My $3,500 Kitchen Renovation



I contemplated for a long time (okay, not THAT long, maybe a few months) on what route to take with our kitchen renovation. My heart wanted to go to Ikea and plan out a dream kitchen, but although Ikea is the best budget-friendly option for cabinets, I knew deep-down that my cabinets were in GREAT shape. The biggest issue for me was the color… 1985’s favorite honey oak. They are pretty much yellow.


So I finally decided that I wanted to save some money and refinish our cabinets. Sigh. After some research, I found that most people paint their cabinets white or black. Another popular option was the General Finishes Gel Stain in Java. (VERY dark brown) Although the java color was beautiful, I was looking for a more cozy-cottage-rustic feel that you get from a wood grain.

I decided to go with the gel stain for its ease of use and application. I chose the Antique Walnut color and a water based poly clear coat with the General Finishes brand. I purchased them on and they arrived at my doorstep in less than a week. I also added the handy-dandy paint triangles to my cart and wished I bought more. Those paint triangles help you paint BOTH sides of your cabinet doors at once. I’m down for a shortcut. Just FYI… I bought a quart of stain and used THREE coats on the entire kitchen and still have half the quart left. I plan on refinishing my bathroom cabinets in the future.


I disassembled all my cabinet doors and removed my drawers. I’m lazy. When I can be. I didn’t label any hardware or doors. Sometimes I even like to think I’m brave. I soaked my nasty hardware in Fantastico for a couple days and scrubbed them clean.


The next week consisted of sanding down the all the doors, drawers, and built-in cabinets. I used an electric sander for the most part. Some grooves I had to sand by hand. I used mostly 120 grit sandpaper, but I’m not going to lie. When I was out I used whatever I had. Nobody died.

It’s an understatement to say there was sawdust everywhere. Just relax. I promise some day soon it will all be clean again.

Brendan tore off our tile counters one day after work. It was some serious demolition… it even took some of the wall with it when the backsplash came off. I almost fainted when I saw the holes in the wall.





After thoroughly cleaning all the cabinets, doors, and drawers with a wet rag, I applied my first coat of stain with one of Brendan’s old white cotton socks. I wore gloves under the sock. Make sure you move in the direction of the wood grain and wipe off and pools or globs before moving on. Anywhere you didn’t do a great job sanding won’t pick up the color as much. I was going for an imperfect rustic look, so I was okay with it. I’m not perfect, my kitchen shouldn’t be either. πŸ˜‰

You must wait at least 24 hours between each coat of stain, and at least 72 hours after all your coats of stain to apply the poly. I actually followed that instruction.

Coat #1




Coat #2




Coat #3



After I applied the second coat, Brendan and I went to Home Depot to check out appliances and some counter solutions. I know what you’re thinking. Home Depot is not the industry standard for granite, but I cannot be more happy with choosing them. My seams are nearly invisible and the price was impossible to beat. They were extremely professional and timely. I pushed them to get the granite in before Christmas and they managed to do it for me. And I’m not paid by Home Depot to say that. I swear. πŸ˜ƒ The only thing is they have a pricing list that goes by letters. A is the cheapest. We chose A because granite is granite, right? It’s about $55 a square foot installed. The advertised $35 a square foot is unsealed granite. You don’t want that. πŸ˜ƒ




Also, Home Depot mounts your under-mount sink and drills the holes for your faucets for free.

Next year we will put in a backsplash, so for the time being I painted a quick birch tree backsplash for Christmas.


Because our house came with a decent Whirlpool stainless fridge,I decided to keep it and buy the matching Whirlpool dishwasher, gas range oven, and hood. It ended up saving us a lot of money. We ended up paying only $1k for the appliances with a sale at Home Depot. They also delivered the appliances to out rural home for free!

We had to change our plumbing a bit to allow for the new rear-facing drains. Luckily, my father-in-law is a plumber and taught my husband a lot about plumbing!

I only have seven drawers, so I purchased these vintage style cup drawer pulls on eBay for about $2 each. I purchased drawer knobs at Walmart online for 66 cents each. I ended up paying less than $25 for hardware. Screaming deal.

I purchased the vintage style faucet, air gap, and reverse osmosis faucet on eBay for all less than $200. The beautiful Franke stainless under-mount sink was a generous gift from my father-in-law.






Brendan made my dream of having two clear glass cabinets by cutting out the inserts of my two rear cabinets with his router. I simply took the cabinet doors to the glass shop and they installed custom cut glass into them for me. It was a little pricey (about $140) but I felt it was worth it because we had saved so much elsewhere.


Thank you for checking out my post! I hope this was helpful or inspiring for you. If I can do this, you can do this.

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