My friend Stephanie’s kitchen was just like mine. Large, dark, and perfectly fine. The dark 80’s cabinets are in great shape, but needed a little refreshing. When the lovely Tricia from The Purple Painted Lady® reached out to me about a partnership, I knew I wanted to help Stephanie with her kitchen.
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When I finally pressed “publish” on the post about our DIY kitchen update, I didn’t expect the overwhelming response I would receive. I put many hours into designing, sourcing, painting, and loving that room from top to bottom. Since I published the post a little over two months ago, it has been viewed thousands of times and been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, and various foreign home decorating and news websites.
Most of the response was very positive and encouraging. My favorite comments were from the people that were inspired to do similar projects in their own homes. The one kind of response that surprised me, and was much more present than I expected, was the rug-haters.
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A few weeks ago, I posted the full reveal of our DIY kitchen update. (If you missed it, check it out here!) With $200 and about a week of hard work, our kitchen was transformed from this…
There were three major changes made in the kitchen, but everything else came from small (and free!) adjustments.
First, paint. I painted all of our cupboards with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint from The Purple Painted Lady. I also painted the backsplash, soffit, window frame, wall trim, and all of the walls with bright white paint that we already had. The second major change was the colorful 9×12 area rug from Wayfair. (We bought it when it was on a really big sale. I check pretty regularly because people keep asking me about it, but the rug has been a lot more expensive recently.) The third change was the new gold hardware from Amazon. I searched for this specific style of hardware for months until finding a solution that was in my price range. (More on that later)
A few people have asked me, “Why chalk paint?”. I had an answer before I actually did the painting, but now that I have seen the results, I have an excited “way more information that you could ever want to know” response! I knew that I wanted to update our kitchen, but a full remodel was never an option (and I didn’t want it to be!). I started looking for creative, affordable solutions to DIY my way to the kitchen in my dreams. I think that painting the cupboards is the cheapest and most dramatic way to completely change the look and feel of your kitchen. The best part is, with a little time and a lot of hard work, you can do it all yourself!
I decided to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint after my mom used it to paint a giant china cabinet. I thought this would be a similar process to painting my cupboards. The traditional method of painting kitchen cabinets requires taking off all of the doors and hardware, sanding the wood, priming, and painting before replacing the doors and hardware. When you use chalk paint, the doors can stay on the hinges, you don’t have to sand or prime, and the process goes much faster! Chalk Paint also requires a sealer wax to protect the paint. I used clear wax for a modern look, but you can use black or white wax for a rustic or distressed vibe. You apply the wax in 2-3 thin coats with a wax brush, and it dries clear and hard. This entire process took about a week of working every day. My husband helped me whenever he could, and we had a few late nights painting just for fun!
I picked out Annie Sloan Pure White for the uppers and Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue for the lowers. The Purple Painted Lady is an excellent online stockist if you don’t live near someone that sells Annie Sloan. They delivered my paint and brushes quickly and safely, and included a ton of informational resources about using the paint.
The chalk paint is more expensive per ounce, but it is more economical because of the coverage it offers. I bought one quart of AS Duck Egg Blue for the lowers ($34.95), and one quart of AS Pure White for the uppers ($34.95). It may seem expensive to pay $35 for a tiny can of paint, but one quart of blue was enough to do two coats of paint on all of my lower cabinets and my hoosier cabinet, with a good amount of paint left over for another project! The quart of white paint was enough for three coats on the uppers (with not much left to spare). I couldn’t believe how far this paint went, and loved how smooth it was to apply. My mom recommended using Purdy brushes to apply the Chalk Paint. I found a pack of three brushes at Lowes for $20. I used the 1 inch and 1.5 inch brushes the most.
I used AS Clear Wax and a Wax Brush from The Purple Painted Lady. The “Ultimate Waxing Brush” is definitely an investment at $25, but it made a huge difference in the waxing process. The wax has an interesting texture that reminded me of Crisco. The large, round wax brush with thick bristles made the application easier. I won’t go into great detail about the waxing process, but you can find great tutorials from The Purple Painted Lady! I keep linking to her site because the information I found there made this project painless and stress-free!
Here is my cost breakdown for the paint and painting supplies:
Sales Tax: $0.00
My total from The Purple Painted Lady was $134.85, and the Purdy brushes were $20.
Grand Total for Paint and Painting Supplies: $154.85!
The second big update was the hardware. I fell in love with the Kohler Purist 3″ handles, but could NOT believe their price! These handles were $25 a PIECE.
I needed 17 handles for my cupboards and hoosier cabinet. That would have been $175 for these handles, not including buying knobs! That’s more than I spent on the entire project! I searched for months for a similar hardware style, and couldn’t find something similar enough and cheap enough. I found these handles that were a similar style, but still too expensive at $4.20 a piece, and were not available in gold!
