A Quick And Easy DIY Kitchen Renovation

New light bright kitchen following our budget kitchen makeover.

When preparing our last house for sale, we needed some cheap DIY ways to give our kitchen a quick renovation. The kitchen looked old, tired and ripe for replacement. However, it wasn’t worth spending £££ on a major kitchen remodel when we were planning on moving soon after. The doors were a dark oak effect vinyl and a couple were starting to peel where they had got wet. The backsplashes were old fashioned and the worktops passable, but nothing to shout about. The kitchen walls were a neutral off white colour – which with a north facing room looked very cold. Overall the effect was a bit dark, old-fashioned and a bit ‘meh’. Anyone who ever watches TV makeover shows knows that ‘kitchens sell houses’. Well nobody was going to be buying this house for the kitchen!

dark cluttered messy kitchen - before DIY kitchen renovation.


First Step In Our DIY Kitchen Renovation – What Could We Re-use?

So where to start with the kitchen?  I love a good DIY challenge and one of the best ways to start when doing a kitchen renovation on a tight budget, is to assess what you can re-use. The existing kitchen layout was pretty good and worked really well – important in a small kitchen.  Whilst the doors were tired, the actual kitchen cabinets were in pretty good condition, so new cabinets were not necessary.  The kitchen appliances were all functional and most were not that old – therefore new appliances were also not required. The backsplash tiles were a pale beige – except for the backsplash behind the stove, where they were patterned.  The worktops, kitchen sink and flooring were also all ok.

Paint: A Cheap and Easy DIY Makeover

I decided to tackle the simplest DIY projects first; so I painted the kitchen ceiling and walls. This instantly gave the room a bit of a lift. The ceiling was hideously Artexed and then painted in silk emulsion – so the lumps were shiny! It also clearly hadn’t been painted in years and was yellow in places. There was definitely nothing in the home improvement budget for replastering, so I gave it a couple of coats of flat matt emulsion. This also helped to tone down the appearance of the Artex a bit. While I was on the ceiling I replaced the old harsh spotlights with a set of softer lights that bounced light more evenly around the room. I then painted the walls with Dulux ‘Jasmine White‘ – a creamy off-white that was much warmer than the old colour.  Already the kitchen was looking better.

Kitchen Cabinet Door Renovation

The cabinet doors were vinyl-wrapped MDF.  A couple of them under the sink area were blown and the vinyl starting to peel from where they had got wet over time. After researching, we realised that it would be impossible to match these peeling doors, so we needed to replace them. I found a company that made to measure replacement kitchen doors and ordered doors with the same Shaker design as the existing ones in a nice warm cream colour.

Happily, I found some satinwood paint in the DIY store, that exactly matched the colour of the new doors. After giving all the doors and cabinets a good wash down with sugar soap, I applied a primer coat to help the paint stick. I then painted all the undamaged doors and the sides and edges of all the cabinets to match. Whilst this was quite a laborious DIY task and took a bit of time, it was well worth it to save money.

Initially I wasn’t sure if it was possible to paint cabinets that were vinyl wrapped and not real wood, as I couldn’t sand them before painting. However the primer (Zinsser BIN) did a great job.  As the old cabinet door handles were in good condition and quite modern, we re-used them and this also saved quite a bit of cash.  Through these relatively simple DIY jobs, our kitchen renovation was really starting to take shape!

Budget Kitchen Backsplash Makeover

The backsplash behind the stove was one area in the kitchen that had bugged me since we moved in to the house . Most of the tiles in the kitchen were plain, and so we didn’t think they were worth changing.  However the tiles above the cooker had a really old fashioned raised brown squares design. As the pattern was raised I didn’t think painting the tiles would really cover them. We didn’t want to remove the tiles – as this would be a lot of work when we planned to move house soon. So I had to think of another (preferably cheap and DIY) way of remodeling this area.

While browsing on Amazon, I found some amazing ‘Peel and Stick’ tiles. These stick-on tiles are textured and look very real and come in a huge range of designs. They are also waterproof. I thought they were worth a try, so I bought a pack. They were amazing! Once on the wall, you wouldn’t know they weren’t real. They turned a pretty old-fashioned looking boring splashback into something much more bright and modern. The other good thing was that once they were on, they stayed on. I worried they might peel once steam and grease from the cooker got to them – but they held firm. You can see how I applied the peel and stick tiles to the backsplash area here.

I’ll be honest, the peel and stick tiles weren’t the cheapest way of doing things – and had we been renovating the whole of the kitchen backsplashes, I wouldn’t have used them as it would have been much cheaper to re-tile. But as a quick and easy mess-free solution for a relatively small area, they were perfect. 

Replacing the Counter-top Sealant and Cleaning the Tile Grout

While I didn’t love the counter-tops, there was nothing really wrong with them, except that the sealant between the counters and walls was cracked and discoloured in places- which made the whole thing look a bit shabby and dirty.  We therefore cleaned out the old sealant and replaced it with new – which instantly made the counter tops look much cleaner and brighter.  Little House On the Corner’s blog has a great guide for how to do this if you need help, but this is a really simple DIY job that really makes a difference for next to no cost. I also gave all the tiles and the tile grout a really good scrub, and then used a grout pen to make sure it was all looking really clean and bright. Our DIY efforts in this kitchen renovation meant it was now looking 100% better than when we started.

Add A Pop of Colour

Our DIY Kitchen Renovation was almost complete and it was really starting to look like a brand new kitchen!  One of the really nice features in the kitchen was that it has a really large window.  I wanted to make the most of this, and so I bought a a colourful but practical roller blind in warm reds and pinks to highlight this feature. It also helped to add a pop of warm colour and personality into the room and really helped to make the space feel finished. While this was probably one of the costliest parts of the renovation, I think that it was totally worth it.

overview  shot of kitchen revamp with new striped blind.
Photo from Rightmove & Mackenzie Smith Estate Agents

Finishing touches

An orchid on the windowsill and a pot of herbs in the corner helped to soften the look of the kitchen and complete the makeover.

Kitchen Renovation Costs & What We Might Have Done Differently

Overall the kitchen renovation cost about £600. The bulk of this was the cost of the replacement doors and the window blind. If all the doors had been suitable for painting, we would have done this instead. Whilst not cost free, I think this kitchen makeover was well worth it. We did this renovation very much from the view point of making the kitchen more attractive to sell. I think viewers would have knocked more than £600 off the asking price if they thought they needed to replace the kitchen immediately. As it turned out, the house received multiple offers and sold for £10k over the asking price. I feel that prepping thoroughly was key in making that happen! 

Had we been doing a DIY kitchen renovation for ourselves longer term, as I have mentioned previously we would probably have re-tiled the whole kitchen rather than just using the peel and stick tiles on the splashback.  I would probably have also considered painting the kitchen floor tiles as they were black, which I personally didn’t like. It would have made the room feel lighter and more spacious if they were a lighter colour.  I have to say though, the main thing I would have done differently, is that I wish we had taken the plunge, got our DIY boots on and done the kitchen renovation sooner! 

If you have enjoyed my DIY kitchen remodel story and ideas, click here to see details of our latest kitchen renovation in our new house!