When we toured our home for the first time, I had so many exciting ideas for the kitchen. Fast forward to closing, and it was six months of part time renovation…(yes, six MONTHS!) It is now my beautiful farmhouse kitchen. We made a lot of changes, and saved a ton of money working on much of the kitchen on our own.
At first, I was hesitant to share our DIY kitchen remodel “before and after”, because I still have so many more project ideas in mind. Once we made it to a place where our kitchen was complete and totally functional, we took a much needed break from remodeling.
I am happy with how far we have come, and I am excited to share what we did to our dark 1960’s kitchen to get it to where it is today. I’m sorry I don’t have better before photos, these were snapped by a family member on our hectic move in day. As you can see, it was a deep, dark cave! It felt secluded and closed in, even though it was quite spacious and right in the center of our home.
I decided to break our DIY kitchen remodel down into two parts. Six months of renovation craziness seemed a lot to cover in one post! In this post, I’ll share the parts of the kitchen we remodeled on our own, and the ways we saved money on our kitchen makeover. The next post will cover the portions of the remodel we brought in help for (planned and unplanned) that were worth every penny, and some insights on what we learned managing our own kitchen remodel. Post may contain affiliate links.
How We Saved on Our DIY Kitchen Remodel
There were certain things I knew we would need help with, and others we could tackle on our own. Neither my husband nor myself had much in the way of renovation experience. Even with some of the bigger changes we made, this was still an incredibly low budget kitchen makeover. There were several ways we kept our kitchen renovation budget low.
DIY the Demo
The first key way we saved money on our remodel was to DIY the Demo. Even if you know you need help with part of the project, doing your own demo will save money on labor. We tore out the soffits, removed seemingly endless wallpaper, pulled up old floors, ripped out the backsplash and countertops, and removed sheetrock.
My only concern was to make sure we only removed what definitely needed replacing! Giving my Husband and Father-in-law license to use sawzalls and sledgehammers in the kitchen seemed like a dangerous proposition!
Patch and Paint the Walls
We also removed all the old wallpaper, patched the imperfections, and repainted the walls and ceilings of the kitchen. The kitchen came with a thin brick accent wall installed over the drywall. I was so excited to white-wash it as soon as I laid eyes on it.
Unfortunately, we realized the wall was roughly installed and if we kept it, there would be no room for a normal sized refrigerator without some big layout changes. We decided to remove the brick wall and put up new sheet rock.
Dry-walling on our own was an adventure. Between where the soffits used to be, and the whole far wall, it was a messy job. It took several rounds of sanding to get the seams smooth. However, with enough coats of spackle and some patience, drywalling is totally possible…even for complete novices like us!
Refinish the Cabinets and Add Some Cabinet Upgrades
We opted to paint our old kitchen cabinets and save thousands. Our cabinets were all original and in rough shape, but painting them and adding new hardware really gave them a new lease on life. We thoroughly cleaned, sanded, puttied holes, primed, and painted them inside and out. It was a tiring process…but so worth it!
Upgrading the cabinets with molding and trim pieces added so much character to the kitchen. I added bead board to the sides of the cabinets using adhesive caulk, and covered the seams with a wide trim at the bottom.
I was able to do the trim without miter cuts using ready made corner pieces. Using basic shelf brackets, I made the cabinet “feet”.
All of these amazing kitchen cabinet makeover ideas are from my favorite DIY kitchen at InMyOwnStyle. I first read about her kitchen makeover back in 2010 and it is so inspiring! It was so fun adding all those beautiful details to our cabinets.
Affordable Butcher Block
Butcher block is a highly economical countertop compared to granite and quartz, and it fits right in for a farmhouse kitchen. We installed affordable butcher block countertops from IKEA and I love them!
Some of the installation we did on our own, as well as sealing the butcher block. We had some help with the more complex cuts for the sink and stove.
A Simple way to Finish off Butcher Block
Our home had a formica sheet back splash that matched the counter tops. We ripped out the back splash, and patched the damage the adhesive did to the drywall. Then we just painted it with the rest of the kitchen. We added a white baseboard trim over the butcher block to hide the seam where the butcher block meets the wall.
It was incredibly simple, and I think it looks lovely. It was definitely the fastest and least expensive way for us to finish off the counter tops. Plus, we can always add a back splash later by removing the wood trim.
Shop around for Great Deals
We were trying hard to stick to a tight budget for our DIY kitchen remodel, but we needed some new appliances! The wall oven and fridge were very old, and there was no microwave. I really didn’t want to break our renovation budget on appliances. The compromise was that we decided not to be picky about all the brands matching so we could hunt for deals.
I looked at Craigslist and found lots of great options. First, there was a brand new GE stainless fridge that a family didn’t want in their new construction home. We picked it up for just $450. Then, I found a Maytag double wall oven that was perfect for the wall opening we had for just $300. It was brand new in the box, and wouldn’t fit properly in the owner’s kitchen remodel. The microwave was a deal on black Friday for $149. They aren’t all a matching set, but I am content as long as the colors match! I was more than happy to get the new appliances we needed for under $1000.
I also shopped around for new kitchen fixtures and drawer pulls. For example, our Top Knobs cup pulls are also from craigslist. Amazon had some great deals for some of our kitchen and bathroom fixtures from third party sellers and Amazon Warehouse Deals. Searching for great deals stretched the budget big time!
Keep the Basic Layout the Same
At first, I was debating replacing our peninsula with an island, but we would have had to replace several of the cabinets to make it happen. We considered moving some appliance locations, but it would mean modifying electrical locations and getting new plumbing. Anything that requires plumbing or electrical to change, such as moving a sink, oven, or refrigerator location, will add significantly to the remodel cost. Unless of course you have the skills to DIY the changes!
Most Importantly, Go with the Flow!
From the ceiling to the floor, we had several unexpected things happen that caused us to revise our remodeling plans. The best advice I can give for doing a large remodel is to try to relax and go with the flow. Living life and making meals with a torn apart kitchen is difficult, and doing it with small children is even more so. I had a few moments when I wished we bought a small move-in ready home with nothing to do! Like the moment I took this photo and sent it to a friend saying “Please rescue me from my kitchen!”
Even though it was tiresome at times, we were a good team. We just kept working at it together on our weekends and free moments, and our DIY kitchen remodel was absolutely worth all the effort in the end! We were able to stretch the money we had saved to cover so many parts of our fixer upper by DIYing what we could, accepting what we couldn’t, and taking it slow. Renovation can be a fun and memorable experience if you want it to be!
In the next post, I’ll share what parts of the kitchen we remodeled with the help of professionals, as well as the things we learned while working with pros on our budget remodel.
Do you have any DIY remodeling tips to share? I would love to hear them!