I finally found these (that honestly look EXACTLY the same as the Kohler handles) for $1.50 a piece on Amazon! My matching knobs were $1.15 a piece.
I ordered the pack of 20 knobs, and the pack of 20 handles for a total of $53. I had an Amazon gift card from our wedding for $50, so I only paid $3 for all of the hardware!
The handles I had before were 3 inch handles, so the new 3 inch handles didn’t require any drilling! (Measure the distance between the handle holes on your cabinets if you want to replace your handles! The distance might not be 3 inches. These handles come in a few different lengths.)
The cabinets used to have knobs in the middle of the doors. I filled these holes with wood filler BEFORE painting my cabinets. I applied the wood filler, waited for it to dry completely, and then sanded the area smooth. I gave the rest of the doors a good sanding by hand to remove some of the varnish on the wood. Have your vacuum handy for this step! After the painting and waxing were complete, my husband Ben drilled new holes in the corner of each door for the knobs. We needed to buy new screws from the hardware store because the screws that came with the handles were not deep enough for our thick cabinets.
$154 for paint and painting supplies, plus $53 for hardware puts this project at $207.
(Though it was only $157 for us because of the Amazon gift card!) I used half a gallon of white paint that we already had in the house for the window frame, the backsplash, soffit, trim, and walls. The church gave us a $1,000 budget, but I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible. We considered replacing the linoleum floors, but that would have been about $350. The floors are in fine condition, so replacing them would have just been a cosmetic update. I was so grateful for the church’s support of this project, and wanted to be as frugal as possible! We decided to spend our own money on the giant rug. This acts as a temporary flooring solution in our kitchen, and is something we can take with us wherever we live in the future. Instead of sinking $350 of the church’s money into floors that didn’t need to be replaced, we spent about $250 of our own money on a rug that we will have forever! I was reluctant to spend that much money, but Ben made the valid point that this rug is acting as a flooring solution AND a decorative element. It was cheaper than replacing the flooring, and is ours to take with us wherever we live in the future.
Now that all of the sources are covered, I will make a list of the exact process we used for anyone that is interested.
- Bought paint and wax from The Purple Painted Lady
- Filled knob holes with wood filler. Wait to let dry. Sand well. Give the cabinets a good sanding if they have a shiny varnish. This will help the paint adhere to the surface better.
- Degreased cabinets with Dawn degreasing soap. This step is very important. If there are any grease spots on your cabinets, they will show through the paint- no matter how many coats you apply! I used a new sponge to apply the soap and scrub the cabinets. We also had to use a razor to scrape black gunk out of some crevices in the cabinets next to the stove. This was grease buildup from years and years of stovetop cooking. I cannot emphasize enough how important the cabinet cleaning is! Chalk paint does not require much surface prep, so make sure to do this one step very, very thoroughly! We scrubbed, rinsed, sanded, and vacuumed our cabinets three times. This took quite a while, but was worth the time and effort! If you do not properly prepare the surface, the quality of your painting won’t matter and they will turn out poorly. Some people recommend using a mineral spirit solution to prepare the cabinets, but the Dawn soap worked well for us.
- Applied first thin coat of paint. It does not take a lot of paint to cover the surface, and I was amazed at how little paint was necessary to get a good first coat. Apply in thin coats and allow to dry thoroughly between coats. The Purple Painted Lady has great resources for these steps. I should probably note that I only painted the outsides of our cabinets, except for the cabinets with the exposed shelving. I took the doors off of those two cabinets a few months ago because I love the look of exposed shelving.
- Applied second (and, where necessary, third) coats of paint. I applied two coats of blue, but the white paint needed three coats for good coverage.
- Applied wax in two to three thin coats. I only did two coats on the frames of the cabinets, but did three coats on the doors and drawer faces because they will receive the most use.
- Drilled new holes for cabinet handles in the corner of each door.
- Painted backsplash, soffit, window frame, trim, and walls with bright white paint.
- We also removed the window screens, which brightened the kitchen quite a bit. We will put them back in the spring when the windows can be opened! The screens popped right out, and will easily pop back in when we need them.
That was a lot of information, but I found a few longer posts really helpful throughout the process! If you are about to embark on a DIY adventure of your own, just go for it! It will be a lot of hard work, but painting provides immediate results in the most affordable way! I would be happy to answer any questions you still have about the process.
Thanks for reading!
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*Update* I recently wrote a post about how this project looks two years later! You can read all about it and find answers to frequently asked questions in the post below. I’ve also installed subway tile since this original post.
If you’re finding me for the first time through this post, welcome to my home on the internet! I’m Avery and I live in a charming 1910 Craftsman style parsonage in rural Iowa with my husband, Ben. You can learn more about me here, and see some of my previous design work in my Basement Family Game Room, High Style, Low Budget Sunroom from the Spring 2019 One Room Challenge, and Creating a Cozy Home Library. My design style is warm, whimsical, and collected. I love sharing real-life home inspiration for people like me who want big style with a tiny budget. You can follow along with my homemaking adventures and thrifting trips & tips on the Holland Avenue Home Instagram.
