Reader Question: How Can I Make My Plain Kitchen Fabulous (On A Budget)

Sheena from British Columbia writes:

I’m looking for some cheap(er) options on what to do with my very small (blasé) kitchen and having a hard time thinking outside of the box. Do you have any ideas? Specifically I am looking to paint the cupboards (white? grey? black? other?) and replace the countertop with a granite-style (but budget friendly) option. But even when I complete that – how can I make this a fabulous kitchen without breaking the bank? I’m stuck!! I see so many great ideas on your blog but I can’t visualize my own space!
FYI – D.I.Y. options are great.  Knocking down walls or changing the actual layout is impossible. Looking forward to any and all of your ideas!

Well, folks, Sheena is pretty much starting with a blank canvas here. What suggestions do you have? How can she take this kitchen from plain Jane to fabulous without spending a ton of money?

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  1. You have a great laout and cabinet door syle. Find an inspiration photo and in order of cost, paint cupboards using Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations in a color you love. If you have a friend with power tools, install a facia boad and crown molding abovr the cabinets before painting to five a high end finished look for minmal cost. Then install a tile backsplash using Simplemat’s Tilesetting Mat and non sanded grout. If the colors work with your current counter great but if not save and replace counter with a solid color honed granite or soapstone look in laminate first before the backsplash. Last as budget and sales allow, switch to stainless or stainless look appliances (sell yours on Craigslist if good condition or donate to a good cause).

  2. 1. Put trim on top of cabinets, i.e. crown moulding or a 2×4 on side hanging over slightly
    2.with white appliances gray would be great for the cabinets, paint top light gray and the bottoms dark gray.
    3.on the cabinets that are on each side of the sink remove the wood in center of the door and replace with glass or wire, it will give some WOW when looking in the room.
    4.back splash would be good in subway tile (inexpensive) see Home Depot or Lowes
    5. Long wall on left would look great in Luann Beadboard
    6. paint wall above cabinets a dark color giving the feeling that the room goes on
    Hope you can use some of these suggestions, Good Luck

  3. Most certainly paint. Grab some samples and mull it over a glass a wine. The color will come to you. Simply changing knobs will alter the appearance of the cabinets. Go darker with your cabinets to accent that nice table of yours, if you plan to keep the table that is fine, but its much to big for that area from my point of view. Hit up an antique mall and bring home a few inspirational pieces. You might fine a vase or a new serving platter and see these flecks of blue in there and say you know what I really like that blue. You never know. I set a budget for every room and then I tell the fellas at Home depot. I want that sink, but I can only afford this much. What other options are there? They usually give be insider secret on how to snag some discounts or where a friend they know has them at there store for less. I hope I could help!

  4. I’m not a designer by profession but find I can help others more than myself. Just easier to envision I guess. Rustoleum makes some great cabinet and counter top products. Try some in grays or even white/gray granite look on countertops. Its just paint and you can repaint. I suggest trying one door or one small section of counter top before going full force. No special preperation is needed nut I did tape
    off backsplash just in case. Choose some glass tiles in fun colors for the backsplash and throw rugs in the same color near stove and refrig. Another fun idea is to pop out the center of one cabinet and replace with tinted glass and display family heirlooms or really nice glasswear. If you have a country kitchen, chicken wire looks sweet too.

  5. My first impression is to get some color on the walls. The cabinets are fine the way they are. Love the light look. If that isn’t the “look” your shooting for, do follow the advice of the ladies and use the Rustoleum’s cabinet transformations kit. There’s a vid on you tube you can watch for help. The countertops, unless are in bad repair, can be also revamped with Rustoleum’s kit for countertops. We used it for the RV and turned out beautiful. For the walls I would suggest a light robin’s egg blue and then add some contemporary accessories in whites and bue/greens or whatever color you love.Pull a little of the black (from the dining room) into the kitchen with some black acessories: wire baskets, etc. And then, use the lighter tones from the kitchen to bring out to the table. And in case you haven’t tried it, it’s not difficult to recover cushions on chairs. Get a staple gun and find some fabric you love and put it on. If the budget is tight, all things can be found at Goodwill for a song > Jenny

  6. My neighbour has created a fantastic kitchen in a relatively small space. He uses hooks from the ceiling to hang his stainless steel pots, he also tiled the walls using white subway tiles that you also see in the butchers which is really effective and stylish. Low hanging lights with a stylish light shade adds atmostphere too.

  7. First let me say this, I like your cabinet style. What I see from the pictures is a lack of planning form the builder, but you do have adequate upper and lower cabinets. There is a glaring blank wall on one side of the kitchen. Place molding around the top of the cabinets to give them a custom made look, but you will need to be sure to match the cabinet color or paint the cabinets, and painting the cabinets yourself is a B—-. I can’t tell from the pictures what the hardware looks like, but if you like it the leave it alone and save some bucks.
    You need color. Find a color that you can use in your dining area to tie the two areas together and if the dining room is connected to the living room or den, you’ll need to tie it all together as well, paint is the least expensive way to do this.
    One thing you can use for a back splash is textured wallpaper. It comes in white and is paintable. You can paint it to make it look like tin/copper tiles, or antique tiles. You can find it a Lowe’s, and Home Depot, it can also be ordered from your paint store.
    Replace the light fixture with a chandelier. The chandelier will take the eyes away from the bare wall. You can pick up an inexpensive one at garage sales or the thrift store. You just have to be consistent in your searching to find one. Very likely you will need to rewire it and you might want to paint it. Maybe hang some pictures or art on that plain wall.
    To gain some space, try building a small shelf under the sink to put some pretties on. And a couple of shelves under the stove hood for your spices. Another suggestion is to install an over the stove microwave with a build in vent and get rid of the hood. In the space where the microwave is now, you could hang your spice rack.
    One last suggestion, either remove the doors to the cabinets over the sink and on either side of the sink, or cut out the inside and replace with glass or wire, will give this end a focus point. But, if the inside of your cabinets is messy and crammed full, then leave the doors alone.
    Good luck, Mary