Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Refresh Your Small Ranch House Kitchen on a Budget with DIY Updates

Gabriela Connell
6 minute read

Is your small ranch style kitchen stuck in the past? Dingy cabinets, worn counters, and dated wallpaper make cooking and cleaning feel like a chore. You dream of a fresh, open space but a full remodel is out of reach. With smart upgrades and decor touches, you can give your kitchen new life without spending a fortune.

This post shares realistic DIY ideas to update your small ranch kitchen on a budget. You’ll learn affordable ways to open up the space, refresh cabinets and surfaces, add bold paint, and style with greenery and lighting. With creativity and elbow grease, you can transform your kitchen into a bright, welcoming space for a fraction of the cost of a major renovation.

Assess Your Current Kitchen and Make a Game Plan

Before making any changes, take time to evaluate your existing kitchen. Consider the layout, storage, plumbing, and electrical to help shape your update priorities. Creating a plan allows you to tackle projects systematically and avoid ad hoc purchases that may not fit your vision or budget.

small ranch house kitchen remodel

Look for Ways to Open Up the Footprint

Small ranch kitchens often feel boxy and closed in. Knocking down walls to create an open concept kitchen and dining area can work wonders. Removing bulky shelving units or unnecessary doorways also opens sightlines. If eliminating walls is not feasible, consider enlarging windows or adding a glass door to bring in natural light.

Also pay attention to your current storage situation. Are cabinets and drawers maximized or are spaces oddly configured and inefficient? Ensure things are organized conveniently to support better workflow.

Evaluate Electrical and Plumbing Needs

Take stock of electrical and plumbing before finalizing plans. Will you need to move or upgrade appliances? Is the sink positioned optimally or will you relocate plumbing? Factor in costs of minor electrical or plumbing repairs now to avoid surprises down the road.

Inspecting connections behind large appliances helps you understand if electrical requires updating. Note if supply lines connect easily to the sink and appliances or if modifications will be needed.

Set a Realistic Budget

Set a budget and stick to it. Get quotes from contractors on portions you may need to hire out, like knocking down walls or running new electrical circuits. Price materials like flooring and tiles yourself as well. Home improvement projects often have unexpected costs pop up so build in a 10-20% buffer if possible.

Look for ways to save through sweat equity. Refinishing your own cabinets and installing peel-and-stick backsplash and flooring costs much less than paying pros. Prioritize essential functional upgrades over cosmetic additions to control costs.

Update Cabinets, Counters, and Backsplash on a Dime

Outdated cabinets with peeling veneers and laminate counters can make any kitchen look drab and worn. Luckily, there are budget-friendly ways to refresh these spaces that provide serious visual impact.

Paint or Stain Cabinets to Look Like New

Painting tired wooden cabinets or staining faded cabinets gives them an instant face lift at a fraction of the cost of replacing them. Use an adhesion primer for the best results on surfaces like laminate or melamine. Soft close hinges also update old cabinets on the cheap.

While you have the doors and drawers off during painting, replace old tarnished hardware with new knobs and handles. Opt for satin nickel or matte black for a modern touch.

Resurface Countertops Affordably

Replacing countertops with natural stone or solid surfaces can blow a remodeling budget quickly. Instead, try freshening up laminate counters with contact paper, tiles, or reclaimed wood. Concrete resurfacing kits can give worn counters a sleek, modern look for much less.

For a quick upgrade, coat existing surfaces with decorative paint or chalk paint. Use a sealant over paint to add durability and wipeability. Extend life of counters by adding trim to hide worn edges.

Install an Updated Backsplash

Nothing transforms a kitchen like a new backsplash. Put your tile saw aside and try these budget-friendly approaches instead:

Look for recycled or discounted glass tile. The fewer special cuts needed, the less waste and cost for your project. Use painters tape and have fun laying out patterns before permanently adhering.

Swap Out Sink and Faucet Fixtures

Replacing an outdated sink and faucet provides big visual impact for relatively little money. Standard sizes don’t require plumbing alterations. Look forENERGY STAR certified models that use less water.

For a quick update, refinish your existing sink with epoxy coating spray paint. Clean the sink thoroughly, use painter’s tape to protect edges, and apply several thin coats for a durable finish.

Refresh Floors, Walls, and Lighting to Expand the Space

Opening up walls makes a huge difference but sometimes isn’t possible. No need to despair – floors, walls, and lighting also help make a small kitchen feel more spacious and airy. Brighter colors, fewer obstructions, and better task lighting prevent your tiny kitchen from feeling dark and closed in.

Update Flooring to Open the Space

If existing floors are worn, dated vinyl or linoleum, replace them with budget-friendly sheet vinyl or vinyl planks. Pick a stone-look pattern in a light color to make the room feel larger.

Can’t swap them out? Try refinishing or painting floors instead. After thorough cleaning, use a floor paint designed for high-traffic areas. Add traction with sand for safety.

Paint the Walls, Ceiling, and More

Color makes a huge impact. Light, bright hues like white, light gray, or soft blue visually expand small spaces. If your kitchen feels dark, paint the ceiling as well. Chalk paint adds rustic character to wood trim and beams.

Have fun by painting cabinets, the island, shelving, or even the back of open shelves in bold, glossy colors. In a small room, colorful focal points really pop.

Add Streamlined Lighting Options

Ensure adequate task lighting, especially around key kitchen zones like countertops, stove, and sink. Look for low-profile fixtures that don’t obstruct sightlines. Undercabinet lighting reduces shadows on work surfaces beautifully.

Accent lighting over an island or sink adds brightness. Recessed cans, track lighting, or minimal pendants work better than large ornate chandeliers. Dimmer switches let you control ambience.

Use Mirrors and Glass for an Open Feel

Strategically placed mirrors visually double small spaces. Try framing out the area around windows to create the illusion of more glass. Swapping solid cabinet fronts for glass-front uppers also makes kitchens feel more expansive.

Removing upper cabinets entirely makes rooms feel taller. For needed storage, try open shelving using glass or acrylic brackets to maintain the open vibe.

Infuse Personality with DIY Touches

Beyond the major upgrades, don’t overlook the power of smaller DIY projects to infuse personality and creativity. Collections, greenery, accent lighting, and wall accents help convey your style.

Show Off Dishware and Other Collections

Rather than stashing dishes and glassware behind closed cabinet doors, display collections creatively on open shelving. Arrange by color or style for visual impact. Cluster ceramic planters, baskets, or containers on shelving too.

Inside glass-front cabinets, place bright plates and bowls facing forward interspersed with other accessories. The pops of color look great against the glass.

Incorporate Natural Greenery

From air plants suspended in macrame to fresh herb gardens, greenery brings life to small rooms. Float flowers or greens in colored bottles on shelves for an easy refresh when blooms fade. Use command hooks to hang planters underneath upper cabinets.

Display trailing pothos, philodendrons, or ivy in hanging macrame or terrariums. The key is going for varieties that don’t require high light levels to thrive indoors.

Peel-and-stick undercabinet lighting adds both task lighting and personality. Opt for battery-operated LEDs to avoid wiring. Use washi tape or painter’s tape along with acrylic paint to create a backsplash that doubles as accent lighting.

Try stenciling patterns on walls or backsplashes then coat with glow paint. Paint the interiors of glass front cabinets in bright hues then use battery-powered puck lights. Options abound for custom looks!

Updating a tired kitchen on a budget takes elbow grease but pays off by making your home more enjoyable. What once felt dark and closed in becomes re-energized with color, openness, and creativity. By doing portions yourself, you can refresh your small ranch kitchen for a fraction of the cost of a major remodel. The money you save leaves room in your budget for personalized touches that express your style.