Looking for a low cost, quick kitchen renovation that looks incredible? This step-by-step guide will show you how we were able to accomplish just that for $1,023 and in only 2 days. We did all of the work ourselves and ended up with a beautiful kitchen that is a major selling point in our home.
A Little Back Story
One lazy Saturday morning, my husband and I were getting our awesome new dishwasher installed. There was only one problem: The dishwasher was too big to slide into its spot under our counters. To remedy that issue, my husband unscrewed the counter tops and lifted them up. Well, he missed a screw and ended up breaking our counter top with his hulk-like strength :-). In the picture to the left, you can see the actual break between the dishwasher and the sink.
Our original plan for this Saturday was to lift the counter up and slide the dishwasher under it, thus completing the installation of our new appliances. But now that the counter was broken, we were presented with a choice. Glue it back together and live with it or start a quickie remodel. As you can guess, we decided that it was time to start the renovation process. Though, I won’t lie, just gluing it back into place was very tempting.
Because this was an impromptu job and because we’d just bought new appliances, we knew that our budget would have to be low. After sitting down and running the numbers, we decided to keep our cost at about $1,000. Thus began the quickest DIY remodel that either of us has ever completed.
Sneak Peak of the Renovation Results
Now that we are done with the project, our kitchen is a major selling feature in our house. We get compliments all the time on our counter tops and our fixtures. When we tell people how the remodel came about and that we did it ourselves in just two days, they are always stunned. The truth is that it was simple to do and one of the more successful transformations we’ve completed to date.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to turn your dated kitchen into something special. All you need is a basic understanding of how to paint, use a drill and operate electric saws. If you can check all of those boxes, then you can easily do this renovation yourself.
The renovation we are sharing with you today is very simple. The goal isn’t to tear apart your entire kitchen and start fresh. Instead, the purpose of this remodel is to save as much as as you can from your old kitchen and revive it. That is the key to how we were able to do it at such a low cost. Below are a few quick bullet points that outline the tasks involved in this renovation.
- Install butcher block counter tops and back splash
- Install a new sink, faucet and soap pump
- Repaint the kitchen cabinet boxes, drawers and doors
- Install new hardware on drawers and cabinets
Renovation Components Cost Breakdown
It’s time to get down to the details! Below is a full list of everything that you will need in order to revive your kitchen. The total price is about $1,023, which is not too shabby considering the transformation and the equity you will get from it.
The pricing for your kitchen may vary depending on the size of your space. If you’re looking to lower your renovation cost even further, a great place to save is on the butcher block counter tops. There are a lot of lower cost options than walnut available at Lumber Liquidators.
|Category||Kitchen Reno Components||Quantity||Price||Total Price||Purpose & Add’l Information|
|Counter Top||Walnut Countertops||1 12ft slab||$ 467.99||$ 467.99||Available in other varieties for lower prices. Recommended that you buy the wood conditioner as well.|
|Counter Top||Jig Template||1||$ 8.46||$ 8.46||Cut template for miter bolts.|
|Counter Top||Wood Glue||1||$ 5.97||$ 5.97||Glue counter tops together at seams.|
|Counter Top||Miter Bolt||1||$ 7.98||$ 7.98||Cinch counter tops together at seams.|
|Sink||Kitchen Sink & Faucet||1||$ 219.00||$ 219.00||We bought the American Standard sink and faucet combo from Costco. We love it and it came with easy installation instructions.|
|Sink||Clear & White Kitchen & Bath Caulk||2||$ 5.97||$ 11.94||Seal gaps between counter tops. Seal gaps between sink and counter top. Glue back splash to wall and counter top. Seal any gaps in the cabinet doors (2 panels).|
|Back Splash||Walnut Back Splash||2 8ft pieces||$ 26.99||$ 53.98||Available in other varieties for lower prices.|
|Cabinets||Klean Strip Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser||1||$ 6.98||$ 6.98||Use to prep cabinet doors and cabinet boxes for paint.|
|Cabinets||Plastic Sheeting||1||$ 11.98||$ 11.98||Protecting floors.|
|Cabinets||Paint Brush Set||1||$ 20.00||$ 20.00||Painting cabinet boxes.|
|Cabinets||Foam Paint Roller||1||$ 4.97||$ 4.97||Touch up after spray to reduce dripping & painting cabinet boxes. Any roller for ultra smooth finishes will work.|
|Cabinets||Paint Tray||1||$ 3.97||$ 3.97||For use on cabinet boxes and cabinet doors.|
|Cabinets||Painters Tape||1||$ 5.97||$ 5.97||Protecting walls, appliances and keeping paint lines clean.|
|Cabinets||Cabinet Rescue Paint||2||$ 17.98||$ 35.96||Painting cabinet boxes and doors. Comes in white, but a good semi-gloss paint and primer combo will do for any other color.|
|Cabinets||Cabinet Hardware Door and Drawer Drilling Template||1||$ 8.00||$ 8.00||Easy installation of cabinet hardware.|
|Cabinets||Cabinet Hardware||25||$ 6.00||$ 150.00||Handles for cabinets. Expense is really up to you on this one, but this is about what we spent.|
|Total Renovation Cost||$ 1,023.15|
Power Tool Requirements
The power tools listed below are not included in the renovation price as they are standard tools for any DIY toolbox. However, they are necessary in order to complete the renovation. If you find that you need to buy a lot of these tools, top of the line models are not necessary. Harbor Freight is affordable and a great option. We built a 450 square foot deck using our old Harbor Freight chop saw and it worked like a champion!
