Kitchen Makeover on a Budget
Learn how one homeowner and a creative friend transformed this kitchen with money to spare.
A Magical Transformation
Ever dreamed of starring in one of those home-improvement television shows where a financially savvy designer magically transforms your home? Well, we made the dream of a new kitchen happen for one lucky homeowner--Diane Smith of McKinney, Texas. The only stipulation? That we get to cover the transformation from beginning to end.
Though Diane is a talented faux-finish artist, we enlisted the help of her good friend and one of our favorite Texas designers, Jennifer Spak. We gave the pair a budget of $2,500 and a time frame of a few short months. We knew the outdated kitchen didn't stand a chance against this dynamic duo.
We think you'll agree that the result is incredible. The kitchen is filled with ideas, and Diane and Jennifer even came in under budget. Take some of their great ideas home with you.
Here's a quick fix for your pantry. Diane and Jennifer purchased this door for a song at an outlet store. Diane updated one side of it with chalkboard paint, which is nice for writing reminders and chore lists. The other side was covered with a metal sheet purchased at a home-improvement store. Magnets hold photos and note cards in place.
Like most things in the kitchen, the floor wasn't bad before, but it wasn't great either. "The floor needed some refinishing because of wear and tear, but if we did that, we would have to redo all of the downstairs flooring," says Jennifer. "By painting the floor, we were able to delineate between the kitchen and the rest of the flooring in an appropriate manner," Diane says. And without all the cost. Painters tape, paint, and a stencil were all that was needed to make this simple project come to life.
Fresh Face Forward
Replacing existing cabinetry can account for more than half the cost of a kitchen renovation. The cabinets featured here were in relatively good condition. Because they were on a tight budget, Jennifer and Diane decided to update them rather than embark on an overhaul. "We felt that by applying a furniture finish to the existing cabinets, we could achieve an equally effective look at a considerably lower price," says Jennifer. Diane cleaned, sanded, stained, and painted the original cabinets. Then she distressed them by chipping the corners and sanding again to allow the stain to show through. Then an aging glaze was painted on to create an antique look.
It's the Little Things
New hardware is an easy way to update the look of any kitchen. But if this isn't in your budget, simply glaze or paint existing pulls or handles. "Unfortunately, new hardware can be very costly," says Jennifer. "But we came across some heavy cast-iron pulls at a price we loved." Diane added a glaze to give the pulls an aged appeal. "By doing this, we simply accentuated the wonderful detail in the pieces," she notes.
Details Make the Difference
As a finishing touch, a clever fabric awning accents the window above the sink. "To reinforce the European feel, we added the awning. This gives the space dimension. It also provides the wonderful ambience of a sidewalk cafe," says Jennifer.
Diane and Jennifer also removed the bulky kitchen island and replaced it with a table and chairs that were in storage (see page 136). It's the perfect place for quick breakfasts, snacks, and casual meals. What's more, the top serves as a work surface when needed for food prep.
The Power of Paint
"All my appliances were still in good working order, but I just couldn't stand the black hole where the dishwasher was," says Diane. To fix this problem, she and Jennifer decided to paint the dishwasher's front panel to blend in with the cabinetry. The panel was lifted out, primed, and painted. It was then allowed to dry and put in place as good as new (if not better). ( Tip: Use your leftover paint to update older accessories such as lamps and vases. Or try your hand at creating a piece of artwork on a blank canvas.)
Jennifer and Diane chose copper countertops for the kitchen. "These achieved the Tuscan/European feel we were looking for," says Jennifer. The rustic appearance of the copper adds to its personality and character.
Because they were so expensive, the tumbled marble tiles Jennifer and Diane first selected for the backsplash were out of the running. Instead, they achieved the same effect by using ceramic tiles that resemble stone.
What it cost
Painting Cabinets 101
- clean cloths
- wax or petroleum jelly
- paintbrush and paint
- clear polyurethane sealer
Step 1: Remove cabinet doors for easy paint application. Prepare surfaces by cleaning them thoroughly.
Step 2: Sand cabinets to a uniform smoothness. Wipe surfaces with wet rag, and allow to dry thoroughly.
Step 3: Apply stain according to manufacturer's instructions. Let dry, and repeat two more times or until you get the look you want.
Painting Cabinets 101
Step 4: Apply wax or petroleum jelly to the areas that you will distress (see Step 7).
Step 5: Apply paint in desired color according to manufacturer's instructions, let dry, and repeat two or three times. Let dry thoroughly.
Step 6: Lightly sand with 220-grit sandpaper, and wipe to remove dust.
Painting Cabinets 101
Step 7: Distress the cabinets by chipping back corners. Use steel wool to rub the areas covered with wax or petroleum jelly to allow stain to show through.
Step 8: Apply an aging glaze, and let dry according to manufacturer's instructions.
Step 9: Apply three coats of a clear sealer to cabinets and doors, allowing to dry between coats.
Step 10: Replace cabinet doors.