30 Small Details That Can Cheapen the Look of a Kitchen main image
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30 Small Details That Can Cheapen the Look of a Kitchen

Fad Paint Colors

Fad Paint Colors

Eliminate fad paint colors. If you want a fresh-looking kitchen, try a fresh coat of paint that's timeless. Avoid fad colors like bright yellow, olive green, or yellow. While you might get used to that look after a while, for everyone else, it will be like stepping into a time machine.

It's usually a good idea to avoid trends in the first place. Trendy colors can quickly make your kitchen look cheap and outdated, and that it means it's time for a new paint job after just a few years.

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Too Many Mismatched Colors Going On

Too Many Mismatched Colors Going On

You need to choose a clear color palette for your kitchen. Too many colors going on is sure to be a nightmare for your guests' eyes. If you have cabinets that are white, a blue island, a red mixer, and a brown kitchen table, or whatever other wacky combination of colors going on in your kitchen, it's going to look disorganized and cheap.

The safest way to go is a palette of two or three basic colors. The colors should complement each other but not be on the same side of the color wheel either. You are also going to want to make sure your expensive appliances go with the color scheme in your kitchen.

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Cluttered Counters

Cluttered Counters

Kitchen clutter is one of the easiest ways to cheapen the look of your kitchen, and it’s a mistake you can easily correct with some decent organizational skills. Keeping your cabinets, drawers and shelves organized will make sure you avoid clutter.

Having too many appliances, kitchenware, utensils, trinkets, decorations, baskets, and other items out on your counter can really harm the look of your kitchen. There's no right way to have clutter, so if you aren't using it every day, put it away.

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Not Enough Storage

Not Enough Storage

Along the lines of eliminating clutter, having enough storage is vital to the freshness of your kitchen. You can't get rid of clutter without enough storage. If you need more storage space - get it.

Now let's say, perhaps, you don't have enough room in your kitchen to install more cabinets. You may, however, have room for some shelves. And provided you keep everything organized and stacked neatly, shelves can clean up your kitchen in no time. Of course, if you have too much stuff, your best bet is to just get rid of what you don't need. If you haven't used it in a couple of years – trash it or sell it.

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Unorganized Cabinets

Unorganized Cabinets

Just like you don't want to have clutter on your counters, you don't want clutter in your cabinets. Keeping your cabinets organized is vital because you can't just hide all the dirt under the rug. Your cabinets should look just as good in the inside as they do on the outside, and especially if have glass ones.

It's also important to note that, sometimes when cabinets are too cluttered, you can be left with ones that are partially open, which looks plain awful. Don't settle for shoddy-looking cabinets because you don't want to make the effort to stay organized.

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Too Many Appliances

Too Many Appliances

One of the most common clutter mistakes is having all your appliances laid out all over the kitchen. You really don't need to have instant access to everything. If you bake a lot, it makes sense to have your mixer out all year round. If you have toast every day for breakfast, it makes sense to have your toaster out.

But if you don't use that toaster every day and you only use that mixer a couple of times per year, there's no rule that you have to have those items out all the time. So, put them away if you aren't using them!

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Appliances that Don't Match

Appliances that Don't Match

And if you insist on having all your appliances out where everyone can see them, at least consider getting appliances that match. Don't have a stainless steel toaster, a red mixer, a white bread machine, and a black food processor. If everything looks mismatched, it's going to look like you bought everything at a random or got everything secondhand.

Of course, there are some appliances, you can't just put away: like a refrigerator, a microwave and a dishwasher. Make sure these appliances complement each other, or you will easily cheapen the look of your kitchen. Stainless steel everything is usually your best bet in terms of those larger appliances but black can work as well. Just be sure that your appliances match so that your kitchen looks planned out rather than thoughtless.

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Old or Worn-Out Appliances

Old or Worn-Out Appliances

Old or worn-out appliances should be tossed or given away if you can afford something newer. It doesn't matter how modern everything else looks in your kitchen because that old appliance is going to stick out like a sore thumb.

