DIY Open Concept Kitchen Makeover [on a budget]

DIY Kitchen Remodel- before and after.jpg
Hi loves, this post is a long time coming because, honestly, I thought I already shared our kitchen remodel with you on here.

kitchen remodel after picture with blue shiplap island and white kitchen cabinets.jpg

[An “after” a little bigger so you can see it better]

This is the second kitchen of ours that I’ve remodeled/updated by myself. Pictures and information on the first remodel can be seen in this post.

[A peek into our old kitchen]


[Our old kitchen]

Once that old kitchen was gorgeous and “Pinterest-worthy,” we sold our house and moved into this… and it would have been completely depressing if it hadn’t excited me again to take on another project.
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I snagged this pic from our current house’s listing, don’t judge. 😉

Both of our houses have seemed like 90s builder-grade specials because they both have that ugly honey oak wood galore and popcorn ceilings for days!
I’m not against oak as a species, just against orange oak everywhere; so my must-do in any house like this is to 1) scrape and repaint the ceilings and 2) stain or paint the kitchen cabinets so they don’t look like giant orange extensions of the floor.

You can also see in this picture that I used a countertop painting kit to check if I wanted cooler white granite counters or if I wanted some warm brown tones in it. It turned out I liked the warmer brown tones!

How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Removing popcorn ceilings is a pain in the rear no matter what and this project made me realize there are different kinds of popcorn ceiling. The old house had a texture that was more like plaster when it was being scraped off, which meant tons of dust and we needed to use lots of water (sprayed from a spray bottle) to get it down. This house, however, had a texture that was more like styrofoam and it was static-y and stuck to everything as it fell. Water didn’t seem to help remove it or to help lessen the dust that fell so I ditched the spray bottle about 1/3 of the way through. Either way, you need plenty of disposable drop cloths because you will want to wrap them up and toss them in the trash asap!
If you want smooth ceilings after scraping, you’ll need to really get down to the sheetrock and you may even need to touch it up with sheetrocking mud; but if you don’t mind a little texture, I think it’s fine as is.
After scraping, make sure the ceiling’s pretty dry before beginning to paint. Know you’ll need a few coats if you had to remove popcorn ceilings.

Find the Best Paint for Your Cabinets

I have to admit, at this point, I somewhat regret my paint choice for a few reasons. First, I got paint on sale from Lowes because it was $3/gallon and I was excited for that, but it tinted weird and I didn’t get the off-white color I wanted, which was why it was on sale. Second, I listened to the advice of a guy who probably isn’t a perfectionist because he said I could use a particular liquid sander and would have perfect results. Well, I can tell you now, I completely regret not sanding these cabinets as well as I did last time! I have a few spots I need to touch up because the paint took so long to cure.
I recommend going with a hard finish paint, preferably low VOC, in a brand that is trustworthy. Go into a specialty store so you can talk with someone who is knowledgable about your actual needs for your project.
Painting a kitchen the right way is a lot of work. It takes for.effing.ever. It means sanding and lots of coats of primer and paint. It requires you to take off (and label) all of the hinges. DON’T THINK YOU’LL BE ABLE TO PUT THE HINGES BACK THE RIGHT WAY IF YOU DON’T LABEL THEM!!!! Sorry to yell at you, but for real… I labeled everything the first time and everything went well with the hinges, but this time I thought I was better than that and– well — I felt like an idiot when the time came to put hinges back in because none of them were the same and nothing fit. It took me hours to finally piece things back together.
Oh, and another tip is that you need a small smooth roller to smooth out the paint. Don’t just use a brush. I usually used a brush to get the paint around the edges and around the recessed panels on the cabinet doors and then I rolled over all of it with my smooth little roller.


This is how it looked when I finished the perimeter


How to Make a Cohesive Open Concept

One challenge I faced while doing this project was figuring out how to match the living room to the newly painted kitchen. Beckett and I finally decided on matching the island with the fireplace mantel. Then I begged Beckett to let me tile over the old ugly beige tiles on fireplace surround with these gorgeous blue tiles and he let me because it was my birthday, pretty sure.
The final touches were to prime, paint, and add “shiplap” to the kitchen island, install cabinet hardware, put wallpaper in the space above/around the fireplace, replace light fixtures, and to save up for new granite countertops/ a backsplash.
So here are a few shots of the living room from a post I did a few months ago about how to organize kids’ toys:

kitchen hardware.jpg

our hardware. Can you see the nicks? That is why I wish I hadn’t taken the guy’s advice about the liquid sander! Gorgeous pulls are linked here b/c I couldn’t find the exact, but here are similar ones I like! Both are about as price-conscious as you will find!

