When you're searching for a new apartment, a small or beat up kitchen can often be enough to cross a place off your list. However, the odds of finding a place with an updated, contemporary kitchen that's also in your price range are few and far in between. Rather than hold out and hope that your dream apartment just happens to become available, eventually you'll likely need to compromise. Although, having an outdated kitchen doesn't have to be a death sentence to your culinary endeavors. Consider these five easy ways to make your kitchen feel a bit more contemporary that also won't break the bank: 

1. Swap out old hardware 
If the knobs and handles on your cabinetry look a bit dull and worn out, odds are you can easily replace them without too much effort. Usually this hardware can simply be removed with a screwdriver, and then replaced with something more contemporary. Write out a budget for how much you're prepared to spend in total, and then count your cabinets and drawers so that you have an exact tally of how much replacement hardware you'll need. That way, when you go to the hardware store you can purchase hardware that falls within your budget. Make sure to hold onto the old knobs and handles so that you can put them back when you move out if requested by the landlord. 

2. Repaint cabinets 
If your kitchen seems a bit drab, a fresh coat of paint on all the cabinetry can go a long way. Double check with your landlord to make sure they are comfortable with you painting, especially if you plan to drastically change the color. In the spirit of the new year, consider a contemporary color like olive green or a vibrant orange. Remember to make sure you allow cabinets and drawers proper time to dry so that you don't accidentally paint them stuck shut. 

3. Replace old dishes 
It's an inevitability that plates and other dishes will get cracked and chipped when they are used every day. Though you might be hesitant to part with the coffee mug you've had since freshman year of college or a commemorative plate you received as a gift from a friend, consider replacing old sets of plates, bowls and glasses that may no longer have their natural luster. Rather than throw away old dishware, donate the items you're getting rid of to a resale shop or charitable organization. 

4. Update your faucet 
Replacing a faucet might seem like a big project to tackle, but this can usually be done without too much work. However, if you're not particularly handy, this project may be better suited for your landlord or a crafty friend. Always make sure to turn off the water supply before you begin removing an old faucet. Often times this is a much needed update in the kitchen, because old faucets tend to become loose and leaky as the adhesive erodes. 

5. Rework your lighting 
A common problem in many apartment kitchens is a lack of lighting. Even if your kitchen has one bright, main overhead light, it may not be enough to illuminate your countertops when you're preparing a meal or cleaning up. If possible, installing under-cabinet lighting may help brighten your workspace without actually taking up any room on your countertop. Before working with electricity, always make sure to cut the breaker box at the circuit on which you're working. This project shouldn't be too expensive, but does require a bit more work and know-how, so again it's wise to consult your landlord before getting to work.