One note of caution before you proceed! If you’re not familiar with using any of the saws listed below or if you don’t already own them, then you should consider sending your counter tops out to be cut. Lumber Liquidators recommended an affordable local cut center for us when we bought our counter tops. We didn’t use them because felt comfortable doing it ourselves. There are two main reasons we make this suggestion:
- The last thing you want to do is ruin your brand new counter tops with a bad cut due to inexperience.
- If you have to buy the saws and the saw blades, it may save you money to have a professional make the cuts using your dimensions. They can also make the miter bolt cuts that you need for any seams in your counters.
|Tools||Quantity||Price||Total Price||Recommended (R) or Essential (E)?||Purpose|
|Wagner Home Décor Paint Sprayer||1||$ 79.97||$ 79.97||R||Quickly paint your cabinet doors.|
|Caulking Gun||1||$ 5.00||$ 10.00||E||Caulk crease in cabinet doors if you have two panels, seal sink to counters, glue back splash to wall and counters.|
|Jigsaw & Blade||1||$ 75.00||$ 75.00||E||Circular cut into counter top for sink installation.|
|Skill Saw & Finishing Wood Blade||1||$ 225.00||$ 225.00||E||Straight cuts on the counter tops.|
|Power Drill & Bits||1||$ 75.00||$ 75.00||E||Remove cabinet doors & counter tops. Install cabinet hardware. Drill a hole to start your sink cut and install your sink.|
|Router||1||$ 50.00||$ 50.00||E||Route a divot into the bottom of the counter top for your miter bolt.|
|Tool Cost||$ 389.97|
It’s Time to Roll Up Your Sleeves & Start Your Renovation
The first step of any renovation is to dismantle or demo your existing setup. In this case, you do not want to smash anything with a sledge hammer since you will be keeping most of the existing structure. We’ll walk you through the quickest and safest way to ensure that your kitchen is still standing once you’re done.
Also, be sure to save any screws or miter bolts that you encounter during the demolition. This will save you both time and money later down the road as most of these items can be reused.
Turn off Your Water
For your first step, find your kitchen sink’s water shut off valve and turn it off. Then turn on your kitchen faucet and run it until the water stops flowing. This is a very simple first step and it’s a little out of order, but we recommend you do it right away so that you don’t forget. We are all human and doing this early will help ensure that disaster does not befall you early in the game.
Remove Your Cabinet Doors
Grab your drill and drill bit set. Pick out a bit that is correctly sized to the screws in your cabinet hinges. This should fit comfortably into the screw’s head and the drill should not over-rotate when activated. This is very important because you do not want to strip the screws in the hinges since we plan to re-use them later. Once the handles and hinges are completely removed from the door, it should be bare and ready to paint.
Set the hinge screws aside for safe keeping. We trashed our handles and their screws. But if yours are in decent condition, keeping them can save you the additional investment in hardware.
Next, remove the hinges from your cabinet box. Use the same bit as before and unscrew the hinges from the boxes. Once the hinges are completely removed, store them together for safe keeping. Your cabinet boxes should now be completely bare and ready to paint.
