A budget kitchen refresh that turns a dated kitchen into a two-tone modern space using paint, inexpensive DIY projects, and small changes for a big impact.
You know how you watch those makeover shows on HGTV and there is always this crazy amazing before and after with a new open concept and new lighting and new cabinets and new countertops and new flooring and a big lovely price tag of $50,000?
That’s cool and all. And yeah, I still watch them because hello? They’re amazing!
I really have to tell myself sometimes that those reality shows are not, in fact, always reality. Because I start to wish for that life instead of being thankful for what I already have.
Our latest kitchen refresh was the reminder I needed.
It’s been so easy to tell myself for the last year that eventually the dated floors will be replaced. Eventually, we’ll take down a wall to make this kitchen bigger. Eventually, we’ll demo the backsplash and remove the countertop for something more our style.
But you know what? No one said you had to live with something you didn’t love until you could save up $10,000 for it. Go all Tim Gunn on that room and make it work!
And maybe you’ll see the beauty that was there all along just begging to be noticed.
That’s been the lesson for me at least these past couple of months. So now, after mainly just using paint, inexpensive DIYs, and a few small changes, it looks like this.
Robert was really the one who convinced me that we could do something great with this space because when he brought it up during my first trimester of this pregnancy, I really was NOT feeling up to this makeover.
To be fair, it was a nice kitchen to begin with since it already had cabinets that were less than 30 years old (younger than our 58 year old house).
They were yellowed and scuffed up before, but it was nothing paint couldn’t fix.
(Some affiliate links are provided below.)
Robert scrubbed them all over and used our tried and true DIY cabinet painting technique from our old house to paint the uppers with Benjamin Moore Simply White (our go-to bright white) and the lowers with Sherwin Williams Billiard to add some personality and contrast to the space.
The dark green popped so well against our white barstools we hauled over with us from our move.
And for above the sink, we replaced the canned light with this aged brass and white enamel pendant to tie together the traditional-meets-farmhouse-meets-modern look we love.
Since we have to leave the tile floor alone for now, I just brightened up the grout with a grout pen and added this wool rug (which helps repel stains) with a memory foam pad underneath to make washing dishes at our sink more comfortable on our backs.
Last summer, we tackled this backsplash as one of our very first projects in this house since we felt it made the room feel a little too busy.
As a temporary solution until we can manage a full backsplash demo and replacement, we covered it with this pressed ceiling tile look paneling.
I love that it is simple but still has a subtle pattern to it. And it draws the spotlight to our existing leathered countertops, which is the whole reason why we chose green for our lower cabinets to “make it work”.
While we were in “kitchen makeovering mode”, we organized the inside of the cabinets too.
The opposite side of the room had this totally blank wall behind our peninsula bar when we moved in, but we really needed some extra storage.
Once I found this marble top buffet at the thrift store, it all fell into place.
(Oh, and we replaced our dated track light with this aged brass one.)
I cleaned it up and white waxed it to keep the rough texture, and we hung this IKEA plate rack above that I painted with Fusion Mineral Paint Coal Black for extra dish/mug storage.
It’s become our happy little coffee spot.
I found these public domain images of vintage arbor art too that I just placed in $15 IKEA frames and hung them up on either side to fill up the wall.
On the wall beside it, we originally had a shelf that we discovered was a total clutter collector.
So we took it down, painted the walls with a creamy white Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee to make this dark room feel brighter, and added a command center to keep us more organized.
This was the situation before…
And now it’s so. much. better!
Everything now has a place, but with the shelf gone, we’re not tempted to throw random junk in this corner.
This wall beside our stove originally had a built-in shelf similar to the command center one, but Robert just used the jigsaw to remove the arch and shamrock cut-outs to make it streamlined.
I put some simple decor on it to keep it from becoming another clutter-catcher. 😉
So I added serving pieces we typically only use for entertaining along with this thrift scale I painted to look like an antique, this crate we use for holding our unsorted mail, and this thrifted frame I just put a $3 Etsy print in.
Beside of the shelf, I framed three handwritten recipes from my mom and grandmothers that are so special to me. I love that the float frame shows off the tattered edges on the old paper. (And I laminated them with UV film to prevent the ink from fading.)
Pecan pie is Robert’s favorite, and since I hung it up on the wall, this recipe has already been requested.
It’s taken a lot of re-imagining and sweat, but this kitchen finally does feel like home.
And even though we do plan to eventually do the big HGTV-level renovation, I’m so glad we can wait 5-ish years and not feel rushed to make that happen.
Home wasn’t built in a day, right?
If you want to know about any of the sources we used in our kitchen, you can find them all here:
- Wall color: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee
- Upper cabinet / trim color: Benjamin Moore Simply White
- Lower cabinet color: Sherwin Williams Billiard
- Wool rug
- Aged brass and white pendant light
- Aged brass track light
- Aged brass cup pulls
- Aged brass knobs
- White metal and wood barstools
- Plate rack (similar – mine is discontinued)
- Arbor art printable set
- Square wall frames
- Brass float frames
- Wooden dough bowl
- Wooden cutting board
- Mug rack
- Wood plate and glass dome
- Ceramic berry basket
- Olive garland
- White dinnerware
- Pantry canisters
- Scalloped cake stands
- Sink cake stand
- Marble soap pump
- Glass pitcher
- Landscape art
- Magnolia crate
- Vintage-look scale (DIY tutorial here)
- Dry erase calendar board
- Cork board
- Key rack hooks
- Mail sorter boxes (similar)
- Clock (similar)
- Dog food bucket
- Hand towel
- Pressed tile backsplash paneling
- Round gold and marble tray
- Bread box (DIY tutorial)
- Breakfast nook lantern pendant
- Breakfast nook chairs
- Breakfast nook wall planter (DIY tutorial)
And if you want to know about any of the tutorials we did in this space, you can find them all here:
- How to paint cabinets like a pro
- How to refresh tile grout
- DIY pressed ceiling tile backsplash
- 5 tips to create an organized command center
- White waxed buffet makeover
- Arbor art printable set
- How to preserve and frame handwritten recipes
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