Monday, September 1, 2014

Budget Kitchen Remodel

Welcome to our new home!

When we bought this house about 6 months ago, we knew that we wanted to make a lot of changes. Since it's really the heart of the home, the first room we chose to tackle was the kitchen
There were so many small projects involved in this process, that it could almost be multiple blog posts. But I don't like to be kept in suspense, so I won't do that to you. Here's the whole room at once!
We were working on a budget, so we had to make careful choices. We went for low cost options that would make a big impact. 

All in all, it took about two weeks to make the changes you see in the photo above. But, I also had 3 small children underfoot. So, someone working without those "distractions" might be able to utilize these ideas and make an even faster change.

The first things I did were take down the wallpaper, remove a useless door, and paint the dated oak cabinets.


Removing Wallpaper

A friend of ours walked into this kitchen and said "it looks like Debbie Gibson threw up in here!" I had to agree. One of the main culprits causing the "frozen in the 80's" motif was the wallpaper. It had to go!
Wallpaper can be tricky to remove. Depending on the type of wallpaper, you may be able to pull it all of in one sheet, or you may have the scrape it off inch by inch. I had to do a little of both.

The best method for removing wallpaper (that I found worked) was to:

-First, pull off anything I could using just my hands. Luckily I was able to get most of the top layer off this way.
-Second, I made a mixture of 2 parts hot water, 1 part liquid fabric softener and 2 parts white vinegar.

-Third, I used a rag to liberally apply this mixture to the wall.
-Last, (after letting the mixture sit for a few minutes) I used a paint scraper to scrape off any remaining glue and paper.


We also removed a door that didn't seem to serve much of a purpose. This helped to open up the spce and create a flow into the adjoining rooms.
Next, I painted to oak cabinets.

Painting Cabinets

For this job I used my favorite paint, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. This stuff isn't cheap, but a little goes a long way. It took about 3 quarts for this kitchen (2 coats).

What I love most about this paint is the fact that you don't need to do any prep work. It can just be slapped right onto any surface, as is.

Then, knowing that with 3 little kids in the mix, it would probably get pretty beat up, I roughed up the corners and edges with a sanding block.

This gave it a "used" look, so that any dings or scratches would just fit right in. I also used this brand's clear wax after the paint dried to increase the strength and make the color more rich.
I am fortunate to have a store in my town that carries this paint. If you don't have a local vendor, you can buy it online.

Painting the Walls

After removing the wallpaper, it was time to paint. There was an interesting paint job hidden under the wallpaper (circa 1972), but it wasn't quite what I was going for, ha!

(Durning) Wall Paint

I used my favorite go to paint color for this room, Benjamin Moore Ivory White #925. It's the perfect warm white, and looks good with everything! If your local paint store doesn't carry this color, they should be able to look it up and mix it for you if you provide them with the name and number.

After, Wall Paint


For fun (and to help people find their way around my kitchen) I painted the inside of the cabinets with 2 layers of chalkboard paint.

*Note: "Chalkboard" paint is different than "Chalk Paint"

Using this on the inside of the cabinet doors provided a neat way to label what goes where, and to keep things organized.

Countertops and Backsplash

Like almost everything else in this house, the old laminate countertops were pink! They were worn, and not very attractive. 

I would have loved to get a new counter, but it wasn't in the budget, So instead I used a product called RustOleum Countertop Transformations.  

Because of the black cabinets, I used "desert sand". It was light, but also had flecks of black, to tie into the cabinet color. It took 2 "small" sized kits to complete my counters.

The backsplash was made of ugly off-white tile and dark grout. Again, we couldn't afford a new one, so I just painted it using Rustoleum tub and tile paint. It was a little runny, and tricky to use, but changing the tile and grout to bright white really helped the overall aesthetic.

If you use this product be sure to ventilate the area well. It has strong fumes! So far both products have held up beautifully, and I'm pretty tough on them.
It didn't turn out perfect, but it was a HUGE improvement!



