Our Low Cost Kitchen Makeovers

Yes, low cost kitchen makeovers with an “s”… more than one. 🙂 I’m just hoping I can find enough good pictures to state my case. (The ones I have found so far are pretty old. They should give you a pretty good idea of what it looked like, I hope.)

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You really can make a kitchen look worlds better with a can of paint and a little updating. When we moved into the house, the kitchen was beige sponge-painted (not necessarily well either), and the previous owner had apples nailed to the wall so there were lots of holes left behind. It was a very “suburban country” kitchen. Ummm, not reflective of us at all. It also had golden oak cabinets. Now, oak can be lovely and many people love it. We do not. I find it to be heavy, masculine, and dated. First thing we did was replace the stainless sink with a black granite one, paint the walls, and then just live with that for a while.

woman in kitchen at a party. Standing at sink and talking to a man.

A few years later we came across this cool “tin ceiling” tiles at Home Depot. They are plastic so easy to cut, mount with double-sided tape or construction adhesive, and look modern. There are even matching plastic trim pieces.

It inspired us to do a few other things and we chose to paint the cabinets as well.

After talking to a decorator friend about a paper bag floor she had heard about, we decided to give it a try on the countertops. We figured if it didn’t work, we were going to have to get new countertops anyway.

We took out the sink and bought a huge roll of kraft paper. Then we ripped a whole lot if it into uneven sections (Larger ones or it will take forever to apply), then crumpled them up in a ball. We bought a drywall mud tray and poured in some Polycrylic and dipped the sections in one at a time and layered them on the counters. When we reached an edge, we would wrap it underneath.You want each piece good and wet, but not soggy. We learned it was easier to work with one piece at a time and not to throw a whole bunch of pieces in the liquid at once or it makes a big mess, and they start to tear when you take them out.

We just kept layering on the countertops in sections until we were happy with the way it looked. Then we waited for it to dry. The can says 2 hours- that is for a layer in a normal use. It takes a few more hours than that with the first section. I would recommend doing any connected countertops at the same time. In other words, don’t do one side of the kitchen and then come back in the morning to finish if it has to connect over the sink- I think it might look odd and not adhere properly if one section was dry and then you slapped a wet section on top of it. Waiting until another day for an island or whole other side of the kitchen I’m sure would be fine.

Once that first layer was dry, we lightly sanded it with 400 grit sandpaper all over and wiped it all down with a damp cloth. When dry, slap on another layer of Poly. We found it easiest to use both a roller and a brush. Honestly it really doesn’t matter which you use. The key to avoiding brush strokes in the Polycrylic is to use plenty on your brush and don’t “over brush” it out thin. In other words, put it on fairly thickly for the build-up and just enough before it starts to drip or “sag” then slowly run the brush over the top. Watch as it quickly levels out, and the brush marks disappear. If this doesn’t happen, you most likely don’t have your brush loaded up enough. Wait for each layer to dry absolutely completely before beginning another.

We put at least 7 layers of Poly on it before we were comfortable with how it looked. Probably could have done 5 or 6 more… we just needed our kitchen back someday. I would recommend at least adding one layer each year for durability. Other than that, it is fairly maintenance free. We cleaned it with 409 and generally treated it just like the Formica countertop we had before.

I was able to find this silly picture of my goofy husband and silly neighbor that shows the backsplash (on the right) the countertops (on the left) as well the painted cabinets. My apologies to my silly neighbor who, if she ever sees this, may be a whit upset with me for posting it.

man and woman standing in the newly updated kitchen acting silly.

If I remember correctly this low cost kitchen makeover was in total well under $500 (maybe more in the $300-350 range) total I would think. I remember the countertops were around $70, paint was only 1 gallon to do all those cabinets, and the backsplash was probably the most expensive part- $20 a sheet plus matching trim pieces.

I did a whole lot more with this kitchen before we sold the house and moved away. part 2 gives you a peek into how we did a concrete countertop for our new stovetop.

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