I am thrilled to finally share about our DIY kitchen remodel! My husband and I live in a 1910 craftsman style parsonage in small town Iowa. Ben is the pastor at our church, and we have been incredibly blessed to live in this home! Our church owns and maintains the house, so we only make small changes and updates. We are fortunate that the church and previous ministers have maintained this house very well, so we have only made minor decor changes to suit our preferences. (painting the walls and updating a few light fixtures).
This house is full of beautiful, original wood trim, built-ins, and doors from 1910. But, the kitchen was expanded and remodeled sometime in the 1980’s. The dark wood cupboards had normal wear and tear, and the off-white linoleum floors had seen better days. The church gave us a small budget to “redo” the kitchen, and I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible. We don’t need new appliances or fixtures or flooring, so I found creative ways to brighten and update the room without spending much money. I read every article out there about painting kitchen cupboards, and decided to go for it!
Here are some before photos of our kitchen. There is only one window above the sink, which didn’t provide much natural light. The dark cupboards sucked any brightness out of the room, and the white floors gave off a hospital vibe that I did not love. The walls used to be a warm terra cotta color, so the newer white paint still had some orange undertones.
I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for the cupboards, and would stand behind that decision over and over. A lot of companies are starting to produce “chalk paint”, but Annie Sloan invented it! I used one quart of Pure White to do two coats on the upper cabinets, and one quart of Duck Egg Blue to do two coats on the lowers. Chalk paint is unique because it requires minimal surface prep. The traditional method of painting cabinets requires taking off the hardware and doors, sanding all surfaces, priming, and painting multiple coats. With chalk paint, you remove the hardware, leave the doors on, and don’t need to use primer!
You do need to degrease the cabinets really, really well with a degreasing soap. (I used Dawn). This step is SO important. Please please please do not skip this step or rush through it. If there are any grease spots on your cabinets, the grease will show through the paint no matter how many coats you apply! After scrubbing our cabinets multiple times, I still had a few small spots show through on the uppers. This brings me to my number one tip for a DIY kitchen remodel.
Approach your DIY remodel with realistic expectations.
I did not have perfect, new cabinets before they were painted. They had stains and scratches and wear and tear. While I was painting, I was disappointed that my cabinets didn’t magically look brand new and blemish free. How silly of me! If you start with an old kitchen, you will still have an old kitchen! But don’t let this discourage you from putting in the hard work to give it an update. When you get really, really close and examine the cabinets, they have some imperfections. But do you ever really meticulously examine your cabinets? I know I don’t! Being in our kitchen is so much more pleasant now. It is bright and colorful and full of light. If I could go back, I would still definitely decide to paint the cabinets! So if you’re considering it, but are afraid of the results, just do it! It is the most affordable way to dramatically change the look and feel of your kitchen.
Now that I’ve exhausted the topic of cabinet painting, here is the finished product!
In the “before” photos, every light in the kitchen was on and it still felt like a cave. The “after” photos were taken around the same time of day with NO lights turned on! It is kind of unbelievable what a difference some paint can make in a room. In addition to painting the cupboards, I painted the window frame above the sink, the trim, the backsplash, the soffit, and all of the walls. It felt silly to paint white over white, but the fresh, bright new paint made a huge difference in the brightness of the room.
We considered replacing the floors with a wood-like vinyl, but the $350 price tag was too steep for a cosmetic change. Our floors are in fine condition, so we opted for a giant, colorful rug instead. It adds major coziness to the kitchen.
(A peek at the beautiful wood trim on the outside of the kitchen. I didn’t paint any original wood. Everything in the kitchen was from the 1980’s remodel.)
(I was tempted to take everything off the sides and top of the fridge so that it looked cleaner and more magazine-esque. But I didn’t, because my house has stuff in it. I have stuff on my fridge, and I’m okay with that. I wish more Pinterest posts showed real kitchens with real stuff in them! So there is our stuff. Magnetic poetry, photos, and a card from my grandma.)
The other major update we made was the cupboard hardware. The doors used to have large handles in the very middle of the panel. They reminded me of door knockers. The previous family must have taken them off (good call) because there were only holes in each door, and one handle on the laundry chute. The drawers had old handles that weren’t in great condition. I removed all of the hardware and filled the holes on the doors with wood filler before painting. The hardware I wanted would have cost a small fortune (about $10 a handle… not joking). After months of searching, I found almost exactly the same style on Amazon for about $1 a piece. I used a $50 Amazon gift card from our wedding, so the total for 20 knobs and 20 handles came out to $3.53. I was so happy about that!
