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. Jenna says

    Amazing! It’s nice – and inspiring -to see a big transformation on a small budget. I have the world’s weirdest kitchen, and have no idea how to go about making it …usable. But seeing transformations like these give me hope. :)

  2. Dan says

    A complete transformation since you never really know what to expect but the changes really opens the space up! I love green for a kitchen color! GREAT job!

  3. Jen Z. says

    WOW! What a great job. Love it. I love what white does. It just brings new life to wood. :-) Thanks for sharing.

  4. CarMaj says

    You gotta love what white paint can do – this kitchen looks great!! Everything just comes to life – awesome job!!

  5. Val says

    What a fantastic redo!

    We just finished updating our little NY kitchen (painted the cabinets, replaced the vinyl tile, put up a backsplash, etc). But the thing I got stuck on is window treatments. We have a 48″ wide window over the countertop (not framed), and we need something that still lets in light because it faces a shady courtyard and the fire escape. I don’t really like the look of traditional valances. Tried bamboo roman shade – too dark. So I’m at a loss. What would you do?

    • says

      Try a light and breezy white roman shade (we got the one in our bedroom from Ikea on the cheap- you can check it out by clicking on the House Tour tab under our header). Hope it helps!


  6. Christin says

    Wow! LOVE it! I love the colors and the beadboard. Great job! I’m curious about the cabinets above the bar. It could just be the picture angle, but they look narrow – just curious how those function with doors on both sides.

  7. says

    This is such a great budget friendly transformation! I can identify with a tight budget so I really appreciate this post! We also painted our old oak cabinets white and I am so happy with the results!

  8. says

    looooove those white cabinets, and the beadboard base! those are some of my favorite kitchen looks ever. and the green is lots of fun. great job jessica and josh!

  9. Libby says

    I want to overhaul my kitchen despirately. Sadly, we have prefabish cabinets and can’t sand and repaint. Any suggestions. They are white and I would actually prefer darker but if that can’t happen with out new cabinets where would I get just cabinet doors on the cheap so I can have more of a modern sleaker look. Also, where do you find cheap hardware. I want the rod looking door pulls.
    Thanks, Ya’ll are awesome!!!

    • says

      Hey Libby,

      We would suggest removing a cabinet door and bringing it with you to your local home improvement store and asking the paint pro what they recommend. They might just have something that’ll work. If not, we have no idea where to get cabinet door fronts on the cheap other than googling around (and checking if the home improvement store has some well priced options). As for hardware we got some of ours at Home Depot and some of it at a local hardware store that we found in the Yellow Pages so just look around and see what you find. Happy hunting!


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