Kitchen Re-do on a Budget

Small kitchen organization

When my realtor and I walked through the door of my current home for the first time, it became a contender right away. Then we went into the kitchen and…wait…what?! Kitchens are supposed to sell houses, but not this time. The kitchen was very 80’s, and very brown. Floors, cabinets, doors, trim and counter tops—all brown. It was so sad and dreary. I wasn’t too concerned because I knew a gallon of white paint on the cabinets would perk the space right up. But I didn’t realize how inefficient the kitchen actually was until after I moved in.

My kitchen is small. I can handle small. And at this stage of my life, I’m happy to report I actually prefer small. But I can’t handle disorganization and poor use of space. After a handful of projects that I’ll share with you here, I gained a functional, charming little kitchen for not a whole lot of money. Here’s the completed project.

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I wanted to keep as much of the existing kitchen as I could, and since the previous owners had just updated the counter tops, I decided to keep them. I also decided to keep and alter the majority of the lower cabinets.

Plan A was to try to find new white upper cabinets in the same style as my existing lowers, so I would only have to paint the lower kitchen cabinets. I wanted to replace the majority of the uppers in order to upgrade from 30″ cabinets to 42″. I managed to find a kitchen design center that carried cabinets that were a very close match to the existing base cabinets I wanted to keep. Unfortunately, they were only available in stained oak. Plan B—order brand new stained cabinets and paint the whole darn kitchen white.

While waiting for the new cabinets to arrive, I had several projects to tackle, one of which was filling the grain and painting the existing cabinets (See how here.). See what I mean about the dreary brown?

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Things are looking a little brighter!

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

At this point, it just felt good to get the ball rolling.

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Here’s a before photo of the other side of the kitchen.

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Baby steps!

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Another project was to beef up the “wood” peninsula. What a difference this made!
See details here.

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Next to the stove, was a corner cabinet that had a very small door opening, but lots of space inside. I made the opening bigger by replacing the board to the left of the door with a smaller one. Then I made some pull out drawers for storage using the rolling hardware from some of the cabinets I removed, and from some scrap wood I had on hand. Gotta love free. I built a small shelf unit that tucked back inside the cabinet next to the drawers for storing seldom-used items. See that project here.

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Once my cabinets arrived, the fun began! Many of the photos you’re going to see, will be before (old oak), during (new oak), and after (oak painted white).

First, I had the base cabinet next to the fridge swapped out for one with drawers. Drawers instead of doors are a much more efficient way to go. No more digging for pots and pans!

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Here’s a picture of the “new” cabinet before painting.

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

And here’s the same cabinet painted and with hardware installed.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Ditto to the left of the stove—I had a base cabinet installed that had drawers instead of a door—and went from a tiny 12″ cabinet to a less-tiny 15″ cabinet. I don’t understand why a 12″ cabinet was put into a space big enough for a 15″ cabinet, but no matter. Since the old 12″ counter top was then too small for the new 15″ cabinet, I had my awesome carpenter brother, Mike cut down the counter top from the cabinet in the last photo to fit this one. I trimmed out this cabinet the same way I trimmed out the peninsula.

  Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomigtonIL.wordpress.com

Another issue I had with trying to match the new cabinets to the originals was the change in hinges. My existing lower cabinets had visible hinges, and the new upper cabinets had hidden (Euro) hinges. That lead to another project of learning how to install hidden hinges. See how I did that here.

You can see the shiny hinges in the next photo, that I painted white in the second photo. But after my brother showed me the ropes on how to drill the cabinets for hidden hinges, I was able to get rid of the visible ones. After that, there was virtually no way to tell the new cabinets from the old ones. The last photo in this group of three was after the new hinges were installed. I opted for the soft-close hidden hinges, so no more slamming cabinet doors!

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

One of the first things I did to the upper cabinets was to ditch the decorative piece that ran in front of the window between the tops of my two upper cabinets. That opened things up right away. (You can see the piece I’m referring to in the next photo.) Bigger kitchens can handle those pieces, but in my kitchen, it’s just clutter. Be gone!

