Before & After: This Kitchen Was Remodeled on a “Layaway Plan” — Hannah Bunker

Hannah was stuck in an impasse familiar to many of us: “For the seven years we’ve been in the house, I’ve always wanted to change the kitchen but thought it would have to be a massive, expensive project that would leave us without a working kitchen for months.” When she finally decided to tackle the room, she did it in stages with creative budgeting and a strong DIY spirit —all of which made the renovation much more approachable than originally predicted.

Let’s hear Hannah describe her kitchen before, and then we’ll check out the amazing after:

Our kitchen before was a text book boring builder beige with warm brown cabinets, fake granite laminate counters that moulded from the counters directly onto the wall as backsplash. It was void of any character or personality, felt dark and depressing, and did not make the most use of the space.

Ready for some personality?

So handsome! I love the combination of navy, white, stainless steel, and concrete, with a splash of color thanks to the rug from Rugs USA. Additional storage—and decorations—was added by raising the cabinets and adding a shelf underneath. The IKEA shelf brackets were painted in Rust-Oleum Metallic Pure Gold; the shelf itself was finished in Dark Walnut by Minwax.

Adding the open shelf created more space in the upper cabinets which we are now able to use more liberally instead of having to cram things into crowded cabinets. There’s so much more breathing room!

The charming lamp is from IKEA, while the clock is a Target find.

So many kitchens have wasted space, such as the area between the cupboards and refrigerator, seen above, and the air above the fridge. I hate wasted space, but I also hate actually storing things on the fridge; apparently Hannah felt the same:

Building the fridge enclosure and extending the counter to go all the way to the fridge created more counter space and a space underneath.

Hannah’s enthusiasm for the project is downright contagious; it’s wonderful to hear how much joy the hard work of renovation can bring:

I’m also completely in love with the colors I chose . . . it’s the perfect navy [Winter Way by Behr] and combines beautifully with the textured gray concrete counters . . . which flow seamlessly against the stark white and the dark walnut open shelf. The white also makes the small room much brighter! And the brass accents? Makes me swoon. It makes me giddy when I take it all in.

The only thing I would do differently is choose a stronger sealer for the concrete counters. Within three months there’s already been some stains and cracks that I’m trying to convince myself are “a part of its character.” Which isn’t totally untrue; I don’t mind some character. But I’d choose something that could hold up to more wear and tear because we are not gentle with our countertops. I originally chose a cheaper sealer because of our small budget, but I would have been more patient and budgeted for a professional epoxy sealer. However, I may write that into a future budget and go back and re-trough and re-seal the concrete counters.

Those brass cabinet and drawer pulls are very affordable models from Amazon, as is the darling fan.

Hannah was generous enough to share extensive details regarding the renovation’s timeline, logistics, and novel budgeting strategy:

Because we decided to cash-flow the project we created a line item every month in our budget for the kitchen makeover with an amount that had to work with our debt snowball and other responsibilities. So each month I had a set $120 to work with (plus a little extra $300 I got for my birthday). It was a fun challenge for me to decide which materials would work best for our small budget, how to incorporate what materials I already had, and decide in what order each task would be best to tackle with the money I had available.

I started the process in mid-July, raising the cabinets to the ceiling and demoing all the laminate. Instead of removing the counters as a whole, I ripped up the laminate and used their plywood base as a base to trough on the concrete feather finish. I had all the concrete laid and sanded ready to seal and was hoping to finish the project by October 1 but then Hurricane Harvey happened in late August and put the project on hold for 3 weeks. Water came 4 feet from getting into our house and, since our house was dry, every spare moment we had available we spent doing relief work instead of finishing the kitchen. Little by little as the weeks went on, I’d spend an hour here-and-there finishing the project until it was finally done in mid-November.

The results are especially impressive for only $120 per month!

The fresh white paint reflects all the sunlight pouring in through the windows, while the beautiful navy paint adds grounding and elegance. The design came together so well, but Hannah has some excellent perspective to share with her fellow design lovers:

I remember getting so frustrated that I was confined to a small budget, that things weren’t happening as fast as I wanted them. Then Hurricane Harvey destroyed our city while I was in the middle of this project and gave me so much perspective. We thought for sure our house was going to flood as we watched the water rise higher and higher each night for three days straight. I went from pitching a fit that a drop of grease got on my unsealed concrete counters to packing a backpack and thinking that we’d have to be helicopter rescued from our flooded home.

Being passionate about beautiful home design and decor and working hard on and caring about a renovation project are really wonderful things. However, working on this project then seeing what seemed like an ocean around my home put things in perspective for me. Enjoy the process of the work, appreciate the space you’ve been given, do your best and be creative with the resources you have. Nothing is forever and if that drop of grease gets on your counter or your paint gets scratched…it’s going to be okay. It’s a part of your story of the process. It can be fixed.

Thank you Hannah! And be sure to check out Hannah Bunker’s full renovation post for more stories and details!



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