Friday, October 18, 2013

How we updated an entire kitchen for less than $800

Our kitchen looked bad. Like really bad. It screamed 70s and the green counters that went up the wall made me cringe. I'm sure many people looked at our house when it was for sale and turned around and never looked back. We saw a lot of potential though. For an older home, it has an open layout to the dining and living room that's so popular in today's homes.

Here are some before shots of the kitchen:

And here are the afters:

Nevermind the cat. He was trying to strut through all my pictures.

Believe it or not, we did all of this for less than $800 and about half of that went to the plumber and electrician. If you have a kitchen that already has a dishwasher, microwave above the oven, and water line to the fridge this redo will cost you much less. We also bought new appliances which aren't added into the $800 - I count them as a separate (non-diy) expense.

Our first task was to remove all the cabinet doors and the hardware. Sounds easy, right? It's actually really time consuming. Come up with a numbering system and label the doors so that when you put them back on you don't end up pulling your hair out because you can't figure out what goes where. We used blue painters tape and a sharpie.
My awesome father-in-law removing all of the handles and hinges.
Look at our supplies. What a mess.
The next task was to reconfigure the kitchen. There was no room for a dishwasher or a microwave above the oven. Luckily, my dad is handy so he was able to cut into the cabinets and make space. He also raised the island. If you look at the before pictures you'll notice part of that island is lower. They used it like an actual table. I wanted a seamless look so dad raised it for me.

Dad working on raising the island.
I really did not like the design on the cabinets. It dated the house. On the drawers we used wood putty to fill it in and on the actual doors we completely refaced them.
This stuff smells really bad. We sanded after it dried.
Beadboard wallpaper was used for the actual doors to cover up the design.
The beadboard wallpaper is from Menards and one roll covered all of my cabinets. It cost $12.96. It was an easy way to cover up the 70s design without using wood putty and sanding. I hate sanding. Plus, I think beadboard adds so much character.
Our basement is unfinished which has been a blessing in disguise. It's a great place to do big projects like this.
My wonderful mother-in-law helping wallpaper.
We then used two different types of trim from Lowes on the outside of the doors. We attached it with wood glue and clamps. My husband thought the decorative one was unnecessary, but it added so much more to the doors (and now he agrees with me).

We painted all of the cabinets with Dutch Boy Cabinet and Trim Paint in Antique White.
The original door handles were "too much" in my opinion so I bought these simpler ones from EcoStore in Lincoln, NE. If you've never been and you live nearby, I highly recommend you go. Maybe I'll do a future post on it because you can get some great deals. These handles cost me $0.25 each and I spray painted them with Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze because they were originally gold. Similar new handles were at least $2 each. I also spray painted the hinges.

My best friend

Next project: I felt like the line of cabinets above the island portion of the kitchen separated the kitchen and dining room. My first thought was to knock them out, but I would have lost tons of cabinet space. Plus, I wanted a place to display my great grandma's china and our wedding gifts without taking up floor space with a traditional hutch. My husband was nice enough to make that row of cabinets have glass inserts on both sides. This was not an easy project, but I'm so glad we did it. It really opens up the two rooms and brings more light into the kitchen.


After: Glass Cabinets

After: Great place to display great grandma's china
Having glass cut was cheaper than we thought. Lowes and Ace Hardware do it. The cost of the glass and cutting it was less than $50. We used the same trim as the other cabinets to create a unified look. To do this you'll need to:

1. Cut a hole into the original cabinet (whatever size glass you want).
2. Glue and nail trim around the front. Make sure there is a lip that hangs over for the glass to rest on.
3. Use clips on the back to hold the glass in place.
4. Be patient. This is time consuming.

We used this tutorial:

It's very helpful and has many more details than what I just gave you.

We replaced all of the light fixtures in the house.
This was on sale at Menards and had a rebate. Ended up being $49.99.

Patriot light on the left from Menards. The one on the right is from EcoStore and was $10! It was nickel so I spray painted it with Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze.
Every so often Menards has their Patriot Lighting (left one in picture) on sale and with a rebate. Most of the new fixtures in our house are similar to what you see in the picture and cost us very little.

Click here for the link to an example, although they're not doing a rebate at this time:

I also redid our countertops (approximately $40) and backsplash ($12) as some of you saw on my facebook page. I'll do separate posts on this blog since those projects deserve their own space. Eventually I'll post about the awesome deal we got on the flooring that you see in the kitchen. It flows throughout the dining room, living room, and hallways. If we add in the cost for flooring for just the kitchen, it probably put us around $1,000 in total costs. Our new appliances are from Sears and Home Depot. I know stainless steel is the "in thing", but I like the look of black and thought it went better with our space... and it's cheaper!

For as little as we spent, I couldn't be happier with our new kitchen. Is it perfect? No! I see many areas that need touch ups, but it's certainly better than it was. It took us about 10 weeks start to finish. My husband works for the federal government and was on furlough for a couple weeks during the big shutdown so he got a lot done during that time. If he wouldn't have been off I think we'd still be working on this through Christmas!

P.S. Huge thank you to our families who helped us with various projects in this kitchen!!! 


  1. Awesome job Jenna! It looks great! I can't wait to see how you did your countertops. I need to do mine (our house was built in no green countertops, but they are the bland original ones). I also love that you went with black appliances. I recently read somewhere that the trend may shift back to white/black appliances from stainless. I think it's better to just go with what you love, no matter what the "trend" is!
    -Carrie Bahde Hjelle

  2. Hi Carrie!

    Thank you so much for the kind feedback. Tomorrow I will post the countertop tutorial so check back. I would love to see how yours turn out if you try it. Interesting find about the stainless. I kind of wondered if it would go out of style since it's been so popular for a while now. Thanks for the advice :)