Opening up a room doesn't always require knocking down walls. Jillian Woods, owner of a 1970s ranch house in Crowley, Texas, figured that out when faced with her kitchen's dark rust walls and builder-grade cabinets. The appliances and counters were in good shape, and a layout change was beyond the budget, so she focused on simple cosmetic tweaks that would add up to the illusion of a light, airy space. Two weeks after moving in, she brightened the walls with sky-blue paint and a backsplash covered in white beadboard-patterned wallpaper.
Shown: Bright and cheery, the kitchen now has light-reflecting finishes and open shelving.