Before and After: An Unbelievable $5K Kitchen Renovation

This kitchen has an enviable amount of storage, but that same storage — the hanging cabinets — make the room feel a bit claustrophobic and dark, and make the counters less accessible than would be ideal. Let’s see what $5,000 and a lot of hard work can do with this space…

Before we gaze at the renovated space, here’s how reader Ashlie described this kitchen as it looked before:

Before, the cabinets were dated, did not function well for our family, and made the kitchen feel small. There was a header over the wall cabinets making the ceiling feel lower and the overall room just darker. The pantry cabinets work great for us so we decided to keep those. We also extended the kitchen to have a dining room in order to make room for an island.

And now onto the new kitchen . . .

(Image credit: Ashlie Sherman)

This kitchen looks like it’s so nice to work in now! Plenty of counter space, a handy island, generously proportioned drawers, and lots of light. If you’re feeling a bit disoriented, remember that the kitchen has been expanded, so the wall perpendicular to this one (as seen in the first image) no longer exists.

We needed more space and cabinets that worked for us. We needed more light and more work space as we cook quite a bit. I’ve always hated overhead cabinets so we wanted to eliminate those as well.

Without the hanging cabinets, the workspace is so much more inviting and actually usable—the counters are no longer trapped under the cabinetry!

(Image credit: Ashlie Sherman)

The tall white cabinets can help keep you oriented in the space; they are unchanged, so keep your eye on them if you’re feeling confused! This table was replaced by an island; eating now takes place in the new dining room.

Ashlie was kind enough to share a photo of this darling dog — and details about the process and costs of this renovation:

This project was all done by us and my father who is a very experienced carpenter. We went with all IKEA cabinets, countertops, sink, and hardware. I designed the whole thing myself based on the dimensions of our space. This took us about 3 months, but we were also extending our kitchen/dining room in this time frame. The whole project cost around $4500 but this is not including appliances. The biggest challenge was removing the boxed in area the wall cabinets were attached to. We had to patch the ceiling and it was a whole mess.

Be patient when assembling if you go with IKEA cabinets. They’re beautiful and great quality but are tricky to put together. Measure everything at least 3 times and remember to have fun!

Measure thrice, cut once! This is great advice for all of us, in all of our projects — and I appreciate the reminder that there’s always something that takes way more time than anticipated. It’s great to hear that IKEA cabinets are so high quality, for those of us that want to somewhat affordably replace our cabinetry someday.

(Image credit: Ashlie Sherman)

The shiplap is such a nice touch, and it shares an aesthetic with the tall pantry cupboards. That new wall captures some of the country charm of the previous kitchen, but in an updated, streamlined fashion. The new grey drawers coordinate well with the sleek stainless appliances, keeping them from standing out oddly against the more old-fashioned shiplap.

(Image credit: Ashlie Sherman)

This kitchen is now user-friendly, as practical as it is inviting. And yet, Ashlie shared the very relatable reason why the room is slightly less perfect than it could have been:

I love the drawers. They make things so easy to find. I also love the door dampers and soft close features. I highly recommend IKEA cabinets. As you can see in the photos we have not decided on our toekick yet. Honestly I don’t think I would change anything because we plan to move in a few years. If we were permanently here I would have bought quartz countertops but we could not justify that expense at this time.

I love when our contributors share the behind-the-scenes factors that led to all the various decisions involved in a renovation. It’s easy for us armchair decorators to wish every element was the most fabulous version of itself available, but that’s not always possible. The countertops Ashlie chose look very nice in the meantime, and they look particularly great with the shiplap.

Thank you, Ashlie!

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