Remove Your Drawers & Unscrew the Faces
The next step is to remove your cabinet drawers from their slots. Once the drawers are all out of the cabinet boxes, it’s time to use your drill again. Size the bit correctly to avoid stripping the screw and unscrew any hardware such as knobs or handles. Tip: Because you are going to have a few sets of screws, it is a good idea to keep them in a labeled box or Ziplock bag for simplicity.
Once the hardware is removed, it’s time to unscrew the drawer face. Use your drill and the correct size bit to detach the face from the drawer. Be sure that you keep these screws in a safe place! You will definitely need them once you’re ready to reassemble your drawers later.
Unhook Your Sink Piping
We have PVC piping and a Badger garbage disposal. Since everyone has a different setup under their sink, we’d recommend that you look up your disposal manufacturer and the type of plumbing you have on You Tube for more specific instructions.
Our set up is very simple. We just unscrewed the PVC piping from the bottom of the sink and then used a screw driver to loosen the disposal. Once the disposal was loosened, Nick detached the exterior drain from the actual disposal by unscrewing it. Be sure that you take mental or actual notes on how you took everything apart and keep all of the parts handy. This will make reassembly much easier.
Once your sink is completely detached from the piping beneath it, use a razor blade and cut around the exterior edges where the sink meets the counter tops. This will remove any caulking. Now you can simply lift your sink out of its insert and dispose of it. Our old sink was terrible and I did a pretty ridiculous happy dance when we finally tossed it to the curb!
Remove Your Counter Tops
Now that your sink, cabinet drawers and doors are all removed and set aside, you are ready to remove your counters. It is important that you complete the other steps first as this will allow for ease of access. It is also necessary because if your kitchen sink is a top mount (i.e. it sits on top of your counter), it will hold your counter in place until it is removed. If it is mounted underneath your counters, then you should remove your counters before your sink.
All cabinets are screwed into the counters from the bottom up. An example of this is pictured on the left. You will want to remove all of the screws with your drill and set them aside for later use. Tip: Pay attention to how the counters are anchored while you remove the screws. You will need to re-do this when you install your new counter tops. If you have laminate counter tops, you should have miter bolts holding the seams together. Loosen these, remove them and set them aside to use later. After you’ve removed all of the screws, you will simply lift up.
The counters should come up easily. If they do not, then check for any missed screws. You do not want to force it as you could accidentally damage your cabinet boxes. Tip: Check for the two screws that hold your dishwasher in place. Those are the screws that caused our counter tops to break in the first place :-).
Once your counters are removed from the cabinets, set them aside and save them. You can use these to get the exact lengths for the cuts you need to make on your new counter tops.
Now that your demolition is complete, you should be left with something that looks like the pictures below. We didn’t take pictures before we started painting (whoops!), so you will see white cabinets boxes.
Paint the Cabinet Boxes
The key to an awesome paint job is great preparation. The first part of this is also the least fun: Taping. As a rule, you should tape anything that you don’t want to get white paint on. We taped any portion of our appliances that butted up against the cabinet boxes. We also taped along the walls and ceilings next to the cabinet boxes for clean lines and minimal touch-up later.
Place Plastic Sheeting
Next, you will roll out the plastic sheeting directly under the cabinet boxes. This will ensure that any dripping from the boxes doesn’t end up on your floor. Despite your best efforts here, some paint may drip on your floor. It happens to the best of us. If it does, just keep a wet cloth handy and wipe it up right away. This should prevent any stains.
Prepare Cabinet Boxes for Paint
Once everything is taped and the plastic sheeting is in place, it’s time for the Klean Strip Sanding Deglosser. Use a terry cloth rag and a generous dollop of the deglosser. Then take the wet portion of your terry cloth and scrub the finished portion of the boxes. The goal is to rough up the finish and to remove the top layer of glossy sheen. This will ensure that your new paint will stick. If you have trouble accomplishing this with only the deglosser, you can also use a sheet 220 grit sand paper. The combination of the deglosser followed up by the sand paper should do the trick without any issues.
Ready, Set, Paint!
Now that the cabinet boxes are taped and roughed up, they are ready for the Cabinet Rescue Paint. Make sure that you stir the paint well once it’s opened. We used the paint tray and the foam roller for the easy-to-access areas of our cabinet boxes. We then switched to the paint brushes for smaller, decorative strips and corners. Try to cover your brush marks as much as possible by blotting with your paint brush or going over your painted areas with the foam roller. Foam rollers offer a very clean finish, which is why we recommend them for this project.
