Before & After: A Quick and Easy Kitchen Update

updated May 7, 2019
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(Image credit: Amber Byfield)

Last spring, when my husband and I bought our first house, we hadn’t painted a full wall between the two of us. That changed within about two days of us getting our keys. We soon learned that the greenest (and most budget-friendly) trick in the book is to work with what you’ve got—so click through to see how our kitchen has progressed from dark and dated to light and lovely on a dime.

With less than a gallon of paint (we turned to Olympic’s low-VOC Ultra White Semigloss for the cabinets and Olympic low-VOC eggshell in Quill for the walls), about $50 worth of cork shelf lining, and a little bit of elbow grease, we transformed our galley kitchen over one weekend.

Having a large window in our tiny kitchen definitely helps keep it bright, fresh, and clean, but another secret to our small-kitchen happiness is to make sure everything has a home. We don’t purchase anything that won’t fit (so no extraneous appliances here), and try to keep the counters clear of anything unnecessary.

We were surprised at how much cleaner and bigger the entire room looked once we lightened up the paint. The hardware that looked dated in Kitchen 1.0 suddenly looked crisp and homey with the new paint colors of Kitchen 2.0. We saved around $100 by not replacing the handles throughout the kitchen. Take-away lesson: start with the path of least resistance and work from there.

To be fair, our kitchen is definitely a work in progress; we’ve decided to leave open shelving above the sink, but still need to spackle in the holes and remove the last bits of hardware! And, one of these days, we’re hoping to install a subway tile backsplash behind the stove and along that wall. And hopefully replace the 1966 countertops with good ole butcher block.

It’s worth mentioning that this was our first home improvement project, so be encouraged, all of you out there who aren’t sure of your DIY talents: you might end up surprising yourself just like we have.

Have any tips for our kitchen? We’d love to hear.

(Images: Amber Byfield)