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We’ve been in our house for more than 10 years, and I still remember the day we attended the open house. Someone walked into the kitchen and remarked “one way kitchen!” and she promptly left the house. We didn’t let that deter us, and started thinking of the possibilities for small kitchen upgrades we could implement over time.
image: Premier Surfaces
Our kitchen is one of the smallest rooms in the house. It’s a galley kitchen, with two entrances (so we actually lose a wall of cabinets!) and while frustrating – and one of the uglier rooms in the house when we moved in – it is really the center of the home. When we have parties, it’s amazing how many people can fit into the small space to socialize. When we bought our house, the kitchen had a dropped ceiling with fluorescent lighting, painted-over wallpaper (which was also hanging in TWO different directions!), pea green counter tops, and appliances dating back to 1973.
We have never had a huge budget to deal with our kitchen, but over time we’ve made significant changes. Here are just a few things you can do to upgrade your small kitchen, while staying within budget:
1. Lose the dropped ceiling (if you have one like we did) and switch up the light fixture! Within the first 6 weeks of living in the house, we tore out that ceiling, discovered the conflicting wallpaper and replaced the light fixture. We have no idea why the previous owners had a fluorescent light in the kitchen, but we found a light for around $50 – and 10 years later it’s still serving us well.
2. Paint. A little paint can go a long way. We’ve painted our kitchen twice – the first time it came out a really bright Carolina blue. We grew tired of it, but last year we painted after doing some other changes to the kitchen. Since our space is so small, I did the paint job in under two days (I let it dry 24 hours between coats.) It’s a light blue/gray color now and I love it so much.
(Our kitchen after painting, but with the original countertops!)
3. New countertops! This change was a long time coming, and I couldn’t be happier to get the pea green laminate counters out and something a little more current installed. Our old counters were literally crumbling when you touched them. (They were original to the house, which was built in 1973.) Premier Surfaces offers a variety of counter tops in natural stone, quartz, engineered marble and more. They have showrooms in 10 states throughout the midwest, northeast and southeast. They even have a countertop calculator on their website so you can start to get estimates from the comfort of your own home!
image: Premier Surfaces
4. Appliances. We’ve been replacing appliances as needed and so far we’ve upgraded our refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave. This summer will be our original-to-the-house stove and hood. We’ve managed to find pretty decent deals on everything, and we have been saving gift cards for the stove, so it won’t be such a hit to our checking account. Unless you’re able to find a killer deal on ALL of the appliances (which I hear is common during the Thanksgiving/Christmas sales), you can scout out deals throughout the year on individual appliances. Nothing in our kitchen actually matched until we started replacing all the things.
5. Update the cabinets. One project we’re hoping to tackle this summer is updating our cabinets. They received a pretty poor paint job before we moved in, and we’ve suffered through the scratched up surfaces for too many years. In the next few months, we’re hoping to remove the cabinet doors, sand them properly and re-paint with a proper kitchen paint (hopefully one that doesn’t come off when we open a cabinet. At the same time, we’ll update the hardware on the doors. The paint and hardware won’t be too expensive.
(Our kitchen after countertops and new dishwasher were installed. Before second paint job.)
We still aren’t finished with our kitchen – or any room in our house, for that matter. I think our home will always be a work in progress. I feel good knowing that we’ve definitely added value to our home making a lot of these changes. And we haven’t had to pay out so much money because we’ve been able to do the changes over time – and a lot of them ourselves.