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Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

Stephanie, her hubby, and their two cats enjoy living and traveling full-time in their RV, often camping off-grid to stretch their budget.

The new dining area after our budget kitchen makeover

The new dining area after our budget kitchen makeover

How to Complete a Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

The first step in planning a budget-friendly kitchen makeover is deciding how much you are willing to spend. It's up to you to evaluate your kitchen’s pros and cons and decide where your money would be best spent.

When we purchased a foreclosure house a few years ago, the kitchen was a total decorating disaster. Because some other major repairs took priority, our goal was to do the kitchen makeover on a low budget. I wanted the room to be bright, cheerful, and inviting without overspending our budget.

Here's an account of what we did to make over our kitchen.

Setting a Budget for the Makeover

You can see from the photographs that there was major damage to parts of the kitchen floor, which had to be repaired by a contractor. Once the sub-floors were repaired, we set a budget of $500 for painting and windows and another $1,500 for replacing the flooring. We would be doing the remaining work ourselves, so the major cost would be time and materials.

Evaluate Existing Kitchen Pros and Cons

While our kitchen needed some major repairs to the floor, the rest of the room had a lot going for it. Here are the pros and cons:

Existing Kitchen Pros:

  • Large room with an island separating the work area from the dining area.
  • Four windows made the room bright and sunny.
  • Woodwork and windows were solid.
  • The stove, range hood and dishwasher were not new, but in good working condition.
  • The cabinets and counter tops were solid and not damaged.

Existing Kitchen Cons:

  • The wall color, taupe, was depressing and needed freshening up.
  • The cabinets, for whatever reason, were two different colors. Some were natural wood and others had been painted green—not my favorite color!
  • There were two different styles of knobs on the cabinets and some of them were missing. The range hood was a discolored copper color.
  • The seals between the double glass of the windows were broken, causing the moisture to collect between the glass panes and fog the windows.

Planning a Color Scheme

My husband and I both like blue and wanted it to be part of the color scheme. However, blue is a cool color that can be depressing if overdone, so I planned to use it for accents only. The largest walls and walls around the windows would be light yellow. Cabinets and woodwork would be bright white.

Blue was reserved for the backsplash areas and the cornice over the cabinets. At the end of the project, I decided to paint the island blue too, as I thought the white would get scuffed up too easily.

Inexpensive Window Treatment

Our kitchen faces our backyard. We enjoy watching bluebirds and hummingbirds from our kitchen, so I did not want curtains blocking the view. Window treatments would be simple: White pull-down shades that could be rolled all the way up and curtain valences on the tops of the windows to hide the rollers and add a little color interest.

While we felt that we could use inexpensive primer paint, we wanted to get high-quality paint for the cabinets and walls—something that would hold up to repeated washing and wear and tear. We went with the Behr Kitchen and Bath Premium paint.

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Switch plate and outlet covers were inexpensive plastic, but the bright white complemented the woodwork and cabinets. Black cabinet door knobs and painting the range hood black accented the existing smoked glass oven and dishwasher doors as well as the wrought iron pot hanger that was already there.

Material List

  • White primer paint.
  • Behr Kitchen and Bath Premium Satin finish enamel in white, blue and light yellow.
  • Roller pans, rollers and brushes we had on hand.
  • Black glossy Rustoleum spray paint for the range hood.
  • New black wrought iron knobs for the cabinet doors and drawers to replace mismatched and missing pieces.
  • New white switch plate covers.
  • Fabric for window valences and placemats.
  • Window screening we already had on hand.

The Work Process


Before starting, we wiped down the surfaces with a water and vinegar solution to remove dust and grime. Cabinet doors were removed and laid flat for painting.

Next, all the walls and cabinets were painted with white primer. This would help the final coats of paint adhere to the surfaces and help even out the color.

Once that was done, the walls and the woodwork around the window and door frames were painted white. Then the light yellow was applied to all the yellow walls.

The cabinets were the most tedious job as they needed several coats of enamel to cover the green paint and the varnish on the surfaces.

Laying cabinet doors flat on saw horses helped prevent drips and made it easier to apply smooth coats of paint.

Eventually, four coats of paint were applied to all the wood cabinets, new knobs were installed and they were rehung.

The stove hood was removed and spray painted black with Rustoleum glossy paint—an outdoor job!

