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The $640 Kitchen Makeover

March 8, 2011

Don’t you find it true that the more you do around the house, the more you hunt around and find even more that you want to do?  It’s exactly the case with our kitchen project.

Right now, we’re finished with painting and cabinets and fully functional. Everything else that we want to change is strictly aesthetic, but some are higher on the priority list.  Still to do: find a rug for in front of the sink (Dash and Albert is in my mind), decide if I want to add curtains or a roman shade(or maybe nothing) on the windows, new light fixtures(specifically, the striped glass at Schoolhouse Electric), new glass-front doors for the upper cabinets(that are currently just door-less, which I like, but John’s going to make the doors to pull it all together a bit more) and a shelf over the stove(that’s waiting entirely for me to just find the right size shelf in a thrift store or at a garage sale).

The final piece of the puzzle will be the floors.  We’re 99% sure that the same wooden floors in the rest of our house are underneath the currently ugly vinyl floor with way too much texture that catches dirt and won’t get really clean without a hands-and-knees scrubbing.  We’re also 99% sure that there’s glue all over the wooden floors, mostly because when our bathroom started leaking into the kitchen over the summer, that’s how the floors in that room were laid and they were exactly the same floor as the kitchen, so we’re assuming they were laid at the same time.  So we may be able to sand them down and re-finish them or we may be able to sand them down and paint them if they look awful.  Or we could skip all of that and just put down something entirely different.  All of which will add significantly to the budget.

At this point, we haven’t actually spent any money out of our own pockets for the kitchen renovations, so want to keep trying to choose really carefully where we spend money and where we can make-do with what we already have.

So, that was all a long-winded version of me saying that I’m going to post some pictures of the Current State of the Kitchen.  You’ve seen bits and pieces, but here’s the whole she-bang in her current state.  I love it.  If we didn’t do another thing, I’d still be ecstatic about walking into my kitchen every single day, the other things are just going to be details that add more style elements and help to continue to pull it all together.  It’s a work-in-progress, much more than I ever realized before we bought a house and had a million ideas about all of the projects we would undertake.

May I also point out that my husband deserves some serious credit for all of this?  I’m going to breakdown the cost to renovate my kitchen (so far) below, but my biggest money-saving tip is to marry a very talented man who loves to  use tools and build things.  If he wasn’t so incredibly capable, we wouldn’t have been able to do nearly as much of what we’ve done.  He has put in so many, many hours of labor to actually make this come to life and I’m so very thankful for that.



The Budget/Details:

Counters – $269

Paint – $46 (we already a big bucket of primer and had issues with the white paint for the cabinets, so that wound up being free)

Polyurethane for Cabinets – $15

Hardware – $62

New Base Cabinet at the Habitat Re-Store – $28

All other new cabinets – Free from my parents’ neighbors who gutted and renovated their own kitchen

Wood for Shelves – $30

Wainscoting – $22

Caulk, screws and other miscellaneous supplies – $50

Moulding – $30

Bits and Pieces for Storage and Decor – $39

Brackets – $1 (garage sale)

Stool – $28

Step Stool – $20


Grand Total Spent So Far = $640

Money set aside for the kitchen budget – $100 Lowes Gift Card, $200 American Express gift card from work, $400 in Home Depot gift cards over two Christmases = $700 in gift cards with $60 left in the budget.

So, that’s the Current State of the Kitchen.  For now!

p.s.  Um, I forgot a big part of the existing “needs” in the kitchen – a dishwasher.  Please notice the clear counters we got made by Cut My Plastic. – because  you KNOW they always look like that…No, really. I took these pictures on a rare day that it was sunny enough to give me enough light to take pictures of the kitchen and I happened to have put enough dishes away that they weren’t all over the counters or in the sink. (It was a magical day.) See that space under the counter where there are stools? Hopefully that will be home to a dishwasher in the future. It’s a sort of awkward size space right now, but it’s perfect for the stool and step stool – especially since I can puzzle them together well enough most of the time to keep an almost-2-year-old from dragging them all over the kitchen to get up on counters whenever he feels like exploring. Most of the time.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. ell.uu permalink
    March 8, 2011 4:56 pm

    Lillian! it looks AMAZING. seriously, girl, it is lovely. so cheery and charming,and so YOU!

  2. March 8, 2011 6:17 pm

    Love it! Yes~I can totally see an awesome Schoolhouse Electric fixture in there. You guys have done an amazing job. I sure hope you’re planning on sending this over to Apartment Therapy!

  3. Kim M permalink
    March 8, 2011 6:56 pm

    AWESOME! I absolutely love it!

  4. March 8, 2011 8:40 pm

    I love your kitchen… gorgeous.

  5. Molly permalink
    March 8, 2011 8:48 pm

    It is so crisp and clean. I love the colors! Your hubby is amazingly talented.


  6. mirmophoto permalink
    March 8, 2011 9:55 pm

    It looks AMAZING! I love it.

  7. angelika05 permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:30 am

    It is so bright and beautiful and AWESOME! Just like you! And that color is simply ah-mazing…kudos to John for all of his hard work!

  8. March 9, 2011 5:06 am

    I love your kitchen! it is so luminous!
    Mine is very big and I’d like to change every single thing because we couldn’t afford to change it when we bought the flat and now we can’t either.
    That doesn’t stop me watching decor magazines and thinking what colour I would like the walls…
    You have a really lovely kitchen.

