On the Cheap: 8 Rental Kitchen Upgrades Under $100

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If you rent or you're a homeowner on a tight budget that doesn't include a kitchen renovation in the near future, consider making small upgrades instead. Affordable projects — like switching out light fixtures or improving your cabinet storage — can make a huge difference. None of these ideas are revolutionary, but they work and they're relatively easy to do.

Add Wall Shelving

A few wall shelves provide extra storage space and a place to show off your best dishes and cookware. For a full list of resources see: Best Sources for Small Kitchen Organization.

5093f54cd9127e2f260004af. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop IKEA
Their wall-mounted kitchen shelves include some of their best-selling collections, like the stainless steel Grundtal line, starting at $15 for a shelf. Inexpensive and sturdy, these slatted metal shelves can double as racks — use a few hooks to hang mugs or kitchen towels.

Dress Up Your Kitchen Tiles

If you're stuck with ugly kitchen tiles, try covering them up with removable decals. For more temporary, rental-friendly solutions see: 10 Temporary, Removable Products for Renters.

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This online store sells Mibo Tile Tattoos around $18 for a set of 6. These waterproof peel-and-stick decals are designed for standard tiles, and they come in 4-inch squares, 6-inch squares, and 6-by-3-inch rectangles.

Double Your Shelf Space

Most rental cabinets are basic boxes that can waste a lot of space if you don't equip them with cabinet inserts. For other ideas on better utilizing available space in your kitchen, see: How to Create More Storage Space in the Kitchen.

5093f54dd9127e2f2e0004be. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Container Store
They carry a whole bunch of products designed to improve your kitchen cabinets. Their cabinet shelves are wire-frame inserts that start at $7.99, while their undershelf baskets hang from a ledge and start at $6.99.

Hang a Pot Rack or Pegboard

It's an old idea but a good one — pegboard provides a versatile surface for organizing pots, pans, and kitchen tools. For installation tips see: How to make a Pegboard Wall Organizer.

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You can easily make a painted pegboard pot rack for around $30 or less, but Home Depot also sells colorful metal pegboard for $45 a sheet, if you want something a little fancier. It comes pre-painted in bright yellow, red, white, or orange.

Upgrade the Lighting

If you can't hard-wire a new fixture, look for plug-in lighting that can be mounted to the wall or ceiling. For a full list of rental-friendly lighting see: Lighting for Renters: 10 Sources for Plug-Ins.

5093f54ed9127e2f160004ea. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Gracious Home
New York store Gracious Home has a section dedicated to plug-in Utility Lighting, including this Multi-Purpose Spot Light ($18) which could be useful as a kitchen spot on the ceiling or wall. It's less expensive than track lighting, but looks similar.

Invest in a Quality Dish Rack

If you don't have a dishwasher, your dish rack is one of the most frequently used items in your home, so it better work well. For a short list of recommended racks see: Best Dish Racks: 10 Sources.

5093f54fdbd0cb034f00053d. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Simplehuman
Simplehuman's dish racks come with 5-year warranties. Although they cost a little more, they're well-made pieces with superior drainage, and most of their models have modular components that can be arranged in different ways. Shown: System Dish Rack, $60.

Add Window Treatments

Window treatments are an opportunity to add color and style to any room. For a helpful source list, see: High & Low: Drapes, Curtains, and Windowcoverings.

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If you've got a small kitchen window with a not-so-great view, consider using removable window film. It's waterproof (great for a kitchen) and adds some pattern without obstructing the light. Shown: Emma Jeffs PVC-free Window Film, $86.

Add Counter and Storage Space with a Kitchen Cart

Carts are an efficient way to add counter and storage space to your kitchen — a multi-tiered one adds lots of prep surface. For additional good resources see: High & Low: Kitchen Carts.

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For affordable, sturdy, stainless steel carts, shop at restaurant supply stores. While prices aren't always cheap, you tend to get more for your money. Shown: Stainless Steel 3-Tier Trolley, $95.

Top Photo: Mibo Tile Tattoos