Recently one of my goals has been to love our builder grade kitchen right now, instead of always wishing for a remodel. A few simple changes made our kitchen more functional and cozy, and I wanted to share them with you today! Ready to update a basic kitchen without renovating? Check out these simple and budget friendly tips.

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Update Your Kitchen Island (or Add a Kitchen Cart)

Update a Basic Kitchen Without Renovating - upgrade a builder grade kitchen, gray kitchen cart, smoked glass vase with autumn leaf stems, white kitchen decor

Do you have a kitchen without an island, or want to give yours a refresh? We opted out of the island from our builder, but the unused area in the middle of the kitchen actually made it feel smaller. I recently ordered this kitchen cart from Target (update: now only available in off-white but I’m linking more gray kitchen islands below) to help define the space. It offers storage and an additional surface for food prep or decor.

If you already have an island but aren’t loving it, consider painting it. Paint is always a great budget friendly update! Personally I love the look of a contrasting island–stained wood, gray, or black–against lighter kitchen cabinets.

gray kitchen cart, Target kitchen island, washable runner rug

If your space is island-less like ours, here are some more kitchen carts and islands I found:

Update Your Pots and Pans

Upgrade a Basic Kitchen (Without Renovating) | white kitchen with subway tile, gray island, pretty appliances, ceramic cookware, budget friendly kitchen update, affordable kitchen refresh

I recently reached out to Caraway Home, because I keep seeing their beautiful, non-toxic ceramic cookware and have been wanting to upgrade my old nonstick pan. They kindly gifted me their sauté pan and sauce pan in gray, and we can’t believe how easily the pans clean up with no scrubbing necessary–even cheese washes right off! And of course, they are pretty 🙂 Updating cookware is another simple way to refresh your kitchen.

If you are interested you can check out Caraway’s ceramic pots and pans and receive 10% off using my link.

Try a Pretty Trash Can

simple human white trash can 55 liter, gray kitchen island, beige drapes

If you do not have a pull out trash can in your cabinets, and especially if you have been living with the plastic, flip top variety for almost ten years like me, you will love this one! This pretty white and stainless steel trash can is an investment compared to the plastic kind, but much more affordable than a renovation. I was convinced by the functionality and the great reviews! Again, will report back once I have used this for several months, but so far we love it. I’m a big fan of the trash bag dispenser inside that makes swapping the bag easy.

simplehuman 55 Liter Rectangular Hands-Free Kitchen Step Trash Can with Soft-Close Lid, White Steel

Linking more pretty trash cans options here:

Update Kitchen Appliances and Decor

upgrade a basic kitchen, builder grade kitchen, neutral kitchen decor, caraway home gray sauté pan and sauce pan, ceramic cookware

Unless you have a walk in pantry (which is so dreamy), your appliances are probably sitting out on your counter like ours. I decided to upgrade my most used appliances so that I could enjoy looking at them each day! Our air fryer and toaster are from Drew Barrymore’s Beautiful line and I cannot get over how cute they are. Ours are the oyster gray but they come in a few other colors too–I love the white ones, but wanted to add some contrast to our space. Now I enjoy the view while air frying mini corndogs for my kiddos 😉

And of course, decor is another budget friendly way to update a kitchen without renovating. Here are some of my favorites:

Add a Washable Kitchen Rug

Update a Kitchen Without Renovating | upgrade a basic kitchen, builder grade kitchen, white kitchen with blue vintage look washable runner, neutral kitchen decor

Last but not least, the washable rug! I just shared this post about our new kitchen runner. A rug helps define the space and makes it feel cozy. You can read about ours in the post, but here are a few other washable rug options for your kitchen–because who needs the stress of spot cleaning?

I hope you found this post helpful if you would like to update a kitchen without renovating! It would be so fun to design my dream kitchen, and maybe I will someday, but these affordable changes have helped me love our space right now. What little updates have you done in your kitchen? XO,

Caitlin written in script

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  1. Your paint matches the appliances beautifully. What color/brand is it?!

    1. Hi Anna! Thanks so much 🙂 The cabinet paint is from our builder so unfortunately I’m not sure of the color. Our walls are Polar Bear by Behr Paint. Hope that helps!

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