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

In order to use all the available space in my small kitchen, I decided to swap out the 30″ upper cabinets with 42″ cabinets. I was grateful that I didn’t have dry-walled soffits to contend with. I also ordered cabinets without those pesky stiles in the way. The easiest upper cabinet swap was the free-standing one in the next photo.

I had planned to install these cabinets myself, because I’d hung a few 30″ cabinets in a laundry room in a previous house myself without any trouble. But after seeing how massive a few of these cabinets were, I knew it was something I wouldn’t be able to do on my own. Little brother to the rescue…

Look at the difference between the puny original cabinets on the left and one of the new, taller cabinets on the right in the next photo.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

So here’s the old cabinet.

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Here’s the replacement cabinet before painting.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

And here it is painted out.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Next came the tiny cabinet over the fridge. It was replaced with one that was much larger than the old one.

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

On my “to do” list is to build a divider of some sort to go inside this cabinet.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

To the right of the fridge was this funky, mis-matched, cabinet-stacking wonder that I replaced with an open-shelving unit that I built to accommodate my everyday dishes. I made the counter top from wood I found curbside. The original counter top was the one we cut down and sacrificed for the cabinet to the left of the stove. See the open-shelving project here.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Now for the microwave/stove area. This took a lot of thought. This area was horribly inefficient. The cabinet to the right of the microwave had a door with only a 7″ opening. Not many kitchen items can fit into a 7″ opening, and there was a lot of blind storage space inside of that cabinet that I’d deemed unusable. I think this one was the winner for the worst cabinet in the kitchen.

Before…

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

And after.

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

The cabinet to the left of the microwave was only a 12″ cabinet and wasn’t much better than that last one, and was also replaced with a 15″ cabinet.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

The cabinet directly over the microwave was a bit of a mystery since there was a large filler strip underneath it that you can see in the photo below. By removing the filler strip and installing a cabinet that reached the ceiling, I gained a lot of extra storage space. This adjustment also raised the microwave a couple of inches which made for a bigger, brighter cooking surface on the stove top.

Here are before and after photos of that area.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I was then left with a 12″ space next to the cabinet to the right of the microwave that I filled with more open shelving. I made some corbels from scratch to support the shelves. The actual shelves were from the same curbside wood I used to make the counter top on the other side of the kitchen. It tied the two areas together nicely. See how I made the corbels and installed the shelving here.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I used the same wide beadboard on the wall behind the corbel open shelving that I used on the back of the open shelving next to the fridge to further tie those two areas together.

Of course you can’t have a kitchen re-do without new hardware. So pretty!

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Another project that helped this kitchen function better was a very DIY-friendly pantry door spice rack. See how to make one for yourself here.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I also added extra shelving inside the pantry so no space was wasted. I painted the shelves a crisp white, and what a difference! I swapped out the door, door casing and baseboard. I also permanently removed the door you see on the far right that leads to the laundry room. The two doors were constantly banging into each other. Note that the original pantry had only four shelves.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I added three additional shelves, but kept them shallow so items in the back are still easy to see and reach. I removed all of the original shelves and spaced them differently. I lowered the top shelf so there would be enough clearance for cereal boxes. The original bottom shelf was so high off the floor, that there was a lot of unused space in that area so I lowered that one as well. The second shelf from the bottom in the photo below, I made to be U-shaped to wrap around the side walls for easy access to my glass canisters.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I like to put the ends of my cabinets to work too. Here, I used one such area for cutting board storage, and love that they’re easily accessible.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonILjpg.wordpress.com

It’s all in the details. We hear it all the time, and I’m a believer. Here are photos of the trim I added to the bottom of the cabinets. And I do these types of projects the old-fashioned way—a hammer, nails and a nail set/punch.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I went with a small crown molding (1.5″) since I swapped out my existing 30″ upper cabinets for 42″ ones. If I had used a larger crown, it would have dropped my cabinets too low, and the space between the counter tops and the bottom of the cabinets would have been too small. I give my brother all the credit here for the crown molding installation. I added a few pieces of crown after he left, and I must say, it wasn’t as easy as he said it was!

