Our mini kitchen remodel

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. A few of you mentioned the “retro kitchen” in the last Thrifty Threads post, so I thought I would share my husband’s inspiring project with those of you who might not have been reading this blog two years ago. The painting on the wall is at this moment hanging in our local Coffee Shop, along with an even larger pop-art painting of Lincoln he completed this year. 

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. says

    You did a fabulous job on the kitchen design and on the shopping! Given that the frig was half of what you spent it is really remarkable how little was spent. Once you sold everything you must have come down to very little. That kitchen would make me smile every morning.

    • Angela says


      The kitchen does make me smile every morning, and that is truly remarkable because I used to absolutely hate it. It was so ugly and depressing.

      In fact, just yesterday I called out “I love our kitchen!” and my husband laughed. It really does add to my happiness. I highly recommend bright colors and not busting the budget.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Terry says

    I love it! You guys did a fabulous job. The red floor is too cool.

    We really didn’t have much of a kitchen when we moved here. There were no cabinets, just a stainless restaurant shelving unit and an island pot rack combo.
    My husband found cabinets on sale at McCoy’s and installed them himself. If I recall correctly, we spent about $1200.00 That was 8 years ago.
    Our house used to be a hall type place. It’s one big open space with no interior walls except for the bathrooms, laundry room and one closet.
    We’re still working on it and spending as little as possible.

    • Angela says

      Thanks so much, Terry. We really are happy with the colors, in fact, they’re “happy colors.” :)

      It’s great that you’re working on your kitchen while you can enjoy it. We knew so many people who had to upgrade their kitchen to sell their home and then wished they’d done it sooner so they could enjoy it themselves. It took us almost seven years, but I’m glad my husband made a move to get to the project. I think I always thought it would be too expensive, so it was great that we found ways to make it affordable. It was a case of not letting “perfect” be the enemy of much, much better. We love our kitchen!

      Thanks for commenting!

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