Reader Redesign: A Cheap-o Kitchen Overhaul

When Jessica sent us her before and after kitchen photos we couldn’t believe she and her hubby stretched their $400 budget so far. Here’s her letter:

I’m always inspired by what I see going on at your pad! My husband Josh and I recently took on a cheap-o kitchen makeover and found that $400 goes a very long way toward bringing an 80’s kitchen into 2010. That budget covered paint, an electric sander, a jig saw, hardware, primer, Liquid Nails, “real” nails, and beadboard- which is all it took to really transform the space. The “before” picture was from before we moved in, so please excuse the terrible light fixture and furniture. We really hated the fake wood paneling under the bar and around the sides of the cabinets, so we covered it with beadboard that we then painted white. It was easy to install (especially since we had the wood cut at the store & borrowed a tack gun) and it’s definitely our favorite part of the entire makeover. As for our paint sources, the green is Benjamin Moore’s Mountain Lane and the white is Sherwin William’s West Highland White. Oh and there’s more info about the whole kitchen redo on our blog. Our next step is a nursery (we’re adopting a baby from Russia) and I can’t wait to see how yours turns out! I’m sure I’ll get some great ideas. Thanks for all you do! -Jessica (& Josh)

Here’s their kitchen before the big overhaul:

And here’s the same space after just $400 worth of upgrades:

Isn’t that amazing? We love Jessica and Josh’s infectious DIY spirit and we totally appreciate that they weren’t afraid to use some bold color and a little creativity (in the form of beadboard and paint for those cabinets) to cover up the things that they didn’t like and draw attention to the features that they wanted to highlight. What do you guys think? Are you itching to paint your walls a bold color, overhaul your cabinets or tack up some beadboard? We definitely love that not every kitchen makeover calls for several thousand dollars of work and tons of hired help. Inspiring!

Psst- Looking to paint your cabinets like Jessica and Josh did above? Here’s a quick and easy tutorial to help you get ‘er done.


  1. amelia says

    wow – what a transformation! just shows a little paint can go a long way!! Looks sooo good :-)

  2. lms52 says

    It is amazing what $400 can do… It looks like a totally different kitchen!! Great job!

  3. Jennifer says

    That is just gorgeous! I have always hesitated to do anything to my kitchen because we don’t have the money right now to upgrade some of the appliances, but they made it look like an entirely different kitchen with the same appliances. I am impressed and inspired! Thank you for showing this on your blog!

  4. Danielle says

    Love the beadboard…such a creative and cheap way to cover that paneling. Gorgeous!

  5. Jill says

    LOVE IT! Seriously, that beadboard is calling my name. I was dreading doing our kitchen cabinets, and we have a similar(ish) bar set up, so I’m totally stealing the beadboard idea.

    As an aside – is it risky taking the cabinet doors off if you’re dealing with MDF? I’d been thinking I should leave them on and paint them (painstakingly) that way, but if it won’t weaken the cabinets to take them off, I’d love to get them all down and flat for painting.

    • says

      Hey Jill,

      We don’t believe it’s a risk to remove those cabinet doors at all, in fact it’s one of the only ways to get a nice clean coat of paint on everything. Hope it helps!


  6. Rachel Galloway says

    All I can say is….WOW!! What an amazing job on such a small budget. I am inspried to get moving on updating our kitchen!

  7. says

    I like that they had so many good traits to work with and how their changes highlight these features that were already there but were being swallowed up by the light-sucking wood cupboards/cabinets. Such as the pot lighting, the great counter top, simple hardware and the double basin sink fixtures. After painting and adding the beadboard, these features are really on display.

  8. Lili says

    I really like their floors. I know that they did not do them… but they are gorgeous with that fun green and crisp white!