If you aren't ready to part with an old appliance or you just don't have the money to replace it, at least consider putting it away when you aren't using it, rather than make your guests look at it.

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Oversized Appliances

Oversized Appliances

Having a neat kitchen space means buying the right-sized appliances. If you don't want to look cheap, don't buy just any refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven. The size of the refrigerator should perfectly match the allotted space. It shouldn't stick too far out, or even be too far in. Not to sound like goldilocks, but it sits just right. 

Measuring the space and the appliance before you buy it is the best and only way to make sure you are getting exactly what you need. The only reason you should have a massive fridge is if you're literally a restaurant. Otherwise, it shouldn't be hard to keep a normal one stocked. 

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Worn-Out Drawer Knobs

Worn-Out Drawer Knobs

Worn-out drawer knobs are definitely a small detail that you don't want to overlook. You can have the freshest, newest cabinets on the block but if you have worn-out knobs on them or your drawers, they are going to make everything look terrible. They definitely stand out more than you may expect. 

If you are refinishing or replacing your cabinets and kitchen drawers, don't forget to replace the hardware (aka the knobs) as well. They might look fine once you take them off your old cabinets, but as part of your new look – they will definitely look off. They're also not too expensive, depending on how many cabinets you have. 

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Plastic Trashcan

Plastic Trashcan

A trashcan isn't something you typically the first thing you think of getting the very best of, but a cheap trashcan will definitely cheapen your kitchen as a whole - especially if you are keeping it out in the open. A plastic trashcan looks like – well - utter garbage!

If you insist on plastic garbage bins, hide them under the sink or in a pull-out cabinet, or anywhere else. There's also easy hardware to purchase at the store that makes installing under-the-cabinet trash cans easy. But if you want a bigger trashcan that simply won't fit anywhere else, get a stainless steel design with a lid or something like it.

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Fake Plants

Fake Plants

Although they may look real from far away – to you - fake plants look fake to just about everyone else. The only time you should have fake plants in a kitchen is if you showing off a model home where nobody is going to be looking too closely at the décor.

If you want some green in your kitchen, don't be lazy. Fake plants might be easier to maintain but they aren't doing your kitchen any favors. Real plants also have the added benefit of providing your kitchen with some clean air. Plus, things like pothos are easy to care for. 

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Linoleum

Linoleum

Linoleum always looks bad. Sorry, but not sorry. If you don't want your kitchen to look cheap, don't install the cheapest possible flooring solution available. There' is nothing good about linoleum! It also makes absolutely no difference if the linoleum looks like real wood or tile because over time it won't.

The linoleum will start lifting up, show wear, and even damage from stuff you drop on it. Look for a more durable option like hardwood, tile, or even vinyl flooring if there are budget constraints. Why keep replacing your kitchen flooring when you could choose one option that will last for years?

Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent Lighting

You may not notice it, but lighting makes a huge difference in how your kitchen looks. Good lighting can honestly change your kitchen for the better, but bad lighting? That's a huge no-no. Fluorescent lighting is a big mistake as this outdated lighting option will instantly make your kitchen look cheap.

Moreover, fluorescent lighting provides your kitchen with the most unwelcoming atmosphere. To most people, it provides the feeling of working in an office space, and no one wants to associate being at home with being at the office. Warmer lighting will provide a more pleasant atmosphere to your kitchen.

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Visible Plasticware

Visible Plasticware

If you have glass cabinets, shelves or counter space where you typically keep your plasticware – just don't. Plastic dishes might be useful if you have kids, disposal utensils might be great for parties and Tupperware great for storage – but none of those things look nice, no matter how much you spend on them.

Plastic looks cheap, so if you need those items, it's important to keep them out of sight for the sake of your kitchen. Don't ruin your whole space for the sake of a few plastic items. Besides, keeping plasticware in the bottom cabinets is better for your child too, because they can get their own cup or bowl and feel independent.

