February 25, 2015

Before and After: My Tiny Kitchen Makeover on the CHEAP

before & after kitchen makeover

As you may or may not know, Mitch and I moved to Rochester, Minnesota last summer so he could begin medical school at Mayo Clinic. It’s a wide, flat, cold land out here, and I do so miss my mountainous home in northern Utah. I spent all my birthday money and a good chunk of my Christmas money on the warmest coat I could find—a Canada Goose (which I’ve affectionately named “Papushka”… don’t ask me why), and even now, seven months after moving here, I still get a chuckle whenever I check out at the grocery store and get asked if I would like a “baaag” for that.

But it’s a great place. It really is. And one of the biggest changes for us since moving here has been the purchase of our first house—a little 1927 1 1/2 story that, despite some poor design choices and tacky paint colors, won us over with its wood floors and old-timey charm. That, and the fact that Mitch can walk to school in about 10 minutes, and we were sold.

So anyways, after we moved in, we set about to reverse some of those aforementioned poor design choices and tacky paint jobs—and on the CHEAP. Because let’s face it, with Mitch in medical school, we don’t exactly have the spending cash for a full-blown reno. So today, I thought I’d show you a little peak at what we’ve been working on, starting with my tiny kitchen. I call it my “efficiency kitchen,” because it’s so small that basically everything is in reach when I’m cooking something, which means I can whip together meals like a BOSS.

Here are the before pictures. And please excuse the mess. I took these the first week we moved in, so basically everything was…everywhere.

The cabinets were a lovely shade of orange-ish brown…

Kitchen before and after on the cheap…which complemented ever so nicely the green faux-brick backsplash (because orange and green like, totalllly go together).

And salmon-speckled countertops and corresponding tile, to go with the orange and green, of course. Plus dark green walls.


She’s a thing of beauty. But hey, she’s got a dishwasher, and that means one happy Katelyn.

So first thing we did, is we removed all of the cabinet doors and drawers, cleaned them, “deglossed” them, and painted them using a Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations kit in Winter Fog.

We replaced the hardware with these knobs and these drawer pulls, and matching door hinges.

We ripped out the tacky backsplash (now THAT was a mess).


We replaced the sink and faucet, and had the plumbing under the sink redone because it was leaking and was a complete mess of a job anyway.

I watched lots of Youtube videos and read tons of how-to posts on how to paint your countertops to look like marble, and then I went for it.

From this:


To this:

IMG_0141 IMG_0394

To this, with a shiny EnviroTex Lite coating on top:

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The best resource I found for painting your countertops to look like marble was this amazing lady’s blog post. I only wish mine looked half as good as hers.

We also re-tiled the backsplash with white subway tile, similar to these.

And replaced the light fixture with a $25 shiny chrome pendant that we sanded and painted matte black. We were sort of going for this look.

We painted the walls.

And we ate cereal out of measuring cups—or whatever dish we could find—in the meantime.


And here’s how it’s turned out so far. I forgot to mention that these “after” pics are more like a “prolonged during.” We plan to do a little tile painting on the floor. And I’d like to hang more things on the walls. And scrape the ceilings. Anyways, to be continued.


The lighting in my photos mistakenly makes my countertop there look white. Darn. I guess it’s just not a very photogenic countertop.

DSC_1171 My sink!  DSC_1168

DSC_1156 DSC_1167

Oh, and I just wanted to show you this cute calendar I picked up at Anthropologie. DSC_1184 And this tiny picture I found at Saver’s for $1.99.  DSC_1169 Is it my dream kitchen? Ha ha. Funny joke. But is it an improvement? Ah, YES! I don’t get the heebie jeebies when I walk in here anymore, thank goodness.

Okay, after posting all these pictures, now I’m really itching to do something about that awful floor. I’ll keep you guys posted.

Any budget makeovers you’ve tried before? How’d they turn out?


  1. It looks amazing! I can’t believe you did that for so cheap. Makes me want to be more adventurous and try something like that someday…

    • Katelyn

      Thanks so much Steph! When it can’t get any worse, it really makes it easy to go for the leap! :)

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