El Cheapo Kitchen Reno …

El Cheapo Kitchen Reno …

I woke up the day after Christmas and decided that after ten years, I couldn’t stand my kitchen one more day. That it was time. Time to paint the kitchen.

My kitchen is the last frontier in this house. For almost ten years I’ve spun my wheels and lived with the kitchen as it was when I moved in. Kitchens are problematic that way. You think, well, if I’m going to paint I have to move the appliances, and if I’m going to pull out the appliances, then I should do the floor. And if I’m going to do the floor, then I might as well pull out that wall with the arch, and if I’m going to do that, then I should build the porch off the back of the house that I want to do — and I don’t have the money to do any of that so — for ten years I’ve lived with this kitchen.

But paint is cheap. And although I don’t love to paint, I’m reasonably competent. Since the Big Corporation closed for the week, so I wasn’t getting paid anyway, I decided I might as well work for myself. I dug out the paint chip I’d put in the folder several years ago when I went through an earlier bout of I-hate-my-kitchen, and an affordable $150 later, I was ready to paint.

Challenge 1: The Fridge Corner

This corner is one of the characteristic weirdnesses of my kitchen. It was originally the closet for the room on the other side, but I had that wall pulled down before I moved in, so that there would be someplace to put the refrigerator. The floor beneath the fridge is really uneven — the vinyl flooring ends and the wood floor from the former closet begins. It’s one of the challenges of replacing the floor in this room. Now this corner looks like this:

Challenge 2: The Former Door


This corner was also a problem. It’s hard to see in this photo, but next to that big square on the wall (where the previous owners had a large chalkboard) there was a door. That door led to the bathroom. In 2007 (?) I had the bathroom renovated, including moving the door so you no longer access it right off the kitchen. Ever since, the baseboards along that wall have been missing, exposing a horrifying line of plaster rubble along the floor. I hid it behind the bookcases, but it always freaked me out. Himself was kind enough to cut me new baseboards and quarter-round — so now that corner looks like this:

Challenge 3: The Ginormous Cabinet

This is the Ginormous China Cabinet. I actually love this cabinet — there are two big flour bins on the bottom, one of which perfectly fits a 30 lb bag of dog food. There’s room for everything in here. The downside is that the countertop, which you cant’ really see in this photo, is a very ancient piece of linoleum with a swirly grey pattern. Not only is the pattern ugly, but it always looks dirty.

The idea of unpacking this cabinet and repainting it is part of why I couldn’t face this project for so long. But I did it. I pulled everything out, painted the shelf surfaces with oil paint, painted the linoleum with black oil paint, and then painted the rest of it in the same yellow and white as the rest of the room. It now looks like this: 

After six days, she rested:

I thought this project would take three days, and it took six. Everything needed two coats of paint, and to mask that green on the walls, I had to prime them as well. It was as big a pain in the ass as I’d figured it would be — but now it’s done, and I have a nice, clean, cheerful kitchen for only the price of paint, and my time.

Which is sort of what the whole Living Small project is all about. Making do with what you have, and what you can do yourself. As much as I’d love one of those kitchens in the magazine photos in the file I’ve been collecting, this is the kitchen I have. It’s a good kitchen. On winter afternoons, the sun streams in, and it’s the most pleasant room in my house. Even more so now that it’s all clean, everything has been scrubbed and painted and spiffed up. Someday, I’ll have an extra freelance job that will pay for a new floor, but for now, this floor is just fine.

So there it is, the El Cheapo Kitchen reno. A new year, a new shiny kitchen.

9 thoughts on “El Cheapo Kitchen Reno …

  1. Great inspiration and a reminder to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Maybe that’s a little over the top when speaking about a kitchen, but it’s a philosophy I should apply to many areas of my life, kitchen included.

  2. Great job! it is so amazing what time and paint can doI had a little old house too. The problem was you were never sure what that weekend project might turn into. Love the color! What is it? I am finally ready to think about color in my apartment. I might have to steal it from you 🙂

  3. Hi Erika — it’s an Ace Hardware color called “Dipped in Honey” — I’m so relieved it came out right. Yellows sometimes “grow” –but it’s a nice pinky-yellow, not a greeny-yellow. The white is also an Ace color — “Silent White” — which is white base with a lot more white added to it, so it’s very clear and bright.
    And thanks everyone for the kind words — I’m glad I did it, even if my no-it’s-not-carpal-tunnel is acting up some …

  4. WOWZA! Charlotte, that is ***SO*** beautiful. The color is absolutely perfect — as Kristi said, simultaneously peaceful and cheery. You have created the perfect place for both a quiet solitary cup of tea, and the focal point for a rousing gathering of good friends over a pot of soup. Kudos to you on a job extremely well done!

  5. The countertop turned out really nice — although I had to repaint it after I leaned a knee on it when I thought it had cured, but it hadn’t – made a big mark with my jeans. It was old, real linoleum, so Himself, who is a contractor who sort of specializes in old houses, said he thought the oil paint would bond with the oil-based linoleum. So far, so good. It’s not as hard as a real countertop, but it seems to be sticking.

  6. I LOVE the arched entry to the kitchen. It’s a small house and that opens it up so nicely. Now that you have a really deductive (if not totally up to date) kitchen, think long and hard about keeping the arch. Arches are one of the lost remembrances of lovely little old homes.

    Way cool (and thanks, Chuck, for the baseboard, corner round and patience. Now–as to those chickens–

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