Kitchen Update on a Budget

A couple years ago we decided to move across the state for my husband’s job.  He didn’t have to transfer, but he wanted to.  I was totally on board because neither of us were happy where we were.

So off we went to look for a new home.

Kitchen Update on a Budget When we walked through this house, I quickly checked it off my mental list and was ready to see the next house.  But my husband saw something more.  He saw the potential that I couldn’t see.  So, we went to a few more showings that day and ended up back at this one.

This is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house.  Surprisingly, it was actually one of the most updated rooms in the house!  Crazy, right?!

Kitchen Before

At closing, the previous owner told us that the kitchen used to be carpeted, but they added the laminate flooring before putting the house up for sale.  Yikes!  I’m pretty sure this house really would have been off my list if I had seen that carpet!

Kitchen Before

None of the appliances matched, so over the first year of living here, we replaced them all.

That was definitely the most expensive part of our update.  We chose to go with white appliances instead of stainless to keep the price down.  And our dishwasher was actually returned after a couple uses by its previous owner, so we got it for a steal!

Chalk Painted Cabinets in French Linen with White Appliances

We also painted the cabinets with Chalk Paint® in French Linen.  If you look at the sides of the cabinets in the before pictures, you can see that they were fading.  The sun was turning them a grayish color and they just looked so ugly against the cabinet fronts.

So we took 4 months to paint them!  Yeah, you read that right!  I honestly don’t know when we started them, but we finished half the kitchen by my daughter’s birthday party that September and didn’t finish the other side until our guests came for Christmas in December.

We’re so pathetic.  If you’ve ever painted kitchen cabinets, though, you’ll understand!  It’s not a fun time at all!

Chalk Painted Cabinets in French Linen with White Appliances

Another update we made were new knobs, drawer pulls, and hinges on the cabinets.  We chose black and couldn’t be happier with them.  I love how they stand out against the gray/green cabinets.

The Golden Sycamore: Kitchen Update

We also bought new light fixtures, painted the walls, trim and ceiling, bought new blinds, and a new faucet.

Chalk Painted Cabinets in French Linen with White Appliances

Fortunately, we didn’t have to replace the backsplash, countertop, or flooring.  We were able to keep costs down by working with what we had.

The Golden Sycamore: Kitchen Update

It’s definitely not a “show” kitchen.  We didn’t have the budget for that.  But we updated what we could and are living with the things that are good enough.  And one day we’ll sell the house and hopefully make a little money on our updates.

The Golden Sycamore: Kitchen Update

To recap, these are some things you can do to keep costs down on your kitchen update:

* Buy white or black appliances – which (usually) cost less than stainless

* Buy returned/gently used appliances – make sure the issue was fixed and that the appliance is in working order

* Paint cabinets instead of replacing them

* Use what you have – if something isn’t perfect, but it works for now, embrace it and work it into your design

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So now I can tell my husband he was right for once!  Even though I wasn’t too sure about the house when we bought it, it has definitely challenged us to look past what it is and see what it could be.  And this kitchen is proof of that!

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See how we keep our updated kitchen organized (on the days that I actually clean!) by clicking here.

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  1. says

    It looks beautiful! You did an amazing job and every time I visit your home I am amazed at what a beautiful home you have, of course it has something to do with the family living there. Once again an amazing job!

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Right?! Haha! Oh, that is such a long story. We had that thing even longer than we wanted because it took us FOREVER to get our new one! Glad the green is gone now! :)

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Isn’t it pretty? Wish I could say I used it more! But it does make a great accessory! :)

      • says

        I honestly don’t use mine as much as I thought I would either. Kind of a bummer considering how much they cost!! I do love it though. Maybe I’ll use it more once my kitchen is actually together and complete? =]

  2. says

    Your kitchen is gorgeous!
    My kitchen is set up the same way, but a little smaller. I don’t have any upper cabinets on the wall with the fridge and stove. It is cozy and I love it.
    The white appliances look amazing with the French Linen paint! Perfect pairing.

  3. says

    I have been wanting to update my kitchen since the day I moved into my house! I’m slowing getting ideas together about what I want to do but those are great tips! The kitchen looks great!

  4. elaine says

    your kitchen looks great! i love the light fixture you chose for over the sink. i’m considering painting my cabinets with annie sloan’s chalk paint. i’m curious what you sealed it with. wax? poly? thanks!

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      I did use wax, but I keep hearing that it’s not the best idea. They have kept up just fine so far, but it may be a better idea to use a polyurethane sealer instead.

  5. says

    This is SOOO BEAUTIFUL! You said you don’t have a “show” kitchen, but come on!!! You did such a great job! I love the color of your cabinets, I plan to do a similar color on our cabinets.

  6. says

    Great makeover! and I love the grey/green cabinet color you chose. A little paint goes a long way. The black hardware is a great improvement as well. I really like your table cloth….good job!

  7. FABBY says

    You sure did an amazing job, your kitchen look beautiful! I love that gray color you chose for the cabinets! Hugs,

  8. Chris Hunter says

    What was your process? What kind of sheen did you use? I would like to do this but are filled with 100 questions! Did you use a brush or roller? Did you sand in between coats?

