DIY Kitchen Upgrade – Transforming a Townhome, Part 3

Oh man, before we dive into this kitchen reveal, can I first give a shout out to my husband?! He has been waiting to give me my dream white cabinet, granite counter top, cute back splash kitchen…for…years. Seven years to be exact. The kitchen reno in our first home was BEAUTIFUL but we waited 3 years to start it and it ended up being A LOT more work than this one. And then…we decided to sell our house and move out only a month after it was completed. So much for getting to use my new kitchen…but sometimes change comes when you least expect it, right?

Although, that made my husband all the more determined to complete our next kitchen early on. That way we could actually live in it for a little while. And He succeeded! We worked two weekends in a row and busted this kitchen remodel out! Thankfully some of the money spent in this kitchen, on lighting, appliances, and the counter top was done by the previous owner. We focused on the kitchen island, cabinets, and back splash for our kitchen upgrade. Not only did it give the kitchen a major face-lift but we managed to stay under a $900 budget for everything! Below are some of the before and after shot, as well as some details we learned along the way.

The Before.

Our kitchen is pretty ‘builder grade’. We live in a large townhome community and in order to make our home stand out we’ve had to add some unique charm to the interior. Previous to our ownership however, there was a wall torn down in between the kitchen and dining room allowing for a more open concept feel. This is how the kitchen appeared when we bought the house.

The Kitchen Island.

We knew we didn’t want to spend gobs more money on just any typical kitchen island. So we searched for a unique piece with the right height and ended up finding this beautiful church altar. And it probably cost very close to what we would have spent on an ordinary, builder model, unfinished kitchen island. So if you are willing to wait for the right piece then do a little hunting through antique stores, flea markets, and furniture consignment shops. There are some pretty unique pieces of furniture out there, as long as they fit the height requirement (about 36-42 inches), that would make some great kitchen islands/breakfast bars.

You can get all the details on how we refinished and re-purposed the alter HERE.

Final Cost: $375

The Cabinets.

So I don’t know about you but I have always swooned over a white kitchen. Not to mention both of the kitchens we’ve owned are fairly small and white always makes rooms look more spacious.

We decided to forgo buying new cabinets and paint ours white mostly because there wasn’t room in our budget. However, the bones were great and with their simple shaker style appeal I didn’t really see the point in replacing something that wasn’t broken. On our previous kitchen cabinets and these in our current home we used the Rust-Oleum product Cabinet Transformations. They have a variety of colors to choose from as well as a glaze you can apply to the cabinets to make them look antiqued/lived in. Check out the option we used HERE.

I did really enjoy using this product and I feel that it will hold up well. However, for the price tag, there may be ways you can DIY this process.

Basically it’s a three step process: 1. Degloss 2. White flat base coat and 3. Clear top coat.

The most important part is the cleaning/de-greasing. If you can find a great product to do that then I’d say put your back into scrubbing and don’t buy the kit. Then, grab a flat white paint (if that is the color you’d like) and a clear top coat for added protection and you should be good to go!

Above the stove there was previously a hood vent. However, I was not about to make room for a microwave on the counter – it just wasn’t a compromise I could make. So, we purchased a microwave that could be installed above the stove. In order to fit it in the space we cut a portion of the upper cabinet off and moved it up the wall a few inches so that we could still have the storage. It became an open cabinet (after cutting, the doors were no longer the right size), which was fine because we decided to put small kitchen appliances in it.

We also decided to move the cabinet over the sink up the wall a few inches too. I hit my head on that thing every time I leaned over to do the dishes. It was just a poor design move to have it at that height, so we moved it. Some people don’t like the un-even cabinet look but we think it gives some character.

Finally, to finish off the cabinets we installed black matte hardware that we purchased off of It can be quite expensive to purchase new hardware depending on how many cabinet doors and drawers you have, so I’d recommend comparing pricing online to your local hardware store.

Final Cost: $128.65

The Back Splash.

Just after we moved into this home we found an amazing deal on marble hexagonal tiles, also from Seriously IT…WAS…UNBEATABLE!! And at the time we were just browsing and hadn’t planned on buying anything yet…but we just couldn’t pass it up. Like I said earlier, check prices online against your local hardware stores. You take a risk in not getting to examine it before buying, but it may just be worth it.

[P.S. if you plan on using natural stone for ANY project you must realize the key word is ‘natural’, so it’s not going to be perfect or all the same. There were very little flecks of light orange/brownish on some of the tiles; however, that is something we expected and were OK with. So make sure you are too before purchasing!]

Because it’s a natural stone back splash there are certain things you have to do differently compared to doing a porcelain or ceramic tile back splash. First of all the mortar has to be white because you don’t want the stone absorbing any color. And you also need to seal the tile before grouting, as well as after. And my least favorite part…you have to use a non-sanded grout (make sure your joints are under 1/8 inch though!). We used a bright white grout for our kitchen. However, I seriously debated a light grey as well. I think either would have brought out beautiful shades in the natural stone.

Why was the non-sanded grout my least favorite?? Well non-sanded grout wipes away a lot easier than sanded grout, which is why the directions only say to wipe it once. However, I am a messy ‘grouter’ so I needed to wipe grout off of the tiles themselves while not wiping too much grout out of the joints. Ugh…it was time consuming and a little frustrating, not only for me but my husband too. SO keep that in mind if you are thinking about using natural stone for your back splash. Still sooo beautiful though!

I am thinking we will do another blog post with all the details to completing a back splash from start to finish, so keep an eye out!

Final Cost: $351.94

The After.

Oh how I love it!!

The wall paint color is ‘Sea Salt’ by Sherwin Williams and probably now in my top 5 favorite paint colors.

Total Kitchen Upgrade Cost: $850.59



Thanks for stopping by to check out our ‘new to us, on a budget, still so beautiful’ kitchen!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *