Transforming our Kitchen for under $600!

I love a good budget-friendly DIY and today I’m so excited to share our kitchen refresh – a low cost transformation using paint, repurposed materials, and a few simple swaps!

At the beginning of 2021, one of my goals was to paint the main floor of our house. Every wall was brown and the whole space felt dark and dingy, so I decided to lighten everything up by painting the walls (Sherwin Williams Alabaster) and trim (Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray). The more rooms that got painted, the more the kitchen just felt out of place.

Justin swapped out the old recessed light bulbs for these LED options a couple months ago and that change alone went a long way in updating the look of the space, but I knew I wanted to do a bit more. We have dreams of completely renovating the kitchen (the current layout does not work well for our family) but that won’t happen for several years. In the meantime, I decided to do a low-cost, big-impact facelift that would help the space fit in better with the rest of the house.

The previous owners had made a few updates shortly before selling and one of the updates was new quartz countertops. While the style isn’t my first choice, the countertops are high quality and I didn’t want to alter them. The black quartz has a lot of veins in shades of brown, taupe, and gold so I wanted to work with that even though I was moving the kitchen away from all the brown.

I chose Sherwin Williams Link Gray for the cabinets (you can find the full painting tutorial here). The color is very hard to accurately capture on camera – it’s a warm, versatile color that changes from green to gray to blue depending on the light. You’ll notice that there is even some variation between pictures in this post because the look of the cabinet changes depending on where I stand to take a picture!

The previous owners also updated the backsplash, but unfortunately, it was a big miss for us. It only went up about halfway to the cabinets, there were noticeable gaps between the backsplash and outlets, and visible seams in between the sheets of backsplash tile. In our opinion, it did nothing to help elevate the look of the kitchen and we wanted to take it down.

Using two putty knives and a hammer, I was able to peel the old backsplash off the wall. The drywall was a mess behind it, as it appears they had torn down a previous backsplash and then just put the new one up over the torn drywall paper. This was a fine solution on the interior wall, but for the exterior walls, especially around the sink, we wanted to create a better seal. I used primer over the torn drywall, then a layer of joint compound, then another layer of primer (after lightly sanding the joint compound) to create a smooth surface.

When we demoed our home office, we removed beadboard from all around the room and we saved every piece so we could repurpose it for backsplash. Justin cut away the parts with previous outlet holes and cut every piece down to fill the entire space from countertop to upper cabinet.

We used scrap wood with a rounded edge from previous projects to trim out the ends under the cabinets and top around the bay window. I used paintable caulk to fill in all of the seams between pieces and edges and then painted everything, including the window trim, Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. The windows themselves got two coats of Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. I also ran a bead of clear caulk along the bottom edge of the beadboard to keep everything sealed off from water. To complete the look, we swapped out the old almond colored outlets and switches for white ones and I painted wooden switch plates to match the beadboard.

I also swapped out our hodgepodge of counter stools for these steel and wood ones from Target. It took me a long time to find stools that had a back (Justin’s requirement), worked with our color scheme, and didn’t cost more than $100 per stool. I’m so happy I found these – they’re comfortable, inexpensive, and look great!

I mostly shopped my own house for pieces of decor to finish out the space but I did purchase a new kitchen rug from Target and a small, locally-made maple cutting board from a small business. These little details helped make this space feel complete!

We still plan to swap out the fluorescent light fixture but other than that, this kitchen refresh is finished! It has made such a huge difference in the way our house feels and even though we’re still planning a bigger renovation someday, this has made me love our current kitchen a lot more in the meantime.

Budget Breakdown

Liquid Nails – $4.57

Joint Compound – $6.64

New outlets (two GFCI), switches, and wooden plates – $21.96 (I saved almost $40 on these items using Menard’s Rebates!)

Cabinet Paint – $41.71

Counter Stools – $365.90

LED Recessed Lights – $74.83

Kitchen Rug – $20

Maple Cutting Board – $35

Total Cost: $570.61

I already had the primer and paint for the ceiling, trim, windows, and walls since I’m using the same paint throughout the main floor, so this wasn’t an additional expense. We also had all the caulk, painters tape, brushes, tools, etc. from previous projects. So while it might be hard to recreate this exact project for the same amount of money, I do think it shows that you don’t need to spend a ton in order to see a big difference!

Easy DIY Basement Updates

With all this extra time at home, I’ve been itching for a home project to focus on. I didn’t want a huge renovation project right now, just something to stay busy and distract myself from all the stress and anxiety going on. After talking with Justin about a few smaller project options, I settled on sprucing up the basement, particularly the TV/den area.