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen. It only comes in a flat finish, but you can choose a sheen when you decide what to seal the cabinets with. I used a brush and sanded between coats to keep the look a bit more smooth and modern. Best wishes!

  9. says

    Your before photo looks surprising similar to my kitchen. Thanks for giving me hope that a couple coats of paint can work wonders, your kitchen looks great. Now I just have to do it…painting cabinets sucks!

  10. says

    Allison, your kitchen is AMAZING! It looks like a show kitchen to me :). The French Linen Chalk Paint looks so good, and I can’t believe that it is the same kitchen. I’d love to feature this on my paint color blog, Involving Color. Let me know if you’re interested!

  11. says

    Hi Allison,
    Thanks for these nice pictures of your kitchen redo. We moved in August (which explains my absence from blogging). It’s been very busy and I’m looking forward to sharing photos of the renovation that we did during the move…yeah crazy. I would like to paint the kitchen cabinets and have done it before with the traditional method of sanding, priming, and painting with Benjamin Moore. I’m wondering if you could let me know how the chalk paint is holding up. Also, how did you seal it? And, would you recommend using chalk paint on kitchen cabinets if we’re planning to live in this house for the long term? Thanks!!

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Hi Martha! Good to hear from you! The chalk paint is holding up really well. It’s been about a year since we painted the cabinets. We used wax to seal the cabinets and they still look great, but I often hear that wax is not the best idea in a kitchen because it could melt from heat from the oven/stove/etc. I usually recommend polyurethane or polycrylic even though the wax has held up fine for me so far. And yes, I’d definitely recommend chalk paint, or even milk paint, for the long term in a kitchen. I think they would both hold up great! Best wishes and congrats on the move! :)

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Hi Kate! They are both from Lowe’s. The one over the sink is kind of a hodgepodge light! We bought a light kit and then the shade and just cut the cord super short so it would fit above the sink. :)

  12. Denise says

    I’m planning to use my kitchen cabinets which are very similar to yours in my garage for my new studio. I am using grey on the walls and floor and love the color of your cabinets. I assume it works best to take the doors off. I was wondering if you had problems with the graininess of the cabinets. Amy Howard has a spray she produces when people are using her lacquer product. I don’t want them shiny like lacquer but also don’t want them to look grainy.

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Yes, definitely take the doors off. I had no problems with graininess or shine. We sanded everything, applied three coats of paint – lightly sanding between coats – and then applied two coats of wax. There is no grain showing through and very little shine – just a soft sheen. Best wishes with your project!

  13. Kristi says

    I’m currently researching the use of ASCP for my kitchen cabinets. I love ASCP but I’m worried about how well the wax will hold up with constant wear and tear. I have a lot of pieces that I have restored and the ones that get constant use (damp cups, etc.) leave discoloration on my piece. Have you had any issues with wear and tear?

    • Vanessa says

      Me too. I have used French Linen on other projects, but with children, they get some wear and tear. I’d hate for that to happen on kitchen cabinets.

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      I actually haven’t had any problems with wear and tear on the cabinets! They’ve held up great! I’m really happy with them.

  14. says

    Allison as a professional decorative artist/muralist I have to say you have done a wonderful job with this kitchen. It does take a lot of work to bring a task like this together and not let it get to the point to where it either appears over done and/or parts that look as if they were added as “second thought” Very well done.

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Thank you! I actually made it! It is a drop cloth that I painted with craft paint. It was super easy to do! :)

  15. says

    Hi Allison! My husband and I actually plan on copying your kitchen this winter :) We have the exact same before cupboards as you! We both love what you did. Quick question when using chalk paint do you have to sand and prime?

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Hi Jennifer! You do not have to prime. I usually don’t sand, either, but in this case I did because I really wanted to make sure I got good adhesion since cupboards get so heavily used. It’s not mandatory, but I’d suggest at least a light sanding before painting kitchen cupboards. Best wishes!

  16. marcia says

    Love your kitchen. In the process of doing mine too. I was about to order new cabinet doors to use on my original cabinets, but now I think I will try painting the old ones. You may have just saved me a bundle. (More shopping $$ to spend on paint!!!)

    I just recently discovered you through buying your paint at Painted Farmgirl in Hudsonville. Love the Lucketts Green, and Tricycle.

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Oh, so glad I could help, Marcia! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by my blog after buying your paint! That means so much to me! :)

  17. Karil says

    Love it!
    Can I ask where did you get your light fixtures? Also, what did you put on the chalk paint for protection? Wax? Thanks!

  18. Abby says

    Hi Allison!

    We have an almost identical kitchen and your post inspired me to paint the cabinets with chalk paint! I have one question though – how did you remove the decorative wood piece above the sink? We have the same one, but I seems like if we were to remove it, the trim on the side of the cabinets would be uneven.

    • Allison @ The Golden Sycamore says

      Hi Abby! We actually replaced all the trim around the top of the cabinets. I don’t remember what was there, but we put all new cove moulding up and then painted it when we painted the cabinets. It looks like it was meant to be there and we’re really happy with it. You could do that and it would solve the uneven problem. And it’s really inexpensive! :) Best wishes on your project!

  19. Kelly says

    Looks great! I’m curious if the chalk paint is still holding up well on your kitchen cabinets now that it’s been a few years? Have you had to reapply the wax?


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