The countertop was a MESSY job. Those little flecks are individual chips, that go everywhere. So have a good vacuum handy!


Surprise, surprise... the floors were stained old linoleum, with a PINK flower pattern. It was not cute. So, working with our small budget, we simply covered the old linoleum with peel and stick black and white squares.

We ordered ours from this eBay seller. It was very inexpensive, and relatively easy to install. All you really need is a clean floor, a ruler/ straightedge and a box-cutter for trimming. 


Getting rid of old florescent lighting is crucial. It sheds an unflattering light onto everything, and dates a space. No matter what you do, if you leave old florescent lighting in place, the space will never live up to it's visual potential.

Lighting, Before

We removed the old plastic panels, painted the oak trim to match the walls, and rewired for standard light fixtures. I chose inexpensive chrome fixtures from Home Depot, and we installed them in the recess where the florescence had been. It made a world of difference!

Lighting, After

We also added strips of LEDs under the cabinets. Under cabinet lighting can really warm up a space, and it's handy to have when cooking too. Because they are LEDs these lights hardly use any power.

We hired a pro to wire these in, but of you are handy with electricity you could probably install them yourself. 


After all the hard work is done, then the fun part can begin: accessorizing! Because I love the color, and I thought it would give the black and white some pop, I chose red accents. Most of what you see in these photos I already had. For everything else I shopped at discount stores, clearance racks and

Flea market find Curtain tie-back, becomes a towel holder.


Fresh flowers and a retro inspired clock add charm.

Clearance rack faucet

Bright red stools add cheer and make a countertop do double duty. 

Odd number grouping

It's a good idea to remember the "rule of 3's" when grouping decorative items.  Always group things into 3's, or at the very least an into odd number.
Put things in groups of 3's, 5's, or 7's.

3 pops of red

If you have the space, try adding a collection of similar colored items, like my collection of white ceramics and milk glass (almost entirely inherited, or found at the Goodwill and/ or the flea market). We removed the cupboard doors above the refrigerator, and left it as open shelving in order to display this collection. 


With what we saved elsewhere, using all of the methods detailed above, we were able to spend on a few high cost items. 
We replaced all the appliances with new stainless steel, and my mom bought us a new fridge! Thanks Mom ;)

Dishwasher area, Before


I'm used to a gas stove, and at first contemplated running a gas line. But cost was an issue so we stayed with electric. I love how easy it is to clean the new glass top! 



The final splurge was on hardware. This can be purchased inexpensively from hardware stores, or online. But, I fell in love with the retro style handles and drawer pulls available through Rejuvenation Hardware (note: this is different than Restoration Hardware). I'm actually in love with all of their products. If only I had the budget to get everything from there!

That's about all folks! Please enjoy a few more "before and after" shots!

Thank you for stopping by!

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  1. OMG! I don't think I can say wow enough! I think what you did with the light is my favorite creative solution but there's just so many. Love how do you did this on a tiny budget and it looks so good! Countertops can be so expensive, that seems like a really great product idea from rustoleum. I also love the cabinet labels, that was a genius idea!

  2. Wow, you did such a great job on a budget! I didn't know half those items existed such as the sink paint! And I love the checkerboard floors. That is probably my favorite change! Thank you for sharing your renovation on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

  3. Such a great idea to put chalkboard paint on the inside. I have never considered that before. We have it in our garage and it is where all of our messages go and all updates. I am in love with it and have been wanting to add other options of chalkboard paint in the house. Maybe this could actually work.

    Essie Reed @ Valley Home Improvement

  4. Even for a budget your kitchen looks amazing. I wish we had such a cool looking kitchen. My wife and I recently got divorced so my kitchen looks pretty bad at the moment. need to get out there and DIY that thing back to former glory, thank you for sharing this remodel with your readers, enjoyed reading it thanks again.

    Arthur Bryant @ Contractor Express

  5. Kitchen design and budget is the most desirable activities by any home-owner. The information you have shared is very informative. thanks for sharing with us.
    Full Kitchen Remodel


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