Before and After: An Unbelievable $700 Kitchen Remodel

published May 30, 2018
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(Image credit: Nina Zimdahl)

Be forewarned: This disco-fabulous backsplash is not long for the world, so enjoy it while you can. The rest of the kitchen was perhaps not worthy of such sparkle—two words: burnt linoleum. Now it’s fresh, unified, and bright.

(Image credit: Nina Zimdahl)

This kitchen is right at home in a 100-year-old house, and the modern appliances are nicely camouflaged against the white cabinetry and tiles. Reader Nina Zimdahl is responsible for this impressively affordable—and completely DIY—renovation:

I didn’t want to spend a ton of money to build a fancy kitchen in a modest sized home, so I decided to flex my DIY muscles to create a space I could live with for the next few years.

I painted the cabinets first, following tutorials I found online. The kitchen is small, so thankfully this didn’t take too much time (allowing them to dry between coats was the hardest part). My dad helped me during one long weekend to remove the old countertop and replace it with IKEA butcher block, install the sink I purchased for $25 from a local salvage yard, and start tiling the backsplash. I finished the backsplash on my own over the next couple weeks, armed with lots of YouTube tutorials. With my newfound confidence, I then purchased two unfinished cabinets for the adjacent wall, installed them, and added another butcher block counter. The total cost was about $700, including the rug to cover the laminate floor.

Wow! Tiling is no joke—perhaps someday we should do a roundup of all of the home improvement projects completed with only YouTube for guidance.

(Image credit: Nina Zimdahl)

Here’s another look at the kitchen before its makeover; it looks like it’s in good shape, but Nina knows the truth:

I love to cook, so I was less than thrilled with the state of the kitchen when we bought our house: cheap honey oak cabinets with no hardware, burnt laminate countertops, a leaky faucet, and ugly brown linoleum flooring. Plus hardly any countertop space.

The notion of burnt laminate is upsetting—I feel like I can smell it, like burnt hair. Damaged countertops are never ideal, but natural materials—wood, stone—generally look much better with stains and burns than plasticky ones do.

(Image credit: Nina Zimdahl)

This shot shows the additional cabinetry that Nina mentioned above—it adds a ton of storage space and workspace, and it looks like it’s been there forever. That’s kind of the theme of this remodel:

I love how clean and classic the kitchen is now. The style is appropriate for a 100-year-old home—not too modern but not dated either. The butcher block adds warmth to an otherwise white room. It was my first tiling job, so I wish I could do it over with more carefully placed spacers, but overall I’m thrilled with the result.

This kitchen reminds me a lot of the one in my parents’ 130-year-old kitchen (minus the subway tile): All white and wood; not flashy, but cozy and bright, especially on dark winter days.

(Image credit: Nina Zimdahl)

I love the butcher block, and this photo really drives home how helpful the additional counter space is. Let’s also focus on that beautiful and era-appropriate sink, which was acquired for a price that will make your head spin:

Check out your local salvage yard for materials! I found a beautiful cast iron sink for just $25, hundreds less than it would have cost new. I also bought many of the tools used in this project (wet tile saw, circular saw) on Craigslist to save money. Keeping the existing cabinets and working with the original layout also saves lots of money and hassle. Lastly, I mixed more expensive cabinet hardware from Rejuvenation with a budget friendly option from Home Depot to further stretch my dollar.

Twenty-five dollars for a cast-iron sink! This is similar to how I felt when my friend told me she’d gotten her KitchenAid mixer for $45 at a garage sale (it was only used once). Feel free to share your best home improvement steals in the comments!

Thank you, Nina!