Solving the Foggy Window Problem

The fogged window glass remained a problem. We tried contacting the manufacturer without luck, and eventually found a local glass shop that would remove the double glass, replace it and reseal it. The formerly fogged windows looked like new, and the cost was reasonable.

Because our kitchen looks out into a private backyard and a line of trees, I wanted to keep the windows open to sunlight. We installed white pull-down shades which we keep rolled up most of the time, and I made valences from some inexpensive bird print fabric.

When I ended with extra fabric, I used it to make matching placemats and potholders.

Cost of Kitchen Makeover

Kitchen Makeover Costs include paint, cabinet hardware, window repair, new curtain valences and new kitchen floor. Costs can be reduced by using less expensive flooring.


2 Gallons of Primer


5 gallons Kitchen and Bath Satin Enamel


1 can Black Glossy Enamel Spray Paint


10 black knobs for cabinets


8 yards fabric on sale


4 windows - glass and seals replaced


10 white switch plate covers


Kitchen Floor - Villa Stone Travertine Tile


Total Redecorating Cost


Tips for an Inexpensive Kitchen Makeover

While we needed to replace the kitchen floor because of the damage, you can often live with your existing floor and still give your kitchen an inexpensive makeover. Here are some tips:

  • Wash and wax: If you don't want to paint, you can do a lot to revitalize your kitchen by washing all the woodwork and cabinets and applying a coat of wax to a natural surfaces. For cabinets with a natural finish, use some Old English Furniture Polish to hide nicks and scratches. It will make a big difference!
  • Fresh coat of paint on walls: The most obvious and the most noticeable improvement will be a fresh coat of paint on the walls. If you have china and other accessories you want to keep using, then use the same basic colors, but change the color balances by adding some brighter or darker color accents.
  • Change cabinet finish: Paint cabinets or refinish them in a natural color. This takes a lot of elbow grease, but not a lot of money, and you'll make them look fresh and new.
  • Replace cabinet hardware: You can give a new look to your cabinets by changing the hardware. Knobs come in prices ranging from $1 to $15 or more. You can spend a lot or a little to freshen up your cabinets.
  • New window treatments: Take down your old curtains and put up something new and fresh. If you sew, kitchen curtain are very easy to make from inexpensive fabric. You can make matching placemats, potholders or table runners to match if you wish. Another idea is to replace old cafe curtains with louvered shutters in either white or natural finishes.
  • New wall décor: Take down all the old dusty pictures, calendars and wall decorations. Replace them with old plates from your grandmother, framed pictures of your kids' artwork, framed calendar pictures of flowers, fruits or vegetables. If you are a photographer, frame some of your own work for a new look in your kitchen. Check the dollar store or thrift shop for inexpensive prints for a change of scene.
  • Get rid of clutter: Your kitchen will seem bigger and brighter if you eliminate clutter. Clear counters of appliances you seldom use and all those little extra things that have collected. Because of limited counter space, I keep my seldom used toaster and bread maker on a shelf in the laundry room. It's tempting to pile mail on the bookcase and miscellaneous things on the island, but I try to keep these areas clear of everything except one or two decorative items.

Redecorate Your Kitchen for You!

As you can see, you can make inexpensive changes that will brighten your kitchen and make it a more pleasant place to spend your time. Just remember, you're doing it for you, so use colors that lighten your mood and accessories that make you smile. You don't have to have expensive china or original artwork when you can frame your kid's brightly colored crayon drawing and display a few of your grandmother's favorite plates. Have fun with your project!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Tommy from U.S., Nevada, Las Vegas on November 15, 2018:

Thank you for post.

I really like it. You have a talent in it: great ideas, tips and everything.

I appreciate your efforts in creating this post, it is useful.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 04, 2012:

Carter06 - I'm glad that you found some useful tips in my article about kitchen decorating. I do believe that creativity and some hard work can do wonders for a room without breaking the bank. Thanks for your comments and good luck with your project.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 04, 2012:

Pringoooals - Do-it-yourself redecorating is sometimes a lot of work, but have a fresh and beautiful living space is well worth the effort. Enjoy! Thanks so much for the comments!

Karina from Edinburgh on September 04, 2012:

Really useful information on kitchen redecorating! Great tips which I am going to use in a near future. Thank you for sharing!

