Love it? Share it!

Your DIY kitchen makeover doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are my tips for transforming the look and feel of your kitchen when you get tired of what you have (or it desperately needs an update).


DIY Kitchen Makeover Natural Light

This post has been a long time coming, wouldn’t you say? Last year one of our big projects to tackle in our 1930s brick house was the kitchen. When we walked into the kitchen the first time we looked at the house, I hated it. I know, strong words. It wasn’t that it was a terrible room. It just wasn’t my style – in design, appliances, or color tones. I knew if we bought the house, a DIY kitchen makeover was near the top of the list.

And you know me. I love the kitchen. I’ve had to deal with all sorts of non-ideal kitchens over the years and did fine. But there’s something different about it when it’s your own home and you don’t HAVE to deal with someone else’s taste. To love spending time in my kitchen, it needed to look and feel like a place I can be comfortable in. However, you can imagine that just buying our first home meant we also didn’t have a lot of extra funds to sink into a full renovation – especially on a kitchen that had been renovated just 2 years ago.

Are you qualified to do a DIY kitchen makeover?

DIY kitchen makeover, here we come! And that’s not an issue. I mean, with my experience as a handyman’s daughter, my husband’s paint knowledge (and willingness to give painting cabinets a try), and all the tutorials online that show how to do basically everything, we didn’t need to hire someone.

Instead, we could save a bit of money there and spend it on quality products. Quality products are always a MUST for a kitchen makeover that’s going to hold up. Oh yeah, did I mention neither of us really had much experience at ANY of this aside from calling “Hey dad! How do I….?” Also, my husband knows the best product for the job and how to mix a mean gallon of paint (and change the color if I need it) since he works for Sherwin Williams. Basically though, what I’m really saying, is if we’re qualified, you’re qualified.

How do you change the style of a kitchen without turning a DIY kitchen makeover into a gut and reno?

I knew I wanted to change the kitchen from an older style kitchen to one with a more contemporary feel. The color had to go and I needed one that’s photographable – hey, food bloggers think about how it photographs as much as how it tastes. I absolutely love rich deep jewel tones and bright reds but the room is a darker room with one small window so those colors were out. We needed something to brighten the space a bit without being in your face color.

Since grey is an amazing neutral that also doesn’t look dirty the instant you cook something, we decided to keep it in the grey family. And yet, we needed to deal with yellow/orange toned cabinets and copper and brown flecked black granite so keeping everything cool and contemporary was going to make them look glaringly out of place. Instead, we chose a combination of warm and cool colors that accented the countertops yet pulled away from them instead of making them the focal point. (Sample quarts are ALWAYS your friend.)

DIY Kitchen Makeover Before Pictures

Check out these before and after pictures. Notice the yellow and orange tones to the room? Everything from the lighting to the cabinets to the countertops and trim attributed to those tones. (Have I ever mentioned yellow is my least favorite color?)

DIY Kitchen Makeover - Before Room

And now how about these DIY kitchen makeover before AND after pictures?

Step 1 in our DIY kitchen makeover: lighting

The first thing we did is switch all the bulbs from warm light to daylight bulbs. They cost a bit more but oh, the improvement they make on a girl’s mood – especially in the middle of winter! So worth it (and it makes my food look tastier too)!

Step 2 in our DIY kitchen makeover: Paint the walls

Next, we painted the walls and the trim. Let me tell you, that was some tough decision-making – like full-blown misery. I’ve always been pro “let the wood grain do the talking”, especially with that gorgeous knotty pine trim we have, but the truth is there was just too much of it throughout the house.

We wanted a paint that would wash well so we chose Sherwin Williams Cashmere Low-luster (Hammered Silver) for the walls and we get so many compliments on the color. Depending on the lighting it can look grey or a silky satiny warm light brown. It’s the exact color we needed to stay neutral yet play well with the countertops. My stipulation was that it needed to draw attention away from the countertop and it does. It will also still look spectacular if we change out countertops in the future – I’m thinking a black or slate color will look really nice.

Then we went counter-trend and darkened up the trim instead of going white because it just didn’t look right with a lighter trim. We chose Sherwin Williams Emerald Satin (Sealskin) on the trim. I love the way it looks. (Sorry about that bit of glare! I didn’t want to edit the photos in any way so that you could see a natural difference.)DIY Kitchen Makeover - Stove Wall

after with kitchen lighting

after with natural lighting

DIY Kitchen Makeover Stove Natural Light

Step 3 in our DIY kitchen makeover: the appliances

The next thing we did was rip out a cabinet and move the microwave to a more inconspicuous place. This was also done as we looked forward to replacing the refrigerator as the top cabinet didn’t allow for room to get even a slightly bigger refrigerator (someone installed all the light fixtures and some cabinets in crooked). Okay, so a little gut and reno is so satisfying.
DIY Kitchen Makeover - Before Refrigerator Wall

This post includes affiliate links below.

