A Kitchen Fit for a Queen

$2,000 DIY Kitchen Makeover with some serious ELBOW GREASE

When homeowner and mother of three Tracy Morrell hired me to give her kitchen a complete overhaul for $2,000 - I was immediately up for the challenge! Tracy longed for a space to cook and entertain in that was functional and modern. She wanted light and airy with a country flare.

Like many of us, Tracy had a tight budget BUT was willing to make up for it by doing a lot of the work herself. Even though it meant spending her time during her summer off from teaching, Tracy was ready to work and up for the challenge.

When I first met with Tracy at her home, this is what her kitchen looked like:
Outdated formica countertops in a bright blue color overwhelmed the space and were paired with a burnt orange paint color. Along with that, Tracy complained that the space looked cluttered and lacked "wow" factor...

I considered all of Tracy's wishes and went to work. Much of the time I spent on this project was devoted to budgeting and materials selection, being that we had tight confines to work within. I came up with a plan and here's what it looked like...

To bring this kitchen up to date and give it a more modern, open feel, I went with neutral earth-tone colors that would feel timeless and also open-up the space. Since new cabinetry was not an option, we opted to paint the existing cabinets and give them a fresh new look. 

For counters, we went with a formica surface (again for budgetary reasons - as the kitchen island is HUGE and had to be kept for work space). Here is the color we selected...
Tracy painted the entire downstairs and stairwell of her home by herself (with some help from her kids) before moving onto the cabinets...Goodbye Honey Mustard!

I wanted to give Tracy that "wow" factor or unique talking point that people would love when they came to visit. There were actually two "wow" factors I came up with:

1) Backsplash
2) Rough Cut stained lumber on the kitchen header (used Rust-oleum wood stain as pictured below)

For the stained header feature, I used rough-cut Hemlock and four different wood stains - here's the step by step of what I did:

(Yes - I began staining for this project during quite a thunderstorm...what can I say...I'm dedicated)

After my boards were stained in all four tones, I played around with patterns and how I would lay it all out...

I was thrilled to find a backsplash that worked perfectly with the tones of stain I had selected for this project... (Oil Rubbed Bronze hardware I selected for the cabinets is also pictured below)
Now for the dirty are some additional BEFORE photos of the kitchen as we embarked on the job...

Let the priming begin! Tracy used both a sprayer and roller to prime and paint her cabinets...
 She even came up with a handy dandy "hanging" process...GO Tracy!!!
 Tracy enlisted the help of her teenage son for much of the project...

 The cabinets came out AWESOME and saved Tracy thousands of dollars!

 Now time to tackle the unsightly header that Tracy hated in her kitchen...bring on the nail gun!
My contractor (who also happens to be my brother) and I decided to not make the boards look too patterned. We selected random pieces and nailed them into the header.
 We worked our way across the kitchen header until it was completely covered...

Next we tackled detail work, which tends to be the most time consuming. My brother custom built a new cabinet to fit an existing space that was empty and lacked functionality.  Tracy installed the new cabinet hardware on her own (again saving money)...

The kitchen really started coming together the day the old blue counters were ripped out and the new ones installed...check out the difference!

After counters it was onto backsplash. Tracy had a family member install the tile and it saved her tons of cash!

The end result...

After weeks (about 4 weeks to be exact) of work and patience...Tracy's hard work and dedication paid off! Her kitchen renovation was complete and for only $2,000 in total (WOW!) Here is the outcome...

 Did I mention that Tracy is the Queen of home made salsa, pickles and everything else!
 A once open and wasted space is now functional and aesthetically pleasing...
(The bottom shelve doubles as a place to store the microwave) 
 The backsplash adds depth and character to this kitchen...

A new Oil Rubbed Bronze faucet I purchased from eBay makes the sink (which is actually the original sink) look brand new and it matches the new countertop perfectly!
 New pulls spruce up the island and match the faucet...

Tracy added wainscoting and trim to the back of the island and gave it a custom feel without spending "custom" dollars...

Here are some more detail pics from the makeover...
 Industrial style lighting gives new energy to the eating area...

Last but CERTAINLY not least...the little lady behind this big renovation...Tracy in her new kitchen and loving the outcome!

I'm so grateful that Tracy gave me this opportunity and it was a pleasure to work with her and her beautiful family...congratulations Tracy!


  1. Oh my goodness! I can't believe the dramatic before and after! This truly came out beautifully. Thank you, Laura, for helping my sweet cousin Tracy create such a refreshed and inspirational kitchen space. Truly, I think I'd be hanging out there all day if I were here (and knowing Tracy and her gardening / canning magic, she probably is!). So impressed that the kids put in so much elbow grease, too. Can't wait to see this in person (hopefully soon!). Kudos!

    1. You are such a doll! Thank you so much for your kind words! It was a real pleasure working with Tracy and her beautiful children on this kitchen project!

  2. A true transformation! My husband and I were able to see this renovation last weekend and it looks like a $20,000 remodel rather than a $2000. Re-painting the cabinets was a great decision and they appeared professionally done. The rough cut stained lumber on the kitchen header contributed mightily to the wow-factor! All the details (wainscoting, the backsplash, the faucet and hardware, etc.) added so much and yet everything was unified.
    I am so impressed with the many people who worked together to complete this project under your capable leadership. It is truly the heart of her home!
    I am very proud of our Queen Tracy and her wonderful subjects. I mean, kids! :-)

    1. Thank you sooooo much! You made my whole day :) ~ Laura


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