Small Kitchen Remodel Before and After
I can’t even tell you how excited we are about our kitchen renovation reveal and how well it turned out! And I’m even more excited to share our process and how we got here. Because it definitely didn’t always look this pretty. Our kitchen renovation was a long time in the making. To say we finally have a fully functioning, updated, BEAUTIFUL kitchen is such a dream. I think the engineered wood floors we chose are my favorite part!
A small kitchen doesn’t have to mean you sacrifice style or function. If you are strategic with your decisions, you can make great use of the space that works for your family.
Without further adieu, let’s dive right in to our small kitchen remodel before and after and how we got here.
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As a brief recap if you are new around here, we bought this home 4 years ago in Iowa. It is an older home that hadn’t been updated since the 70s we guess. Everything about the kitchen was out-dated. But the home had potential and it was a great price, so it made a good starter home.
Small Kitchen Remodel Before and After
Here’s what the kitchen looked like when we bought it. This was taken during the process of painting our cabinets, hence a few of the cabinet doors removed, which we did a few months after moving in. One great bonus is this kitchen actually has quite a bit of cabinets, which is not always the case with small kitchens.
After we painted and turned them into pretty blue kitchen cabinets using the color Northern Star by Pratt & Lambert, it looked like this. We painted to get rid of the terrible orangey cabinets and it looked better. But at this point we still had linoleum floors and counters and the old, original appliances.
While we knew we wanted to renovate the kitchen eventually, it wasn’t in the budget to do it right away. We lived with the painted cabinets and out-dated appliances and floors for a few years.
In the meantime, we talked about our plans and what we wanted to do with our kitchen eventually. Being a galley kitchen, we didn’t have the option to add an island so the floor plan would remain the same. Since we were doing the remodel ourselves and we don’t take on debt for projects, we waited until we had money saved up and we were comfortable enough taking on the work.
The biggest issue with our kitchen is it just wasn’t an inspiring place to hang out. We cook a lot and hardly ever eat out, so we’re always in the kitchen. The oven was so small with only one rack, and the stove top was old and the knobs were wearing off so you couldn’t see the burner temperatures. It wasn’t that functional and certainly didn’t feel like “us.”
After 3 (!!!!) years of living in our home with an out-dated kitchen, we finally tackled the kitchen renovation the summer of 2018. It was kind of a last minute decision to do it, actually. We had talked about starting within the year, but to make it even more stressful, we decided to start the reno just a a couple months before our wedding! Because why not ha. Nothing like a hard deadline to get everything finished in time! Excited doesn’t even BEGIN to express how happy I was to rip out the out-dated kitchen.
But first, let’s talk design plans.
The Design Plan
As the type A planner that I am, I had our design plan figured out well before we actually started demo. We weren’t adding on or changing the footprint of our kitchen, but we were updating counters, floors, hardware, lighting, backsplash, appliances, window treatment and cabinets.
The overall vibe I wanted for the kitchen is the same as the rest of our house: light, airy, cozy with a mix of rustic + modern elements.
To figure out what we wanted for cabinets and counters and all the other details, I did some research, of course spent time on Pinterest pinning ideas, and then created a mood board so I had a visual of what all the elements looked like together, creating my design plan.
If you want a more in-depth look at how I research and create a room design plan, read this.
When we put in our wood floors in the living room over a year ago, we purchased enough for the kitchen, knowing we were updating those floors at some point too, so we had the flooring already figured out. Installing matching flooring that flows from room to room goes a long way in making the spaces feel cohesive and it makes rooms feel bigger and less choppy.
It looks like the exact flooring we used is discontinued, but this flooring is by the same brand and looks very similar in finish. We LOVE our engineered wood floors and they had no scratches after a year with a dog which is pretty impressive. Not all flooring is created equal, and I think the brand is high quality and has a hard finish that resists scratches.
