Before & After: $387 Budget Kitchen Update

14 Materials
12 Hours

Our kitchen was one of the only rooms in our house that we didn't do a thing to since we moved in a year and a half ago. Ironically, it was the room that we wanted to change the most, but we kept shying away because we assumed we would have to spend a lot of money to do anything worthwhile. Well, we finally took the plunge and decided to do what we could on a $400 budget. Here's what happened!
Here's a larger photo of what we started with. I mean, what wouldn't we love about brown ’90s cabinets, white walls, and lovely laminate floors (our favorite)?​
Our first target was the cabinets. Since the home was a rental for 10+ years, the cabinet choice of the prior landlord was obvious: bottom of the barrel cabinets that would withstand the wear of renters. We chose to paint them white because we wanted to brighten up the room, and give them a higher end look. It is a small kitchen, after all. . We bought the following supplies for our project: . 1 Gallon of Valspar Ultra White – $23 2 Foam Rollers (2″ and 6″) & Paint Trays – $10 2 Cans of white, oil-based primer – $12 Chrome knobs for upper cabinets (1 pack of 10 for $15 + 3 individuals)- $24 Chrome handles for base cabinets (1 pack of 10 on clearance for $30 + 2 individuals) – $42 Paint brush – $2 Tarp (had it) Drill/screwdriver(s) for removing cabinet doors (had it) . All in all, we spent $113 on the cabinets. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
We removed all of the cabinet doors, washed them, and primed them with Kilz (spray) before painting. We went back and forth about whether or not to sand, but read enough articles that convinced us it wasn't necessary. So we went to town.
We gave the cabinets several coats of paint (at least 4) to get rid of the brush marks from the rollers. After painting and letting the cabinet doors and drawers dry, we reattached them to the bases. We chose to do all of the base cabinets first, then the upper cabinets, so we could manage our available floor space and not feel overwhelmed!
Some progress, right? . Then we started attaching the new hardware we bought. HUGE difference already!
About half way through our painting project, we stopped into a discount tile store in town. Just to look. Kind of. They happened to be having a clearance event, and we found the perfect marble mosaic tile for a half off ($5.99/sq ft)! So, we caved and got it for a backsplash.
For our little kitchen, we needed the following supplies to get the job done: . 36 sq. ft. of marble mosaic tile – $204.50 Tile adhesive – $13 1/4″ trowel to spread adhesive – $3 1/2 gallon of white premixed grout – $17 Grout sponge with haze remover – $2.50 9×4 rubber grout float – $4 . The total came to $244.
More progress! It took us a few days to get everything done, but we are so so happy with the way it turned out. . The last thing we did was spend $30 to replace the almond colored switch plates with stainless steel switch plates. It was a small touch, but something we notice everyday. . Here's what the looks like now.
Here's a few more. Our stove area before...
... and after!
Our sink area before...
... and after!
In the future, when the time and budget allow for it, we'll finish off this kitchen by updating the counters with something that will contrast the white cabinets and backsplash. Maybe DIY cement? Maybe paint? Maybe replace them altogether? Anything is possible :) We'll also replace the floor with new tiles. . Check out our blog for more details on what we have in mind, as well as more (better) photos, instructions, and details on how we did our cabinets and backsplash. . Even if you aren't a white cabinets person, or a marble backsplash person, switch it up! Do what makes your heart happy. Everybody has different taste. This post is meant to show you that you can make a really big impact on a room, even a scary kitchen, on a really tiny budget.
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 22 questions
  • Khicks4330
    on Jan 15, 2019

    The inner panel of my daughters cabinets appear to be a cardboard with a wood laminate (like contact paper). Can we prime and paint these?

    • Mary
      on Mar 19, 2019

      I have used contact paper to cover an ugly panel in a door of a cabinet, then painted it with the rest of the cabinet. It worked great, and lasted longer than the cabinet. Make sure it has a smooth finish to it.

  • Margot Margie Nefzger
    on Feb 2, 2019

    Have you noticed if the paint scratchs if you bump it with something? Did you put any clear coat on the top to prevent scratches?

    I think it looks beautiful!

    • Miriam Eisner
      on Mar 27, 2019

      After 7 years of wear and tear I had very few scratches. I kept a small paint brush and sample sized can of paint for the cabinets with the kitchen cleaning supplies, just in case I saw a scratch but even with a toddler (now 8) being rough on everything, they definitely lasted.

  • Linda
    on Mar 11, 2019

    My cabi n et doors are pressed wood can I still paint easily

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