Mary from Cronulla NSW on September 04, 2012:

Your kitchen looks really good and your planning is helpful to me Steph as we are in the process of redoing ours at the is encouraging that it doesn't have to cost a fortune...great makeover Steph, will share this...cheers

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on June 04, 2012:

thedoormaker - I'm glad you found my article on my kitchen makeover useful. It was a challenge to do this on a limited budget, but we are happy with the results. Thanks for your comments!

thedoormaker from United Kingdom on June 04, 2012:

I'm glad to have visited your post. I appreciate your effort and I find ti very much useful to all who are going to have their kitchen makeover.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on March 02, 2012:

Gracenduta - Glad you enjoyed my hub on Kitchen Redecorating! Thanks for the read and the comment!

Gracenduta from Kenya on March 02, 2012:

Great tips on remodeling a kitchen, thanks

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 19, 2012:

Alocsin - Yes, it is amazing what transformation can be accomplished by a coat of paint! You are correct, painting should never be attempted until the walls and woodwork is free of dirt and grease or the job will be ruined. Thank you for visiting and for your comments!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 19, 2012:

The paint alone makes a big difference in decorating on a small budget. Wiping down is especially important in kitchens where the grease and dirt can get everywhere. Voting this Up and Useful.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 04, 2012:

The Stages of ME - It's amazing what you can do with a few gallons of paint and lots of hard work! I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures of our Kitchen Makeover! Thanks for stopping in to comment!

Kathy Henderson from Pa on February 04, 2012:

Love your pics of the transformations. Such accomplishment when you do things yourself :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 04, 2012:

Maren - I'm glad that the information I presented were helpful to you. Thanks for stopping by the comment!

Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on February 04, 2012:

Thanks for the details on decision-making and costs. This was very useful. VU.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 02, 2012:

Wowsite1234 - When we did our kitchen makeover, we were working with a limited budget, so made the best use of what we had on hand, paint and elbow grease. I was pleased with the results! Thanks for your comments!

wowsite1234 from Moncks Corner, SC on February 02, 2012:

Looks like you really know how to remodel a kitchen, great job and great hub :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on February 02, 2012:

LucidWarrior - When weighing the pros and cons of modern vs. old historic homes, your personal preference will tip the balance. There is much to be said for both, and I know from experience that even modern homes will need maintenance and some redecorating. But the older homes usually have a lot of room for creative renovations. Whatever you decide, good luck with it!

David Cook from Suburban Philadelphia on February 02, 2012:

Nice ideas. I am in the market for a home and I am deciding between new modern or old historic. The new modern would be move in ready but would be at the top of my budget. Old historic is more affordable but would require a lot of renovation and decorating to get it where I would want it. The more I research renovations the more I lean towards old historic. Thanks!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 25, 2012:

Randomcreative - Thank you for visiting my hub. I'm glad you found it useful!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 24, 2012:

This is a great resource, Stephanie! Thanks for all of the detailed information.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

prasetio30 - Thank you, my friend! I'd love to see your new home - I'm sure you have some wonderful ideas for decoration. I hope that my tips are useful to you. Thanks so much for visiting and for your votes!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on January 24, 2012:

Hi, Stephanie. I love the way how you present this hub. I really love your ideas and wonderful tips about kitchen decoration. My dear, you come up with solution. I hope I can apply your tips on my new house, especially how to manage the budget. Great job and rated up (useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting). Have a good day!

Blessing and hugs,

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Robin - Thanks, Robin. The light fixture was already in the kitchen when we purchased the house, and I too liked it's unique design. It was one of the reasons we decided to add touches of black to the color scheme by keeping the black cabinet knobs and painting the stove hood black. I'm so glad you think the hub will be useful to others who are doing a kitchen makeover on a budget!

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on January 24, 2012:

Wow, what a great remodel, Stephanie! I love the blue paint; it's bright and fun. I also love your light fixture! Your Hub will be extremely useful to anyone wanting to remodel their kitchen on a budget!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Femmeflashpoint - It is a bright spot to have coffee with a friend! Our kitchen does seem to be a gathering place and a hang out, and I love that there's room in my kitchen for people to gather while I prepare meals. Thanks for visiting my kitchen makeover hub!

femmeflashpoint on January 24, 2012:

Wow Steph,

Bright, cheery and a great spot to hang out and sip coffee!

I'm impressed! A roomy kitchen is one of my favorite aspects of a home. I think I've had more serious conversations at kitchen tables than I have anywhere else. :)


Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Om Paramapoonya - Thank you for your kind comments. I'm glad that you found my tips for a kitchen makeover to be useful! Sometimes even small changes can make a big difference in a room.