Related Post: How to Choose Wood Flooring: Laminate vs. Hardwood
Backsplash + Countertops
We did white subway tile in our bathroom, so I wanted white subway tile backsplash in our kitchen to repeat the look and create cohesiveness. I’m a big fan of classic backsplash that you won’t tire of after a few years. Subway tile is always a practical yet beautiful option that’s pretty affordable.
For countertops, it was between white quartz or butcher block. Quartz counters were over double the cost of butcher block, so that’s ultimately why we chose wood counters. While I do love the look of butcher block, this isn’t our forever home so we didn’t want to spend more than what we’d actually get back when we decide to sell, so butcher block made sense. They do require a little more maintenance, so that’s something to keep in mind. I researched how to care for butcher block a ton and found that with a little extra care and some mineral oil, they will hold up for years.
Taking out the old stove top and built-in wall oven meant we had to rework the location of the new appliances a bit. It’s actually more cost effective to have a combined range and oven, so we shifted it over slightly to add some extra counter space. We also were installing a dishwasher (finally!!), getting a new microwave that mounted above the range to allow for more counter space, and a new fridge. The dishwasher was the most exciting part of the new kitchen, I think. Washing dishes is my LEAST favorite chore. I like the look of stainless steel so that’s what we went with. for our appliances. Usually you can get a discount if you buy appliances in a bundle package which is what we did at Nebraska Furniture Mart.
On to kitchen cabinets…our biggest dilemma.
While I love the blue kitchen cabinets we had, I wanted our new cabinets to be more neutral. We went back and forth on whether we’d keep the current cabinets and just paint them, or if we’d install all new cabinets.
Ideally, I wanted new cabinets. We’d have to rip out the whole wall of cabinets where the old oven and stovetop are to make room for the new range, which meant we’d have to install new cabinets on that wall to replace them anyway. I couldn’t find any stock cabinets available that matched our current size. I felt it would look odd to have mismatched cabinets on one side of the kitchen, so replacing them all sounded like the best option. The old cabinet shelves also weren’t adjustable and didn’t have a tall enough clearance for things like a canister of oatmeal, so that was another bonus of new cabinets. It’s all about the little things.
New cabinets also meant we’d spend more than if we repainted our existing and replaced just the one side of cabinets next to the range.
To see how much new cabinets would cost, we got a quote from a semi-custom cabinet company and were shocked at how much it cost. They always say new cabinets are expensive, and they aren’t kidding. And we don’t even have a ton of cabinets like larger kitchens! I tried to reach out to the cabinet company and see where we could make a few adjustments (I wanted some open shelving) to maybe lower the cost a bit, but they were horrible about getting back to me so after the bad customer service, we nixed that idea. They did provide a handy blueprint we were able to work off of and check prices for stock cabinets at Home Depot. Home Depot cabinets ended up being one fifth of the cost, plus there was no lead time (we only had to order a couple cabinets online, the rest were in stock in our local store).
The great thing about Home Depot stock cabinets is the variety of base and wall cabinet types. They offer a mix of wall and base cabinets, some with larger drawers that are great for storing pots and pans. You can really play with the assortment and pick cabinets based on your needs that fit your kitchen size.
The main concern we had with the Home Depot stock cabinets was quality. If you read the reviews online, they are not great. Most of the them said they were cheaply made and arrived broken in some way. Ugh. I went to our store to check them out myself first hand, and after looking, I thought they actually looked pretty nice and the quality seemed like it’d work fine for us. The quality isn’t top notch and they use a cheaper wood than custom cabinets, but for the price and for the average kitchen, they will work great.
They cabinets were available in either white or a light grey. The gray color came with a shaker door style which I loved, so we went with it!
Ultimately, Jordon and I decided these cabinets were the best solution for us. We picked up all the cabinets in-store, and only had to order 2 that weren’t in stock. These are the pre-assembled shaker cabinets at Home Depot we bought. My biggest suggestion if you are buying the cabinets is to buy them in store if possible. That way you can check over each cabinet to look for damage and get top pick. We ordered 2 cabinets online that weren’t available in-store, and one of the cabinets arrived damaged from shipping. This is where the bad reviews come from. If you can hand pick each cabinet in-store, do it.
