Complete Kitchen Renovation on a Tiny Budget

10 Days

Here is our lake cabin kitchen, which is almost 40 years old. The cabin sustained water damage throughout, which prompted the renovation. One thing led to another....
We started this project by removing all the old musty carpet throughout. Then we completely gutted the kitchen area, being careful to save all the cabinetry, because we planned to reuse/repurpose all that was possible for the new cabinets.
Then we painted and added laminant flooring. I had to do a lot of patch work on the rough walls. We opted to just try and fill in the cracks because we were going for the industrial farmhouse look. We also replaced all of the outlets and rewired to accomodate the lighting for the shelves and pendant lights over the island.

The ceiling of the entire cabin was styrofoam tiles, that are not available anymore. This was a tricky task because the original overhead light was a diasaster and we wanted to add the pendant lights over the was several hours of very gently removing and rearranging those tiles so we wouldn't have to replace the entire ceiling.
Now for the countertops. We opted for concrete countertops because the price was right. We had never done this before, so we did our research online and made a few mistakes but in the end it worked out...Above you can see the mold we built with 2x4's for support on the bottom, melamine boards 1.5 inches deep to make the mold on the top and plastic at the bottom(which is actually the top). The white square in the middle is the opening for the stove top. As we filled the mold with concrete, we addded some wire and rebar for support. Unfortunately, when we tried to move this particular portion(after it completely dried), it cracked and had to be repaired once installed, which wasn't that big of a deal. It did add some additional time.
The countertops weren't that hard, but it was pretty physically demanding. We opted to do them outside because of the concrete sink. I looked into purchasing a farmhouse sink, but that would have taken up almost half of the overall reno budget - so we made one.
Here is the island, all of these sections had to be sanded then I added a feather light concrete layer (very thin), to fill in any holes, then I sanded again.
Here's a look at the sink (from the bottom).
And the sink from the top. We used a PVC pipe in the correct size as the drain cover hole and one in a smaller size for the facet opening.
Because the sink had curved corners, I couldn't use a trowel to add the feather light layer, but had to use my hands. Then I had to sand by hand.
While the concrete was curring, about 48 hours but because we were working on this on weekends only, it had a full week to dry. Because of the weight of the countertops and sink, we had to build the cabinets with enough support to handle them. Here you can see our base, using 2x4's.
The fo.llowing weekend, I added hypoxy over all the concrete surfaces. It dries fast, like 20 mins so I was able to do three coats
In this picture, you can see everything starting to come together. We added the industrial shelving, which is budget friendly and easy to install. We ended up spending around $100 for the wood and the galvanized steel pipes. We found the two pendant lamps at Lowe's discounted because one had been a display unit (total cost $50 for the pair). We added the corrugated steel to the outside of the bar, where the white surface of the cabinets aren't practical because of shoe marks. I replaced all the appliances with second hand versions in white. We have a thriving online garage sale in our local facebook community.
Here is the area we had to path because it cracked when we moved it - I don't think anyone could tell it was patched. Then it was time for the subway tiles and the one item we purchase brand new, the range hood. I like that it ties in the corrugated steel from the island. We ordered it off of Amazon for $170. The subway tiles were around $60 for the tile, grout and adhesive. We had the tile cutter from the bathroom sink project.
The longest process of the project was then trying to customize the old cabinets and drawers into the new design. This was a hairpulling/teeth grinding exercise in patience ! My husband persevered and finished, then I got to painting the white and spray painted the original knobs a darker color to coincide with the galvanized pipe from the shelves. I had several antique pulls for the drawers that add a nice touch. I was admant that I did not want the microwave on my beautiful new countertops or shelves, so we build a shelf between the drawers to accomodate. It is a little low but I love that it is out of the way.
The finished dream kitchen!

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Flawless Chaos

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 16 questions
  • Cindy Wilcox
    on May 6, 2019

    Out of curiosity. After 2 years living with the results (beautiful, by the way), have regretted not taking the tile up to the vent hood over the stove? It seems like it would be harder to clean cooking spatters from the painted wall.

    • Flawless Chaos
      on May 6, 2019

      Hi Cindy, I hadn't really thought of that, but I think it would look great but so far we haven't had any problem keeping the wall above the backsplash clean. Where this is a small cabin and not a main house, I'm not sure I would spend the extra time/money to do more backsplash but defintely would for my regular home.

  • Corrine Christine Serpa
    on May 26, 2019

    how has the concrete held up I did the same thing but it is cracking everywhere in less than a month

    • Flawless Chaos
      on May 28, 2019

      Hi Corrine, our countertops have held up really well outside of a few scratches but it doesn't look bad considering we have the rustic looking edges. Did you use and rebar or metal supports when you poured the cement? And did you make the counters thick enough? Ours are 1.5 inches thick.

  • Chris Wright Nowak
    on Jun 18, 2019

    I don't see any cupboards, are they now in the island?

Join the conversation

3 of 142 comments
  • Betty Jane Flagstad
    on Jul 23, 2019

    Wow what a beautiful make over! One of the best I've seen!

  • E L
    on Jul 27, 2019

    I'm very interested in the concrete sink... How was it initially formed? And is it holding up as well as the countertops?

    • Flawless Chaos
      on Aug 22, 2019

      Sorry for the late response. We formed the sink by building a mold and using pvc pipes for the drain and facet hole. It's holding up great.

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