First Person: How We Used $200 and a Weekend to Pull Off a Much-Needed Kitchen Renovation

Believe it or not, a home renovation project does not have to cost thousands of dollars or take weeks to complete. And it doesn’t have to involve hiring professionals – there are some projects that homeowners can do themselves. My wife and I recently discovered this when we tackled a small kitchen renovation, a project that yielded some pretty good results given the low cost and limited time we had to work with. For around $200 and with about 30 hours of work over one weekend, we transformed an ugly kitchen into a place much more pleasing to the eye.

Our house, a cozy but dated ranch-style home, had an older kitchen that was functional but needed attention. The problems in the kitchen included a ceiling was covered in a dust-attracting popcorn texture, a non-functional ceiling fan, faded and old paint on the walls, and cabinets that had been painted a ghastly shade of light purple by a previous owner. The little kitchen was usable, but as you can see in the first two photos, it was not pretty at all.

Back when we were just beginning to think about renovating our kitchen, the project seemed overwhelming. There were so many things wrong with the room that we weren’t certain where to begin, how much it would cost, how long it would take, or whether two amateurs like ourselves could even successfully finish a renovation. But when we actually began to plan out the work, all of the uncertainty about cost and time went away. We developed a concrete idea about what we wanted to accomplish with our remodel, with an eye towards getting the most from the limited time and resources that we had. Knowing what supplies were needed and what the steps were to complete the work let us set a budget for the project and schedule a time to complete it.

I think that having a renovation plan was the most import step of the whole process. The plan helped us, two amateurs with limited home improvement experience, complete this project in record time. Since the project was broken down into easy-to-manage steps, we felt comfortable doing it ourselves, which saved a lot of money versus hiring a contractor. The work that we were doing, mostly painting and basic wiring, is something that doesn’t necessary require special training so long as you can follow the instructions from any basic home repair book or website.

The renovation plan also helped us stay on schedule. We broke the work down into three stages: cleaning and surface preparation, painting, and reinstallation. In each stage, we worked from the top down, starting at the ceiling then moving to the walls and cabinets and down to the floor. Working in this way kept debris and paint drips from where we were currently working from getting on completed areas. Which also means we didn’t waste time going back over areas that we had already finished.

Here is a breakdown of the final cost of our kitchen renovation:

Primer paint – $20

Ceiling paint – $15

Interior paint, cabinets and walls – $40

New door and drawer pulls – $20

New blinds – $15

Popcorn texture scraper – $25

Paint rollers, brushes, trays – $15

Cleaning supplies – $15

New ceiling fan and light fixtures – $30

Total cost – $195

Judging by the results and the cost, not bad for a couple of amateurs.

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