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Old Cabinet Doors

Old Cabinet Doors

Old cabinets are sure to cheapen your kitchen. Over time, cabinet doors inevitably show signs of wear, like dings, scratches, chipped paint, and discoloration. It's impossible to avoid, but that's why there's paint! You may honestly be surprised how much of a difference a quick layer of paint (or restaining) can do to your kitchen. 

Not everyone has the money to renovate, and there's no problem with that. You don't have to take down all of your cabinets. Replacing the doors is a quick and inexpensive way to freshen up your cabinets. You want to keep those looking nice because it's what most people see when they walk into your kitchen. 

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Barren Walls

Barren Walls

While you don't want to clutter your kitchen with junk, you also don't want to leave your kitchen barren. Having barren walls will make your kitchen look cheap and completely void of character. Putting artwork on your wall is a fantastic way to add a touch of character to your walls.

Obviously, choose artwork fit for a kitchen – not like a movie poster or something. Well, unless the movie was Ratatouille – then, maybe. Otherwise, choose something, food or drink related - or even floral. Just don't go overboard with the artwork. A couple of art pieces are just fine.

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No Backsplash

No Backsplash

Backsplashes are an important addition to your kitchen. Not only do they make your kitchen prettier, but they are also functional. A quality backsplash will protect your wall from staining. As you probably know already, cooking can sometimes be a messy endeavor and a backsplash can help catch all the - splash, of course.

Nowadays, there are a million and one ways to add a backsplash to your kitchen. The easiest way is probably the peel-and-stick stuff you can get from any home improvement store. Of course, it's still important to grout that to prevent gunk from getting between the cracks, but it's cheap, easy, and inexpensive. 

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Dirty Grout

Dirty Grout

If you have tile counters (which we hope you don't) or tile on your floor, keeping everything clean is essential. That includes cleaning the grout. Dirty grout will make your kitchen look cheaper than pretty much anything. The gross black or dark gray outline is the last thing someone wants to see when walking into a kitchen. 

The best part is that cleaning your grout is pretty dang easy. To clean your grout, you need a quality cleaning agent and the right tool - a toothbrush to brush away the dirt and grime. You won't believe how much better your kitchen will look with a good deep cleaning.

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Old Faucet

Old Faucet

Your whole sink might not need replacing but your faucet might be a whole other story. A worn-out kitchen faucet can bring your whole kitchen down. Whether it is tarnished, scratched, or grimy, old faucets need replacing at some point, no matter how often you clean them.

If you don't want your sink to look cheap, replacing the faucet with a modern one is the best thing you can do. How do you know if your faucet is too old? Generally, you want to replace it every 15 years, or 20 years - at most.

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Patterned Tile

Patterned Tile

Tiles with patterns age extremely fast because the patterns themselves fall in and out of style faster than you could ever imagine. That means outdated tiles will make your kitchen look cheap and they are just plain unattractive. What works at the time, might not look so great ten years later.

When choosing tile for your kitchen stick to basics. There are some patterns that never fall out of style, but they're usually fairly simple. Busy patterns can make your kitchen look too busy, anyway. It's best to choose non-trendy solid colors that match your décor. Not everything needs to be in your face.

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All-White Kitchen

All-White Kitchen

White is boring. White will make your kitchen look cheaper than any other color. It's completely void of personality and it's not even practical. It also makes everything look sterile and uninviting. The worst part? Every tiny little speck of dirt will be obvious as an elephant in a room. 

No matter how hard you try white shows dirt and even if you are constantly cleaning your kitchen, white walls, counters, and appliances are eventually going to discolor so white should be avoided if possible. A little splash of color never hurt. If you're concerned, go with something neutral that won't fall out of style. 

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Cabinets Too Low

Cabinets Too Low

Cabinets that are too low are a no-no. The worst thing a home could have is a big empty wall space between the cabinets and the ceiling. It just looks like you bought cabinets that are way too small. Decorating them doesn't help much because no one ever cleans them, and it's usually super tacky. 

If you are on the short side and want to be able to reach higher places in your cabinets, there's a terrific solution for you - it's called a step stool. It works great. You'll love it. Getting low cabinets hurts your resell value too since most people are tall enough to reach the upper shelf. 