This is how the kitchen looked while waiting for countertops…
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The “shiplap” is just real wood veneer I bought at Lowes, cut (with a scissors) into 6″ strips, glued and nailed into the island back and sides. It took a good afternoon, but was really easy!

About our Countertops

Then, finally, after a few months we went and got our countertops! We got tons of price quotes before settling on a place called Exquisite Stone, even though we had worked with them before and liked them. They ended up having the best price for what we wanted and we knew we could trust their design and install team. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, I recommend Exquisite Stone. They may be out in the boonies a bit, but I think they were worth it.
In all our remodel cost somewhere in the ballpark of $2500 total, including the countertops, new faucet, and backsplash. It is still a lot of money, but we could have easily spent all of that on countertops if we hadn’t found a good price.

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Here’s what our countertops look like by the sink! I think they are perfect with our brass faucet and gold cabinet hardware!

The Backsplash & Final Touches

For our backsplash, I choose a porcelain marble-look tile that had a lot of grey and honey brown colors in it. I wanted it to tie in the orange-y floor color as well as mimic some of the grey tones in the countertop. I think it was on sale for $1.50/sq. ft. at Tile Outlet in Rogers, MN. I’m all about the deals, can you tell?
I installed it myself and learned that it’s best to invest in a tile saw instead of trying to do a whole kitchen with a scorer.
Kitchen after!.jpg
What do you think of this kitchen remodel? Do you like these colors better than the first kitchen remodel? I do still miss our greige kitchen!

decor inspo: blue island and mantel

mantel copy

Compromise. It’s part of what makes the world go ’round. At least it feels that way.

Beckett and I have very different taste so when we moved into our new house and I started talking about painting the old ugly oak cabinets he immediately wanted dark colors. He prefers black, dark brown, deep hues of burgundy, and bright blue. His design aesthetic is sometimes modern, sometimes traditional.

I like things brighter, lighter, and a little luxe. I like the clean feel of a white room, but I’m not in love with the 2016 all white everything trend, but I like things bright. I like a little color mixed with unexpected accents.

The mantel and kitchen is our mix– our perfectly imperfect home decor balance.

A lot of work went into getting the kitchen to this point and it’s still far from done.
If you have a house that needs a little help like I did, maybe this list will help give you ideas of where to start.

Order of projects to DIY an ugly kitchen into 2017:

  1. scrape the popcorn ceiling
  2. paint the ceiling (mine is taupe).
  3. mark cabinet doors so you now where they go
  4. take off the hinges (and label them… I made the mistake of not labeling and it took me hours to get the hinges back to normal since not all of them were exactly the same… it was a pain in the you-know-what)
  5. take off cabinet hardware (that I added soon after we moved in because it drives me nuts to not have drawer pulls).
  6. clean doors and lightly sand
  7. use bonding primer to prime doors
  8. tape off the floors and walls
  9. prime, and paint the frames of the cabinets with your enamel paint (that just means its semi- or gloss paint).
  10. paint the cabinet doors with 2 coats of your paint.
  11. let dry for one day.
  12. add hardware back on
  13. paint walls and built-ins in living room/kitchen area.
  14. tile over existing fireplace tile.
  15. paint mantel and kitchen island blue!
  16. add “shiplap” to the kitchen island to give it some interest/texture.
  17. wallpaper above mantle.
  18. replace repulsive kitchen light fixture.

blue kitchen island with white peremeter cabinets diy shiplap copy

Still on my list:

  • get new counters
  • upgrade faucet
  • fix garbage can pull out (it opens randomly and I can’t figure out why!)
  • resurface the kitchen table.
  • add corbels to the island as a countertop support.
  • replace appliances when they die (and that could be sooner than we hope). 😐
    arrange roses copy

    Beckett got me these beautiful roses and I couldn’t help but take a picture to show them & him off <3 thank you, babe!

When the whole project is done I’ll post a before and after, sound good?

Until then, let me know if you have any questions about what type of paint to use or other questions related to my projects!