  9. Kelly Irene permalink
    March 9, 2011 8:51 am

    I big fat heart your new kitchen! I love the paint, and the new counters are beautiful. Enjoy it!

  10. March 9, 2011 1:54 pm

    Lillian, I love that kitchen! You guys did an amazing job. I someday would love to have a white kitchen. I just love the feeling of brightness and airiness.

    And that budget! You go girl! I love getting ideas that are affordable. (Love the Re-Store. We got our sink counter for our upstairs bathroom there. It’s been years since I’ve been there though. I’m thinking another visit is in store for me.)

    Oh, and by the way, my husband and I had a date night this weekend. We checked out Stoudt’s (got the inspiration from your blog) and we loved it. I still can’t believe we live so close and we’ve never been there before. Anyway, thanks for the idea!

  11. March 10, 2011 7:15 pm

    lillian, you are amazing!! you could do this as a full-time job. seriously! love the makeover. i am thinking of painting our cabinets white this summer – i may email you for some tips 🙂

  12. March 13, 2011 12:43 am

    So lovely…you guys are a great team!

  13. seekingsibling permalink
    March 23, 2011 10:02 pm

    Oh my gosh! AMAZING!!!

  14. LauraJane permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:53 am

    Looks so good- can’t believe you did it for $640. CRAZY. You must be so pleased with the outcome! 🙂

  15. March 25, 2011 10:41 pm

    Lovely! So fresh and inviting. I’ve always loved crisp cabinets and dark countertops. And the walls are so cheery. I noticed that your countertops were really inexpensive. Did you replace them or get them refinished? I would love to know. Curently, my kitchen is top to bottom oak and faux oak. Yes, faux yellowish oak backsplash and countertops that match the surprisingly nice alder cabinets.

    • Lillian permalink*
      March 26, 2011 6:53 pm

      Hi Megan, Thanks so much! The counters were stock counters from HD, though in the time between when we got the first piece and the last piece they discontinued the color and we had to do a special order to get the same. It’s Formica’s Basalt Slate in the honed finish. I think they were relatively more inexpensive because we just got the stock chunks of counter and my husband cut them and installed them. That faux yellow oak sounds as awesome as our original baby poop yellow counters and backsplash!! Hope this helps, Lillian

  16. Danielle permalink
    March 26, 2011 5:14 pm

    It looks fantastic…love it!!! Would you mind sharing your paint colors?

    Thanks 🙂

    • Lillian permalink*
      March 26, 2011 6:48 pm

      Thanks Danielle! Paint is Glidden’s Soft Aqua. The cabinets are a straight semi gloss white.

  17. March 27, 2011 10:24 am

    This is a fantastic kitchen makeover. Even without the ridiculously inexpensive price tag. I love the new counters and I’m such a sucker for white painted cabinetry. The open shelving is also genius and make the room look so huge! Well done.

  18. March 30, 2011 9:19 am

    this looks AMAZING! way to get creative…it looks like a million bucks. beautiful colors, too.

  19. May 2, 2011 11:40 am

    This looks WONDERFUL!!!

  20. May 18, 2011 8:23 pm

    Unbelievable for $640!!! Well, for any price actually. So cute! Thanks for linking up to my House Tour party!!

  21. May 20, 2011 5:34 pm

    absolutely gorgeous makeover! AND especially for the price!!!

  22. May 21, 2011 10:35 am

    Love your blog !

  23. July 5, 2011 4:45 pm

    beautifully done!

  24. August 1, 2011 6:15 pm

    Love this re-do. Thanks for some wonderful ideas.

  25. Rachel permalink
    September 25, 2013 1:01 pm

    I love the work you did, and for so little!! I wish we could make our cabinets work for us, but sadly, we need to replace. Question, I’m considering the basalt slate formica for our counter. How has that held up over the last couple of years? Any regrets?

    Thank you! I pinned this and your salted toffee recipe. 🙂

  26. Kat White permalink
    May 1, 2014 1:00 pm

    New hubby & I are just about finished with renovations to our 100+ y/o farm house in the woods. It started last Aug. (’13!!) with a new metal roof over new decking & gutters. Next came a BR closet (the only one in the house) carved out of wasted “nook” space. Currently working on a new bathroom with old fashioned octagon-&-diamond ceramic floor tiles, a pedestal sink, an extra deep, 5′ long enamel on steel tub & shower to replace a 3.5′ long cast iron claw foot tub (yes, romantic but not comfortable for a long-legged lady i.e. me & no shower for him). Next up is the kitchen enlargement by removing a wall, moving the sink from a blank wall to under a window, moving my washer & dryer out of the basement “dungeon” area, & new padded linoleum on the old concrete slab floor. My contractor is fairly good & semi-inexpensive but cabinets are NOT his forte we’ve discovered so we’re stockpiling what we scrounge @ the ReStore & trying to rethink & repurpose some old hand-me-down furniture and using what appliances we already have (except I do have a dishwasher on my Wish List). I hope our kitchen redo comes out as good as yours looks!


  1. idea for the blank wall in our kitchen- a bake prep space? | Dadne

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