Here’s where we started:

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Pretty lackluster, huh?

Our basement was one of the big selling points of the house when we first bought it: I think it was built with the idea of being an in-law living area because in addition to having the guest bedroom and bathroom, it also has a large multipurpose space with a full kitchen. It has great potential and we see this as a perfect space for entertaining and a great recreation space for our family as our kids get older, but it was painted brown and just seemed a bit dingy and dated. Since moving in, we haven’t really focused on it very much other than to put in some furniture and other random things that didn’t go anywhere else (like our treadmill ha!) or to store piles of things I’m decluttering.ย  Now that the guest suite renovation is finished, I wanted to focus on freshening up the rest of the level.

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We didn’t have the budget to do much and social distancing prevented me from going out and getting a ton of things anyways, but I knew that a fresh coat of paint could work wonders. I settled on Sherwin Williams Repose Gray because I painted the guest bedroom trim this color (tinted at 75%) so I knew it would tie the two spaces together and it’s a nice versatile greige (gray+beige) that works really well in an open-concept space. Justin tucked up all the surround sound speakers into the ceiling for now (we aren’t currently using them but might someday) and I got to work!

All I planned to do for now was paint; however, once I started priming the walls and reached the half-wall where our foundation lies, I knew I wanted to also do a small update here too. I actually don’t mind the wall itself and actually like having a ledge to put plants, artwork, etc. What I minded was the dated trim on either side of the ledge – I wanted a simple, clean look and decided to try to remove the trim.

I recruited Justin’s help, and he used a small crowbar to pry off the old trim.

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The wall behind the trim wasn’t in great shape. In many places, there were large gaps between the walls and the board on top of the ledge. We didn’t want to replace the ledge board (because, $$$!) but I believed we could get creative and work with what we had.

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First up, Justin took plasting patcher we already had and patched as much of the wall as he could. He used a putty knife to smooth down the plaster and let it dry overnight. There were a few areas where the wall was so bad that he needed to patch a few layers. Once everything was dry the following day, he took a sanding block and sanded all the areas smooth.

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The pictures above are just one small portion of the wall, but we did this for the whole length of the wall.

There were still gaps between the wall and the board. I knew I could caulk them, but some of the gaps were really big and I didn’t want to waste a ton of caulk. I bought this caulk backer rope and it was the perfect solution! It filled in the gaps and allowed me to just caulk over top. I just squished the rope in there and cut it to the correct length with scissors. In some areas, I had to use 2-3 layers of rope because the gap was so deep – imagine how much caulk that would take! This was a really great way to save a ton of time and money.

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I used the filler in all the gaps on both edges of the board and then caulked over it with a paintable silicone caulk. We already had the caulk gun and one tube of caulk, but I did end up needing to buy one more tube of caulk because the other one was already halfway used up. I gently smoothed over the caulk with a wet paper towel to ensure it had a nice, even finish.

Look at that difference! From freshly ripped off trim, to a patched and sanded wall with caulk filler, to a caulked gap, ready to be painted!

I needed to wait overnight to let the caulk dry because I had to use so much of it in some areas. The next day, I was able to finally paint primer + 2 coats of repose gray to finish the project!

It’s certainly not perfect, but I think it looks 100x better. I love the clean lines and simple look of the ledge now!

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I didn’t want to spend any money on decor, so I decided to shop my house for frames, plants, and other decor to put some finishing touches on the space. (Psst – if you’re one of my very few OG blog readers, you might recognize that “W” as our wedding guest book!)

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I follow a few other DIY bloggers and home designers and sometimes it seems like many people wait until a room is 100% DONE to post the “final” picture. But I don’t want to wait to celebrate this progress. This room is far from done and I still have plans for this space. Eventually we want to replace baseboards and window trim and get new carpet throughout. I’d love to update the side table and lamp and find a new place for the treadmill still hanging out behind the couch. Our TV is still on a slightly bent folding table and we plan to mount it and have a nicer console underneath. But for now, I’m practicing contentment and celebrating the progress that has been made.

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The cost of this project was pretty minimal. I spent around $100 on paint + primer and about $13 on the extra tube of caulk + caulk filler . Other than that, I already had all the supplies needed and I shopped my own house for decor. It just took some time and work . . . and strategically placed decor like picture frames hiding unused wires and internet jacks and a plant in a basket hiding the lamp cord. The space is definitely improved and I love the simple but significant transformation!

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Sourcesย 

Primer: Kilz 2

Paint: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray in Eggshell

Patching Plaster

Putty Knife (similar)

Caulk Backer

Caulk

Sanding Block (similar)