Then we tackled changing out the refrigerator. It wasn’t working that great and it was small for our family so we went to a Sear’s Outlet store and after a couple trips we found this beast of a refrigerator with very little damage for significantly cheaper than we would have gotten a current model.

It still had the plastic on so we are pretty sure the tiny dings were because someone bought it and it didn’t fit in their house. WIN for us! We also wanted to keep it black for easier washing than stainless steel and to blend in with the rest of the appliances we weren’t replacing. The only thing left on this wall is to give the bathroom door a second coat of paint.

after with kitchen lighting

DIY Kitchen Makeover refrigerator wall

after with natural lighting

DIY Kitchen Makeover Refrigerator Natural Light


To get the refrigerator in the house we needed to remove the glass sliding doors that were between the kitchen and family room addition. We loved how much roomier the space felt so we left them off and bumped our DIY kitchen cabinet out a bit to leave more kitchen space.

Speaking of which, that is a kitchen cabinet from Home Depot that we simply made our own top for. When we looked at the house the kitchen is bigger than our galley kitchen was in PA but the cabinet space ended up being less because the galley had very well-designed cabinetry to maximize the small space. (Everyone leaves a fire extinguisher by the stove, right? It was tucked back in and got moved. I forgot it was there!)
DIY Kitchen Makeover - Door

after with kitchen lighting

DIY Kitchen Makeover Before Door After

Step 4 in our DIY kitchen makeover: refinishing the kitchen cabinets

The final update (for now) was painting the cabinets. They are nice solid wood cabinets so we definitely weren’t replacing them. Instead, we decided to paint them. We found tutorials online and Dave got to work. I’ll share a bit more on how he refinished them at a later date but I love them so much. We painted them Sherwin Williams Alpaca and bought these handles to give the finishing touch. We went with 2 types of handles because I didn’t want us to catch our clothes on the cabinet handles if we used them on the drawers. Plus, it’s unique.
DIY Kitchen Makeover - Sink Wall

after with kitchen lighting

DIY Kitchen Makeover after sink wall

after with natural daylight

DIY Kitchen Makeover Sink Natural Light

DIY Kitchen Makeover After cabinet handles

DIY Kitchen Makeover After drawer handles

Step 5 in our DIY kitchen makeover: the decor

Maybe you can see the theme here – black, gray, and red. Look a little bit like my site? That’s no coincidence. They’re my favorite colors and color scheme – monochromatic with a pop of color. We still have a couple finishing touches to add more bright red pops but look at my secret pop of color. I so love opening my cabinet doors. Yes, that is chalkboard paint on the inside of my cabinet doors!

DIY Kitchen Makeover After cabinet chalkboard doors

I kept an eye out for things I liked in thrift stores – like the wrought iron utensils hanging on one wall. I also made wishlists of things I found at Hobby Lobby and other craft/decor type stores then thought on ideas for a bit then if I stayed stuck on the idea for a while I would go back and get them on sale or with a coupon. We also used the chalkboard paint on a section of the wall for our menu plan, etc.
DIY Kitchen Makeover - Pantry Wall

DIY Kitchen Makeover After Pantry

Finally, I used practical organizing products for yet others – like the organizing wire drawers for condiments and coffee, the spice rack on the wall, and these magnetic spice containers on the refrigerator.

We also replaced the cheap leaking faucet for one that gives us a bit more space to work in the sink. And yes, we totally need to touch up the window sill behind the sink.

DIY Kitchen Makeover Faucet

Our DIY kitchen makeover adventure isn’t quite done.

Within the next couple months we want to add some storage space for fruit and veggies (that stash on and below the cabinets above!!!) and add another pop of red above the spices.

Then in the next couple years we want to replace the kitchen floor and we hope to replace the countertops. Then, finally, we will be able to say our DIY kitchen makeover is complete! But first we need to do something about the dining room floor this year….

Who wants to see how we made over our dining room?

DIY Dining Room Makeover Before Floor

Tips DIY Kitchen Makeover Before After

Real: The Kitchen and Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Love it? Share it!


  1. WOW I love everything you did! I especially love the feeling of removing a set of doors (or a whole breakfast bar in our case) and just opening up things and realizing how much you love the space!

  2. Wow! Love the DIY kitchen renovation!!!!!! Absolutely gorgeous!!! I have the wood everywhere and thought leave the wood and now I am thinking it needs something different! This totally the change. I am so scared to paint the wood in my galley kitchen… I want pics from the dining room too!

    1. Thank you. It was a little scary because we knew once you start you can’t really go back – at least not easily. I had forgotten just how much wood we painted over in that room.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *