Our $1800 Kitchen Refresh

If you missed part 1, here is a link to my top 5 tips in renovating your home on a teacher's budget

Disclaimer: Most of the work was completed ourselves (with help from family) over the course of five years. Prices and products may have changed since our project was completed, but it should give you a rough budget ballpark. We lived in a rural area of North Carolina where prices for supplies and labor are fairly low.

Kitchen Reno: Cost $1797.40

Before (Photo From Original MLS Listing):

Goals: New paint, replace countertop (peeling laminate), remove drop ceiling, replace door to allow more light in (east facing window on the other side), update fixtures


Our kitchen renovation began when my mother-in-law and I decided to start tearing out the laminate flooring in our kitchen. Little did we know that our laminate floor was actually a stack of 6 layers of laminate with two layers of plywood sprinkled in there WITH the most beautiful and perfectly preserved 100 year old heartwood pine flooring hiding below. The most time-consuming project I think we have ever completed was using a hand saw to cut out little sections of the flooring out. However, before going crazy with the removal, we used Western Analytical Lab (a mail-in asbestos testing laboratory) to make sure that we did not need to use a professional asbestos removal company. After receiving the all-clear we (...I mean, my husband) removed all the layers to finally get to a thick layer of sticky floor paper. From there, our floor refinishers took over (I'm not sure they were fully aware of how messy the project would be!), and the final product was stunning.

* We had the floors refinished in the entire house so it was not included in the kitchen budget breakdown. You can expect to pay 2.50 - 3.00 per square foot for floor refinishing (that includes sanding and staining).

Cabinet Refresh

The next time-consuming project was painting and updating the cabinets. One of challenges of DIY on a (tight) budget is that the exact product you want/need is rarely affordable! BUT sometimes you end up with something that is even better than what you would have originally purchased.

Initially, the plan was to paint all the cabinets white. This involved removing all the cabinet doors, filling the hardware holes with wood putty (since our new handles were not the same size as the old ones), using a hand-sander to sand the cabinet boxes and doors, prime everything (we are fans of Kilz primer), and paint them white... with approximately 100 coats. If I were to redo the process, we would definitely have invested in a paint sprayer. But instead, I used a foam roller to prime, lightly sand using a fine grit sandpaper), paint with the foam roller (lightly sand), and repeat, repeat, repeat. I even got so far as to test out our new hardware on my half-way painted doors until I made a discovery.

Ugh...these discoveries are painful. They're the ones that you wish that you had made several weeks earlier.

It was the first time I had ever visited our local Habitat ReStore, and they had hundreds of brand new cabinet doors. These doors gave me the ability to update the look of the cabinets at only $1 per door (around $50 total). How could I pass it up?! After running home and taking the dimensions of every cabinet box, we went back to the ReStore and were able to find doors with the correct dimensions for all of the upper cabinets and the drawers. For the bottom cabinets, we “retrofitted” two small cabinet doors together to create one larger door since we were not able to find the perfect size for all of the lower cabinets. The only problem was that these doors were a dark brown, not white...which meant (you guessed it!) prime, sand, paint, sand, repeat x 100. Because these doors were not flat, I used a paint brush to paint the areas that my foam roller wouldn't reach and then used the foam roller on the rest of the door.


When it came to our countertop, we had a “walnut” vision with a “beech” budget so we decided to purchase the cheapest option - these beech countertops from Ikea (renamed "KARLBY"). Shipping was pretty expensive, but they were the cheapest option by far in our area.

When the counters arrived, we loved the variation of the color in the underside of the countertop so we decided to use them upside down. We sanded the counter in the direction of the grain with a hand sander until the surface was smooth and the "under counter identification stamps" were no longer visible. We started with a medium grit sand-paper and finished with a fine grit paper. After sanding, we wiped the board with a clean, white cloth, used wood conditioner, and stained using Minwax Dark Walnut. After the stain dried, we wiped the butcher block with a clean, white cloth prior to applying waterlox which is a food safe wood sealer (we purchased ours from Amazon). We applied it based on the instructions on the back of the container, but basically, we applied three coats and lightly sanded and wiped off the dust between coats.

Finishing Touches

  • Overstock Hinges: Amerock oil-rubbed bronze face mount self closing hinges - $78.62 for 50

  • Overstock Knobs and Pulls: GlideRite 8-in oil rubbed bronze zinc cabinet bar pulls and GlideRite 3.5-in oil rubbed bronze classic bin cabinet pull - $107.78 for 20 of both

  • Giagni Fresco stainless steel 1-handle deck mount pre-rinse kitchen faucet - $199

  • Kitchen Pendant Light ($40)

  • Kitchen Overhead Light ($169)

  • Broan stainless ductless hood ($69)

  • Backsplash tile and white grout (This is the tile I used - The tile sheets are forgiving if you are a first time tiler like I was!). We only tiled one wall to cut down on costs.

  • Doors: We purchased an old door with glass panes to replace the laundry room door (as well as a spray window fogger) as well as a brand new "sliding barn door" from our Habitat ReStore (about $100 total) - The door was donated from Lowes and was originally almost $700 (hardware included)!

  • Barndoor hardware (around $70 - I can't find the exact one we used, but we purchased it on Amazon). There are many cheap options on Amazon and eBay. Just look for products with good reviews, and we always like to get products that can be easily returned if they were not what we expected.

  • Miscellaneous expenses including paint and primer, drywall, mud, and tape for the ceiling (some of these materials were left-overs from previous projects).

It was a lot of work, but we learned so much through the process! If you are attempting to tackle your first diy "refresh" let me know if you have any questions! The internet was a wealth of knowledge for me, and I leaned so much from the vast network of DIY home bloggers!

The photos above were used from our home's MLS listing when we were ready to sell.

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