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For most makeovers, $300 doesn’t go far. Especially when it comes to kitchens where the average budget is anywhere from $15-$30K. Talk about sticker shock.

Consider this kitchen “remodel” by Havenly designer Heather Goerzen the exception — all with just a few cans of paint, an epoxy kit, hardware, and some stylish little extras. What it saved in money, it more than made up for in sweat equity, though, so if you plan to DIY, get ready to put in some serious elbow grease. As Heather told us, “This was definitely the down and dirty approach, working with what we had, but the good news is, we love the results!” 

We’re sharing the step-by-step guide to this dramatic makeover below, along with before-and-after photos, to see how it all comes together. (Is it just us, or are we suddenly craving a trip to our local hardware store?)

Step 1: Paint the Cabinets

“The ‘proper’ way to paint cabinets involves a lot more work than we put in,” Heather says. “You’d normally want to remove all the doors and drawers, prime, sand, and use a fancy spray painter for even distribution. But honestly, who has time for all that? Plus, we were antsy at the beginning of stay-at-home orders and were looking for an easy, no-hassle weekend project we could tackle ourselves.”

You had us at “easy” and “no-hassle.”

Instead of tediously removing all cabinets and hardware, Heather “just went for it,” painting directly on the cabinets after wiping everything clean. “We were very pleased with the outcome. It’s held up great and looks beautiful,” she shares. While she admits there have been small chips, they’re quick and easy to touch up. “The time to cost to impact ratio certainly feels worth it,” she says.

Take a quick peek at the “before.” It definitely needed some love.

Step 2: Paint the Backsplash

This one shocked us in the best way. Painting the backsplash instead of replacing tile? It sounds too good to be true. But, with the right prep work, it’s possible. 

“I didn’t know painting tile was a real thing before I started this project,” Heather admits. “We had a pretty dull and drab backsplash, so I figured we’d have to replace it altogether for any improvement. Lo and behold, after a Pinterest rabbit hole, I discovered this amazing Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile refinishing kit that cost a whopping $25. Thanks to this epoxy-acrylic combo and half a day’s time, we were able to transform the backdrop with a more modern, crisp white hue.” 

Here’s what you’ll need to paint the tile: 

  • Fine sandpaper
  • Stain remover
  • House cleaner
  • Rust-Oleum refinishing kit (note: you may need multiple kits depending on the size of your kitchen)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint tray
  • Paint brush
  • Small paint roller

And here’s how to do it:

First, clean your tile with a heavier stain removal product if needed. Then, using fine sand paper, sand the tile to remove any rough spots. Spray the tile down with regular household cleaner so everything is clean and dry. 

Next, tape off all cabinetry and countertops so the epoxy doesn’t bleed over. Mix and stir the refinishing kit, following all package instructions closely. Use a small paint brush to paint the grout first, following the grout lines with the narrow side of your brush. Then, use a small rolling brush to cover the tile. Be sure to roll in the same direction of the tile for seamless coverage! 

Last but not least? Toast your hard work (ideally with a great playlist and adult beverage of your choice).

Step 3: Add Hardware

Hardware is like the jewelry of kitchens — it’s the finishing touch to an ensemble that makes it feel polished and put together. On the flip side, though, it also runs the risk of feeling ho-hum if a more dated style is used.

Luckily, it’s an easy and affordable way to level up your kitchen setting. If your hardware is leaving you wanting, scout for accent pulls and knobs in an on-trend aesthetic (aged brass with a little patina or matte black will always and forever be in style). “This simple step really put the finishing touch on the kitchen,” Heather says. “It made it feel more custom and elevated.”

Step 4: Style It Up

The hard work is done, and now it’s time for the fun part. Channel your inner interior designer by adding decor items like rustic cutting boards, glass oil dispensers, stacked cookbooks, a chic utensil holder, potted herbs, pretty tea towels, and a bowl of fresh citrus (think lemons or limes) to your space. Pro tip: remember to vary the heights of pieces, and even consider stacking where appropriate, for a more layered look.

Inspired to make over your own kitchen? Havenly designers are standing by to up the ante. Take our style quiz and get started.

Words by Sara Watson