DIY Kitchen Makeover – Getting Started

March 5, 2012
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Moving into a new place always requires a lot of work and a lot of love. But if you really want your place to shine – and not be just another renter – it also requires a little extra elbow grease. I like to treat every place I live or work as if it’s my own. Therefore it receives the same love and care. The one really big thing I want to put some work into first is our new kitchen. It was freshly painted before Scott and I moved in, but in a flat paint and nothing more. Therefore the grease over the stove has bled through the paint and it can’t be cleaned. The cabinets are also a very dull, non-exciting white, and overall the kitchen feels very bland to me. It lacks any kind of personality. My son, Cody, and I decided to start on a few things to give it a cheery makeover until we have more money. First on our to do list was to make a space for notes and honey-do lists for Scott. We decided to apply chalkboard paint to the two outer kitchen cabinets for a little pop and to make it more fun.
Here are the cabinets over the sink before we started. That’s my son, Cody, at the ready with a cordless drill.
Cody took the doors off the cabinets from the actual door. At first we tried to do it the “right” way and remove the hinges from both the cabinet and door, but as it turned out the hinges are attached pretty well to the cabinets courtesy of many layers of paint.
We laid newspaper outside on the back porch and Cody went over each door several times with nice, even layers of Kryon Chalkboard Paint. This was the right cabinet door.

And this was the second cabinet door. He did go back and do the sides as well.

Once the doors dried completely, Cody re-hung them.

After letting them dry for a good 24 hours, we then brightened them up with some chalk.

In the meantime, I’ve also started looking at paint colors to cover the grease in the kitchen and to add a little color while still keeping the space neutral.

These are the colors I have my eye on. (Check out the real deal in Lowe’s stores to get a better idea of the colors. Computer screens I have found vary greatly and even my computer screen doesn’t accurately portray these colors.) I’m thinking the tea stain in a good paint with primer for the walls – it’s only slightly lighter than the colors on the walls now – and the Grandma’s linen for the cabinet structure and remaining cabinet doors. I believe they will tie together beautifully and give the kitchen a little pop without going overboard since we’re renting. We’ve already started on some of the preliminary work. Cody spent much of Saturday pulling nails and screws, tracks that attach to nothing, hooks, etc. left in the walls – of which there were many! So now there’s just hole filler, paint and brushes and rollers to buy and a lot of work ahead!

I’ve also looked all over for spice racks and when I couldn’t find any locally I started pricing them online. I’ve had a love affair for magnetic spice racks for some time, however, I have read multiple complaints about the tins not sealing tightly. In the end I’ve decided to simply buy earth magnets and E6000 glue to adhere to the back of my existing spice containers which I will then store on the side of the fridge in arms’ reach of the stove. (I bought my magnets and glue from CandyTiles on etsy.) As my spice jars run empty I can refill them with bulk, organic herbs I’m able to buy at a discount from Mountain Rose Herbs. And for fun, I’ll decoupage my own hand designed labels to cover the existing herb jar labels. Which reminds me, I need to buy mod podge! I’ll post photos once I get that task completed!

In the meantime, here are some photos what our kitchen looks like one week after moving in.

We’ll be replacing the valances once we have the money and decide on the final wall color. That’s the pantry door to the right.

Another view. You can see there’s no light over the sink. I’m wondering if there’s a battery version we might be able to install there. And then you can see our kitchen radiator under the window.

The stove area along the same wall as the sink. Unfortunately there’s no exhaust vent either and in the winter it can be a tad too cold to open the windows. Any suggestions for options there? As you can see the fridge is right behind the stove so I think the side of the fridge is perfect for putting spices. I also have all handmade magnets on the fridge. There are several fortune cookies pinned to it. My two favorites are: “Happy event will take place shortly in your home.” and “Get your mind set…Confidence will lead you on.”

We have a dishwasher, which is amazing in a house over a hundred years old that’s also a rental. The little alcove behind it is a washer/dryer hook up area.

Does any have other suggestions for improving my kitchen? Thanks so much for taking this little journey with me.


  • Orangies Attic

    March 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Looks like you are off to a great start! I love the chalkboard on the cabinet doors. I always say go with the darker paint color, because when you go lighter it never seems to make the impact you want… and darker colors often make the walls “recede” thus making a smaller space look larger. Looking forward to seeing how your project progresses! Orangies Attic

  • Kenna

    March 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    You can purchase a recirculating range hood for about $40. That will help greatly. I’d then suggest a trip to a thrift store and buy a 18″ high 30″ wide cabinet. Take the doors off, cut out the center bar out that goes between the doors, paint it to match. Attach to wall over stove, hang hood under that and install your microwave in the cabinet. You might even be able to get one off craigslist or check if you have a Habitat for Humainty Resale store. Put a piece of rolled stainless steel on the wall (Home Depot or Lowes) between the hood and range as a back splash. This whole deal shouldn’t cost you more than $65. You get more storage, a range hood, a light over your stove and a place for your microwave. Good luck!

  • Heather

    March 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Wow, I can’t believe your landlord lets you paint black chalkboard paint on the cabinets! My landlord would probably flip. 😛

    As a general rule, I always pick 1 shade lighter than what I actually want, because once you paint a large area the paint always looks darker than it did on the little color chip card.

    Good luck!

  • Paige @ Little Nostalgia

    March 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I’m so jealous that you get to paint in a rental! When I used to rent, I was only allowed to paint the walls–nothing that was “attached.”

    Is there an IKEA near you? They have some adorable spice racks and I’m pretty sure they have a selection of battery-powered lights.

  • Rebecca D. Dillon

    March 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    No Ikea. Hood sounds like a great idea, but it would require cutting a hole through the outside wall and electric wiring and I don’t have the knowledge or funds to pay someone.

  • Kenna

    March 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Recirculating hoods do not require any venting, or even a hard wire. You can hang it and plug it into the outlet you have just above the stove. Recirculating means it has a fan that pulls smells & steam through a metal filter that captures grease and oil, then blows the same air back out into your kitchen. No electrician, no exterior venting. Just a plug in and some screws.

  • Rebecca D. Dillon

    March 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Really? Ah. Good to know. Thanks so much! I’ll look into it. 🙂

  • Wolf

    March 7, 2012 at 1:25 am

    When you paint, use a semi-gloss or gloss paint. It’s easier to clean and reflects the light better. Just finished redoing our entire kitchen ourselves, last week. Heh.

    They do make battery operated, stick up lights- we need to get some for under our cabinets as well.

  • Rebecca D. Dillon

    March 7, 2012 at 1:32 am

    I’m definitely going with a semi-gloss.

  • Sarah

    March 19, 2012 at 3:58 am

    A couple walls in my kitchen are actually about the same color as the darkest green you’re thinking about. Is there an outlet by the kitchen sink? There is some under cabinet lighting out there that plugs in so you don’t have to mess with wiring. I’ve never tried it though, just saw it on some decorating shows. I’ve lived with a small 1940s kitchen for about 8 years now and I’ve learned that anything I can get up and off the counters onto the walls is a big help. We don’t have a regular hood vent, but an old vent van in the ceiling and there was nothing on the wall above the stove so we put up a pot rack that had a shelf above it. Not having to put the pots in a cabinet freed up some space. Good luck!! Found you on Strut your Stuff on Somewhat Simple.
    Sarah –

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