At this point, we had a garage full of cabinets, appliances ordered, and all other design selections finalized.
We were ready for demo!
Jordon was eager to rip out cabinets, so I emptied them and packed everything up. He started ripping stuff out one day while I was at work. Nothing like getting texts of your newly gutted kitchen while you’re away! Not stressful at all. #kidding
We did keep the refrigerator as long as we could so we at least had some food for the time being, since the rest of our kitchen was out of use. We resorted to plugging in the microwave in the living room so we could still make oats and sandwiches during the 5 week kitchen renovation without a range.
It’s always nerve-racking on demo day because you never know exactly what you’ll uncover. We lucked out and everything was pretty normal, except, after ripping out the stovetop and lower cabinets, we discovered there was a vent that came up from the furnace that out-jetted from the wall. Right where we planned on placing a 12 inch wide cabinet wasn’t going to work anymore, because we needed a wider cabinet to be able to cut the back of it in order to fit over the vent. We were forced to switch the cabinet layout a bit which was a bummer. I planned on adding open shelving above the range, but that had to change. It also meant we no could no longer have cabinets on both side of the range like we originally planned.
Switching around the cabinet layout a couple times caused us to have to return a couple cabinets and order a couple new ones. This ended up setting us back a couple days because we were waiting for the new cabinets to arrive. All of our cabinets were in good shape, but we did have one that arrived a little broken. Luckily, it was only broken in the back and we were able to salvage it, since we didn’t have time to wait a week for a new one to come in.
One other fix we had to do was add a different electrical plug to fit the new range and wire the microwave so it was on a different circuit line.
Jordon was somehow able to install all the cabinets himself, leveling them and securing them to the wall. Once the cabinets were in, we could start on the wood flooring. Installing the wood floors took a few days with all the measuring and cutting. When the floors were in, we were ready for the appliances delivery. This was an exciting day! Our kitchen would finally be somewhat useable again and we could stop eating cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was ready to have a stove back. Surprisingly, we didn’t eat out once during the work week in the 5 weeks without a stove.
However, we ran into an issue when the appliances arrived. When we picked out appliances, we made sure the size fit within the cabinet space we allotted, but we forgot to account for the doorway leading into the kitchen. Oops! The guys dropped off the appliances but the fridge didn’t fit through the living room/kitchen doorway. We ended up having to remove the doors from the new fridge, and even remove part of the molding on the door frame to just barely be able to squeeze the new fridge in place, with only centimeters to give.
DIY Wood Countertops
With the appliances finally installed, we could start on the DIY wood countertops. We bought slabs of birch butcher block countertops from Menard’s and cut them to fit. They were fairly straightforward to install using this tutorial.
I researched a ton on how to seal the wood and found two options. Use a food grade sealer or use natural with mineral oil. Using a heavy duty wood sealer would protect the wood better longer term, but the sealer also changed the color of the wood and made it much more orangey than I liked. So I decided that applying mineral oil every few months was the best option for us. I made an entire IGTV video on how we care for our butcher block DIY wood countertops you can watch here.
The Home Stretch
In between the big projects like installing the cabinets, countertops, and appliances, we also finished things like repainting the walls, painting all the kitchen trim, and I painted the side entrance door the same Northern Star blue color we had on our previous kitchen cabinets.
Once the counters were in, we were in the home stretch and could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! Up next was installing subway tile backsplash and the apron front farmhouse sink.
We went with classic white subway tile with light grey grout because it never goes out of style. Our farmhouse sink was a bit of a splurge and was the most expensive piece in our kitchen outside of appliances. But boy am I glad we got it! The large, single basin is convenient when washing pots and pans and it looks like a showstopper.
After 5ish weeks of work, we finished the kitchen renovation! And with enough time to spare before our wedding 🙂 It was definitely a long few weeks living in a construction zone and spending every available minute on the kitchen. It was a lot of work, but we’re so happy with how it turned out! Every time I walk in our kitchen I’m amazed we tackled all of it ourselves and how good it looks! It truly looks better than I had imagined.
