Before & After: A Realistic & Affordable $3500 Kitchen Redo

This kitchen looked pretty good! It was cute and has charm—but it had hidden issues that were driving its owner batty. Let’s see how far $3,500 went in refreshing this sweet space.

Before we gaze upon the new kitchen, here’s how reader Alisha described the old one:

The kitchen in our townhouse was adequate when we moved in 2+ years ago, but every day it grew more tired. The cabinet paint scheme and hardware was dated and cheap, the dishwasher leaked occasionally, the range was on its last legs, only 25% of the under cabinet lights were functional, the tile was poorly installed, etc. Overall the kitchen layout was great but it needed a facelift. We didn’t have the money for a major kitchen renovation, but we made our small budget really work for us.

Those subtle flaws can make it so difficult to bite the bullet on a renovation (provided it’s an option financially, of course). When everything almost works, or is mostly okay, it’s easy to drag one’s heels. After two years, I can totally understand being finally fed up.

(Image credit: Alisha Norman)

The results look very approachable! The cabinets are the same, but they’ve been refreshed with paint and new pulls. The new backsplash is bright and clean rather than busy, and it evokes painted bricks rather than the more ubiquitous subway tile. Now that the backsplash is more visually simple, the new veined countertop adds texture and depth. Overall, the newly functioning under-cabinet lights brighten up the entire space and add a practical as well as aesthetic value.

(Image credit: Alisha Norman)

Here’s the new stove, range hood, and dishwasher. They all look great, and the new stainless steel theme really unites the room. Here’s how Alisha feels about it:

I love how light and bright the kitchen is now. Standard white subway tile may seem overdone, but the price was right and it really shines. The only thing I would have done differently is to have had the tile installed in a more unique pattern (herringbone or other), but the labor cost increase was out of budget. Overall we love the final product and the final price tag!

Feeling good about the final price tag is one of the great unsung goals of a renovation. Congrats!

Here’s the kitchen nook before its refresh. Alisha has graciously provided us with the itemized budget. Let’s see what was spent!

We started with quoting the countertop and went from there. We hit the Home Depot 4th of July sale and scored huge savings on our appliances. By doing the backsplash demo and all painting and patching ourselves we saved a ton. Our first contractor bailed on completing our backsplash after the removal process was not as smooth as anticipated, but we found someone else who was even better to finish the job.

$75 Paint for Cabinets
$40 Hinges
$24 Drawer Pulls x 7
$40 Cabinet Pulls x 14
$8 Knob Aligner
$13 Wood Filler
$90 Under Cabinet Lights
$30 Over Island Recessed Lights
$785 Counter (Installed)
$1,345 Labor
$66 Backsplash Tile
$199 Sink
$78 Range Hood
$298 Dishwasher
$418 Oven
$3509 TOTAL

Thanks, Alisha! It’s fascinating to see what each item cost—and how quickly it adds up.

Finally, here’s Alisha’s advice, which should be cross-stitched in every home considering a renovation: always budget a contingency.

Cost and plan everything ahead of time so there are minimal surprises – and if you’re on a strict budget build in some contingency! We did not anticipate having to pay to have new outlets put in for our disposal, dishwasher and range, but the contingency covered it (and now we’re up to code!).

Thanks, Alisha!



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