Before and After: A Mini $100 Makeover Turns This Dark Kitchen into a Colorful and Fun Spot

updated Jun 17, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: kitchen with white cabinets, dark granite counters, and black appliances

A full-scale kitchen renovation is a big project, involving a lot of time, money, and attention. Ashley Wilson, of At Home with Ashley, had planned something great for the little kitchen in her 890-square-foot home that involved tearing down walls and replacing cabinets and countertops, among other things. “But then COVID-19 happened and I could no longer source the items I needed for a full gut job for the space,” Ashley says. She’d already ordered her new dream appliances but was stuck in a waiting period for everything else.

The kitchen itself was functional, but not exactly inspiring. “It was really dark and not my style at all. The brown granite countertops and backsplash were especially hard on my eyes,” Ashley says. She didn’t want to keep living with a kitchen that bummed her out, but she didn’t really want to dump a bunch of money into something she was planning on changing later in the year, either.

So, Ashley decided to give herself a challenge: How far could she get in making this kitchen feel more like her own without going over $100?

Turns out, pretty far! The new turquoise Big Chill range and matching fridge helped a ton in lending the little kitchen tons of personality, so Ashley wanted to build off their retro look. She started by painting the lower cabinets a sweet blush pink (Behr’s Cupcake Pink). Because her whole kitchen amounts to just one wall of cabinets, the project didn’t take long. Next, she installed vinyl film with a faux marble look over the countertops. “It was pretty tricky to cut out the vinyl film for the countertops around the faucet and sink,” Ashley says. “It isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to be a band-aid on the space until I can do the full renovation.”

To complement the new appliances’ turquoise color, Ashley chose a fish scale pattern peel-and-stick backsplash in shades of blue and green. “Getting the contact paper lined up on the backsplash took time, but once it was started, it went pretty quickly,” Ashley says.

The total cost for the mini refresh came in under goal of $100, and Ashley’s pleased with the look. “I love how it feels—bright, airy, light, and fun,” she says. Plus, the temporary changes were a great way to try out colors and trends for the later renovation. “When I do the big kitchen renovation, I’ll probably do a more subtle backsplash since the mermaid scale contact paper backsplash is a little trendy now,” Ashley says. “But it was fun to test out a temporary solution!”

For anyone else who feels like they’re living with a space they don’t love until they can do a real-deal remodel, Ashley’s advice is to spring for some small upgrades to help you love your space in the meantime. “If you can’t afford a big kitchen remodel, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make small steps to love your space more,” Ashley says. “Having the kitchen look closer to your aesthetic will make you more happier to cook and live in the space.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.