Our mini kitchen remodel

It’s a mini remodel, not a mini kitchen. This photo shows off the brilliant “Lichtenstein style” painting my husband did of me.

These are all “after” photos. I know, I realize the main attraction of these transformation stories are the “before” and “after,” but neither my husband nor I had the forethought to take any “before” photos.

You’ll just have to use your imagination. This 60’s era kitchen had a dropped flourescent ceiling, hideous brown particleboard cabinets, and a white lineoleum floor that showed everything.

Here’s the view into the dining room/living room. We ended up having to use two different colors of paint on the cabinets because we liked the lighter color, but thought the kitchen would be too bright if we painted all the cabinets that color.

This one was taken at night, so the lighting is a little different. I spot evidence of my baking habit!
I really wish you could have seen this kitchen. For seven years we’ve put up with the most inefficient and ugly kitchen I’ve ever lived in (and I’ve lived in a lot of different apartments and houses!)
First of all, I’m not trying to claim that this was a non-consumer remodel. My husband isn’t doing The Compact, and he had saved some money from a big job to put toward this kitchen. He’s a great partner in my commitment, but he hasn’t taken it for himself. So he did purchase some new items, but did all of the work himself (with a bit of help from a friend), bought some of the items used, and was able to sell or give away virtually everything we replaced.
The cost? Under $2500 total. Here’s the breakdown:
First, we had a color scheme we’d seen in a magazine and both liked: the bright yellow walls, red floor, and turquoise cabinets. We agreed that our best resource without funds was to use color to our advantage. The bright colors make it fun.
Next, my husband wanted a stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator. He was prepared to buy one new, but I suggested he check Craigslist. He did, and spent about five or six weeks searching, to no avail. He actually even looked at 3 different refrigerators, but there was some problem with each of them. He was glad he’d tried to buy used, but ended up purchasing a new model at a greatly discounted price. Cost $1100, including tax.
The stainless steel tabletop he was able to find on Craigslist because he’d already been checking for several months. The table cost $85.
The stools were a complete luxury, he purchased them new for $125 each, for a total of $375.
The sink, which replaced the most hideous avocado-colored monstrosity I’d ever seen, was about $200.
The lineoleum flooring, which he put down himself with the help of a friend, cost about $400.
I have to confess that I was responsible for buying the simple cabinet handles new. I had been looking on Craigslist and was planning on visiting a salvage store, when I drove by a hardware store that was going out of business. The sign said “75% off” so I went in and found these. I didn’t want to spend weeks searching for something I might never find when I could get it all right now, and for only $23 for all 41 handles! An incredible deal. One of my main considerations was that I wanted to find the same size so that my husband wouldn’t have to do more work filling and drilling new holes.
Total cost: I think that comes to $2283, plus a couple of hundred for paint, plus A LOT of labor. We spent 10 days prepping and painting those cabinets. And my husband had spent countless hours prior to that putting in the flooring, moving in the refrigerator, etc. But it was worth it! We love our new kitchen. Our favorite thing is drinking martinis at that cool table.
My husband was able to sell or give away everything, including the absolutely hideous, grime-encrusted handles that adorned the horrible cabinets. Someone paid $26 for them on ebay, which was more than we paid for the new ones! He sold the old refrigerator and kitchen table and chairs, and gave away the sink. Someone was actually going to use it! Yay! Nothing went to the landfill. I’m SO pleased about that. Craigslist and Freecycle are a brilliant way to recycle and to find things secondhand.
I should also say that we had already done the lighting and replaced the windows many years ago, so the true cost of our remodel from the kitchen we moved into seven years ago would probably be closer to $6000.
Sorry for such a long post, but I really wanted to share this with you!
Have you done any remodeling projects lately? Tell us about it in the Comments section.


  1. Kate Sommers says

    How fun to see your home.
    Looks great!
    I borrowed your blog post and posted it over on mine today.Hope you don't mind.
    I'm a blog borrower.

  2. Cate says

    I love that painting! "I'm bringing out a new mustard" is just hilarious. I'm really tickled by that.

    What a great kitchen. I'm very jealous!

  3. Marie-Josée says

    Lovely kitchen, and I love the art. Congratulations ! Your hard work really paid off.

    I remember renovating the kitchen in our former house. We moved the fidge in the living room and did without a stove for several days, as we had removed all the cabinets and appliances to redo the flooring. My husband installed granite tiles for our counter tops, instead of the particleboard variety and we were so proud of the outcome. But oh, what work !

  4. Betsy Talbot says

    My favorite part is the painting and knowing your husband made it for you. It is such a good likeness, too. When I first saw the photo I thought it was cool that you found a painting that looked so much like you!

    This is a fantastic project, and the colors and quirky art speak to your engaging personality. Now I want to come over and have a martini with you at the kitchen table!

  5. Kate says

    Wow!! What a fun kitchen. I love the colors and the painting is amazing. Lucky you! :)

    (great inspiration for people doing a kitchen remodel on a budget – and having great results)

  6. Angela says

    Thanks everyone! I wish I could invite you all over for martinis! Betsy, maybe you could stopover in L.A. on your way out of the country!

    I have to say I am so happy with what we did for a fraction of what so many people spend. It's such a fun room to be in, and it's personal to us, especially with the painting on the wall.

    Also, I always swore I'd never paint those crappy cabinets, and now I'm so glad I did. And I don't really even notice how dysfunctional they are anymore, because I've made them work for us.

    I'm determined to dig up a photo from when we moved in and scan it so I can show you just how hideous it was- I'm not exaggerating. We bought this house during the boom when people were bidding for houses, and we knew we got this place because of the sorry kitchen.

  7. Angela says

    Thanks Melody- I think the red floor is my favorite part after the painting.

    Thanks again everyone for your comments – and compliments! My husband doesn't think the total would be $6000, more like $5000. Either way, it's still a lot less than we could have spent. We did that by accepting some of the "old" appliances even though they don't all match now, and buying the new appliance- the refrigerator- at a reduced cost. Also by doing all the work ourselves, painting the existing cabinets instead of replacing them, and accepting the countertops as they are. I'm just so happy our "compromise" solution looks and works as well as it does.


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