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

And about that crown…I couldn’t find much information on the internet about the use of crown molding with 42″ cabinets, and I agonized over whether or not to do it. Unless you’ve got something tall that you must display on your counter top, there’s no reason why you can’t have a modest crown with 42″ cabinets. The space between my counter top and the bottom of my cabinets is just shy of 17″ instead of the “standard” 18, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. So if you’re contemplating whether or not to do this, I say go for it!

They do make a 36″ cabinet that allows for larger crown molding, but I wanted all the storage space I could get. And since my kitchen is small, I felt a more modest crown molding was appropriate anyway.

I decided to add some wall-frame wainscoting, some beadboard, a chair rail and a picture rail to the small, adjacent dining area. The trim I had already added to the bottom of the upper cabinets established the chair rail height. I hooked onto it using the same trim, and continued it onto the wall. I also continued the crown from the cabinets across this wall, but added an additional piece underneath the crown to make it a bit more substantial.

I marked out my master plan with painter’s tape so I would have an idea of what it would look like first. See how to install wall frame wainscoting here.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Wainscoting Ideas/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

And here are a couple of close ups of the wainscoting/beadboard/picture rail.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I’m hoping to eventually find some wallpaper to put in the area above the picture rail. I painted a subtle stencil in that area for the time being.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

To finish off the dining area, I decided to use a table that I found on a curb several years ago. Yes, ladies and gentleman, someone actually left this amazing table in pieces on a curb and threw a mattress over the top of it! But I found it. Ha! I gave away my store-bought table that I spent good money on, and decided to use my found treasure instead. A little white paint gave it some extra charm.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

I discovered the chairs at a thrift shop, and they begged me like little lost puppies at a shelter to take them home. How could I refuse? I added a nice, thick cushion to them and re-covered them with some gorgeous fabric that my sis, Dee, discovered at Hobby Lobby. Here’s what the chairs looked like when I bought them.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

And here’s a newly covered chair.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Now for some before and after photos.

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/ HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

 Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

Kitchen Re-do On a Budget/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL.wordpress.com

This kitchen re-do was under $2000 (not including appliances and the new kitchen window), and the original cabinets I removed from the kitchen, were painted and used in my laundry room makeover–another post yet to come. So that $2000 actually transformed two rooms in my house.

I looked into getting a whole new kitchen, but I knew I would be just as happy with a more creative, less expensive approach that I could do myself…mostly. Nothing in this kitchen is high end. Nothing is fancy or trendy. It’s just simple, clean and beautiful. I got the bright, white kitchen I love, more storage and much better function on a small budget.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager/Redesigner. If you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.Wordpress.com.

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Kitchen Open Shelving

DIY Kitchen Open Shelving

An area of my kitchen was in need of a makeover, thanks to the “resourcefulness” of one of my home’s previous owners. It looked as if they’d had one of those seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time moments while attempting to add some additional storage space. Their creation was one that made me stand and stare for a moment while thinking, “Hmm. Really?”

That’s the same reaction most visitors had when seeing my kitchen for the first time. It amused me to watch the the “Hmm. Really?” look wash over their faces when they rounded the corner and saw it. The “it” was two mis-matched cabinets—one stuck to the underside of the other—in an area next to the fridge. Here it is. Now you can have the “look” too.

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’m guessing a previous owner saw the “cabinet-stack” as a quick and easy storage solution. While I do respect their creativity and agree that the idea wasn’t all that bad, there were some obvious problems. The door styles didn’t match, the cabinets were made from two different types of wood, the stain colors didn’t match and one cabinet had exposed hinges, and the other had hidden hinges. And the doors were crooked. Yikes. It all had to go.

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since my kitchen is small, it was important to make the best possible use of space, and custom open shelving was the way to go. First, I must say that there should be a kitchen law that states any builder who installs 30″ upper cabinets (that don’t go all the way to the ceiling) in their kitchens should be thrown in the slammer. Upon release, they should be required to register as a kitchen offender. Thirty-inch cabinets in small kitchens are a bad idea because instead of storage, that full foot of unused open space above the cabinets is reduced to a dust-catcher.

