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Please help me update my 90's kitchen within my budget

Robin Steiner
December 6, 2018
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>We just bought a nice little starter home and I need some advice on the things we are able to update for the team being:
cabinet hardware
paint color

I know the white appliances are awful, but we need to keep them for now.
I am not interested in painting the cabinets. These pictures aren't the greatest (snapped them during our home inspection) but they are very nice custom cabinets that I don't want to mess with. Call me old fashion, but I like oak.
Lastly, I am open to budget friendly ideas for that beautiful green countertop
Comments (14)
  • herbflavor

    you might get quotes for a new island top/new floor/ a lighting plan [can lights] . Any one of the 3 would be a benefit....or 2, or all 3, done over a time frame that works for your budget. Other things like wall paper removal/curtain/ knobs/paint/ are assumed at your discretion. With a little more money to work with, the bigger changes might nudge this along to make a really nice space. the appliances are not awful....I don't know if I could handle the ceiling fan or island top for very long. the perimeter counter really recedes to the point you could leave it. If the island itself will remain, a new top will give you a new "lease" as you have a wide range of options for replacement.

  • salonva

    Agree with the suggestions above---

    I would most definitely remove the wallpaper border and change the hardware (the knobs). For starters and not much $$ at all, that will work greatly to refresh the space.

    I would also suggest removing the curtain valance. The island top with the contrasting edge trim is quite dated looking to me.

  • Robin Steiner
    Thank you for the suggestions. I agree, the ceiling fan has to go. A good looking pendant light will make a huge difference. The plan is to replace the countertops later down the line (2-3 yrs). Any color scheme ideas for hardware, backsplash, paint, curtain, ect. that will down play the yellowness in the oak cabinets / green in the countertops?

    We will be using Agreeable Gray with white molding in the rest of our home.
  • chiflipper

    Congrats on getting a new home! Suggest you replace countertops NOW with a laminate that co-ordinates with the flooring, that will make a huge difference. Check the Big Box stores for "in stock" pieces...very affordable. As kitchens in starter homes go, yours is very nice.

  • Robin Steiner
    Thanks, chiflipper! That's something I can put in myself? Honestly I have it in my head as a big expensive project but if there is a painless way to get rid of that awful green sooner, I am all for it.
  • jhmarie

    Do the easy things first (wallpaper, light fixture, widow treatment) and then assess your budget. You have a functioning kitchen which is not awful, so take your time to make good decisions and do them in the right order. Backsplash comes after countertops. For now simply paint the backsplash or use an inexpensive, easily removable backsplash like the bead board textured wall paper.

    White appliances are fine, especially in a wood kitchen as they help lighten the space. I have white appliances with my oak cabinets:) You may wish to switch to stainless as they die - that is up to your personal preference - I don't like stainless but that is me:) If the appliances are fine, you might want to put your budget elsewhere.

    Before spending money on counters, be sure you are happy with the layout. It mostly looks fine except the placement of the dishwasher. However, my mom's is similarly placed and it hasn't been a problem. Do not put expensive counters on a kitchen with a layout you cannot work with.

    Under cabinet lighting in an oak kitchen is very helpful. You might want to spend money on something that "shows" more, but under cabinet lighting really brightens a kitchen and makes any kitchen prettier. It is best to do under cabinet lighting before a backsplash.

    If this was my kitchen, I would remove the over the range microwave and replace with a hood. I know your space is small, but a true vent works better and looks better - and as a short person I don't like reaching up over my head with hot food.

    This is my oak kitchen - I did it in a more vintage style because I like that style, but also because it made it easier to blend the old with the new:



    This is my wood kitchens idea book which has both newer and older, refreshed kitchens:


    I used the bead board wallpaper in my basement kitchenette. I put this kitchen together for about $1000 using older refinished cabinets, my old kitchen sink, Home center stock laminate countertops and DIY shelves:


  • pennydesign

    You have a perfectly charming little kitchen...congratulations on your new home!

    Not much to add...I agree that the ONE thing I would change immediately is the green laminate counter...Just price out the ready made ones at Lowe's...you will be surprised...or this one..


    is 99 dollars for a 98 inch length...we just got a small one for our laundry room and it was easy to install and comes with additional end laminate pieces...The island you would have to put butcher block which means a lot of wood, but it would be a much better choice than what you have now...it will work for a few years.

    Wallpaper will come off easily...that and painting is a diy project.

    Check out the peel and stick tile for a backsplash at Lowes or Home Depot...I was blown away by how convincing it looks...it's definitely worth it, imho.

    I like the light fixture above your island. I would keep it. Or use it in the dining room?

    As far as the fan goes..I had one in a kitchen, and I loved it. It was a small kitchen and it got so hot in there...but that's a personal preference thing.

    Some lights would be nice in your glass front cabinet. Check out battery operated puck lights...there's a remote and because they're led, the battery lasts a long time (you'll only need one in each fixed to the top bit)

    I disagree about the microwave...in a small kitchen, it really is the best place for it...there is a shorter one available (If I can find the pic from someone who did a budget kitchen reno, here, I'll post it)....

    Peel and stick tile:

  • Robin Steiner
    jhmarie, thanks for this! I LOVE your kitchen. It is so my style! I also love what you have done with your small kitchen, it's so cute! I didn't think about the backsplash as having to wait for the new countertop, it makes a whole lot of sense to me now. Everyone keeps suggesting to go with laminate, but I am not wild about laminate being a temporary thing. I think being patient with the project will make it a better space. I can't stop thinking about granite. I don't think we will be removing the microwave from where it is. The space is a little too small to have it anywhere else.
    Thank you for your idea board!
  • Robin Steiner
    pennydesign, thanks! I didn't know peel and stick backsplash was a thing...I need to see it! I like the light inside the cabinets idea. I would love to make them stand out because I actually like that part of the kitchen alot! :)
  • Robin Steiner
    jhmarie, I was just looking at the basement kitchen again. you said that backsplash is bead board wallpaper? if it is, that is pretty cool. I will look into bead board wallpaper. thanks :)
  • jhmarie

    I don't usually like "faux' products, but I do like the bead board textured, paintable wallpaper. I have real bead board in the laundry room but it doesn't make the wallpaper look bad in comparison - which I also have across from the laundry room in my powder room. When I tell people it is wall paper, they have to go up and touch it to believe it. I also had never hung wallpaper before and it was very easy. I did prime the walls with a wallpaper sizing primer so it will be easy to remove if I ever want to. I used the one at Lowe's which runs about $20 a roll. You might get the whole backsplash done with one roll. It is wallpaper, so it can be ripped, but this is unlikely in a backsplash area. When I put a small rip in the powder room (thought I could hang a large cabinet by myself), I just used wall spackle and touch up paint to repair.

    Powder room - I want to put the real thing bead board in here at some point, but not till after I replace the countertop:



    This is a nicely done refresh of an older kitchen with a light granite and bead board - and she kept her microwave over the range:


  • Robin Steiner
    jhmarie I LOVE the beadboard. It looks really good everywhere. Based on how incredibly cheap it is, I am going to have give it a try.
  • Storybook Home
    It’s adorable! I wouldn’t modernize it. Right now as it is it looks cohesive. Maybe ‘dated’ to some, but the green tops and white knobs and oak and wallpaper all have a distinct vintage flare. Without redoing all of it, you run the risk of making it look more dated by having only some trendy things next to mostly old things. I’d embrace it as is.

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