Asked on Jun 28, 2013

Help My Friend Update Her 80s Kitchen on the Cheap!

Doreen S
by Doreen S
My friend is dying to upgrade her kitchen to a more sophisticated look, but doesn't want to spend a ton of money. We have some ideas, but I always say 'the more the merrier', so please chime in and let us know your suggestions.
help my friend update her 80s kitchen on the cheap, home decor, kitchen design
  20 answers
  • Kimberly Barney Kimberly Barney on Jun 29, 2013
    The light blue wall gives it a country feel. Paint is an expensive fix. I would go with a gray paint with tan overtones similar to the colors in the art piece in the adjoining room. To further take the country out of the kitchen, I would cut the backs off the bar stools, paint them, remove the tied cushions and replace them with upholstered tops. I would also make covers for the kitchen chairs. The covers should be straight lined in shape and extend the entire length of the chair. She may be able to pick up chairs for the table that are less country for a bargain price. A backsplash would go a long way towards giving the kitchen a different style as well.

  • Dawn Lam Dawn Lam on Jun 29, 2013
    I think that she would be able to pull some of the colour out of the floor tiles, and the picture. If she would like to paint the cabinets, use a sprayer, take the doors off first. If this is not something she is ready to do, she could sand and stain. Or, can get new doors, and some new veneer to cover the cabinets.. she can get advice from people at the home stores. The counters can be covered with a place over granite, so she doesnt have to take the counters off. Painting the stools can be painted with a favorite colour, or posting them on Craigs list could be another avenue for here to use. Some of the cabinets doors can have the center details cut out and insert glass, they have so many choices with glass types and colours. Paint is the fastest and inexpensive way to redo a room, along with new hardware.. Have her check out some ideas on utube, good tutorials and people to help. Good luck, and have fun with your creative side.

  • Tracy Bromage Tracy Bromage on Jun 30, 2013
    If the cabinets are wood and not veneer I would go dark stain/paint. Dark against the silver appliances will look gorgeous and you have tonnes of light so wont appear dark room at all. Then a thin subway tile on the back splash in a silvery grey or white.The chairs and counter top are nice in that colour but if your budget extends to a new light fixture try a three pendant type Add some colour with accessories, look in thrift shops or clearance areas in Home style stores. ( I personally like flea market finds) this is not my blog but has my idea`s I spoke of. Good luck .

  • Maureen O'Donovan Maureen O'Donovan on Jun 30, 2013
    You can check out one of my posts to see what I did with my kitchen, but here is another idea I think I will use the next time I do this type of project:

  • Carolyn Staat Carolyn Staat on Jun 30, 2013
    Paint and more paint. You can paint the cabinets, as well as the counter tops. There are now great products out there that can make them look so nice. That is what I did and it looked great.

  • Nancy Hatcher Nancy Hatcher on Jun 30, 2013
    I like the lightness of the cabinets. You could find some smaller tiles at the ReStore or check Lowes (or other lumber/hardware store) close outs to put on the wall behind your stove. You could get really creative and buy different colors and/or textures and create a really pretty design. You could also put tiles around your island just under the top rim.

  • Tracy Bromage Tracy Bromage on Jun 30, 2013
    @Maureen O'Donovan I just looked at your blog and your kitchen is beautiful and looks modern yet still country vibe. Love it.

  • Tegma Tegma on Jun 30, 2013
    Since the cabinets are light, she could choose to paint them, or use gel stain in whatever color she desires. I think I would knock out the wall island, and make it into a regular kitchen island, more updated. I'd also bring the cabinets up to the ceiling for a more finished look, perhaps with storage there. I'd change the light over the island for a school house type, put up a backsplash, paint the stools a bright color, and get rid of the cushions. Her appliances are great so she's lucky there! If she can't afford a new floor, perhaps she might use a floor paint there. That floor is the only part of her kitchen which is limiting her colors. Get rid of it, somehow!

