shade light that can be placed either up or down and I think it adds a chic vintage look to this quaint country kitchen.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

7) Add new hardware

I will always advocate for new hardware during a kitchen makeover. It’s a great way to completely change the look of your cabinets and it’s a small detail that cab really make a small room pop.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

In this scenario however, I chose to keep the vintage knobs because it adds to that charm of this lived-in kitchen. I also wasn’t ready to commit to new hardware knowing I was going to change out the cabinets later this year anyway.

8) Make use of vertical space

Storing items like paper towels on a strategically placed holder under the cabinet frees up valuable countertop space for other essentials. And if you’ve been following the blog a while, then you know what a fan I am of clutter free counters.

small kitchen ideas on a budget

9) Install Open Shelving

I didn’t get around to adding in open shelving in this kitchen just yet. Mainly because I still want to reconfigure the cabinets in phase too in order to integrate them into this design.

I love open shelving because it’s a smart use of vertical real estate, giving the illusion that your kitchen is bigger than that one countertop you’ve been using as a chopping board, office desk, and sometimes dining table. 

Plus, they’re the perfect opportunity to display that funky dishware collection you’ve been hoarding – because, hey, your quirky mugs deserve their moment in the spotlight!

10) Use Clever Storage Solutions

I’ll spare you the inside of these very cramped small cabinets. And instead show you what I’m planning to use as party of my “get smart with storage” project during phase 2 of this little kitchen refresh. 

When you’re dealing with limited square footage in the kitchen, you have to make the most of the storage space you’re given. We still have a long way to go, but I’m happy to say that my parents now have easy access to the items they need for everyday use. 

I’m linking a few of the items I selected for their small space below, but Lowe’s has so many option to retrofit your existing cabinets to make them more functional. 

Before I wrap this up, I just want to throw in a quick thanks for sticking around and listening to me recap my proud little kitchen refresh. Who knew that a new stove would spiral into this mini makeover? I’ve never seen my mother more excited to cook and bake again, and my dad is thoroughly enjoying his decluttered little kitchen. 

small kitchen ideas on a budget

A huge shoutout to Lowe’s Home Improvement for making this makeover possible. 

Stick around for my next DIY adventure in phase 2 and watch as I transform this space into the coastal kitchen of my mother’s dreams. I promise it’ll be a good one! 

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