Consider replacing these three features.
Q. What should I do to update my kitchen?
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A. We all know the kitchen is usually the most expensive room to renovate, but if you plan it out well and take time to consider the three major elements, you can save yourself many headaches.
I like to build from the outside in, so the first thing I decide on are the cabinets. If your existing ones are structurally sound, you can simply give them new life with a fresh coat of paint and updated hardware. Or take it a step further and beef them up with some millwork detailing before painting. You could also swap out a few cabinet doors for glass-fronted ones to lighten up a bank of solids. It's not cheap, but it will be less expensive than replacing your entire kitchen.
Second, think counters: a natural stone like quartz is a good material for kitchens because it's very durable, food-safe, easy to maintain and heat- and scratch-resistant. Butcher block is a nice budget-friendly alternative; it can be picked up for as low as $30/linear foot. Anything but laminate, really!
And third, lighting. Recessed lights in the ceiling are a great idea, but if that's too much work, you can install a couple of interesting pendants over the island or table to increase the lighting.
Then, with the big items in, you can finish off the look with new cabinet hardware and a faucet and tea towels.