Kate’s $771 kitchen remodel — she shares her DIY lessons

mint green kitchen cabinets

kateCongratulations to reader Kate, who slowly, surely, and tenaciously completed her 1960s kitchen makeover — beautifully and affordably, too. She spent just $771, she says, to transform here space — no home equity loan required, that might be the best kind of kitchen remodel there is! Some highlights: The wood cabinets in her kitchen had lots of imperfections from years of hard use, so she decided to repaint them. She chose a soft mint palette with red accents and added coppery glass tiles as a backsplash to the electric rangetop — which she installed herself. Kate has chronicled her kitchen in excruciating (I use that word with infinite praise) detail over at her blog, Retro Ranch Revamp. Meanwhile, I asked her if she could share key lessons-learned from the project, along with her resource list. Read on…

kate, leo and jim
Kate, Jim and their pal Leo. Woof!

Kate writes:

A few things I learned from this project are:

1. I can install a cook top and range hood myself (with help from my adorable husband Jim!). At first I was very intimidated by the thought of doing my own installations, but after doing some research

repaint the wood kitchen cabinets

online, consulting with my very handy dad, reading the instructions, and talking to the helpful guys at our local Ace Hardware, I realized I could totally do this and save myself some serious installation fees! Since I was just swapping out the old appliances for new ones, the wiring was simple.

2. I did a lot of “looking around” online before I decided on how/what color to paint my cabinets. I could have painted them white and called it a day, which is fine (white is always a good choice) but I wanted something different. At first I thought I would paint my cabinets in the Mondrian style – (I did several blog posts with mock ups) but in the end, none of the mock ups felt right. Then I found my inspiration photo of a mint green kitchen with white counter tops and pops of red. It was love! It just felt right for my kitchen. Painting the cabinets is a big job so you want to make sure you are totally in love with the color scheme before you leap!

3. When painting cabinets, many thin even coats are best! (I brushed on one thin coat of primer after sanding, waited 1 hour and then applied a thin coat of the paint with a foam roller. Then I waited at least 4 hours before applying a second coat of paint). Some doors were fine with two coats, some needed three. Then I waited 7 days before reinstalling the doors to make sure the paint had time to cure.) Always make sure to pay attention to drying and curing times for your paint/primer too because that can make the difference between a paint job that lasts years and one that lasts only until you bump into it!

4. Any project is doable if you set a schedule and budget and stick to it! When I first thought about painting the kitchen cabinets and replacing the microwave/cook top, I was instantly overwhelmed! Then I realized it would be easier for me to handle (and guess when I would be finished) if I broke it down into small chunks. I had a set of tasks to do every weekend that I worked on the kitchen project (example: number/remove cabinet doors and drawers, empty cabinets, sand bases-would be one weekend) Then I gave myself weeknights after work off to recharge and avoid burn out. It worked great! I was done exactly as scheduled and while I did have some tiring weekends, I never got overwhelmed or burned out! Also, I bought nearly everything for this project on sale, which saved me some serious $$$ (and installed it all myself which saved more $$$). A quick tally shows I spent $771 on the kitchen remodel, but that number might decrease if I can sell the old cook top and microwave on craigslist to recoup some $$$.

Kate’s Materials List:

  • Cook top – Maytag 36 Inch electric cook top in brushed Chrome from Home Depot.
  • Range hood – Broan 36-Inch Allure Range Hood, stainless steel (affiliate link) – Got it on Amazon.com but they also have it at home depot (cheaper on Amazon!)
  • Copper backsplash tile – Home Depot.
  • Primer – KILZ Clean Start 1-Gal. Latex Primer, Sealer and Stain Blocker (Zero Voc!) From Home Depot.
  • Wall Paint – Sherwin Williams Duration Home/Semi gloss/Acrylic — Color is “Lighter Mint”
  • Cabinet Paint – Sherwin Williams Pro Classic/Gloss/Smooth Enameled finish for Trim & Doors/Acrylic — Color is “Mint Condition”
  • Cabinet pulls – (These are mini versions of the exact pulls I have in my laundry room that are original to the house!) Liberty 1 in. Concave Round Cabinet Hardware Knob in Polished Chrome at Home Depot

Thanks again for featuring my kitchen! I’m so excited!!!!


Well done, Kate! Thank you for giving permission to feature these photos from your blog, and even more, for taking the time to share you experience and resource list with the tribe. You got it goin’ on, girl! xoxo


  1. Jan H. says:

    I just love it – it’s so refreshing and cool – like it’d be a marvelous place to be on an early summer’s evening.

    And I adore the glass tiles!

    Wonderful job, just great!

  2. Laura says:

    Kate– this is some serious elbow grease inspiration! Love this! It just proves what you can do with some determination. I love the color scheme. I envy the cornice over the sink. I suspect someone did away with mine in the intervening years, but I hope my handy woodworker son can replace it. I’m also loving the price tag. When home improvement magazines quote $3000 to $5000 sums for “bargain” kitchen remodels, you must feel really grand about what you accomplished for $771!

  3. pattyoscar says:

    This is a beautiful job. It certainly helps to save the dollars when you already have solid wood cabinets to start with. Very fortunate there.

  4. Kate says:

    Thanks Pam for featuring my kitchen remodel on your blog!

    Thanks to everyone for all the positive comments! It was a big job, but I am so happy that I did it! I had a friend over to the house yesterday that had yet to see the “after” kitchen and he thought I bought new counter tops as well…nope! They are the original white laminate countertops from 1962! Amazing what some paint and elbow grease can do.

  5. nocoretro says:

    Fantasic job! <3 it! LOVE the swap out of the flat stove to the new-retro one. I painted the cabinets to my kitchen before we sold the house… eve with the proper equipment and time, it's still a nightmare. You did great!

  6. JKaye says:

    Jan thinks the kitchen looks like a great place to be in the evening, and my first thought was that it looks like a great place to walk into in the morning. I’m sure Kate and Jim (and Leo) like to be there any time of day. Very impressive, and the backsplash is just the right touch of shimmer.

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