Working full time, starting a family, and renovating a complete fixer upper is not for the faint of heart, so when you just can’t justify a major overhaul for your budget or time or sanity, have no fear! Here’s how we kept our sanity and did a DIY kitchen makeover to bring our small kitchen out of the 1970s without breaking the bank.
When we purchased our home in 2008, we had no children. We bought a cute little cape cod on a half acre because it had ample space for our 85 lb boxer to run, and room to clear out and garden and make our own little piece of paradise. BUT… it was definitely a fixer upper. This cute little cape cod has now been painted top to bottom, plus remodels to 2 bathrooms and the kitchen
The kitchen remodel was actually the last thing we did to really get this baby out of the ’80s. When we bought the house we had all kinds of visions for the kitchen. We were going to tear out the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and make one big farmhouse kitchen. We were going to get rid of those upper cabinets that separate the kitchen from the eat-in part (so 1980s!!). But after 7 years of living with this gorgeous (ha!) wallpaper, the kitchen decided it was time for an overhaul whether or not we were ready.
Do you see that wallpaper? Those turquoise counters and backsplash? Those bisque colored appliances? Y’all. 1978 was all kinds of cozy.
It all began on our anniversary circa 2011, when the only new appliance – the stove – burst into flames during our first ever attempt to cook an expensive pan full of fresh scallops. Doggone it! (yeah, definitely not my actual words…). So we replaced the stove/oven. Then the week before Thanksgiving 2014 the refrigerator stopped working AND the dishwasher went. So we took advantage of Black Friday sales and finished off our appliance set. It became clear that with 2 kids, no walls were being torn down in the room where I spend most of my waking hours. We said to heck with it! Lets just make it a space we enjoy!
The entire kitchen was covered in burgundy and green florals. We dutifully used a scoring roller to puncture the paper and DIF spray to loosen the glue before peeling all that paper off. Be sure to wash thoroughly with warm water! Cost: $10 (we had some leftover DIF)
We opted to keep the cabinets and purchase new, unfinished doors and paint everything ourselves. I love simple and bright. The doors were Shaker style, ordered from Barker Door (www.barkerdoor.com) and had to be measured to within 1/16 inch of the correct size. Y’all. Painting cabinets is no small task! I spent the entire summer of 2015 painting during nap time in my backyard. The paint is an alkyd-acrylic from Benjamin Moore, which is basically easy to wipe clean like an oil paint but still acrylic. Color is Simply White.
To prep unfinished cabinet fronts, first go over everything with a fine grain sandpaper and wipe off any dust. Then take some of your paint and mix it about 50/50 with water in a plastic cup. Paint a thin coat of this over your cabinets and let dry (I let mine dry overnight). This draws up the grains of the wood, which you then want to sand down with a fine grit sandpaper and again wipe clean. Now you’re ready to paint! I did two thin coats on each cabinet piece (front and back). When painting cabinets, thin coats are best! If you have access to a sprayer (they are available for rent) this will make painting a lot easier. Because I was painting about 2 doors a day during a 45 minutes nap time, this wasn’t in the cards for us.
We purchased contractor packs of Oil Rubbed Bronze knobs and pulls and attached them ourselves using this handy little tool: a hardware installation kit. It’s a tiny little ruler with holes so that you align it with the edge of your drawer front or cabinet and make a dot in the correct holes so that everything matches.
On the back of the peninsula I dressed it up with these easy molding squares from Lowes. Just nail them on and use paintable caulk around the edges to cover any gaps, then paint.
Cabinets: $758 Paint: $90
Because ours is an eat-in kitchen, we also had the breakfast nook to renovate. In our home we’ve gone with oil rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware, and I wanted something soft yet industrial to go with our hand-me-down farmhouse table. I love this light fixture! It casts little light sparkles around the room at night. Grab one here at Overstock.
Cost (including over sink pendant and other ceiling light): $300
This involved wallpaper removal followed by two coats of paint (Olympic Faint flicker in satin). Cost: $50 (2 gallons)
Converting a Soffit into Gorgeous Trim
These lovely 1970s cabinets came with a lovely 1970s soffit, wallpaper included. I hated it. But since we were trying to do this with minimal demo/mess and had no idea if anything of importance like a duct/electrical/vent was hidden behind there, we chose instead to trim out the soffit to look like a mighty piece of trim above the cabinets.
We actually painted over the wallpaper on the soffits with several coats of Kilz (there is another, supposedly better, but way stinky option to use for this if you are serious about sealing in the paper. We chose not to suffocate on fumes and so far it’s held up for over 5 years!). Then we cut a basic crown molding and nailed it against the soffit/ceiling corner followed by a 1/2″ piece of rounded wood trim that we cut and nailed into place halfway up the soffit.
The last step was to wood putty the nail holes, seams, and any gaps in the trim followed by light sanding. The soffit is painted the same color as the cabinets-
Cost for trim: $150
We wanted something classy and durable (because I spend about 10 hours a day in this kitchen, lol) that was also neutral and would last through changing styles. There is a great stone shop 45 minutes from us (Apex Marble and Granite for anyone in central NC, definitely worth checking out!). I lucked out and found a Groupon that was good for any of about four of the most inexpensive granite options. We chose Venetian Gold, and the cost of the groupon included a sink, install, old counter removal for $1600. Can’t beat that!
PS: We chose a deep single bowl sink and it was the best decision! I hated never being able to fit a big pot into one side of a small double sink. Now we can do everything in that sink – even bathe our kids!
The backsplash was the last thing we did in the DIY kitchen Makeover. We actually waited until I was about 38 weeks pregnant, and spend an entire weekend (well, maybe about 8 hours total) cutting and setting tile. It’s a glass tile from Lowes that comes in 12×12 sheets. We have a tile saw (you could rent one) and after a whole lotta measuring and cutting around outlets, laid that baby up with mastic and grouted it the following weekend. There is no motivation like a baby on the way and the knowledge that your productivity will grind to a halt for no less than the next six months!
Cost of tile, mortar, and grout: $250
The backside of the peninsula was a plain white slab of wood. Lowes hardware sells these amazingly easy to use moulding squares for less than $20 each. We measured the back of the peninsula, purchased three sizes that would center well, nailed them into place with finishing nails (making sure to level and center each one). Then the seams were sealed with paintable caulk to cover any gaps and nail holes and painted. For less than $100 we have custom looking trim that dresses up the space!
Total DIY Kitchen Makeover Cost = $3,268
We’ve been holding out on flooring for our home while the kids destroy the old laminate. Hopefully soon we’ll get some updated hardwoods in here! Thanks for reading!