$500 Kitchen Remodel

Today I’m excited to share our kitchen remodel. When we were looking for a house, I really wanted an updated kitchen but this was our first time buying a home and all the houses with updated kitchens were just out of our budget. I fell in love with the layout of our house and knew we couldn’t afford a whole kitchen remodel, so I decided I could fix the kitchen myself.

Why we Updated the Kitchen…

This is the picture of our kitchen before.


It’s not totally awful, but it’s also not great. I don’t like the light oak and the backsplash area was not even painted! I went back and forth between white, gray and dark espresso cabinets and decided to go with espresso cabinets since we have an open concept, high ceilings and a lot of our furniture is espresso. I knew we would be safe with dark cabinets in such a large space. It was still scary going to pick out the paint because this is a room we use everyday. If I screwed it up, we were stuck with it!

Where to Buy the Materials…

As usual, we bought everything from Lowes. We actually spent so much time in Lowes when we first bought the house that we made friends there! We painted the whole house before we moved in (which was horrible and took forever), so I didn’t need to worry about the weird yellow walls anymore. I focused first on painting the cabinets. We have laminate cabinets, not wood so staining was out of the question. We used Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 primer ($21) for everything in our house and loved it, so I decided to use it to prep the cabinets. I did a lot of research on the type of paint to use on cabinets and decided based on the reviews that Valspar cabinet paint ($50) was the way to go. The nice thing about this paint is you can pick any color they offer. I went with the darkest brown color and it really turned out great! I also picked up some paint trays, cabinet rollers and a paint brush. There was no hardware on our cabinets before so we also picked out some handles for the cabinets and knobs for the drawers (~$90).

For the backsplash, we went through a huge ordeal with Lowes. We picked out backsplash which was more difficult than I expected. I bought a couple of different tile packs to bring home and hold up to the walls before I made my final decision. Since the color scheme in our house is gray and blue, I decided to get the tile that had a little gray and blue in it to bring the color scheme for the whole house together.

backsplash up close

Originally I was afraid to do the backsplash on our own so I actually hired a contractor through Lowes to do it for us. However, after taking two days off of work and having two no call, no show contractors, we were SUPER frustrated with Lowes. In the end, they made it better by giving us 30% off of all of the materials we needed and we decided to attempt the backsplash ourselves. In the end, it cost us about $300 for all the materials so we were not as upset anymore. I don’t remember everything we had to buy at this point, but Lowes was awesome at telling us everything we needed to complete the project. The one thing I do remember is we thought we needed a wet saw, but it was actually easier just to use the hand tile cutters instead. So another plus, no need to buy or rent a wet saw!

How to Remodel the Kitchen…

Painting the Cabinets…

So now the fun part. I will admit that I practiced on our bathroom first because I figured if I screwed up our bathroom, at least it wouldn’t be in the main part of our house. The bathroom turned out great so I decided to go for it!

(Side Note: I was able to use the one can of Valspar paint for our master bath, guest bath and our kitchen and I still have some left over. Also, if you paint your bathroom cabinets, you are not supposed to shower for 48 hours to give the paint time to dry)

First things first, I cleaned the cabinets with soap and water. Our kitchen was disgusting when we moved in so I really had to make sure everything on the inside and outside was free of oils, dirt and dust. This is a super important step so it must be done, no matter how much it sucks. I also took some painters tape and painted around the walls, counter tops and floor so I didn’t get paint in places I didn’t want it. The cabinet paint is not as easy to get off of wood floors as normal wall paint so keep that in mind when you are painting! Yeah, I probably should’ve protected my floors better but I didn’t and I just kept some paint thinner by my side to use quickly if I needed it.

After the cabinets were clean and totally dry, it was time to apply the primer. Some people take off the cabinets to paint them, I’m lazy and I wanted to do it all at once so I just removed the drawers, put them on tarp and then opened all the cabinets to paint them. The cabinet roller is the best thing to use for most of the cabinet. I used the paint brush to get into the creases of the door and then went over it with the cabinet brush to remove any brush strokes on the door. I did one coat of primer and let it dry overnight before coming back with the paint. If you don’t remove the cabinets, make sure you let the cabinets dry when they are open otherwise it will stick together and possibly remove the paint when you open it again.

primed kitchen

After the primer was dry, I went over the primer with a coat of the cabinet paint. Now when you do the first coat, it looks horrible. It will be streaky and not cover the cabinet but it’s ok! It will look right after the second coat. For the first coat, just make sure to cover the whole cabinet and not let any paint drip because you can’t get rid of the paint drips when they dry very easily. Let the paint dry overnight and then complete the second coat. I write this like it’s so easy but it really takes forever and it sucks. Painting cabinets is not fun or easy. It’s time consuming, it sucks and it’s tiring. The good news is it’s totally worth it when it’s done so hang in there! Even better it’s been almost two years now and our paint still looks great! I’ve spilled things on it, wiped it down a bunch of times and it has still held up. It’s chipped in a few spots behind the door handle we use the most but we have a lot of left over pain so I can touch it up if I want to.

After everything was dry, we drilled holes where we wanted the hardware and screwed them on. Here is an up close picture of the finished cabinet:


Time for the Backsplash…

So now the cabinets were done and it was time to do the backsplash. As I mentioned before, we didn’t do this for about six months after we finished the cabinets but it did get done! I unfortunately, don’t have a lot of tips on how to do the backsplash since my husband and his friend did it. But I do know that it was not difficult and only took a day to complete. I’m sorry I don’t have more tips for the backsplash but I know there are millions of videos on how to do it.

Here is the before and after of our kitchen! We finished the kitchen around Christmas so this picture has our Christmas decorations in it as well.

Decorating the Top of the Cabinets…

Normally, we of course don’t have ornaments or lighted garland around our kitchen. To decorate the top of the cabinets, I decided to go with something neutral for the main section so I found a silver plate and silver vases of different sizes at home goods. For the sides of the kitchen, I decided to bring some wine in because I love wine. This also gave me a chance to bring in some of my science nerdiness as well.

Here is one side of our cabinet with the wine periodic table letters (I bought mine on Groopdealz but I know Etsy has them too), my fish jar, filled with left over clear gems from our wedding and wine cork wreath (DIY coming on that later.)

wine deco

On the other side, I put a couple of wine bottles that also have the periodic table letters on them, a bottle of our wedding wine and a beautiful stained glass piece I found at Put-in-Bay, Ohio during my bachelorette party. We also put lights above our cabinets. I bought color changing lights that are controlled by remote. We mostly leave them on a neutral setting but sometimes it’s fun to change it up and have crazy colors, especially during Halloween and Christmas. It also reflects really well off of the silver plates and vases. Better yet, we plugged our lights into a wifi plug that connects to Alexa so we can just tell her to turn our cabinet lights on. It’s pretty awesome! So there you have it, this is what our kitchen looks like on a daily basis, complete with our kitty who for some reason just loves staring at the water dispenser in the refrigerator.

everyday kitchen

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