Real Life Rooms: Easy Budget-Friendly Ways to Update a Kitchen

Hello there! Dawn here, from I’ve had fun offering up my suggestions for reader submitted questions (in the form of a Photoshop mockups), and I’m back at it this month with a some easy ways to update a kitchen that a reader sent in. (FYI, you can see all my moodboards and mockups by clicking here!)

If you follow Remodelaholic on Facebook, you’ve probably seen several of the reader questions that are submitted every month. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love the helpful community vibe of these posts, so here’s my two cents on one reader submitted question and a mock up of what I would do if I were in your shoes! (Pssssst— you can submit your reader questions by messaging Remodelaholic on Facebook!)

First though, my disclaimer: While I can recommend products that I think look nice, I have never seen this room in real life and don’t have accurate measurements. I can’t guarantee that any of the products I put in my ‘virtual’ design will actually fit correctly in the space (or that they’ll fit your design style for that matter), and this is not intended to be a professional design consultation. So think of this as a just-for-fun rendering that hopefully gets your wheels turning and provides some inspiration!

Moving back into my home in January from being at the cottage all summer, and looking to update my kitchen. WITHOUT breaking the bank… So updating the orange floor is not an option. And as you can see from the pictures i have an open concept top floor and a little area in the “back” of my kitchen… The flowers are no longer in that area… What do i do? ….any advice will greatly be appreciated!

Kelli's kitchen before

I was drawn to this kitchen because it’s one of those rooms that has great bones, but something is just a little off. With a few small changes and some well-chosen decor, it could be so beautiful! I started searching for some kitchen inspiration and here’s what I came up with:

kitchen mockup inspiration
Found on
kitchen mockup inspiration
Found on


Found on
Found on
Found on
Found on
beautiful kitchen backsplash
Found on – Original source unknown
kitchen mockup inspiration
Found on
kitchen mockup inspiration
Found on

White cabinets with black counters… it’s a classic color combo that has so much potential and can really go in almost any direction. The real challenge in this room is the orange tile that can’t be updated. My favorite example in the inspiration photos above is Cassity’s own kitchen remodel, because she tackled the same challenge so beautifully.

As a reminder, here is Kelli’s kitchen before:

Kelli's kitchen before

And here is a mockup of what I would do with the space to give it a more updated and open look:

Kelli's kitchen mockup

In Kelli’s room, what is interesting to me is that I think the floor tile could be worked with. A nice large rug would camouflage it a bit, and the tone of the floor resembles a wood floor enough to not be a deal breaker in the decor. The bigger decor challenge in my eyes is the orange backsplash tile. It’s dark and draws too much attention. So my first recommendation would be to replace the backsplash with something bright and modern. If tearing out and replacing tile is outside the project scope, there are a number of other options you could use to cover the orange backsplash, like white beadboard over the tile, or peel and stick tile options, like Smart Tiles.

My second recommendation would be to open up the area around the window to allow more light into the room. The scrolly header over the window dates the room and blocks the light. It also makes the ceilings seem shorter than they are. Removing it and possibly also opening up part of the room with open shelving would create a much more updated and airy feeling kitchen space.

Finally, I would paint the walls a lighter, neutral shade of gray. The current deep gray blue color (being a compliment to the orange) is amplifying the color of the floor and backsplash. It is also dark enough to fight with the black of the counters and table, and make the room feel more closed in than it is. I chose a lighter color, similar to this one, Silver Dust by Valspar:

Valspar Silver Dust Paint Color

Related: For more tips on choosing paint colors, be sure to visit our paint palette library for tips and colors you’ll love!

With those three main changes, the rest is simple decor choices. I would inject some neutral wood tones throughout the room in the form of a jute rug, bamboo blinds, woven baskets, and wooden shelving. This addition will further neutralize the orange of the floor, by making it blend in as another warm tone within the room. I would also update the hardware. Something in a black finish will compliment the counters and stand out against the with cabinets nicely. From there, you can accessorize with fun and bright yellows and turquoise colors, similar to what Cassity chose in her kitchen above, to draw the focus away from the orange. Creating other areas of bright color will help make sure the orange is no longer the most vivid color in the room, which will make it fade into the background a bit more.

In case you’re interested, here are some sources for my mockup above:

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Supermarket Sign
Wicker Baskets
Blue Mason Jars
Smart Tile Backsplash
Yellow Vase
Similar Canisters
Blue Soup Pot
Similar Placemats
Bamboo Blinds
Jute Rug

I hope some of these suggestions have given you some inspiration and ideas for how to update your space! What would you do to update Kelli’s kitchen?

Pinnable Image Kelli's Kitchen

As always, thank you to Cassity and the Remodelaholic team for having me back each month. If you like this post, and have a design dilemma you’d like me to mock up some ideas for, let me know! Ask your questions by sending Remodelaholic a message over on Facebook.) Also I’d love for you to visit me on my blog,, or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. Have a great day, friends!


Over-the-sink pendant lighting
Over-the-sink pendant lighting

Exterior Home Makeover Reveal
Exterior Home Makeover Reveal

Inexpensive DIY Family Organization Station
Inexpensive DIY Family Organization Station



More ways to update a kitchen:

Add trim and small details

Adding trim to the end of the cabinets, plus that shelf over the sink goes perfectly with the roman shades

Install a tile backsplash


Paint a backsplash 

kitchen painted backsplash faux subway tile diy-kitchen-backsplash-stencil-10

Add corbels (and planks!)kitchen island breakfast bar peninsula makeover with MDF planks and corbels, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

Website | + posts

Dawn is one half of the team behind the creative blog, AD Aesthetic. By day she works as the VP of Creative for a design and marketing company (getting paid to make things look good!), while by night she renovates her Midwest home, refinishes thrift-store furniture for fun, and works with her husband on raising two tiny humans. Dawn believes in the potential to design your surroundings and your life one day at a time, and lives by the motto, 'Make everything beautiful.' Get to know her better by visiting her blog,, or following along on Facebook and Instagram.

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  1. I love how your mock-up requires very few changes to make such a Huge difference. It looks great and looks very cost-effective!