  • Maureen O'Donovan Maureen O'Donovan on Jun 30, 2013
    Tracy, I think the kitchen you're talking about isn't the one I did. My kitchen cabinets that I painted aren't county, I just don't want to take credit for doing something I didn't do. My painted cabinets can be found within my posts. I think you're referring to the link I posted that someone else did that I had admired and saved for future reference. :)

  • Hamtil Construction LLC Hamtil Construction LLC on Jun 30, 2013
    New trim can make a huge difference. If planning to paint the cabinets, I suggest adding panel molding and furniture baseboard on the island. Could also do a more dramatic or larger crown molding on the wall cabinets as well. If it were my own kitchen, I would likely replace the arch top paneled doors on the wall cabinets with a square raised panel to match the base cabinets. WW Wood Products in Missouri is a great source for unfinished doors. If new countertops are desired, but granite is out of the range, check out Wilsonart HD laminate or Formica 180FX. They look great.

  • AmericanWoman AmericanWoman on Jun 30, 2013
    Paint those cabinets. I would try it with the trim painted white first. :)

  • Z Z on Jun 30, 2013
    First off what a pretty kitchen! I know one can get tired of even pretty things though. In my opinion the only inexpensive way to un-countrify it without replacing the dining set and bar stools and change the upper cabinet doors as Hamtil suggested would be to stain the cabinets and furniture a dark color or if you have to paint than do so with a dark color. With the current cabinet design and furniture anything light in color would still look country to me.

  • Jill Jill on Jul 01, 2013
    First off, paint ain't cheap people. So if you want cheap, save the paint where you absolutely need it and leave the cabinets, like the walls and ceiling. Do the ceiling in white, it will make the kitchen look bigger. Clean the cabinets and take off the sheen with something. Paint the counter tops if they're lamanent. They have a lot of nice paint colors for just that, that make them look like granite. Then add a cheap backsplash, something like those fake tin metallic type plastic tiles. They come in metal colors that have a rich look, can be glued to the walls and painted if you want. Buy new hardware. As for your furniture, paint it all in one color, like black or white, then cover what needs in new upholstery. Do something about that nasty rangehood, like stainless steel paint. Lastly, think about updating your lighting. You can do it just by changing the glass, or maybe painting the light. As for me I would go with a green olive paint color, white ceiling, bronzed plastic metallic tile backsplash, tan speckled granite like counter tops, and paint the furniture black and upholster with a matching multi-color.

  • Nurseshelley Nurseshelley on Jul 02, 2013
    Pretty kitchen but, yeh, for sure, I'd get rid of all the blue/gray. Just starting there would go along way, I think. Countertops and backs of chairs black maybe, then go from there. Would b good if the top cabinets were squared off by just getting new doors. Have glass put into 1 or 2 of them.:)

  • Sharon Powless Sharon Powless on Aug 26, 2015
    I read the blog and read some of the posts that are here. So I know your friend just painted her kitchen that country blue color. So,e of the posters suggested painting the cabinets. I don't. Our cabinets are painted. They used to be dark brown and are now painted white. But every cabinet has nicks where dark brown peek through. They never look totally clean. You never realize how many chips you can get in paint until you have a painted area that is used often. I would suggest a back splash of white subway tiles. They would give light to an area that can be in shadow and give protection to a painted wall from cooking grease and splashes. If she can find someone to replace the cabinet doors and go with a smooth door instead of grooved out designs that might update her kitchen too. Simple things like changing out the lights for more updates fixtures and putting her platters away and changing out her curtain will make a big difference too. I really like the way her floor looks, so unless she wants to change that, I would leave it. I also like her table but it is definitely a country looker. Even changing it for an oblong one would make a difference. I know some people like their high square tables but they are hard on backs, so I don't suggest them. Also, cleaning off her counters would give them a better look too. Just stuff she uses every day, like a coffee or tea pot would be okay. But less is more.

  • Denise Denise on Sep 16, 2015
    Before you start relacing things as suggested, go to your local ReStore and see what they have available, and that might become your jumping off point. They always have good stuff, very reasonable. Definitely new hardware. If you cant afford new dining room furniture, coarsely sand it to get rid of the oak, then paint or stain. If chairs have metal legs, those can be spray painted, but remove them first.