When making design decisions for the kitchen, I initially leaned towards a minimal, modern vibe with all neutral elements. I was thinking of white uppers and black lowers, with modern accents and not much color. But as I browsed Pinterest for inspiration, I undoubtedly gravitated towards bright kitchens with a lot of color- specifically that perfect shade of blue green. I can’t deny it, it is and will always be my favorite color. I decided to be true to my own style instead of what is currently trendy, and I am so glad that I did.
I wholeheartedly believe that nothing you truly love will ever go out of style.
So when you are designing a new space, keep in mind your personal preferences and tastes instead of relying on Pinterest to tell you what’s trendy. Look to the rest of your home, and even your wardrobe for inspiration. Some people say that hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen, which makes sense to me because all of my jewelry is simple and gold! It would make sense that I’m drawn to simple gold hardware!
(I’m jumping forward now from 2016 to 2020 through the power of technology. Welcome to the future. I still adore my kitchen. Here are a few updated photos of the kitchen after installing subway tile, refining my personal style 😉 , and switching out the 9×12 behemoth of a rug for something smaller. But not because we spilled anything on it- don’t worry- the rug is better than ever. I just wanted something antique with a little more soul.)
I repurposed this Antique Table as a Kitchen Island, and it adds so much warmth and charm to my kitchen. (I also seriously upped my photography skills, which is fun for me to see!)
I gave our sad pantry a Low Budget Pantry Makeover with Leftover Paint and $20 of Organization Supplies.
Want more details about the cost breakdown, material sources, and the process I used to paint the cabinets? Check out my $200 Kitchen Update: Sources and Process post. And DON’T FORGET to check out my Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets Two Years Later update. I answer your most frequently asked questions since this original post was published four years ago, and share all of my best tips and tricks for tackling a kitchen project of your own!
Be sure to follow Holland Avenue Home on Instagram for daily snapshots of life and encouragement towards thoughtful homemaking. Want to join the Holland Avenue Home community? Sign up for my Newsletter, then hop over to Facebook and join the Thoughtful Homemakers group for project inspiration, an encouraging community, and behind the scenes of Holland Avenue!
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Want to see some more affordable transformations?
Hardware. from Amazon
Rug. from Wayfair
Today is August 29th. I had to check my calendar for that one because for me, it is still summer (and I still don’t know what day it is). This August brought forth brand new territory. It is the first year that I didn’t buy school supplies, move into a dorm, or meticulously organize assignment schedules. And to be honest, it’s a little weird.
We spend our entire childhood bobbing in between the routine of the school year and the respite of summer vacation. When August rolls around, we get back into a rhythm of productivity, schedules, and schooling. August means fresh notebooks. August means learning.
I graduated college in May, and won’t be going back to school. It would be easy to assume that my season of learning has come to an end. But this eternal summer vacation has brought a sense of freedom, and lots of new life. Even though I’m not spending my days writing papers or hitting the books, I am learning more than ever before. Learning is not confined to the classroom. In fact, I think that what we learn in the classroom prepares us to be students of the world that swirls outside of it.
I married my best friend in June, and have spent every day since learning more about him. I’ve learned that he is a late night snacker, and there is no such thing as a serving size of chicken nuggets. I’ve learned more about myself, the church, and rural Iowa geography. In the three months that I’ve been married to Ben, I’ve learned a lot from him, too. Ben has taught me that it is okay to be bad at things. It is okay that I’m not a great cook, because I’m experimenting and learning. It’s okay that I can’t do latte art. I’m learning. It’s okay that I’m not a great businesswoman. I’m learning. School is over for me, but the learning has just begun.
I’ve been learning a lot about God, too. I think that we can find comfort in the fact that we will never run out of things to learn about Him. There is an eternal supply of wonderful things to learn about His heart, His will, and His character.
“You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.” (Psalm 40:5)
The wondrous deeds and thoughts of the Lord are more than can be told! Amen! We will never run out of things to discover about God and his goodness. Jesus and His mercy. The Spirit and His power. We are allowed to be imperfect because our Heavenly Father is perfect. Because He is entirely good, and cannot be entirely known, we can rejoice in the truth that the unknown things about Him are entirely good, too. All of the things we don’t know about God are good things. This is good news! We can spend our days learning and messing up and learning more because our Father delights in it.
“In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.” (Psalm 40:6)
The heartbeat behind this blog is my desire to be a student of my surroundings. I make mistakes every day as a wife, a business owner, and a follower of Jesus. It is my intent to learn from my mistakes, and openly share what I learn as I explore and cultivate a life on this side of eternity. I know that there are lots of women in the same circumstances as me (newly married/ fresh out of college/ starting a small business). I hope that the things I write here will encourage you to keep learning, and maybe teach you something along the way!
Grace and peace,
(Image credit: School of Styling)