Our kitchen went from dated to dazzling in just one weekend and it only cost $10! We gave our home a mini kitchen makeover for a more modern look. These simple switches can make a huge difference in any kitchen, no cabinet painting or refinishing necessary.
Our new-to-us home needs some updating in the style department, especially the kitchen. It was stuck in the 90’s with golden oak cabinets and pink toned paint.
The kitchen has good bones and plenty of space for our family of 4 (it’s 16 feet x 13 feet with an attached 6 foot x 5 foot pantry) but it definitely needs some help in the style department.
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When we bought the house the kitchen looked like this:
We’re planning a full remodel that involves moving the pantry wall and enlarging the too small kitchen window. But we’re committed to living with the slightly awkward floor plan and existing cabinets for at least a year.
(After living in 9 houses I know that it takes me awhile to figure out what works and what doesn’t. So I didn’t want to jump into a remodel.)
Sometimes it’s no fun being a responsible adult.
The $0 Makeover
We’d been living with the untouched kitchen for 5 months when the refrigerator began freezing every fruit and vegetable it encountered and the over-the-stove microwave died.
We knew a few changes were necessary (hello, new fridge!) but after measuring and researching and comparing appliances I was 100% percent ready for an entirely new kitchen…
So I decide that we should attempt a mini kitchen makeover. I hoped that a few aesthetic switches would make the room feel more updated and delay the costly kitchen remodel. (I call it a “mini kitchen makeover” because I did not want to take on a giant project like painting cabinets or re-tiling the backsplash.)
My budget goal… $0.
My husband was not at all optimistic but eventually gave into my pleas and helped me devise a plan that (we hoped) would open up the kitchen.
The Mini Kitchen Makeover Plan
Before staring the makeover we took tons of measurements, spent hours drooling over kitchens online, and brainstormed creative ways to reuse the existing cabinets.
Our final plan:
- Removed the dead microwave and the upper cabinet that held it.
- Removed the corner spinner cabinet (It took up lots of wall space but only had flimsy plastic shelves inside that didn’t provide much storage.)
- Remove the upper cabinets on either side of the sink to allow more light into the kitchen.
- Move the upper cabinets onto the wall above the stove (this added more storage and filled in the gap left by the dead microwave).
- Remove the large overhead box light fixture and use the wood to make open shelves that would match the existing cabinets.
I’m pretty sure our friends and family thought we were crazy! But I was determined to make the changes for a few reasons.
- Right now in kitchen design, it’s popular to remove upper cabinets and replace them with open shelving. However, I wanted to try out the open shelf fad before committing in a significant way financially.
- The current cabinets are standard builder grade and are in rough shape. I wasn’t afraid of damaging the cabinets further or ruining them.
- Painting or refinishing cabinets takes a serious time commitment; this mini makeover took about 8 hours total and cost us almost nothing!
The Kitchen Remodel
We completed the kitchen remodel in two days. It took about 8 hours of work total. Here’s the work in 4 steps:
- Upper cabinets and the box light fixture removed.
- When all the upper cabinets were removed we prepared them for rehanging (we cleaned all upper cabinets and removed the microwave cabinet from other upper cabinets using a handheld jig saw, it was built as one huge cabinet).
- Hung the upper cabinets (that used to hang to the right of the window) over the stove (we used the wood from the old microwave cabinet to build shelves that filled the gap). And re-hung the over the fridge cabinet section (minus the microwave cabinet). Painted the kitchen walls (they were completely unfinished under the cabinets) with leftover paint from our dining room/living room (Color >> Soft Pelican, Valspar)
- Took apart the light box and used the wood to build two long open shelves.
Mini Kitchen Remodel Costs
The entire kitchen face lift cost about $10. (Not counting the cost of the new appliances which we needed to buy anyway.)
We used tools we already owned:
- Cordless Drill (removing and installing cabinets and shelves)
- Jig Saw (cutting apart cabinets)
- Table Saw (trimming open shelf edges)
- Rubber Mallot (removing trim and taking apart light box)
The finishing nails for reattaching the trim came from our tools box, we reused the cabinet mounting screws, and the paint was leftover from painting our living room.
We purchased one quart of fast dying polyurethane to coat the cut edges of the open shelves.
Mini Makeover Results
I love the updated kitchen! Removing the upper cabinets along one wall opened the room up significantly.
We added just two open shelves. They allow me to display some of my blue and white dish collection but still seem airy.
- To decorate the open shelves I kept the color palette simple just blue, white and clear glass.
- I’ll continue to play around with the shelf décor to create a balanced composition.
- The blue helps to balance out the gold color of the cabinets.
Also worth noting: I love the look of the framed print. I’ve never hung much art in the kitchen but I’ll be looking for more places to incorporate prints (You can also see our new dishwasher in this photo, it’s so quiet I keep checking to see if it is running!)
Our new fridge is counter top depth. It give us 6 more inches of walking space and I love the extra drawer!
Here’s one final shot of the kitchen today –>
Coming Soon… More Changes!
My husband and I were both blown away by the results of our mini kitchen makeover. We keep saying “I can’t believe how much better this kitchen looks,” and we’re itching to do more. Next we want to:
- Replace the florescent lights that were once hidden by the ginormous light box.
- Remove the discolored textured ceiling.
- Replace the 13 year old electric stove with a gas range. (We’ll be moving the lower cabinets to center the stove on the wall and make room for a new gas line.)
What other mini changes would you suggest? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment!
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