I’ve heard the argument that an average-height person can’t reach the top shelf of a 42″ cabinet. There’s this thing called a step stool, and I’ll gladly use one in order to have a place to put seldom-used, but vital kitchen items like my waffle iron and my ice bucket that hasn’t been used since 1995. Needless to say, I was going all the way to the ceiling with my shelving unit.

Basically, I built a bookcase without a bottom shelf because I wanted the area to look “hutchy”. I agonized over how deep to make it. After all, this was my big chance to gain some extra inches, but I didn’t want the shelves so deep that it would look odd. I was trying to rid this kitchen of odd, after all. I decided to make the shelves 16″ deep, so I gained four inches of depth per shelf over the 12″ deep cabinets that were there previously. Here’s the shell assembled and painted.

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The beauty in all of this is I was able to space the shelves to accommodate my personal stacks of plates, the height of my drinking glasses and the size of my mixing bowls that I planned to display.

I added beadboard backing for interest, but it also helped me to keep the project square.  I drove nails through the back of the beadboard and into each shelf to give added support so the shelves wouldn’t warp over time. I built the unit with 3/4″ plywood that was cut to size for me at Lowe’s. I made it about a half-inch smaller than the opening to allow for any wonkiness in the walls. Even so, it had to be “persuaded” into its new home, and was then attached to the studs in the wall behind it.

Since I knew I’d be sliding dishes across the shelves, I decided to use laminated shelving rather than painted plywood. That turned out to be a good decision. I’ll never have to re-paint the shelves or worry about paint scratching or rubbing off onto my glassware. Plus I have a bad habit of putting away dishes when they’re still wet. Not a problem with laminate!

I had a nicely-shaped piece of routed trim that was given to me by neighbors who knew I hoarded that sort of thing, so I used it to trim out the top of my shelves. My super-talented carpenter brother, Mike, cut it down to size for me. He removed the excess from the middle of the piece since both ends were tapered, and then used my Kreg Jig to join the two pieces back together. You can’t even tell he altered it. Genius.

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Small kitchen. Small crown. I used a modest 2.5″ crown molding in addition to the very, very red trim piece (thank goodness for quality primer) for trimming out the upper part of the unit. It was the perfect size, and added presence without going overboard. I gotta be honest. My bro installed the majority of the crown molding in my kitchen. A carpenter I know (could’ve been my brother) said it’s not difficult to install. I disagree. Completely. I installed a couple of pieces and I’m grateful to whoever invented caulk. That’s all I’m gonna say.

I added fluted trim to the vertical sides, and had some smaller trim added to the front edge of the shelves to cover the rough plywood edges. And there you have it!

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had the base cabinet swapped out so I could have drawers instead of doors. It’s much more efficient for pots and pans. I also made a counter top out of some re-claimed wood (aka, wood I found and “claimed” from a curb). So a big thank you to whoever abandoned it, and I love the stain color you chose! Note the change in the counter top in the next two photos.

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to wait a few months for the back-ordered drawer pulls, but it was worth the wait. Love them!

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now for the before and after photos. Note in the first “before” photo, that my silverware was stored on top of the counter. It lived there for a full year because the two small drawers in the original base cabinet weren’t wide enough for my silverware divider. Now I have a big-girl silverware drawer!

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In the next two photos, you can see how the empty space above the cabinets went from dust-catcher to display space. So much better. I also swapped out the cabinet over the refrigerator with a deeper one.

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Check out the charming penguin wine glasses in the next photo. They were purchased at a thrift store here in Central Illinois called “Two Sisters and a Warehouse”. A dear friend owns the shop that’s full of unique treasures. For more information, check out their website at www.TwoSistersAndAWarehouse.com.

Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the whole area before and after. I changed out my door casing, baseboards, doors and door hardware, and swapped out my refrigerator for a stainless steel one.

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I love being able to store my dishes within easy reach, and love that this shelving unit holds much more than any standard cabinet would have. It also cost a lot less than buying something manufactured. I’m also happier with my lighter, brighter kitchen.

 Kitchen Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

More about the full kitchen remodel later!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager/Redesigner. If you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.Wordpress.com.