Incorporate Something Unique
To make your kitchen feel truly special and unique, incorporate a piece that’s custom or that has character to make it stand out.
One unique piece we had made for our kitchen is the black metal shelf. Since we were limited to floating kitchen shelving on just the one side of our galley kitchen due to the issue we discovered during demolition, I debated what I wanted to do for open shelving. At first, I was thinking open wood shelves, but I wanted to tie in the matte black accents from the chandelier. Then, I had the idea for a black metal shelf. I sketched it up and a local welder from my hometown brought my vision to life! I love that it’s different and unique yet ties together the space perfectly. Dress it up with pretty vases, a plant and cookbooks to bring in some personality and color!
We used our existing kitchen table and modern white chairs and installed a really fun mobile chandelier from West Elm which adds a nice modern touch. I think it compliments the rustic wood table nicely.
For the 4 windows surrounding our kitchen table, we went with white linen outside mount roman shades. I love cordless roman shades because they’re practical and super functional, but the white linen gives them a light, airy feel. Before our kitchen remodel we had blinds with cords, and I will never go back since installing these cordless shades! Cordless is the way to go.
We got our kitchen cabinet hardware off Amazon actually! They have tons of affordable options in large quantities. I decided to go with brushed nickel because I like the softness against our grey cabinets. The blue buffalo check shade above our apron sink makes me smile every time. It adds a fun twist, don’t you think?
If you decide on butcher block wood countertops for your home, I highly suggest using a little tray like the one we have to hold your dish soap (this stuff smells AMAZING!) and dish brush so they aren’t sitting directly on the wood. The bottles will leave water rings otherwise. Even if you don’t have butcher block, I still love having a tray for dish soap and hand soap! Ours has held up for several years.
I hope you enjoyed our little kitchen tour! If I missed anything or if you have questions, ask away in the comments!
Shop Our Kitchen
If you want to take a virtual tour of our kitchen and get a peek at it in real life, watch the video below 🙂
View this post on Instagram
Our recent kitchen renovation is on full display as you take a walk through our home
Very nice work!!! I love everything about it!!!
Thank you!! We’re definitely glad it’s finished and we can now enjoy it!
Beautiful! I stumbled across your post on Pinterest and love your before/after. Could you share the overall cost was?
I’m happy you’re here, Julie! The estimated cost is about $5k including appliances. We already had the floor purchased and the butcher block is much more affordable than quartz or granite. Plus we did it all ourselves so we didn’t pay for any labor!
My word…your kitchen is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!! It seriously looks like it’s right out of Fixer Upper! Y’all did an incredible job! I’ve pinned this and will definitely use it for my upcoming kitchen remodel! Thank you for sharing! -Nicole, Jax., FL
Thank you so much, Nicole! Good luck to you on your upcoming kitchen remodel! I’m excited for you 🙂
Wonderful job! What is the paint color used for the cabinets? Perfect grey!!! ❤️
The cabinets came painted when we bought them from Home Depot! The color is dove grey. It’s a really pretty blue-grey, we love it! Here’s the link to the cabinets https://rstyle.me/+ju6HgUEOecX_YbVdr_tEkQ
Beautiful job! Where did you buy the butcher block countertops? Were they difficult to install?
Thank you! We got our butcher block counters from Menards because they had big enough slabs so we would only have two minor seams where we cut them to fit. They are pretty straightforward to install. The toughest part was cutting out the space for the sink. We used brackets that attached to the cabinets that screw into the butcher block to hold it in place. Pretty simple!
Love it! What is your wall color?
Thank you, Meagan! The wall color is ivory lace by Sherwin Williams.
What cabinet pulls did you use?
We got our cabinet hardware from Amazon. Here’s the link to the pulls we have https://rstyle.me/+MigOffbGPD-vYJdAx79teA
The “experts” say to have counter space on both sides of your own, but if I center mine, it doesn’t leave room for a functional corner cabinet space. Have you had any regrets about the stove placement?
