Most homeowners will put ‘custom kitchen’ close to the top of their wish list of home renos. But considering the tens of thousands of dollars a customized kitchen can cost, it might be on the wish list for a long time.

If you want the custom-kitchen look and feel without the custom-kitchen cost, you’re in luck. Just by making a few compromises, like keeping your existing cabinets (but, stay tuned, they won’t look the same), and focus on a few key areas of your kitchen, you can strike ‘custom kitchen’ off your wish list for a fraction of the cost of an entirely new kitchen. Here’s how to do it.

1. ‘Customize’ Your Cabinets

It’s amazing what a lick of paint can do. Choose a trendy colour and shade, like a dark blue or grey. Try painting one set of cabinets, like those under an island, in a different shade of the colour. For example, if you used dark grey for the main cabinets, try a lighter grey.

Take the door off one overhead cabinet to make a creative nook where you can display some of your prized dinnerware or kitchen utensils. Paint the back of the open cupboard in the contrasting shade to the exterior cabinet colour.

Install new cabinet and drawer hardware. You can get creative, classic or modern.

2. Get a New Faucet

Your cabinet hardware isn’t the only focal point in the room. Newer faucets are not only designed to look great, but they have great functionality too, like pull-down spray heads, so an investment in one pays off in contributing to your ‘custom’ decor and the convenience the faucet offers.

3. It’s all in the Lighting

If you have a standard, fixed overhead light, replace it with track lighting, which helps you highlight kitchen features and/or illuminate meal preparation areas.

Under-cabinet lights can add a warm evening ambience while eliminating the need to turn on the ‘big’ lights every time you walk into the kitchen. And if you’re a real cook, you might want to add swing-arm lamps for more light where it’s needed.

These three areas of your décor are really the basics. You can continue your kitchen customization with things that are more to your personal tastes, like brightly coloured counter-top appliances, a pot rack, or a small area rug by the sink or meal prep areas for a dash of character and as a way to cushion your joints while you work in the kitchen.