Painting is easier if you choose a path and stick to it. For example, complete all of the bottom cabinets from left to right and then move to the upper cabinets, completing them from left to right. That way you can start from the beginning for the second coat without stopping. By this point, it is very likely that the first coat will be dry and ready for another coat.
We used about 3 coats of the Cabinet Rescue Paint before we achieved the look we wanted. Note: If you’d rather do gray or another color, a good quality semi-gloss paint & primer combo will work just as well.
Cut & Install Counters
Once your cabinet boxes are painted, it’s time to move on to your butcher block counter tops. Before you start installing, make sure that your cabinet boxes are completely dry. If they are even a little bit tacky, this could cause damage to your butcher block counters and create touch-up needs for your cabinets.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
An oldie but goody! In this case, it is a great rule to follow. It is also the first step to properly installing your counters. The good news is that your butcher block counters come already cut into a standard width. So all you will need to worry about are the length cuts and the sink cut. But first, let’s talk about the length cuts.
Remember those old counter tops you set aside for a rainy day? Well, it’s time to put them to work! Using your old counters to calculate the proper cut lengths for your new counters makes measuring super simple. If you decide to change any cuts from your old set up, make sure that your measurements are dead accurate. Any gap in your counters due to inaccurate measurements will be very noticeable.
Once you are measured up and ready to make your cut, you will use your skill saw with a fine tooth finishing blade. Ask you local hardware store which one is the best for a clean cut if you’re uncertain. To keep the cut straight, use a clamped down straight edge along your cut line. Make sure that you measure your cut line from multiple points along the straight edge to be sure it’s level.
Cinch & Anchor Your Counter Tops
After you have finished your length cuts, take your counter tops into your kitchen and lay them out. Look them over for visual appearance and make notes of where you have any seams in your counter tops (i.e. where two cuts meet). All the seams must be cinched together and anchored. In order to accomplish this, you will use miter bolts.
Miter bolts are basically a bolt with two, long nuts attached (pictured to the right). You sink the bolt and nut into the underside of each counter top and then tighten them to cinch your counters together at the seam.
Unfortunately, the butcher block counter tops do not come pre-routed for miter bolts. But don’t worry! We’ve hunted down some instructions that easily lay out how to make these cuts.
This is exactly how we did it, except that Nick made the cuts freehand because we didn’t know about the jig…dangit :-)! Tip: Before you get started on the cuts, you will need to find a level work space.
Now that your miter cuts and your length cuts are complete, you can place all of your counter tops back on top of their appropriate cabinet boxes and install them. Before you anchor anything down with screws, you must install the miter bolt and cinch the counters together. Please use these step-by-step instructions to accomplish that.
Once all of the seams are cinched together, it’s time to anchor the counters to the cabinet boxes. This is where the old screws that held your old counters in place are useful. This will prevent you from making an unnecessary purchase and ensure that you have the right size screw for the job. As long as you paid attention and took mental notes while you demo’d your old counters, this will be very easy to re-create.
Cut & Install Your Sink
If you’ve purchased a new sink, it should come with a cutting template. We simply cut out the over-the-counter mount instructions, taped it to the counters and traced the cut line into the wood with a pencil. In our renovation, we measured really well and did the cut in our garage before installing the counter tops.
But we found videos after the fact that showed the installer making the cuts after the counter was already installed. In retrospect, we should have done it this way as you can visually see that your sink will be centered over your cabinets before the cut is complete. This video will show you exactly how we made the cut to install our sink. It will also help you purchase the correct saw blade for the job, which is very important.
Once you’ve made the cut, follow the instructions that came with your sink to install the faucet and soap pump. Then reconnect the plumbing to the sink under the cabinet. We used plumbers putty to create a water-tight seal around the disposal drain as ours leaked. Ace Hardware was a life saver for this one as this was their idea.
If you encounter this issue as well, you can simply roll the putty into a long string, circle it around the drain, mount the disposal piece on top of it and scrape away any excess putty with your fingers. Once this is complete, you will use the clear kitchen and bathroom caulk to seal the outside of the sink and keep water out from under the counters. Just be sure to wait for the appropriate amount of time before before running the water.
