When you're sick of your old oak kitchen...(Kitchen Update for Way Less Cash)

by Robin

What do you do when you've got a dated golden oak kitchen, but not the budget to replace it?  What if those same cabinets are in too good of shape to take a sledgehammer to?  What if your life is maxed out busy and you can't have your kitchen out of commission for even a few days?

That was us.  And maybe you too?

We were tired of our tired kitchen.  It had it's flaws, not just in style, but in substance too.  The storage and counterspace were limited and what we did have just wasn't functioning well.

So we got creative.  And busy.  And patient.

Patient?  Well, this reno took us more than a few days.  It was a few months.  By our own choosing mind you.  We had many small windows of time in which to tackle this reno.  If we had the luxury of some days in a row we could have banged it all out in a week.  But that's not our reality.

So we coined this makeover "The Slow Mo Kitchen Reno".  We didn't have a single day that the kitchen was out of commission, but we had a few months where the kitchen looked half-baked.

We will share lots of how-to's in future posts, this one is all about the Before and Afters!



Here's a sample of what we did, and what's to come in our how-to posts:

1. We installed an over-the-range microwave.  (What a space saver!)  You can read here about how we hacked a cupboard to make it all work.)

2. In the spot where the microwave was, we built open shelving.  (Sigh.  So much prettier.)  Click here to read about it.

3. We tore out our old black granite-like countertops - which were dark and damaged.  We found a pretty marble-like laminate to install in its place.  (So many reasons to love laminate!

4. We tore out the fruity old backsplash and installed a new one. (Classic subway tile, with a twist.

5. We painted the old cabinets.  (Time-consuming - but worth every second.  Except when we tried to spray them, that was a worthless, drippy mess.

6. We hacked some big-box drawer bases to fix our space.  We made drawer faces ourselves (- can you believe it?!?)

7. We installed butcher block counters over this new bank of cupboards.  (Love that tung oil!)

8. We created a built-in wine rack that solved a clunky layout problem. (Not pictured...yet.)

9. We did a board and batten wall treatment (when we realized the time and effort the all tile wall I originally envisioned would cost us.)

10. I made no-sew faux roman blinds.  (And screwed them up, like I do when I rush, but in the end it all worked out.)

11. We learned to wait patiently for the hardwood floors that we want to install here, and throughout our main floor. Saving takes time (and waiting's the worst.)

Speaking of saving, we did this all on a pretty tight budget.  Our whole "Slo-Mo Kitchen Reno" was half the cost of the marble countertops I priced out at the start of all this.  I love that!

Over the next few posts, we'll share some how-to's for this reno.

Do you have an opinion?  What would you like to hear about first? 


  1. Love the new kitchen! What color paint did you use? Looks awesome!

    1. Thanks, Becky! The paint is a Sherwin Williams colour: Pussywillow. We had it colour matches at Home Depot in Behr latex enamel. I love the colour!

  2. Lovely! I love grey cabinets- I love how everything has lightened up your kitchen. I vote to hear how you made/adapted the drawer cabinet.

    1. It IS so much brighter, cred! Make me happy. :). Your vote is noted ;).

  3. Hey Robin ... I don't care WHAT order you share the reno ... as long as you share every last detail! Looks Fabulous - I am so inspired by you & Ed.

    1. You're sweet, Pam! We're going to try and find some windows of time to pull all this together - thanks for your encouragement. :)

  4. Our first kitchen "reno" in our house involved sanding and painting cupboards so heavy with lacquer and aged that they were turning orange (the agent called it "cottage pine look"). And unlike your lovely DIY, my husband insisted on peel and stick flooring. *hangs head in shame** Although I did paint the counter a glossy black with laminate paint and that lasted for ages. Mind you, when it was time to do it up right, I did... and I'm sooooo much happier now. You guys did a great job!

    1. Thanks, Leslie! "Cottage pine look" - sounds like realtor-spin. ;) There's no shame in peel and stick tile - we used it in our bathroom and it turned out great (the kind with grout mind you.) We're thinking of painting the countertop at the mobile home we're fixing up - glad to hear you had success painting yours! I wasn't sure how well it would hold up. I need to come to you for tips! :)

  5. Robin, this looks AMAZING! Please do a post on how you painted the cupboards - I've done it before and they ended up textured and not nice. I love how well oiled your butcher block countertop is! :)

    1. Thanks, Jenn! We plan to write it all soon. Our life has been a bit to bonkers to get fingers on keyboard but your encouragement helps! :)


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