Hi Tarina, our original plan was to have cabinets on both sides of the oven, but after ripping out the old cabinets we discovered the gas line so we had to change our cabinet plan and since the cabinets are not custom, there wasn’t a size available for the cabinet to accommodate the change, so we were forced to only have cabinets on one side of the oven. Obviously, if we could have done cabinets on both sides, we would still make that decision. That’s just part of renovating, it doesn’t always go as planned!
What is your flooring? It is a beautiful color. Does it have a natural seal only?
Here is a blog post where I talk more about the flooring with the exact link to what we have https://amandakatherine.com/blog/choosing-wood-flooring-home
We did not add an additional seal, so it has what the flooring came with only and they’ve worn great so far!
What is the EXACT paint color, type, and brand of your kitchen cabinets? This is EXACTLY what we want to do to ours!! It’s beautiful
The cabinets actually came painted! Here is the direct link to the cabinets we used from Home Depot https://rstyle.me/+hkVeLrzgRU6P2CGGAX4FPA
Hello came across you on Pinterest wanted to ask you about your sink to window it appears it my be off center. I am remodeling and to use a super Susan my sink would be off center about 3 inches from the window and trying to determine if it’s worth it or if it would make the area look too off
Excellent work! Using this as a model for my kitchen reno – thanks for posting!
I love the remodel! Can you share where you purchased your roman blondes from? Thank you
What is that light above the sink. Was that the original one? thank you!
Gorgeous kitchen! We’re looking at replicating it in our home. But I’m hesitant to order these cabinets because they get terrible reviews on Home Depot’s website. How have yours held up?
Where did you get your sink?
Where did you get the black open shelving piece? I am looking for this exact item.
I love this kitchen so much. I am in the middle of a remodel and plan to do butcher block as well. I love the color yours so much! What wood type is that? Maple?
Gorgeous kitchen! What color is that lovely teal door? I’m looking for a shade just like that. Thank you!!
I always love seeing kitchen renovations. You guys did a wonderful job! Love everything!! Cabinets, butcher block counters, tile and even your trash can! 😉
Nice job! A counter depth fridge would have been a better bet but you do lose space for food.
We are looking to remodel our kitchen and layout is similar to yours, our problem is trying to figure out a different place to move the refrigerator, where it is now, we can’t open the left door all the way because of the wall. I’d really like to move it to the opposite side where the stove is but don’t want to have to do a lot of rewiring but could possibly just tap into the existing wall outlets. I have been trying to make the jump and get it done but keep hesitateing, afraid!
What do you think?
I tried to insert some pictures but it won’t allow me to.
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Really it is a great article and more helpful to get the best assistance for kitchen & bathroom renovation. I am very glad to go through this kind of helpful blog. Thanks for sharing a nice blog.
Love your kitchen the colors look so clean and I love the color of your cabinets. You did a great job! Very helpful.
WOW loved your article (was directed here from pinterest btw), very well written and the renovation is wonderful!!!
Where did you get the paint for your cabinets at? Beautiful job
What color white did you use to paint your kitchen walls?
I love your kitchen renovation as it is simple and beautiful. And you answered a question I had for quite awhile now-how to do a kitchen redo when it’s not your forever home. I’ve been leaning toward butcher block over quartz for cost and charm. This post helped me make up my mind. All the best!
You did an excellent job on the DIY kitchen remodel. Thank you so much for taking the time to post photos and a video detailing all you did. Like you and your husband, my partner and I have struggled to cook in our uninspiring original 1950 galley kitchen for the past 4 years. My partner painted the original cabinets, walls and installed new flooring a couple years ago as a stop gap measure. The cabinets are uninsulated (so dishes get very cold in winter) plus drawers have no runners so are difficult to open and close. Sink and faucet are rusting, formica counters are trashed and there’s no dishwasher. Even though my partner is very handy and I have good design sense, I was afraid to tackle this ourselves. Was close to hiring a design build firm to do this. My hesitation was to spend a lot of money when I may sell home in a year or so. Your post helped me to realize that this is something we could do ourselves for a third of the cost. Your design choices are very similar to what I would have chosen and the fact that it cost you 5K including appliances (which we already purchased) is incredible. Stumbling upon this blog on Pinterest made my day and saved me thousands of dollars. Thank you!!!!
