One Week DIY Kitchen Renovation under $250

January 7, 2021Brandy
DIY kitchen renovation


Yes you read that right- I completed a total DIY kitchen renovation for UNDER $250 in just a weeks time! The before and after is amazing. When we moved into our farmhouse, there was really nothing “wrong” with the kitchen… it was a nice size, the cabinets were in decent shape, the countertops were acceptable, there was a backsplash and it had stainless appliances. The problem was, absolutely none of it was even close to my preferred style. I enjoy a light, bright, modern farmhouse style. I also enjoy high end finishes even though I do not have that kind of budget. When we moved in, the kitchen cabinets were painted black (poorly, with wood grain showing through the paint), the backsplash was tan and black with heavy stains and the whole space just felt so dark and dank. I knew a renovation of some sort was on the horizon but I wasn’t sure what it would look like with our limited budget and busy schedules.

After a lot of research and planning, we settled on a two part renovation. The first phase would be painting cabinets, upgrading backsplash and giving a general refresher to the space. This could be done on a shoestring budget and I had a holiday break between Christmas and New Years that allowed me the time to complete it. Phase two will be butcherblock countertops, expanding the island, a new microwave and a new sink and faucet. That is coming hopefully in summer 2021. My goal was to do the whole renovation for as close to $1000 as possible. This is a tight budget for the high end look I crave but with some creativity and elbow grease, I know we can get it done.

This was my inspiration for the full renovation

As of today, phase one is fully complete and I am already floored by the transformation! I can’t wait to complete everything on our list and have my dream kitchen without breaking the bank. Read through as I break down everything I did in this phase and the products we used!

Phase 1:

DIY kitchen renovation

The goal was to paint the cabinets, update the look of the backsplash and upgrade the look with some fresh finishes. Given that this was the less extensive part of the renovation, I set a budget of $250 and I was able to stick to it and even came in under budget! Here are all of my steps.

1. Paint the Cabinets

This was the biggest job of the whole project and I never want to do it again. Because we had wood cabinets, the process of painting them included cleaning with a heavy degreaser, sanding off the old black paint and then filling the wood grain with Aquacoat in order to make a smooth finish for the paint. Then I sanded again to smooth everything out, painted on two coats of oil based primer to lock in any stains and wood tanins and then went with my two coats of high quality satin finish paint. It took ALL week.

We decided to go with classic white on the upper cabinets for a sleek, bright look. On the bottom, we got a little wild and went with a french blue paint on those cabinets. I am absolutely obsessed with this look. It brings so much character and a much needed pop of color to our kitchen. I also think the unexpected blue cabinets makes it feel a little more custom and less like the basic, cookie cutter white kitchen that is everywhere these days.

The space is very bright and full of natural light thanks to the wall of windows in our dining area as well as two skylights. A pure white kitchen would have almost been too much in the space as we also have neutral walls and finishes. Bringing in the soft blue with grey undertones was just what the space needed and I am so happy with the decision. The space is bright and warm and just the perfect vibe for our farmhouse.

A few tips for painting cabinets:

  • Mark your cabinet doors with a piece of numbered tape right where the hinge will cover. Place a piece of matching tape with the same number inside the cabinet so the doors match back up easily
  • Take off your drawer fronts if you can- it saves a ton of time because you do not have to unload your drawers and makes for a cleaner finish
  • Paint slowly in THIN layers to avoid drips… I was not perfect about this because I was impatient and I ended up having to sand off a lot of drip spots and repaint those spots. Be better than me lol!
  • Make sure to let the cabinets dry fully and cure before cleaning them at all or banging them around too much. I hung them back up and just treated them carefully for a week while the paint cured and handled exclusively with the pulls .
  • I suggest sealing with a clear satin or semi-gloss to protect the paint and ensure a lasting finish on your paint. I opted to do this after letting the cabinet paint cure for a full week and when the cabinets were hanging back in the kitchen. I am using Polycrylic in satin.
DIY kitchen renovation

Here is the list of products from painting the kitchen cabinets:

  • Aquacoat
  • Kilz Oil Based Primer in White – 1 gallon
  • Behr Marquee satin paint in Ultra Pure White – 1 gallon
  • Behr Marquee satin paint in French Colony – 1 gallon
  • Sand paper in 80 grit and 120 grit
  • Foam rollers small size
  • High quality trim paint brush
  • Painters tape
  • Plastic sheeting

2. Refreshing the Backsplash

Normally, I would not complain about a tile backsplash… however, our tile backsplash was poorly installed, the grout was falling out, the tiles were stained and looked perpetually dirty and the colors of tan and black did not go with the new color scheme at all. Ripping it out and installing new backsplash was not in the time frame or budget so I had to think of something else. While researching ways to refresh a backsplash on a budget, I came across painting. I had never considered painting backsplash before but the more research I did, the more it seemed like the perfect plan.

The process was simple: we cleaned with a heavy degreaser (Krud Kutter), sanded with a block sander to rough it up for better adhesion, primed with two coats of oil based primer and then added two coats of high quality white in the same shade as the upper cabinets for a cohesive look. The process was so quick and completely changed the look of the entire kitchen. I am going to seal it with a coat of water based poly in clear gloss but it hasn’t been in stock at my local hardware store so that is coming later and I will just be careful until it is done. I am SO happy that we opted to paint the backsplash- it looks like brand new white tile and cost us nothing but a little bit of time.

DIY kitchen renovation
See? It just looks like white tile! We still need to caulk the edge but we will get there someday.

3. Updated Accent Pieces

I decided that with all the light and bright color going on the cabinets and backsplash, I needed some darker and more natural elements to balance. I decided to balance the white and blue with black matte metal, natural wood and pops of copper. We will have more of the natural wood tone once the butcherblock counters go in and I am going to work at sourcing some more copper pieces. I also have a DIY planned to paint my Kitchenaid Mixer copper… expect a blog post on that later!

Here are some of the accent pieces we used to refresh the space:

– We added new modern hardware to all cabinets in a smooth matte black. New black hinges finished out the look perfectly

– I upgraded the pot hanger to a sleek and simple black model

– I DIY’d these adorable farmhouse signs using two $3 boards from Lowe’s and the same paint as the cabinets. I chose “market” and “bakery” for a food inspired farmhouse feel and used my Cricut to make the letter stencils. This is an easy DIY anyone could do and is much cheaper than buying these signs ready made.

– These glass soap dispensers add such a touch of class and simplicity. I love the cohesive colors and not having all the eye clutter of a plastic soap bottle from the store. I buy my soap in bulk at Costco and just refill as necessary.

– This banana hook is my favorite- handy when I have bananas and hides away when not in use!

– Cute little planters for a pop of green (I used air plants). Also, that basket is for our farm fresh eggs!

– I added under cabinet lights for a little more brightness.

Now I can see the sugar and flour when I am measuring

– New stools for the island added functionality and filled the weird space under the counter.

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Here is the final price break down:

  • Primer – $0 (already had it on hand)
  • Aquacoat grain filler – $25
  • 2 gallons of paint (white and blue) – $75
  • Painting supplies – $0 (already had in on hand)
  • Hardware for cabinets – $25
  • Hinges for cabinets – $33
  • Pot hanger – $26
  • Lights – $10
  • Soap dispensers – $14
  • Banana hanger – $9
  • Stools – $30 (I bought the 4 pack on sale for $60 and sold two on Facebook marketplace for $30)

Total: $247

*Please note that prices may have changed between when I purchased and when you look at this. I linked the exact items below but I can’t guarantee the prices. **

Paint Colors:

Updating your space does NOT have to break the bank. We did all of this work 100% ourselves with a very minimal financial investment and yet, we have the look of a brand spanking new kitchen in the exact style I was looking for. A little creativity and elbow grease goes a LONG way! If you are desperate for an update to your kitchen and don’t have a massive budget, I promise a little paint can make a magical difference and you CAN do it yourself. If I can do this, anyone can. I am so pleased with this project- stay tuned for phase two later this year!

Are you planning a DIY kitchen renovation on a shoestring budget? Let me know in the comments!

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