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. Kathie says:

    Kate – your kitchen remodel is just beautiful! You & Jim (and Leo!) did a fabulous job. I’m on the verge of renovating my kitchen – dark & cave-like with those old birch cabinets as well as that scrolly thing above the sink. Seeing your before and after pictures gives me motivation to actually start the job instead of just dreaming about it! Thanks for sharing your kitchen with us.

  2. Jan says:

    Ohhhh, I wish my mom still had her copper jello molds that she had hanging on the soffits in the 1962 kitchen, the 1963 kitchen, and the 1966 kitchen (their first three houses – Dad was a professor and kept getting better positions). They disappeared from the 1969 kitchen, and I never saw them again!

  3. Andrea says:

    Wow, this looks great! I also have lots of pops of red in my kitchen, and am getting ready to repaint it from it’s original butter yellow to something in the mint family. What paint color did you use?

  4. pam kueber says:

    Andrea – the paint color is listed in the Materials List at the end of the story — I reworded the bullet so the actual color names would stand out more. Hope that helps.

  5. Scott says:

    Kate your kitchen is a treasure trove of good ideas and inspiration!

    If I may ask about the barstools, are the vintage, or new? I’ve been eyeing a few models over at BarStoolsAndChairs that look to be dead ringers for the originals and was hoping to find someone who has experience with the company.

    The thought of chrome and Burgundy (red) Zodiac Naughyde bar stools makes me so excited I might actually stay in the kitchen long enough to cook something!

    Thanks either way, and again, WOW to your kitchen!


  6. Kate says:

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks! The barstools were purchased from Craigslist — I’m not sure how old they are. If I had to guess, I’d say they were reproductions from about 15 years ago or so. They are holding up well, but I do have to constantly tighten the bolts on the legs, which seem to come loose after a few months or so. Otherwise, they are great. 🙂

  7. Scott says:

    Well, even if they are repros they were a great find as they look perfect in your kitchen and are 100% dead-ringers for the ones you see in the 1950s Cosco ads.

    Thanks for the info! 🙂

  8. Danine says:

    I came across your remodel post when I was searching for ideas about how to remodel our 1960s kitchen. I was pleasantly shocked to see your kitchen layout is exactly, to the T the layout of my kitchen. You did a phenomenal job at a phenomenal price. VERY inspiring and I can only hope my kitchen turns out beautifully as yours did! I’m so impressed!

  9. Kate says:

    Its on the wall on the other side of the refrigerator. If you check out the pictures on my blog, you’ll see it. 🙂

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