Before and After: A Dramatic DIY Redo Makes This Dark Kitchen Unrecognizable, for Just $1,700

published Nov 5, 2021
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Wide kitchen view light floors with dark cabinets
Credit: Kyle Ortiz

One tricky part of moving into a new-to-you place: making it feel like it’s uniquely yours. When Kyle Ortiz (@kyledidit) and his wife Amanda moved into their house, they knew that it would need some help to feel like home.

Credit: Kyle Ortiz

“The house was nice but it did not feel like our home at all,” Kyle says. “Everything about it was the opposite of what we wanted OUR home to look like.” That included the kitchen, which was filled with dark espresso-toned wood, a hard-to-clean stacked stone backsplash, and too much beige. Rather than looking like an Ortiz family kitchen, “the whole place looked like The Olive Garden,” Kyle says.

Credit: Kyle Ortiz

The original espresso finish the builder put on the cabinets was beginning to peel off by the time Kyle and Amanda bought the house, so the cabinets needed an immediate spruce-up. Kyle painted the lowers soft green (Benjamin Moore’s Jack Pine) and, while he waited to do a more permanent fix, painted the uppers a creamy white.

But after a while, Kyle says, “I knew I wanted to open the space up a bit and add some open shelving to help us be more practical about the things we really need to have a functional space. The upper cabinets were quickly filling up with clutter so removing them seemed to be a great solution.”

Credit: Kyle Ortiz

In their place, Kyle added a single open shelf above the new white tile backsplash; it helps break up the white-on-white wall while also keeping the overall feeling of the kitchen light and bright.

Kyle also removed the old microwave, which wasn’t venting air well enough to keep up with home-cooked meals, and instead replaced it with a new range hood that’s fitted with a drywall frame to blend seamlessly into the wall.

Another fix that made a huge difference in the brightness of the kitchen: removing the tinted film on the window to let in lots more natural light. The window is now emphasized by new gray hex tile which Kyle says was a little tougher to install than the stacked subway tile in the rest of the kitchen: “The hexagon tile was an incredible challenge,” he says. “Lining up six sides and spacing everything properly was a nightmare.”

Credit: Kyle Ortiz

On the other end of the kitchen, Kyle installed a modified hutch he purchased secondhand for a cool $100 to serve as an appliance garage.

Kyle also managed to turn the once-blah island into a focal point by installing a hefty pendant light above and wrapping the base in shiplap installed vertically.

The kitchen looks totally different now, and Kyle was able to finish it all for about $1,700. “Basically I am ballin’ on a budget,” Kyle says. “I know not everyone can go out and spend $20k on a new kitchen so I felt like it was important to show people what can be done with a basic kitchen and less than $2K. I have a lot of house to still tackle so I can’t blow all my money in one spot.”

A few ways Kyle kept his cost so low? First, DIYing everything, which took about 10 weeks; second, he didn’t replace any big-ticket items like appliances. In fact, Kyle says, all the pieces of this remodel “were chosen to complement the items that are not in the budget to replace at this point, like the granite and dark laminate floors.”

For anyone looking to DIY their own kitchen remodel, Kyle has some wise words: “Go easy on yourself and take your time! Step away if you need to. Project burnout is real so try to tackle something like this in phases.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.