Thank you sooo much AmandaKatherine, you are a blessing to me today. Seek and you will find, and you answered my every question. Blessings and Thank you again and again and again. Your kitchen is ideal.
I absolutely love everything about your kitchen, the clarity of your writing style and the step by step pictures. I’m also encouraged that it took you a while, and you lived with the "during" look while you had to – at least it’s not just me! I wondered about some shaker detailing, or shelving, at the blank ends of your floor cabinets? There are some lovely ideas available. But maybe you want to keep it simple and restful? Looking forward to exploring more of your blog.
What color did you stain the butcher block?
Where did you get the farm house sink and cost .
Amanda I love your kitchen redo, we also have a small kitchen and hardly any cabinets so we are going to change it out and put in new cabinets and a new sink, I have an authentic farmhouse sink that is 5 ft long but the porcelain has and is peeling so we are replacing it and will have to change things around because of the sink! I love your design and that is what I am hoping to do!!!
What is the color name of that paint ? I love it!
You must live in or close to Omaha, since you mentioned Nebraska Furniture Mart!
I love the look you made, the color and style of cupboards abd it was ingenious to have a metal shelf made that isn’t standard!! Doing all the work done yourself is a Huge bonus!!!! I’m very impressed! I too had trouble with new fridge….it barely fit between our cupboards also…..thank goodness for a carpenter-he just wiggled & wala! It fit! It’s nothing like finding out your measuring and careful search doesn’t work!
I love that paint color on the cabinets, what color is it?
This kitchen remodel is giving me life! I love how it’s crisp and clean but still has some warmth. Obsessed!! We are getting our <a href="https://www.nhance.com/beachside/service/custom-finishes/">cabinets painted</a> and I’m totally sold on this gray color. If only we had the butcher block countertop to match…haha Stunning, definitely coming back to this post to show my husband.
About how much for the cabinets? If you don’t mind me asking. These are the ones I have been looking at and my kitchen has similar layout. It’s just me at home so…. I’m dreading planning, measuring etc. an idea of cost would help me:) thanks!
I would say that modern metallics such as brushed or stainless steel, brass and hammered copper are just some exciting trends to include in your kitchen remodel.
What color did you stain the butcher block? Looks great!
If anyone thinks, kitchen remodeling only updates the old kitchen, then also he is wrong. Because apart from intensifying the look, it adds modernity and improves the functionality of entire kitchen, for more details http://orlandokitchenremodelingpros.com.
Can I ask a question about your butcher block? I’m trying to get a super light light finish on the butcher block we are going to install, and it seems you got the end product and result km looking for. Did you stain it or whitewash it? Or literally just cut and put it on there and use mineral oil? Did you not seal it to be water proof?
Your kitchen layout is almost exactly like mine and I am considering Hampton Bay Cabinets. I love everything you did! Very nice!
Where did you get your chalk board from
My husband actually made it!
A kitchen renovation can improve comfort in a number of ways; for example, better ventilation can help reduce the odors and heat that cooking in the kitchen produces. Installing a kitchen island that provides seating space can be a great way to add an additional dining area to your home. Adding larger windows can help bring in more sunlight.
Thanks for your tips!
Absolutely stunning! I love the cool grey color of the cabinets with the warm wood color of the counter! So beautiful. We have a <a href="https://www.nhance.com/beachside/cabinet-refacing-neptune-beach-fl/">cabinet refacing</a> project scheduled for later this month and I’m rethinking our original color after seeing this one.
Thank you! Best of luck on your kitchen project 🙂
I like the design. http://www.interiordesignm.com
I thought I would like having gray cabinets in my kitchen but now I wish I had gone with white, everything seems bland and colors don’t pop like I thought they would