White Kitchen Makeover: Small Updates to Make a Big Impact
White Kitchen Makeover: Small Updates to Make a Big
Sometimes there are homes and rooms that need a total renovation: gut it and start from scratch.
More often, you can work with what you've got to make something that works -- which might still
take knocking out a wall or two But no matter where you start from, there are some
details and finishing touches that can really turn a good-looking room into a beautiful room. Things
like fresh paint, some added trim or finish work, and personalized homey decorating.
One of our readers, Jenny, send in these before and afters of her home and she nailed it! The befores
are nice, but the afters and the small touches that Jenny added (on her own, self-taught DIYing, I
might add) really just take her kitchen from nice to amazing! Jenny is here today to share her
gorgeous kitchen makeover and some tips for making a home facelift successful. And Jenny paid us
the highest compliment: "Yours was the first DIY home improvement site I ever came across and the
inspiration for me believing that maybe, just maybe, I could do a little DIY, too." We're blushing and
so thrilled to have been part of your story, Jenny! Remodelaholics, be sure to leave her a comment to
let her know what a great job she did!
UPDATE: Paint colors and decor sources at the bottom of the post!
In the two years I've lived in my current home, I have undertaken dozens of home improvement
projects, doing nearly all of the work myself, even while pregnant with my 4th child. In the process, I
have learned two things: 1) "Yes, I can!" With hard work and determination, I can transform my
space all on my own, in true DIY style; and 2) Small and simple changes can have a significant
impact on the look and feel of a space.
My kitchen facelift is the perfect example of how a "can do" attitude joined with thoughtful
improvements can transform a space. I didn't have what I would call a 'bad' kitchen, but it lacked
personality. When I moved in, I could see where, with a little care, I could make it more to my liking
without a major renovation and without significant expense. So that's what I did! Here's how:
1) Catch the Vision
I first had to come up with a plan. To see the picture in my head of how the kitchen could be better. I
started by considering how I and my family use the kitchen space and what we needed to make it
function well for us. Immediately, I knew we had to have more light! The kitchen was dimly lit and
felt dark and unwelcoming in the evenings. I hired an electrician to install several additional pot
lights in the ceiling, as well as two pendant lights over the island. This was the most expensive part
of the makeover, but one I wasn't comfortable doing myself. It cost about $1,000. Well worth the
I also identified that the minimal wire shelving in the pantry was insufficient, so I ripped it out and
installed custom wood shelves and converted a coat closet in to a second pantry so that we'd have
enough space for food storage. I then built a custom spice rack and attached it to the pantry door to
maximize the space even more!
There were other, smaller updates that improved the efficiency of the space, as well, such as
relocating an under-cabinet-mounted microwave to a spot where it would take up less space and
adding a towel bar across from the kitchen sink. And, because I have kids, I even added a giant
magnetic chalkboard to the exposed side of the cabinets housing the double ovens. A custom
chalkboard was too expensive, so I had a local sheet metal shop cut a piece of metal to size. I used
construction adhesive to mount it to the cabinets and then painted it with chalkboard paint.
I spent time browsing Pinterest and home decorating sites to get ideas. Most of the kitchens on
these sites were brand new and professionally designed. I knew that without spending a ton of
money, my kitchen wasn't going to look like those, but I also knew that I could identify elements of
design and customization in these kitchens that I liked and then translate that in to something I
could re-create in my own kitchen.
2) Plan and Prepare: Once I had a bunch of ideas in mind, I had to sift through them and decide what
I could make happen with a little DIY magic. There were several things I would love to have done,
but decided against either because of the time it would have required or the expense. I'm a mom of 4
kids ages 10 and under. I had to be realistic about how long I could disrupt our family's living space
while I made the improvements and how it would effect my family for my time to be swallowed up by
Once I determined the 'what,' I had to figure out the 'how.' I am entirely self taught. Anything and
everything I learned about DIY home improvement, I learned from watching a YouTube video or
reading an online tutorial. So if there was something I wanted to do, I Googled it to learn how!
3) Don't Forget the Little Stuff: Most of the improvements I made to my kitchen were on a small
scale. I didn't paint or replace the cabinets. I didn't re-do the floors or install new appliances. But
when you add up all the little stuff---custom shelves above the windows, a new coat of paint, crown
molding and wainscoting, and decorative touches---it equals big impact. And I saved a lot of money
by doing the work myself.
I spent less than $200 on the trim wood for the crown molding, chair rail, and shadow boxes. The
shelf above the kitchen eating area was made mostly of scrap wood, so the biggest expense was the
hooks, which cost around $30. The shelf above the kitchen sink is just corbels, a board, and a piece
of trim. About $30 to build. Several of the signs hanging in my kitchen, I made using scrapwood and
paint I already had on hand. The bar stools and desk chair I picked up at a garage sale for $23 total.
All I had to do was paint them. I used sheets of beadboard to finish off the ends of all the cabinets, to
make a backsplash, and to improve the kitchen island. The beadboard cost about $100.
I even made my own kitchen table! I banded a piece of plywood with trim for the tabletop and
attached it to 4 table legs I recycled from an old table and painted it to match my kitchen. Now I
have a table that seats 8 and it cost me less than $50 to build.
4) Get to Work!: This is the fun part, but also the hard part! Take the time to be prepared and to
think things through before starting. Start small and work from there as you gain confidence in your
skills. If you're anything like me, it's going to take you longer than you think it will and there will be
all kinds of hiccups along the way, but hold on to your vision. Don't give up! It will be worth it in the
The pictures to prove it . . .
Beadboard: I had Home Depot custom color match the color of my cabinets using Behr paint.
Crown molding, chair rail, and shadow boxes: White Dove by Benjamin Moore
Kitchen walls: Restoration Hardware Silver Sage
Bird plates: Birch Lane
White plates (above the doorway): Home Goods.
Large Bakery sign: AntiqueFarmhouse.com
Jenny, thank you so much for sharing this with us! I love how all the small changes you made added
up to such a wonderful finished kitchen!
Want to show off your amazing skills? Submit a brag post here!
See more beautiful white kitchen inspiration here (click each photo):