Sometimes a full-scale kitchen renovation isn’t necessary. Unless your kitchen has no redeeming qualities and is totally falling apart, you may be able to get away with surface changes.

For example, if your kitchen layout makes sense and is perfectly functional, you could opt to keep the cabinets as they are, but update only the kitchen cabinet doors themselves. Choose doors that offer a rich, custom appearance and are made of durable materials. Once you’ve updated the doors, you should also modernize an outdated countertop. It’s inappropriate to have gorgeous wood cabinet doors and an obsolete counter, and is just as out of place to have quartz countertops and 1980s laminate cupboards.

Don’t hold back on the kitchen cabinet door hardware – this is a quick and easy surface change. Heavy, solid hardware is an instant modernizer and jewelry for your kitchen. Your pulls and knobs should have high-quality finishes and be built to last – after all, they get daily use and abuse. Most designers opt for sleek, shiny hardware styles for today’s contemporary kitchen.

Ebony wood / Macassar cabinetry

Painting your kitchen is one of the most inexpensive but most important cosmetic changes that you can make. You also recoup the cost quickly. Look for new low-VOC paint options to reduce your family’s chance of acquiring respiratory illnesses from paint compounds in the air.

Backsplashes have never been easier to modernize. Thanks to peel and stick tiles, you don’t have to be a professional tile installer to get a professional finished result. You can install the tiles quickly and with virtually no mess.

Lighting is crucial for task work in a kitchen yet many people have only overhead kitchen lights. If you haven’t yet installed one, a pendant light fixture over your island will provide a soft glow and will add visual interest. Under-cabinet puck lights are another DIY job that pays off quickly.

Stainless steel appliances will complete your cosmetic renovation and bring your kitchen up-to-date. If you can only afford one new appliance, opt for a new refrigerator. Because it takes up the most visual space, the refrigerator is the most noticeable appliance.

By making a few surface updates, it will seem like you have a whole new kitchen.