House Tour | Kitchen Updates

Today we’re doing another room tour — the kitchen! It wasn’t in the cards for us to do a full blown kitchen remodel, so we made some strategic updates to give the kitchen a major face lift for a fraction of the cost of a traditional remodel. Scroll to the bottom of the post for details on the cost breakdown.

When my husband and I bought a 1920’s bungalow four years ago, we *loved* that it had an oversize kitchen. However, while the size was terrific, the kitchen desperately needed some updates — the appliances were all 10-25 years old, the linoleum floors were ripped in places, and so on. Also, the previous owner painted the walls a dark, heavy beige, which made the kitchen feel cramped.

Here are some before photos —


Kitchen remodels are notoriously expensive — estimates for a midrange kitchen remodel in the South Atlantic region are often around $60,000. We knew we didn’t want to spend anywhere remotely close to that.

One of our strategies for accomplishing this was to do it slowly — it took us almost two years. To make sure the room felt cohesive, we meticulously planned our design scheme before we made any purchases. This photo from House Beautiful served as my design inspiration (read more about my design inspiration process here) —

Image via House Beautiful

First up, we replaced our appliances one by one over the course of 18 months. It’s certainly more convenient to buy an appliance package, but we found we got better prices if we shopped for appliances individually. We timed each purchase with a sale (including Black Friday and Memorial day), and got our fridge, stove, and dishwasher for 35% – 40% off.

Next, we freshened up the whole room by painting the walls Sherwin Williams Dover White and the trim/Hoosier cabinet in Sherwin Williams Extra White.

To cut costs, we painted everything ourselves. Because the kitchen is large and has a lot of details (and because we had a baby), it literally took us year from start to finish. In hindsight, I’m not sure I would recommend this approach — if we had known it would take this long, I think we would have decided to save up and hire this out. But the flip side is that we both learned a lot about painting, and we saved a lot of money!

One quick note about Dover White — it can definitely skew quite yellow, especially with brown/yellowish floors. We ended up swapping out out “soft white” light bulbs for “daylight white” light bulbs and going with a light gray flooring (more on that later), and those factors brought it back to the “warm white” that I was aiming for.

The entry way light bulb has a “soft white” light bulb and the kitchen has a “daylight” light bulb — note how the “soft white” yellow bulb really skews Dover White away from a warm white to a very buttery yellow.

Next up — the cabinets. We knew we wanted to cut costs by simply replacing the cabinet doors, rather than getting new units. We got a quote from Home Depot for cabinet doors, and it came to **$7,000**. This was definitely out of the budget, so with a little poking around we found a place online to custom made doors for us out of solid wood. My husband took care of painting them, installing the soft close hinges, and mounting them. This was definitely not an easy project — he spent a ton of time researching how to do all of this, and it was quite labor intensive. However, at the end of the day, the total cost for the cabinet doors (including the paint and accessories like soft close hinges) came to $900 instead of $7,000.

New cabinets doors and hardware!

If you remember from my laundry room post, our contractor also built up the wall behind the fridge, which allowed us to install extra cabinets (we went with stock cabinets from Lowe’s). We also replaced the standing cabinet beside the fridge.

Wall built up behind the fridge (it was previously half of a wall, so you could see through to the laundry room on the other side)
Cabinets up!

And finally, we replaced the floors! As I mentioned in a previous post, I originally wanted to go with wood floors.

Considering various wood floor samples

After much deliberation, we decided against it. For one thing, the dining room, which is just off the kitchen, has original heart pine. It would be next to impossible to match it, and we didn’t like the visual of having two different types of wood flooring side by side. Also, the kitchen gets pretty heavy traffic — we cook a lot, and it’s a pass through room to the laundry room and bathroom–we were concerned the floors wouldn’t hold up overtime. And ultimately, we were on a budget, and we just couldn’t get the numbers to work.

In the end, we went with an luxury vinyl tile by Mannington (AduraMax 12″ by 24″ in Porcelain).

I originally didn’t even consider luxury vinyl as an option, but we had ruled out wood floors, and I thought putting real tile in a large kitchen would look cold and unwelcoming. I’m really glad we ended up going with the LVT for the kitchen. They are much easier to clean than real tile, and they don’t feel cold when you walk barefoot on them. Also, having a lighter floor makes the whole kitchen feel airy and light.



  • Paint — $500
  • Cabinet Doors – $900
  • wall behind fridge — $700
  • Stock cabinets by fridge — $340
  • Cabinet Hardware — $50
  • New Appliances — $900
  • LVT Tile and materials — $1600
  • Floor Installation — $600

TOTAL: $5,590

To recap, this was definitely not an easy room to update. It took almost two years, and for large chunks of that our kitchen was basically a construction zone. However, at the end of the day, we got what feels like a completely different kitchen for less than a tenth of the price of a full out kitchen remodel.

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