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My $300 kitchen makeover.

Someone once told me that a big part of home remodeling is all about either the Kitchen or the Bathroom. While there are of course other aspects to a  makeover, this seemed largely true to me. At every family gathering, party, and relaxed night in, you’ll see these rooms every day. People naturally congregate in the areas so it makes sense to make sure they say what you want, and create the environment you desire. With this in mind I set out to do a super cheap kitchen makeover.

Here’s what my kitchen looked like before making many of these changes. It still has a lot that needs to be done but for the cost, the transformation has been significant so far:

Here’s how it looks now, but it’s still in progress. Ok, maybe the two-tone green is not your favorite theme for a kitchen makeover project, but you could just as easily pick a color that goes with your theme.

This doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg though. It does require your patience, focus, and dedication to seeing a job through. The good news is that, the worse your kitchen looks now; the cheaper it will be to remodel and see a dramatic difference. No, you won’t be able to go to a re-modeler, drop a pile of cash in front of them from your money printing machine and have it all installed next week Count of Monte Cristo style.. No, patience and a little more time, is going to be the price you pay for, well, not paying as much. Below are 5 ways to add a touch of modern flare without breaking the bank:

1) Peel and stick back splash.

It’s pretty much just what it sounds like, you just peel the tag off the back and stick it to the wall. Instantly you can have some cosmopolitan pizazz in your kitchen if that’s your thing.

2)     Paint cabinet doors or replace with used ones.

If you’re ok with not having the wood grain look of your cabinets anymore, you can simply, clean them, primer them, and spray paint them virtually any modern or classic color you can think of. If you really hate the construction of them soo much that this isn’t an option, get the measurements of your cabinet doors, and look at a used building supply store, craigslist, or offer up for some suitable replacements. It may take some time but again, that why you’ll save so much. I’ve done it 3 times in the last year. Well actually my friend was remodeling his kitchen and I offered to take his old doors.

3)     Upgrade your sink and faucet.

Get clear about what the biggest eye sores are in your kitchen. For me, one of the really dated and ugly items was the kitchen faucet that looked like it came out of a penitentiary. I literally found a new rubbed oil replacement faucet at a thrift store for $15. I swapped it out in about an hour and have never looked back.

4)     Butcher block or wood countertops.

So often you hear people talk about how they must have granite because they want that modern look but really can’t afford it. This is classic keeping up with the Joneses. Paying $5000 or more for countertops when you really shouldn’t financially, is crazy to me. That’s why I went with plain old fashion wood for my counters. Does it look as good as granite? Nope. Did I spend 3-6 months of my disposable income, ensuring a feedback loop of financial problems for the foreseeable future, by updating them? Also, nope. Cost me about $125 and I think I can live with them for a while at least.

5)     Upgrade old appliance with modern craigslist versions.

I’ve bought $650 dishwashers (I looked it up) for $40, $1300 refrigerators for $200, and $600 stoves for 66% off (That’s $200. I just thought it would be cooler if I said 66% off.). If you’ve never installed a dishwasher, it’s not hard at all. Takes well under an hour if you have basic mechanical aptitude. If not, there’s no shame in admitting it. Either you can start developing that skillset today or find an agreeable friend to be your accomplice for that aspect of your kitchen makeover.

6)     Add in a rolling island or counter top.

One of the problem in my small kitchen was counter space. There simply wasn’t very much of it. A friend bought one of these rolling islands on amazon for my birthday and it was great for helping me leverage some more space for mobile food prep and storage while I made some more permanent upgrades.

7)     Put in a window sill ledge.

You can make one yourself if you have sandpaper, a saw, stain and a router (borrow one). Or you can just buy one on Amazon for pretty cheap. I made mine out of a pine 1×6 at home depot and finished it a color I don’t really care fore. Still, it adds a lot of declutter power to my kitchen sink area.

8)     Add in a wine rack and glass display.

I don’t know why, maybe it’s my Italian heritage, or maybe it’s just good marketing but wine racks, bottles, and glasses seem to add quite a lot of mileage and charm.

9)    Replace solid doors with glass to showcase your nicer dishes. 

Not only does the shininess of the glass add and element of sparkle and cleanliness to a kitchen makeover, it also give a bit of a showcase effect for your dishes and glasses. On the downside, if you’re like me you may need to put some of your uglier dishes in a non-transparent cabinet.

10) Organize and make good use of your space.

This simply means de-clutterring the area. Do you have appliances on the counter you could put in storage? Do you have decorations that you could place elsewhere? On shelf perhaps? A de-cluttered kitchen has 50% more charm than one that’s scattered with things.

I hope you can find one of these 10 tips to implement this weekend to squeeze a little more charm out of your kitchen makeover project on the cheap.


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  1. Great list! When I redid my kitchen I did spend up (but searched for the best deal!) for the granite countertops. The cabinets are the same. When I took off the old countertop I had some water dmg, so spent a weekend removing and cutting new replacement pieces. Also, shoring up the cabinets for the extra weight of the granite.

    Then I painted the cabinets with “General Finishes Java Gel Stain.” And swapped out the hinges and added pulls. Still, like you, it is a work in progress. Have backsplash and some bits here and there to finish up – but it works as is.

    • Changing out the pulls and hinges makes a big difference all by itself. I can usually find some for cheap that still look decent at one of the used building supply stores in my area. I like the gel stain look. Are you happy with how it turned out on your cabinets? I haven’t had a chance to try it myself yet.

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