Updating Your Kitchen on a Budget

I’m straying a little from my usual posts because I am so excited that my kitchen is officially done! The majority of the remodel/update happened back in June, but since then I had been looking for some finishing touches and finally found them! (vintage window found at local decor shop, wooden hangings and wreath from Hobby Lobby, inspiration from Joanna Gaines :)) 2017-11-08_11-42-58_783

I know I have a tendency to be wordy in my posts, so this time, I’m going to try and keep it simple. Our house was built in 1996 and the kitchen clearly hadn’t been touched since then. Hello hunter green laminate countertops, brass hardware, and bright oak cabinetry. Of all the rooms in our house, the kitchen was the room I liked the least and probably spend a large portion of my time in. After living with the 90s vibe for two years, it was time for a much-needed facelift! So without further ado, here are my steps and tips to updating a kitchen on a budget:


  1. Have a handy Dad ;).  Seriously though, this project would not have gotten done if it weren’t for my Dad’s help. If you don’t have anyone within your network of family and friends who is handy, you might need to either hire out for parts of this project or roll your sleeves up and be willing to take a risk on doing something new.
  2. Measure your spaces and create a budget. Have an overall idea of spaces you will be covering or redoing so that you can better budget and not blow all of your budget on one specific thing. Also going into a project like this with an overall spending cap is helpful. There is always more that you can do, and if you don’t have a limit in mind, it will be very easy to go above and beyond. There were also specific things that we decided were not mandatory since we likely won’t be in this home forever. For example, we decided on keeping our current kitchen appliances since they were all functioning properly. As good as stainless steel appliances would look in here, there had to be a limit set.
  3. Research!  Compare quotes. Look both online and in stores for materials. I started out pinning kitchen inspiration that I found on Pinterest, such as backsplash patterns, color combinations I liked, etc. I then moved on to researching local granite countertop places for the installation and granite itself. I ended up having about 3 different companies come to my house to measure and give me an estimate on the cost of materials and labor.  I also went to a couple of places once I had the exact measurements and a better idea of the grade and edge of granite I wanted so they could give me an estimate as well. For the most part, most of the estimates I was given were fairly comparable, give or take a few hundred dollars. Since I had multiple estimates though, I was able to go back to the place I thought was the most professional, knowledgeable, etc. and negotiate the price down to a something my husband and I thought was reasonable. Other than that, I found the cabinet hardware online (much more selection online and can often buy in bulk for a reduced rate) and the backsplash and paint colors I found at either Lowes or Home Depot.
  4. Prep takes the longest but it’s worthwhile in the end. We used A LOT of blue painter’s tape and also Frog Tape (supposed to work even better) on the edges that came in contact with the walls. I also taped down brown kraft paper on the floor and on our brand new countertops to avoid paint dripping on them (we had the new countertops, sink, and faucet installed first since that was the only portion of the project that we were farming out). Drop cloths could also work, and we used them at times in addition to the brown paper, but I find that drop cloths move a little too easily and we also still needed to use our kitchen on a daily basis. 
  5. The next step after prepping…is more prepping! I used this blog to help with prepping the cabinets for priming and painting without the messy and arduous task of sanding them. First, we scrubbed them down with this cleaner. This helped to remove all of the years of gunk that had built up on them. Next, I used this liquid sander deglosser to remove the finishing. This is the key step in avoiding having to sand your cabinets. At first, it didn’t look like it was taking anything off or doing anything, but once it dried, you could feel the difference between the ones that had been deglossed and the ones that hadn’t. The cleaning and deglossing were both pretty stinky jobs. I suggest opening up the windows, and turning on a fan to allow for some circulation. Wearing rubber gloves was also helpful. 
  6. After cleaning and deglossing, the cabinet doors can be taken down. Before you do this though, I suggest mapping out and labeling your cabinet doors and drawers. I created a diagram and key like this to make sure everything went back to the correct location: 2017-11-08_13-03-33_170
    It is also helpful to keep the hardware for each specific door with that door. We did this by taping it together and sticking it on one of the shelves inside of the cabinet box. 
  7. Next comes the fun part: priming and painting! Make sure you buy some high quality paint brushes and rollers to ensure a smooth finish. We even used a paint sprayer for the cabinet doors, but that was more my Dad wanting to try out a new gadget as well as being super efficient and a perfectionist. The primer we used was  Zinsser Bullseye 123 in white, and the paint was Behr semi-gloss enamel, which is supposed to be good for painting cabinets. This kind of paint is a little pricier than some, but so far it’s held up really nicely! Another helpful tip is to make sure you shake up the cans of primer and paint really well, or else your first couple of layers of primer might look like this…                         2017-06-17_21-05-10_690
    It shouldn’t look like a layer of glue, it should look like a layer of thick white paint! I think we ended up putting on two coats of primer on everything as well as two coats of paint. This was largely due to the fact that oak cabinets often have a deep-set grain pattern to them that we didn’t want to come through. Depending on your cabinets and your attention to detail, you might need more or less than this. 
  8. After everything is primed and painted, the hardware can be installed. Make sure the hardware you purchase has the same hole width as your previous hardware or else you’re going to have to add another step of patching up the old holes and drilling new ones! We also added little rubber bumper pads on back of the cabinet doors and drawers to prevent potential sticking. The doors and drawers can then be put back onto the cabinet boxes! 
  9. This second-to-last step is one I honestly can’t speak much on, because my Dad did pretty much all of the work on it. I didn’t want to leave it out though, because it’s my absolute favorite part of my new kitchen. I love the beautiful herringbone pattern and how it really brightens everything up! 2017-07-01_07-55-00_154 I can’t speak very much on the installation of the backsplash, but I will include a list of materials that we needed for it:
    • Backsplash tiles. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, go for a pattern that is already in stock so that you don’t have to special order it. Also, buying a pattern that was in sheets also saved us money and time as opposed to individual tiles.
    • Bullnose for the edging (unless you’re planning on taking the tiles all the way up to the ceiling).
    • Grout. This comes in a variety of colors depending on how dark or light you want the background behind your tiles to look.
    • Sealer. This is the last step and goes over the backsplash. The kind we bought can also be used for sealing our granite, which we will need to do in a couple of years anyway!
    • Wet tile saw (you can rent one of these) for making the tile cuts.
  10. Expect for the overall project to take awhile. The first time I saw my kitchen, I knew I immediately wanted to update it, but I also knew there were other things I needed to prioritize first…such as buying a kitchen table and chairs so that we didn’t need to eat at a card table anymore. Other life circumstances can also postpone plans, like having a baby. 🙂 Then, once you actually start working on your kitchen, other factors, such as the number of hands helping, can also contribute to the length of the time it will take to complete. Sure you could hire out the entire project and it could get done in a week or two, but if you were doing that, you wouldn’t be reading this. 😉  I began really researching and comparing quotes in May, the granite countertops were installed the end of that month, we did all of the prep and cleaning in the beginning of June, and my Dad completed the backsplash and other tasks by the end of June. Other little details, such as adding decorations, might take awhile, especially if you’re searching for the perfect thing like I was. Now it’s done though and I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out!


And because everyone loves a good before and after (and two in between!):