Reader Redesign: How Far $102 Can Go

Vanessa sent us her kitchen makeover that clocked in at just over a hundred beans and it made us more than a little giddy. But we’ll let her take you through the story of how she got so much bang her buck. Here’s her letter:

In 11 years of marriage, my husband and I have lived in seven cities and sometimes have moved multiple times in each city. Needless to say, I have become a pro at making each house a home. One thing I have always wanted to do, but have been too chicken to tackle it – is paint my kitchen cabinets. Now, in our seventh home, I finally decided to do it. All. By. Myself. When we moved in, things looked like this:

After priming and painting several coats, I rehung the cabinet doors and began sanding the edges. I then used some distressing oil around the corners where I’d sanded. After letting the oil sit on the door for a minute or so, I simply wiped it off (you can see the oil sitting on the picture on the left below, and what it looked like after I wiped it off on the right).

I love the way the oil brought out all the little scratches in the wood and created a sealer of sorts. Once all the cabinets were distressed, I replaced all the knobs that I bought for a steal! I chose an antique pewter for a nice contrast against the cream, but to tie in with the stainless appliances.

One thing I had always hated about the kitchen was the apron that connected the two cabinets on either side of the sink. My awesome husband took down that piece along with the cabinet molding. Then he recut the molding to fit around the two cabinets. It is amazing how much more light came in with that simple fix.

In addition to refinishing the cabinets, I also made new window treatments. I used a tutorial from Little Green Notebook for some awesome pelmet boards that were so easy to make!

Source list:

  • Paint: Valspar cream oops paint $5, Danish oil for distressing $11
  • Primer: Zinser oil-based $14
  • Cabinet hardware: Resale shop $10.50 (21 @ 50 cents each)
  • Valances: P. Kauffman fabric (Old Time Pottery) for $20, other supplies $11 (used this tutorial to make them)
  • Accessories: Yellow step stool (Hobby Lobby) $12, small yellow pitcher (Goodwill) $1, three glass jars (Target) $6 each
  • That’s $102.50!! Woo hoo!!

And as a bonus little tidbit, the kitchen chairs were Goodwill finds that got a new life for less than $100. The table was originally black (from Target) that I already owned. I simply stripped it and re-stained it for less than $20. All the other accessories, I already owned. If you consider these previously completed projects in the final total, the makeover still comes in around $300. I say, that’s not too bad for a full kitchen makeover, right?! -Vanessa

Not too bad at all, Vanessa! Actually, it’s pretty darn amazing. We love how fresh and light it feels, and the existing backsplash and counters work so well with the new look. Anyone who’d like more pics / details can hit up Vanessa’s blog, but first let’s play the favorite part game. Sherry loves the window treatment fabric and that fun yellow step stool, meanwhile I loved reading about distressing oil since we haven’t tried our hands at it yet.


    • says

      Hmm, every time we hear about this it’s someone on a work computer that did some sort of update on virus protection and then they come back a few days later (usually 48 hours) when they realize we’re not spam, haha.


  1. says

    Wow! I’ve been so scared about painting my kitchen cabinets but this is a great transformation. My favorite part is how light it all feels! The room is glowing, and I love the pops of yellow.

  2. says

    I really love that valance! Now considering that as an option to bring some color into our living room. Curtains are so much fabric and can so dang expensive.
    Totally impressed!

  3. hyzen says

    Wow, for $102, that is downright inspirational!! Looks like a fair bit of work, but it was worth it. One problem with this great tour, though–there’s no mention of the color for the lovely paint she has on the walls! I’m looking for something similar for my dining room…

    • Amanda says


      I was wondering that too(!), so I went over to her blog and did some digging – and found her answer! The wall color is Mushroom Taupe by Colorplace (Walmart). Hope it helps!!!

  4. says

    This looks fantastic! The distressing oil is a nice touch, and might even encourage people to paint their cabinets–it can forgive some “mistakes” and lend to the purposeful “less than perfect” vibe. Bravo, Vanessa!!!

  5. Stacey says

    That is incredible! I’m dying to paint our kitchen cabinets, but my hubby is one of those “it’s sacrilege to paint original wood/brick” people. A piece of advice to you single ladies…finding out where your man stands on an issue like this is just as — if not slightly more — important than his political and religious views! ;)

    • tamara says

      HAhahhaha, oh Stacey, my hubs too. too funny. we have basic-builder cabinets that are almost orange-y colored wood. they are cheap & not a pretty wood tone. he’s (finally) on board with sanding and staining them a different tone, but will never ever (EVER) let me paint over them, or any other wood for that matter. Gah!

    • Cindy says

      I’m glad I’m not the only one whose husband feels this way! We have the most awful builder’s grade cabinets, and the problem is that except for the doors, they’re just super super thinly veneered MDF — so I don’t think there’s any way to successfully restain them. I think he’s finally starting to come to terms with that and consider painting…but now the line has been drawn over paint color. He says no white, but maybe if I show him these pics… :)

    • Kim says

      Ok, third person here chiming in to say that my husband doesn’t want me to paint our oak cabinets either!

      I’m considering stripping and sanding and restaining them to at least freshen them up… But I can’t seem to find inspiration photos of an all-white kitchen with natural, modern-looking wood cabinets. (In other words, everything white except for the cabinets.)


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