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Our Low-Budget Kitchen Remodel! (Before + After)

Earlier this year we put our house on the market and took it off a month and a half later for so many reasons I’ll have to write about another time. After being in our house for nearly seven years and deciding to stay at least five more, I finally decided to start doing something about the boring builder kitchen that came with the house. I’ve spent many years teetering the line between hating the kitchen (I could not STAND the laminate) but trying to be grateful for what we have, finally deciding that a small budget remodel would make the next five years in our kitchen enjoyable and it’s okay to appreciate an aesthetic that appeals to you. So I began…

I made a spreadsheet with all of my ideas, researched the cost of what I would need, and figured it all within the budget that we could manage. And for this project, since I was doing it this way, instead of saving all the money upfront and THEN starting; We created a line item each month for the kitchen project. This really helped me curve my spending, determine what was most important to spend money on, and in what order. The budgeting for a project like this and why it’s important to cash flow is something I came out of this being very passionate about and could really get on my soap box, but that’s also for another post at another time.

Over all, we only spent $750 on this project. I chose budget friendly options, did all the work myself, and incorporated a lot of material I already had.

For this post, I just want to finally kick up my feet with a Moscow mule after all my darn hard work and show off the fruit of my labor. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll show pictures of the process later and I have more posts planned because I know you’ll ask questions like “What do you think of the concrete counters?” (the #1 question I get) or “How did you rebuild the bar?” or…well…if you have questions, leave them in the comments and if it’s not already on my radar, I’ll get it on there and write a Q&A post.

And also, please note, there are a few more cosmetic updates that I want to do eventually like replace the ceiling lights and paint a white panel to go under the cabinet that’s above the fridge to cover up the scrap wood. But those aren’t important and really the only things I have left. So I’m going to enjoy the kitchen being 99.9% finished. And I hope you enjoy it too!

Let’s take a look at what we had before.


This picture is from early 2013. It went through a few small rearrangements (and 2 broken refrigerators!) between then and now, but over all, this is what it has looked like since we bought it.

And then I went and broke the microwave above the stove by accidentally turning it on for 20 minutes with nothing in it instead of setting a timer like I intended. Giant facepalm! So I took it down and threw up these crappy shelves with l-brackets and scrap wood. And our neighbor gave us their old white microwave that I hated having out on the counter (but thank you for the microwave, Samantha!).

The wasted space above the top cabinets drove me nuts! I would find myself standing in the kitchen day dreaming about lifting up the cabinets to the ceiling and installing an open shelf underneath to use the space. I day dream about strange things.

This gap between the fridge and counter drove me NUTS. What a waste of space that could be used for a counter! Can you tell that I have a loathing for wasted space? I’m all about efficiency; it’s like a real-life game of Tetris for me.

And now for the reveal! I’m going to grab my Mule and prop up my feet. Enoy!


I finally moved those cabinets to the ceiling like I have always daydreamed about and added an open shelf underneath for extra storage of the daily things we use.

And for the counters I decided to do concrete. I’ll write about why I chose concrete, the process and my feelings about them in another post but I will say this…I LOVE the look of our concrete counters! I intentionally made and kept the trough marks without sanding them down too much because I love the texture it creates. It makes it feel industrial but yet homely juxtaposed against the warm navy.

LOOK! I built an efficient storage space for above the fridge! I still need to cut and paint a piece of plywood and nail it in underneath so you don’t see the scrap wood and how I built it. But that’s one for down the road.


I turned it into our coffee area.

Once I had the counter built out there was an 8″ space underneath. I wanted the trash can to go under here but I couldn’t find one that was large enough but narrow enough to fit below. So I built a shelf with some scrap wood and painted it the color of the cabinets.

I love having people over and I love having this verse from Acts to speak over us and the moments we create in our home. I’ve added it to my Etsy shop in case anyone wanted to print it out themselves for their home.

I also decided to put most of our spices and staples out on the open shelf to make room in the pantry and so they’re easier to access. I labeled the jars with a Sharpie paint marker. As soon as Aaron came home and saw what I had done he goes “I LOVE it!” Not “That’s nice” or “Okay?” or “Interesting.” No, he said he “loves” it. It made my heart swell so big. Now every time I’m standing there cooking and look up, it makes me smile that I did something that he loves.

One day in our life Bible study class we were talking about Romans 12. As I was reading this I immediately thought about how it could speak over me while I’m doing dishes to remind me that what I’m doing IS important even though it feels miniscule. So I made a print and framed it so I can meditate on that verse while I’m doing (what I think are) monotonous daily chores.

I also put it in my Etsy shop so you could print and frame it too, if you want. The actual text will fit a 4×4 frame (like mine below) or you could print it out on the 8.5×11 it’s formatted for and cut it to an 8×10, 5×7…whatever you want.

Because we had laminate that was molded from the counter, up the walls, and onto the bar – because I removed all that laminate – I had to figure out a new solution for the the bar. I had to do a little rebuilding and then decided to do concrete just like the counters.

And there you have it! I’ve got a list of posts, tons of progress pictures, and even some video that I have planned for the future to show how I did this massive project. All in all, it took from July to November. However, Hurricane Harvey happened in the middle of it and put a major halt on the work for about 3 weeks. Thankfully, we didn’t get flooded, but it came about 4 feet away and put a lot of things into perspective. I’m definitely incredibly grateful to HAVE a kitchen after going through Harvey and seeing how many people lost so much. People we know. It’s been heartbreaking. Never take these things for granted. They can be swept away in a moment. So I’m going to live being grateful for every moment we have in this kitchen.

Thanks for reading through and sharing this with me! I’m excited to put together some posts about the process so stay tuned!

Until then, here’s a source list of everything I used…


Top cabinet/panel paint: Ultra White by Behr
Bottom cabinet paint: Winter Way by Behr

Romans 12 print (from my Etsy store)
Acts 2:46 print (from my Etsy store)
Shelf brackets
Spray paint for shelf brackets: Rust-Oleum Metallic Pure Gold
Open shelf stain: Dark Walnut by Minwax
Concrete counters: Henry feather finish
Dish drying mat (similar)
Dish brush
Impregnator sealer
Safecoat Acrylacq Sealer
Drawer pulls
Cabinet pulls
Vornado fan
Sharpie pens
Flour jar
Sugar/Rice jars
Mason jars (for spices)
Nested mixing bowls (similar here and similar in white)
Turquoise dinner wear set (similar here, here, and here)
diffuser + oils

  • lesli - You AMAZE me, friend! Your grit, your gut-so and talent! Love every bit of it! Great job! ReplyCancel

  • Buffy - Great job! Love the colors and gold accents! I would be tempted to throw up a piece of trim along the top of the cabinets to fill that gap. Would Finish off the look perfectly ! 😉ReplyCancel

    • hannah_bunker - Totally! Crown moulding/trim is on my extended to-do list for the room! ReplyCancel

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