Sand your Counter Tops
Since your counters do not come finished, you will need to use a 220 grit sand paper to create a smooth finish. We used an electronic palm sander, but you can do it manually with a hand sander as well. All you need to do is work the sander in circular, smooth motions. Do not press too hard as you do not want to gouge the wood. Keep an even, light-medium pressure as you carefully sand the surface of your counters. Once this is finished, you can rub in the wood conditioner we recommend or any mineral oil specifically for the purpose. This will give the counters great color and really prepare them for use near water and food.
Cut and Install Your Back Splash
This is one of the easiest steps of the entire renovation. Once you’ve finished installing your counters, you can really do this at any point in the process. You simply measure the length of your cuts and use a chop saw or a skill saw to make the cut. Once the cut is complete, you caulk the bottom and the top to glue it into place. We used clear kitchen caulk along the seam between the counter and the back splash. Then we used white caulk for the wall to back splash seam. But you can use clear in both areas, as long you create a good seal.
Paint Your Cabinet Doors
This step comes after you make the cuts for your counter tops and install them for a very good reason. We made all of our cuts in the garage and this kicks up a lot of dust. We also painted our cabinets in the garage to avoid them getting dirty or covered in bugs (an unfortunate reality in Florida). Doing the counter tops first and waiting for the dust to settle gives you the best chance at having a great paint job on your cabinet doors.
In order to accomplish this, we first caulked around the two pieces of our cabinets with while caulk to cover any gaps. Then we roughed up the cabinet doors the same way we did with the boxes, using the deglosser and a terry cloth rag. Once they were ready to paint, we spread out a large plastic sheet and laid each cabinet door and drawer face up on top of it. We made sure that there was a small space between each piece so that any edges could get coated with paint as well. Then we busted out my Wagner Home Decor Paint Sprayer! This isn’t a required tool for the job, but I SO recommend it. It made painting so much easier and saved my back a lot of strenuous bending.
Once the sprayer was filled with paint and thinned with water according the manufacturer’s instructions, we cracked the bottom of the garage door for ventilation and went to town! We did about 3 coats of paint on all of the doors and drawer faces before we achieved the look we wanted. We also went back over each of them with a foam roller after each coat to eliminate large drips and even out the paint job. Overall, this was the easiest painting experience ever thanks to the sprayer!
Because of the humidity here, they took a little while to dry. But once they did, they looked fantastic! Note: You should also flip over the cabinets once they are completely dry and paint the backside. You won’t need as many coats on this side as it’s not visible, but it gives your doors a clean, finished look.
Install Cabinet Doors Onto Cabinet Boxes
This part is simple because you saved and labeled your old hinges. The holes are already there to guide you and you already have the right size screws. So, just grab your old cabinet hinges along with your drill and follow the existing holes to install them. The process is the same for replacing your drawer faces.
Install New Hardware
If you had existing hardware on your cabinets, you will need to use white wood putty to fill in the old holes. Once it is dry, you can sand it down with fine grit sand paper to blend it. If you painted your cabinets another color, then once you’ve sanded down the putty, you can simply paint over it with the color you used. If you didn’t have existing hardware, then you can skip this step and start installing your new hardware right away.
Before you start installing, we recommend that you buy a guide to help you from a hardware store. Measuring correctly for handles is more difficult than you may think. The guide will make it super easy for you to line up your handle with the appropriate set of holes and mark them with a marker. At this point, all you need to do is measure the distance from the bottom of you upper cabinets or top of your lower cabinets to the first hole. As long as that stays consistent throughout your installation, you will end up with a clean finished product.
Once you have your measurement, you will place your guide onto the cabinet door and use your template to pre-drill holes into the cabinet. Use a drill bit the same size as your hardware screws for the pre-drilling. After the holes are drilled, you will simply line the handle up with those holes and screw them into place from the back. Use a screw driver to tighten while you hold the handle in place. We have found that drills are a little too powerful for hardware screws and have a tendency to break them. This is why we recommend a screw driver.
At this point you can breath a sigh of relief and accomplishment because your renovation is complete! We hope you found our step-by-step guide helpful. As a note, we didn’t include the appliances in this estimate because prices can vary so much. But you can get a solid set of stainless steel appliances for around $1,700.
Below is a full work up of our before and after pictures. We hope you enjoy the results and that you are encouraged to try it for yourself! If you have any questions, please reach out to us!
If you’re interested in more remodel ideas check out our post on how to White Wash a Stone or Brick Fireplace.