Starter Home: Style Your First Kitchen on a Budget
Pep up your kitchen on a bite-sized budget with these clever ideas – whether you rent or have just bought your first home
An island can massively improve the functionality of a kitchen, providing additional countertop, storage and even dining space. Often, islands are built into a kitchen, but they don’t have to be. A freestanding design could be just the answer for your first kitchen, becoming a sociable focal point with the advantage of being portable too, so you can take it with you to future homes.
Create a little herb garden in your kitchen, so you have fresh herbs for cooking and a lush, green focus in your room. Branch out to other plants too, to bring in living colour that will cheer up your space. Try hanging planters if you are short of room on the kitchen counter.
8 fresh ways to plant herbs
Even if the kitchen in your first home is built in, there may still be an under-used corner that you could pop a piece of storage in. Think outside the kitchen box and source items that may not have been specifically designed for a cook space, such as an old chest of drawers.
If you’re beginning to accumulate some crockery, make it easy for yourself by choosing simple pieces in a single, widely-available colour, such as white. This allows you to add pieces as you can afford them, building a matching set without having to buy a huge number of items in one go. In addition, white china is sold in most homeware stores, so it’s always easy to add to your collection.
Offcuts of wallpaper can be pasted inside shelves to create an area of pattern in your kitchen. If you’re renting and not permitted to wallpaper directly onto a wall, stick it on any portable kitchen shelves or storage boxes, or simply Blu-tack or Command-strip the paper in place.
Things to consider before you paper those walls
Installing new lights in your kitchen can cost a fair bit. Instead, personalise the pendants you already have. Fit fabulous lampshades or make your own from vintage buckets or colourful colanders. Then supplement with fairy lights and even small lamps that you can sit on a countertop.
Fitting a new kitchen is a real budget muncher, so maybe you’re not ready to change yours just yet. No problem! Instead, keep your countertops clear so your units look as neat and streamlined as possible, and create a gorgeous focal point in another part of the room. Paint a feature wall in an on-trend colour, or simply spread a beautiful cloth on your table to lure the eye towards the pieces and colours that you love.
If your kitchen is low on storage or equipped with lots of open shelves, you can radically improve its appearance by decanting your dry foods into jars. Arranged neatly, jars and tins full of cereal, pulses, pasta and rice look attractive, whereas simply storing your food in its original packaging will create a messy muddle.
If you’re starting from scratch, with nothing but the bare minimum of kitchen utensils, crockery and cutlery, think about shopping secondhand for additional pieces. Vintage tins, old sets of silver cutlery, scales, pans and crockery are abundantly available in secondhand stores and at vintage markets. They often cost very little, but will bring unique personality and a practical boost to your kitchen.
Upcycling old pieces and turning them into useful storage or display space is a cost-effective way to improve your kitchen, and give it a pinch of personality too. Old fruit crates and wire baskets can be made into shelves, and if your landlord is not keen on you drilling into the walls, simply stand them on a countertop to boost storage.
Share your tips for giving a first kitchen a fresh, attractive feel in the Comments below.
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