Kitchens are one of the most visible and important rooms in the home, particularly when they form part of an open-plan living space. They help to set the style of the whole house, which can be a good thing or not such a good thing, depending on how your kitchen looks. If your kitchen is looking tired and dated, it can drag the rest of your home down with it. For this reason, kitchen renovations are one of the most popular and effective home improvement projects for Australian property owners.

Full-scale kitchen renovations are also one of the most costly renovation tasks you can undertake. They can easily run into many thousands of dollars, which may be well out of reach financially for you. Fortunately, you don't need to embark on a complete kitchen makeover to give a tired and dated kitchen a fresh, modern look. Here are two simple changes you can make that will have a big impact on both your kitchen and the rest of your home.

1. Replace Your Old Splashbacks

Splashbacks aren't the largest surface in most kitchens, but replacing drab and dowdy tiles with a contemporary splashback can make an enormous difference to your kitchen. A new splashback will give your kitchen an instant and stylish lift and is a great way to inject a splash of colour and shine.

Kitchen splashbacks that are made of glass are a bright, light and practical option for a modern kitchen. If you like a more luxurious look, metal splashbacks are also on trend right now. You can also replace old tiles with some new, contemporary versions, such as high-gloss glazed tiles in a variety of vibrant colours, or oversized tiles made from natural stone.

2. Replace Your Bench Tops

Replacing stained, chipped or dented old bench tops is another fast and easy way to give your kitchen an instant face-lift. Bench tops represent one of the largest surface areas in a kitchen and they're a visual focal point for the whole room. It also sets the tone and style of the kitchen as a whole.

If your budget allows for it, a natural stone bench top is always a winner. Natural stone, such as marble, limestone or granite, is durable, damage-resistant and has an enduring elegance that never goes out of fashion.

If you want to keep costs low, there are some beautiful low-cost options available. Engineered stone, modern laminate and timber laminate bench tops all look fantastic and are very cost-effective.