Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DIY Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

We are in the process of updating a very old house. I absolutely love the character and layout of this wonderfully old home, but so much of it was outdated- especially the kitchen.
When we bought this house, we had to move fast. Homes in our area sell quickly- in less than 24 hours often. Our incredible neighbors put their home up for sale and sold it in about 12 hours (to one of my oldest friends, but whatever...). When we were looking at houses, it wasn't uncommon for us to find out that the home was already pending offers by the time we arrived for our showing. It was crazy!
So when we saw this house go up on the market we moved quickly, we were on our way to visit John's family out of state and stopped here first, spending a total of 15 minutes in the house before asking our buyer's agent to make an offer for us. And even then, we almost lost it in a short bidding war.
Anyway- by the time we actually closed 2 months later,  I couldn't even remember what the house looked like! And after we got those keys and jetted over to see it, I was totally floored by the kitchen.
And not in a good way.
The kitchen and the main floor bathroom were just so outdated, dark and seemingly unfinished. I can't explain it, but everything came off as mismatched. In the kitchen (we'll talk about the bathroom another day), it seemed like someone had just slammed down random pieces of cabinetry here and there and nothing was cohesive. It was extremely disjointed. And some of the counter was warped and falling in.
Cool.
I was so flustered that I didn't even take before pictures. These are from our walk through, and I don't even have a picture of the stove side, sadly.
The kitchen is an important room in any home, but especially for us. We spend a lot of time cooking and creating there and I wanted it to be a place that was beautiful and where I *enjoyed* spending time. This wasn't it.
Immediately, we painted the cabinets before even moving in. My friend Natalie stayed with me and put about 12 hours into them! Three coats of Valspar reserve (which I maintain is THE BEST paint ever) and they were bright white and gorgeous. We also updated the hardware.
I saw this as a temporary fix originally and we didn't sand or prime because I figured if it didn't work I would replace them and it wasn't worth sinking a ton of time into. They turned out beautifully in spite of that and what was originally a temporary fix made me decide to do a budget DIY kitchen instead.
So let's get started!
The kitchen isn't 100% done, but it could be another year or so before all the details are in order, so we will just update then. The lions share is ready! I also want to mention that the entire project cost less than $600. That's including paint, counter tops and all furniture.
A big part of the problem was the lack of cohesion. There were giant expanses of space next to sparse cabinetry that needed to be filled in AND put to use. The lack of cabinets meant a lack of storage and  we don't like a bunch of junk on our counters. For the first open area, I painted an old IKEA wire shelf in a bright metallic silver and used it for bigger appliances that we use often and some pretty decor from our old kitchen.

Another problem area was filled in by creating a breakfast nook. A little table and a couple of chairs provide easy in-kitchen eating and wonderful Saturday morning respites. We use this area to eat about 5 times as often as our actual dining room table. It was a fantastic addition, and worth all the square footage. A friend of mine found that awesome movie poster for me and it really helps keep the kitchen from looking too country- something I was really scared would happen when we choose butcher block counters.
The last large expanse was filled with a kitchen cart. This actually can be rolled out and used as an island, but spends most of it's time against the wall here. More food prep area and storage is always welcomed! We really use our kitchen, making three full meals per day during the weekend and dinner every night. So that space is used!
 This door was a MAJOR eyesore in the now increasingly bright kitchen. A couple coats of paint knocked the brown out.
I also painted the knobs using my standby Rust-Oleum ultra cover. New black knobs were $30 at the store... um, no thanks. This $3.99 can has lasted me forever and made appearances in so many other posts! (like my CHANDELIER and SCONCES). The knobs have held up really well.
Next we installed new counter tops on the old (painted) cabinets. This was a huge project and my cousin came in and did it for us in about a day. I used butcher block from IKEA and thought it was a pretty big mistake. It chips/dents easily and when it was being cut, there was a defect in it that caused the saw to jump and split a massive section. Thankfully my cousin was once a custom cabinet builder and was able to save the counter top by using that ruined portion where the sink is and transplanting a piece of counter from another section to cover the rest. Thanks, Gabe :) If we had a do-over, I would invest in more expensive counters, but generally we have great experiences with IKEA and I didn't think this would be any different. I should also mention that we reached out to several people at the company and only *one* was helpful. Most of them brushed us off. Again- we usually have great customer service experiences but this time it was lacking.
When we took the old counters off, I hadn't realized what a mess they would leave on the wall behind their lipped back splash. Isn't that nasty? So I had to cover it with tile- because we were having a BRIDAL SHOWER at our home that weekend!
But I'd never tiled before...
 It ended up being really easy! The wonderfully helpful associate at Home Depot recommended a product called SimpleMat that sticks on to the wall, and then tile goes directly on to it. I was unconvinced that it would be strong enough to hold the tile up, but it really is. It made the entire project a lot easier and quicker.
 I also bought a tile cutter for about $20 that was very easy to use. Still, that was the hardest part of the project and you'll need to plan on breaking/ruining at least a few tiles when you're purchasing supplies.
Once your tile is up, just grout and let it dry for a few hours.
After that you'll need to remove your haze, caulk the edge and then you're done! I tiled the kitchen in less than a day. Maybe 6 hours? I haven't found the bull nose that's perfect yet, and I want to add some more above the stove- so technically it isn't finished. I'll update when it is.
A few other notes: I updated many of the light switch covers using some from my grandparents' house. I always think that makes a big difference. There is still a lot I want to do- more tile work, a spice ledge above the stove, new floors, more artwork and a new ceiling fan-- but that's how homes are! Is it every really finished?
I wouldn't call this my dream kitchen, but for $600 it has been greatly improved and I enjoy hanging out in the space. I also think it helped our resale value and has made the home more appealing in general.
We seem to be working on the rooms in a round robin, so I have no idea which one will be ready next. If you have any great kitchen DIY tips to share, feel free to add them in the comments below!
All the best, and as always, thanks for reading.


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