Before and After: This Luxe-Looking $2,000 Kitchen Redo Is a Total DIY Job

published Jan 11, 2022
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Sometimes, home renovation runs in the family. Perhaps you learned how to patch a hole or hang a frame from your mom or dad, or maybe a cousin taught you how to paint a room. Or perhaps one of your relatives gave you the guts to take a full-on kitchen reno, as was the case for Courtney Sjoberg, whose DIY abilities kept her kitchen transformation under $2000.

“I did it all myself with some help from my boyfriend on electrical,” she says of the kitchen redo. “I grew up with parents who renovated two homes when I was a child. My dad was a general contractor. So to do this on my own with very little help, I feel super proud!”

Her kitchen was once “brown brown brown,” she explains, but it “wasn’t horrible.” “It was just very 2000s style and needed to be brought up to date.” The beige-ish brown cabinets, walls, and floors made the place feel monochrome and closed-in, and the countertops were stained from wine.

As a former personal chef, Courtney spends a lot of time in the kitchen, and she wanted something a bit more modern. “I wanted something that reflected my style and not only added value to the house, but a place we were in love with,” she says. So she got to work making DIY upgrades.

“I spent every waking moment on it,” she explains. “I was outside so much my neighbors asked if renovation was what I did for a living.”

Her first project was upgrading the counters. Because they were solid, she didn’t want to replace them, she just wanted to brighten them, she says. She painted them white and used a marble spray paint effect to give them a more modern look. Once the paint was dry, Courtney sealed the counters with a few coats of epoxy.

After transforming the counters, Courtney painted her cabinets white and gray (Sherwin Williams’ Snowbound for the uppers, and Peppercorn for the lowers). This was a challenge, she says. “There was a learning curve with the spray gun and lots of dry time with little garage space,” she explains. But by using the same cabinets as before, she was able to save money while still getting a completely new look.

Courtney also brightened and opened up the space by taking down one of the upper cabinets and creating a floating shelf instead, with a little help from her boyfriend. “I just sanded down some raw wood and stained it, and we mounted it to the wall with some heavy-duty modern brackets,” she explains. “I wanted more light to flow into our condo, so this project was important for that!”

The hardest part of the reno, according to Courtney, was learning how to cut tile with a saw to fit the backsplash, but eventually she and her boyfriend got the hang of it and it finished it quickly. “We went with a classic white subway because I wanted something timeless,” she says.

In addition to the new counters, cabinets, and subway tile, Courtney also added can lighting, replaced the island lighting, and built a five-door slide-out pantry to complete her dream kitchen.

Her advice for future DIYers is to allow extra time and budget for mishaps. “Plan for it to be double the time and double the cost,” she says. “If you want to do it right, you cannot rush it.”

She’s proud that she did the work herself and that she got to share her progress with her father along the way. “Doing this work with my hands was HARD but so fulfilling!” she says.