Everybody has that moment when they stand in their kitchen, look around, and think: “you know what? This just doesn’t do it for me anymore.” Maybe you’ve run out of space. Maybe the look is outdated. Maybe the layout doesn’t work for you anymore. Whatever the reason, you need to make some changes.

Your fantasy is to tear the whole thing down and rebuild it from scratch. Before you do that, though, why not try some other things first?

You might find that a much simpler (and budget friendlier) fix is all that you need.

Here’s where to start.

Clean it Up, Clean it Out

Clean it Up

You will be amazed by how new feeling a thoroughly cleaned, de-cluttered, and re-organized kitchen can feel. Take everything down. Pull everything out of the cabinets and pantry and sort through it. Here’s a quick tip for deciding what you should keep: if you haven’t used it in the last twelve months? It can go. If it is particularly sentimental, you can move it into storage, but for the most part, get it out of the house. Give that stuff to friends, donate it to your local charity thrift or rummage shop or even sell it online for some extra cash. Just get it out.

This same basic philosophy can apply to your pantry, too. Throw out (or compost) anything that is wilted, rotting or expired. Look at what you have left. Which foods do you eat regularly? Do you need to keep such a large backstock on hand? Why not give a bunch of your surplus (if you have any) to your local food bank? You’ll clear up space and help those who need it.

Surface Level Fixes

Surface Level Fixes

When you moved in, you loved the dark cherry wood of your cabinetry and flooring but now it just feels oppressive and you want to brighten the place up. Before you rip things out, why not try painting? Painting your cabinets and re-staining your floors is a project you can do yourself over the course of a week (or less, if you’re dedicated). You might even want to paint your walls and ceiling.

In addition to repainting the space, small superficial-seeming fixes can go a long way, too. For example, why not switch out your current cabinet handles and drawer pulls to newer models? Heck, you can even make your own pulls yourself in an hour or so.

Bigger Changes

You’ve cleaned, you’ve decluttered, you’ve redecorated and it still just doesn’t feel the way you want it to feel. Now it’s time to step up your game. This is the stage where projects like cabinet and countertop replacement and new flooring come into play.

This is when, for most people, changing the kitchen stops being a DiY project. Sure if you are handy and have construction experience you can do the work yourself. For most people, though, professional hands and eyes are needed. The best way to manage this particular project, says Gilman’s Kitchens and Baths–a company that specializes in designing and building the kitchen cabinets San Francisco residents and business owners prefer–is to work with a “one stop shop”-crew setup. That way, you aren’t spending most of your time trying to streamline communication between designers, contractors, construction crews, etc.

Biggest Changes

Totally renovating and remodeling a kitchen is a huge project. It is bigger than any other kind of home renovation project and often takes longer to complete. This is why it is last on our list of steps for breathing new life into your kitchen space. This isn’t meant to discourage you! In many cases, renovating a kitchen can make an entire house feel brand new! Still, it is important to know what you’re getting into.

The first thing you need to do when you decide to renovate your kitchen is to call a contractor. A professional contractor can walk through the space with you and tell you what you can and cannot do with your house’s current “bones.” This is information that your designer is going to need before he or she can come up with a new plan for your space. This is also information that you need to help you figure out just how extensive your current budget will allow your renovation to be. Once you have those numbers, you can hire your designer, come up with a plan and hire contractor and crew who will put that plan into action. Be prepared for the process to take a few months, minimum.

Remember: there are a lot of ways to breathe new life into your home’s kitchen. Work your way through these steps. You might be surprised by how quickly you can create a new kitchen you love!

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