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Cheap or Outdated Light Fixtures

Cheap or Outdated Light Fixtures

It's easy to overlook the quality of a light fixture in your kitchen.  Even if you don't spend too much time looking at it, a quality fixture will make a difference in your kitchen's overall look. Even changing the glassware of your lights could turn it from outdated to modern -- all for just $15 per piece. 

Alternatively, purchasing a high-quality, modern light fixture can really pull the whole look of your kitchen together and possibly even make your kitchen look more expensive than it actually is. You want the thing that highlights your kitchen to look just as nice as the kitchen itself, ya know? Otherwise, it's a glaring mistake. 

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No Ventilation

No Ventilation

A kitchen without proper ventilation looks like a cheap kitchen to be sure. A kitchen hood will make your kitchen modern and high-end, while one without looks like a cheap apartment kitchen. Not to mention, the kitchen hood isn't there just for looks. It has a purpose, and you'll want one in your kitchen. 

The kitchen hood also has an important function, which is that it regulates heat, fumes, steam, smoke, and grease from your kitchen. This will not only protect you but also protect everything in your kitchen. On top of that, you don't have to worry about your smoke alarm going off because of something you are cooking on the stove.

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Unnecessary or Poorly Placed Kitchen Island

Unnecessary or Poorly Placed Kitchen Island

A kitchen island might seem like an essential component of a dream kitchen, but not if it's not done right. Sometimes a kitchen island just doesn't work. It could be placed poorly or just take up to much space. No island is better than one that doesn't belong (or one that takes up too much space).

No island is better than one that doesn't belong. In the end, forcing your kitchen to have an island turns your cheap kitchen into a poser kitchen – in that you are trying to make it look more expensive than it is. But if you clean up your counters as mentioned earlier, you won't even need the extra surface space.

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Tacky Window Treatments

Tacky Window Treatments

Choosing the right window treatment for your kitchen is also important. Cheap blinds or curtains will most assuredly make your kitchen look cheap and tacky. None of that thick, heavy fabric, either. All it does is attract grease, dust, and grime. Nothing says "cheap kitchen" like having filthy window treatments. 

A good quality shade or faux wood blinds are the best choices for a kitchen. These can be elegant and durable, provide you get the right one that matches the color scheme and décor of your kitchen. Not to mention, they're much easier to clean than any sort of fabric option. 

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Magnets

Magnets

Magnets are a ton of fun – no doubt. However, you don't need more than a few. Nothing ruins an elegant refrigerator unit and makes it look cheap quite like one with a ton of magnets all over it. This goes double for kitschy ones that are nostalgic at best. In reality, they look awful, okay? Just awful. 

On that same note, don't put up a bunch of pictures and recipes all over your fridge. They have books for that! Maybe one or two things here and there, but appliances look best when they're left alone. There's no need to "jazz" them up. The only exception is a reminder or two because, at the end of the day, we're all forgetful. 

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Mismatched Furniture

Mismatched Furniture

If your dining area is located in your kitchen area, you'll have to make sure your furniture matches in more ways than one. Not only should the tables and chairs pair perfectly, but the table itself should also go with your décor. Just make sure you don't go too matchy-matchy. 

Choose a table that compliments your kitchen cabinets. If you have a table cloth or place mats, be sure they match the color scheme of your kitchen. If your dining table is part of the kitchen, don't try to turn it into a separate space, because it just won't look right.

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Kitsch

Kitsch

Kitsch is fun, but it's tacky and will destroy every last bit of dignity that your kitchen has. Keep the kitsch in a den or hobby room and keep your kitchen clean of pop culture fluff. Kitsch is even defined as, "art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality." 

We all love kittens and Mickey Mouse but they don't belong in the kitchen. A kitchen is a sacred space and if you absolutely have to have something kitschy, keep it minimized to a salt and pepper shaker or something like that. Please, no Iron Man toaster. Let's keep the adult stuff in the common rooms. 

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