8 Under $50 Items That Add Instant Polish to a Kitchen, According to Designers

published Jan 12, 2023
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If your kitchen is in need of a little extra love but an affordable, quick fix is all you have in mind at the moment, you’ve come to the right place. I asked designers about the best items to purchase to add instant polish to the kitchen for under $50, and they delivered! Below you’ll find eight go-to, pro-approved product picks that you can add to your online shopping cart right now. They’re just the finishing touches to bring a little bit of class and sophistication to your space — I promise!

Credit: Anthropologie

Shop for a set of sweet serving plates

Whether you like to shop vintage or prefer more contemporary pieces, one way to zhuzh up your kitchen is by upgrading your tableware collection. “I love using pretty plates to make every morning feel like a celebration,” says designer Michelle Gage.”I stock my cabinet with vintage and artisan styles for everyday use,” she adds, noting that Anthropologie is one of her favorite places to shop for these types of goods new. Why not make the everyday feel a little more whimsical with a cute floral dessert plate, which is equally useful for serving English muffins in the morning or pastries in the evening.

Buy: Sarah Gordon Dessert Plate, $18.00 from Anthropologie

Display colorful fruits in a bowl

Accessorizing with produce? Hey, why not! Designer Mary Kathryn Wells enjoys displaying a bowl of citrus fruits — think lemons, limes, or oranges — on her kitchen counter at all times. “They add the same punch of color and life that fresh flowers can but at a fraction of the cost,” she notes. “Plus, they require no arranging, and they’re actually edible or great for a festive drink garnish.” The exact vessel you choose to house these fruits is entirely up to you. “Whether you use a simple, basic bowl or something really fun and punchy, dumping a bag of clementines or lemons into a bowl on the counter is such an easy way to add a pop of sophisticated color,” Wells concludes. In fact, this is one of the things almost every interior stylist does to add color to a cook space when prepping it for a shoot.

A timeless marble bowl like this subtly-footed one will add a luxe touch to any countertop and can be used to house other natural displays, too. Fill it with pinecones or air plants if you wish, or change it up depending on the season.

Buy: Flint Grey Marble Bowl, $49.95 from Crate & Barrel

Credit: Pottery Barn

Give your hand and/or dish soap an upgrade

Designer Ellie Mroz is a proponent of picking up a special bottle of hand lotion or soap to place next to the sink. “It’s a splurge in comparison to regular soap but overall a small luxury that can make you smile and also serve a function,” she notes. As an alternative, you can simply purchase decorative reusable soap bottles you can refill time and time again. A white ceramic design will look nice and sleek. Plus, they’ll work with virtually any style of kitchen, from ultra-modern to English cottage.

Buy: Mayer Ceramic Soap Pump, $20.00 from Pottery Barn

Credit: West Elm

Set out a special display piece

“Incorporating a stone trivet, cake stand, or footed bowl on your countertop is a great way to add polish and visual interest to a kitchen,” explains designer Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors. Many ways to use such vessels and pieces exist, depending on the occasion. “Display dessert, fruit, florals, or leave it bare to instantly elevate your space,” Portnof suggests. Designer Djalna McSween likes pedestal bowls in particular. “A pedestal bowl is a perfect balance of style and function,” she says. “Its heightened scale makes it sure to stand out and pop from the countertop.”

Buy: Madison Marble & Brass Cake Stand, $45.00 $40.50 from West Elm

Credit: Amazon

Make cabinet doors and drawers shine bright

Whether you own your home or rent, this hack that designer Paige Garland recommends will greatly improve the state of your kitchen. “The quickest (and likely cheapest) way to update the look of your cabinets is to swap out basic outdated hardware,” she notes. “A touch of gold or silver makes a world of difference to the overall aesthetic.” If you rent, be sure to keep the original pieces on hand so that you can re-install them prior to move out!

Buy: Goldenwarm Gold Cabinet Pulls, $24.99 for a 5-Pack from Amazon

Credit: Terrain

Get flowery

Fresh flowers always make a room feel a little more welcoming and complete. Think you don’t have room to display a bouquet in your tiny kitchen? Think again! “A bud vase by your faucet is such a simple way to add color — either through the vase itself or with greenery or florals,” says designer Nicole Arruda of Nicole Alexandra Design Studio. “A bud size is great, as it won’t take up too much space on your counter and adds just the right amount of impact.”

This three-pack of bud vases will add color to any room of your home. Place one by the sink as Arruda suggests, and set the others on your nightstand, in the bathroom, or on the mantel top.

Buy: Recycled Glass Bud Vases, $36.00 for a Set of 3 from Terrain

Hang up those mugs

Anyone who appreciates a good mug collection knows one downside of owning so many drinking cups is that they all need to be stored… somewhere. Designer Teri Clar of NAFASI Interiors chimes in with a viable solution in the form of an affordable mug rack. “You can add this to make wasted space on the sides of your cabinets look and function way better,” she comments. “It turns your countertop into a mini coffee bar section of the kitchen and can also add some salvaged wood charm.” The end result is ultra aesthetically pleasing to boot! As Clar adds, “Bonus: You can get more color in your kitchen displaying all your fun patterned mugs!”

Buy: 6-Peg Maple Shaker Rack Unfinished, $19.99 from The Container Store

Credit: Amazon

Store cookbooks in style

Keep a favorite cookbook within reach at all times with this stylish method. “A luxe bookstand is always a nice touch to see in a kitchen,” says designer Christina Kim. “Try one in acrylic or brass for a bit of shine to hold a favorite cookbook and instantly brighten a corner.”

Buy: Honygebia Clear Acrylic Book Stand, $36.90 from Amazon