  • Carol Carol on Sep 21, 2015
    Look up kitchen redo's and make notes on what you like. price everything out before you start. Decide what will give you the most up dated look for the least bucks. Maybe a shiny sealed tin ceiling tile for the backsplash. A good woodworker might be able to rout out the arches on the top cabinet doors. Maybe just painting the walls and soffit a different color ar changing the seat cushions to a red print. By doing your homework before you start you can make a 5year plan and change one or two things a year. Try different finishes for the backsplash and range hood. Maybe a faux antique metallic finish on the hood to match the light. Also check with kitchen stores to see if they are selling the floor designers or left over counter tops. My daughter once bought a bathroom cabinet cheap because it was missing the doors. There was a store in her town that sold over run building supplies. One time when we were in there that had gotten in a bunch of cabinet doors. We took the front panel just below the sink top off and rushed back with the measurements and went through their entire stock for the best match. I think we spent less than $20.00 for the doors and hinges and they matched her $30.00 cabinet perfectly. So shopping around also helps.

  • Comet Comet on Sep 21, 2015
    I would LOVE this kitchen! But the repeat on the cabinet fronts--not so much. If it were mine I would go see what decorative MOLDINGS and CARVINGS there were out there--you can find these at many places inc craft stores and on line--and dry brush them with a different color than the walls etc--a complimentary or contrast color--and adhere them to the cabinets. I am thinking something along the line of a Fleur De Lis--to complement that arch top shape. You might not even want to do every one--just a pair might work to break up that "Same-same" line. The top of the cabinets are at an odd height with the deep recess--I would do something to pull forward whatever is displayed up there and maybe see if there was something you could add to fill some of that in--plasterboard or even painted foam board if you don't want something there forever. This would eliminate the "cave like" feeling up there. And that range hood--looks like a vast blob of--stainless (I hate stainless so maybe this is not for every one!) If there was a way to encase that in even a different metal--think a warm copper look--those faux copper panels would be great here! Even Micheals sells those panels and they are easy to work with and look good and do hold up. There area number of good examples of this on Pinterest and Houzz. The kitchen is pretty but looks cold with all those greys and silvers--think warmer to take the chill off! My son re-did his straight edge cabinets with base board molding! They edged it in that and caulked to hide the seams and painted and it looks GREAT--a very custom look. And cheap! There are a lot of ways to update without huge expense.

  • Sharon Powless Sharon Powless on Sep 22, 2015
    They just painted. The blog told you this!

  • Wendy Lee Hartung Wendy Lee Hartung on Nov 12, 2015
    Hi there, just going to throw out some ideas. 1.Light Fixture: To save money I would take it down and paint it more of a bronze/brown. Remove the dated glass shades, go for a clear shade then place an Edison type bulb in it. 2.I would take down everything from cabinet tops and remove the trim pieces from the cabinets. That leaves clean lines at top of cabinet. I would then place a wood paneling horizontally above cabinets-they sell this at Menards where I live. Or if you have access to pallet wood that could be used. I would tie that wood in, by placing it on the back and sides of the island as well (depending on counter top overhang.) For the cabinet side I would paint to match the color of the paneling. 3. Cabinets-My husband and I used Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations on our ugly oak kitchen...Amazing! Check out their website it gives tons of information. For the cabinet color I would not go super dark. That would shrink the kitchen. I think an earthy taupe/brown(cool tone, not warm) would pop with the blue and look much more updated. The hardware could be spray painted the same bronze/brown as the light fixture. I guess I have in my mind a more industrial country in the kitchen. Along those lines I would invest in different stools. I'd go for the metal base that has the adjustable height wood seat that can be altered by spinning the seat. Target even carries these. For the back splash someone mentioned tin. I like that idea for behind the range. I'd consider the paneling/pallet wood in the other areas. Just giving you some different ideas! Have fun!