Om Paramapoonya on January 24, 2012:

Awesome hub! Your kitchen makeover guide is very practical and thorough. Thanks for sharing these smart tips. :)

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

MissOlive - A kitchen makeover can be so rewarding as we spend so much time in that room. As you know, you can choose to go all out with new cabinets and counter tops, or you can do smaller projects. All will make a difference.

Thank you for your nice comments and for your votes!

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on January 24, 2012:

Stephanie Henkel - Excellent hub. We just went through a kitchen remodel a couple of years ago. It can be a daunting, but exciting task. I really like what you did. Your kitchen look light, bright and airy. Your fabric choice is beautiful too. I also like the idea of diagonal tiles. It's always nice to have a handyman and willing participants in the family.

Again, great hub and thanks for sharing this journey with us. Plenty of helpful tips and ideas - voted up!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Jakob Barry - I do like the looks of combination light fixture and pot rack, but I still haven't decided how to use it. Occasionally, I hang bunches of herbs on it to dry. Maybe one day I'll have beautiful copper pots to hang there... Thanks for your comments on my kitchen makeover!

Jakob Barry on January 24, 2012:

Wow! That was a great walk through your fix-it-up journey. I especially like that you left the ceiling rack in since it's such a valuable tool in the kitchen.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Lady Rain - I love birds, and the song birds on the fabric I used when doing my kitchen makeover still makes me happy. It does go well with paintings of birds that I've had for years, and helped tie the colors of the room together. I'm glad you found the tips useful. Thanks for your comments!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

Melovy - I love this shade of blue, too, and I agree that the shade of blue makes a difference in how cool it feels. Perhaps a blue shade with a tiny bit of red added makes it feel warmer? I do love your comparison of my blue to a glorious blue sky - thank you for that image!

Thanks so much for your enthusiastic comments and your vote - they mean a lot to me!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

LadyLyell - It seems that our homes are always a work in progress. The kitchen makeover was fun, but I'm still adding touches here and there. Thank you for your comment.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 24, 2012:

KimberlyLake - I'm so glad you liked my kitchen makeover ideas and that you find the tips useful. I enjoyed the process of finding low budget ways to give my kitchen a face lift. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

lady rain from Australia on January 24, 2012:

I love those valences with bird prints. They are so cool! Thanks for the great tips on renovating and decorating, they will come in handy when I do up my kitchen.

Yvonne Spence from UK on January 24, 2012:

Stephanie, I love the blue! I used to teach art and we had to teach kids that blue is a cold colour, but I’m not 100% convinced. I think it all depends on the shade: possibly very pale blues or maybe greyish blues can look cold, but - in these photos at least - the shade you chose is perfect. It’s the colour of the sky on a glorious day and there’s nothing cold about that! In a previous home used to have a living room/dining room decorated in the yellow and blue you’ve chosen here and I loved it. Your dishes sound great too.

You have done a great job here - both in your kitchen and in your hub. I love your idea for covering over the tops of the roller blinds. Very simple and effective. And choosing a bird theme is a great idea too.

Voted up etc.

LadyLyell from George, South Africa on January 24, 2012:

What a lovely job well done just love the results.

Voted useful!

Kimberly Lake from California on January 23, 2012:

Love your finished product. Your tips are useful. I like all the details you included in this Hub. Thanks!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 23, 2012:

Tams R - Sometimes it's hard to imagine a color in large chunks, and blue can be overpowering in a room. I think the combination worked because there is a lot of white next to the blue, which keeps it bright. The yellow walls add warmth to balance the cool tones. Not shown in the photograph, I have some flea market dishes with these same colors - blue foreget-me-nots and yellow daisies on a white background. I love the way they look on a blue place mat.

Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!

Tams R from Missouri on January 23, 2012:

You did a beautiful job in your kitchen. Great tips too. I wouldn't have thought so if you asked me, but the blue is really pretty.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 23, 2012:

Thanks,Steph! It's amazing what some paint and elbow grease can accomplish. We were quite please with the results of our kitchen makeover. Thanks for your comments and your vote!

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2012:

What wonderful kitchen decorating tips with all those photographs of your own project to show the readers. I especially liked the list of inexpensive kitchen makeover ideas at the end. Rated up! Love it!

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