5 Tips to Buff Up a Builder-Grade Kitchen

Plain kitchen cabinets. Blank, boring islands. Basic, unadorned walls. While it’s great to have a home with a brand-new kitchen, builder-grade models don’t exactly shine with their own unique personality. They’re sort of the Starbucks of home decor: reliable and dependable, but not exactly what you want when you’re looking for something special.

But don’t let make that think your only two options are tear it down or settle for blah home decor. Some small renovations will do a lot to imbue your kitchen when your own personal taste—without a hefty loan or nerve-wracking remodel to deal with. Here are a couple of (easy) ways you can upgrade yours with a one-of-a-kind aesthetic that’s as unique as you are!

unique kitchen

Dress Up the Cabinets

A little cabinet reno will go a long way to reflect your own individual charm. And the absolute easiest way to do so is to install new hardware. Even something simple like stainless steel pulls or uber-stylish polished nickel drop handles will add a lot of polish and verve to bare-bones kitchen decor.

Looking for a more radical change? Paint is your best friend then! Cabinets redone in stylish hues, like warm, creamy gray or dramatic blacks, dark grays and navy blues add a personalized pop to kitchens large and small. Dark colors work especially well in kitchens with limited natural light; the deep, dramatic tones add an unexpected aura of mystery to well-trod kitchen decor.

Add an Easy-to-Install Backsplash

Everyone knows a backsplash is a great way to put a little pep in your kitchen walls. What you may not know, however, is how easily you can get one—with no expensive tile or messy caulk to deal with.

Peel-and-stick ceramics, stone veneers or even just some good old fashioned paint and a stencil offers a fast and affordable solution that you can have done in a weekend. Some homeowners even add functional flair by using chalkboard paint for their backsplashes. It’s as gorgeous as it is useful!

Give Lighting a Quick Upgrade

We know what you’re thinking. Repainting is one thing. But electrical work? A whole different can of worms. But swapping out a light fixture for something more custom can make a huge impact in your home—and it’s easy to do, once you know how.

Take a moment to review your wiring before you buy a new fixture. If your home was built before 1985, it’s possible the wiring won’t be able to handle the heat generated by newer fixtures. These fixtures will carry this warning: “use wire rated for at least 90 degrees C.” So if your wiring is older, it may limit your choices for new lights. You’ll also want to make sure you shut off your home’s power before performing any wiring work. Next, you’ll remove the old fixture and follow the steps provided by Lowe’s to install the new one in its place. Voila! Instant upgrade!

Paint the Walls in a Dramatic Hue

High-drama walls have made a real splash in the kitchen, a room usually reserved for warm, homey colors and hues. If you’re looking for something eye-catching, novel and refined, you may want to think about having a look at those walls.

Dark, striking hues like charcoal, cobalt or slate allow you to put your own unique stamp on kitchen surfaces—and make the perfect canvas for unexpected accent colors, like lime green, saffron or crimson. One look at your new kitchen and you’ll be in love!

Personalize Your Counters

An ugly countertop can really dampen your desire to be in your kitchen. And sadly, so many builder-grade counters fall into that category: boring neutrals, unflashy granite—or worst of all, laminate—are all commonly found gracing builder home counters. And none of them really says, “welcome home!”

However, there are ways to hide bland counters without a complete redux. Again, the easiest route is with a paint job. Rust-oleum offers a kit that allows you to add a textured coating (and new color) to the surface, or you can just go with regular latex paint covered with a topcoat. The final result will be your own unique take on countertop couture—and if you don’t like it, you can just cover it up and start again. Remember, the best decor choices are reversible!