Before & After: This $4,000 Kitchen Refresh Proves You Don’t Need to Gut a Space to Make It Feel New

published Jun 19, 2022
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Before: kitchen with yellow cabinets and black refrigerator
Credit: Josh Booher

The chic-yet-laid back aesthetic taking over the interiors world this summer? “Coastal Grandmother.” The style has everything you could want in a breezy summer look: It’s got wicker, it’s got toile, it’s got light linens and neutral tones.

If you like the look but you want a little bit more of a vintage spin, get inspired by this kitchen redo from DIYer Josh Booher (@joshandtonic). Josh’s vision for his home is something he dubs “modern Victorian” (think: florals, antique silhouettes, vintage wallpapers, warm wood tones) and his new kitchen is a perfect example of it.

Credit: Josh Booher

The latest room where Josh and his husband, Austin (@theaustinjayshow), applied their “modern Victorian” aesthetic is their kitchen — a once yellowish-brown space last updated in the ’70s. The couple took on the project as part of the One Room Challenge, and their $4,000 total kitchen makeover has tons of ideas for renovating on a budget.

Credit: Josh Booher

“We went into the project knowing we were going to leave a lot of the primary components in place and find a way to update them as they are,” Josh says. “We couldn’t afford to gut the kitchen and start from scratch, so we had to think about how we could still make a big impact.”

One thing the room had going for it was that it was spacious, Josh says, so he and Austin focused on brightening it up and maximizing its design using the bones that were already there.

Credit: Josh Booher

To start, the couple painted the cabinets a warm, almost-pink off-white shade, Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster. “We sanded, primed, and painted all of the cabinet bases and doors, which was a LOT more work than we anticipated,” Josh says. Josh and Austin also used paint to transform the dark brown backsplash tiles and the grayish black sink. (For the latter, they used a tub refinishing kit.)

“It’s really wild how much light gets lost when you have a lot of dark finishes,” Josh says. “The light really bounces around the room now and has changed the whole space.” In addition to the tiles, cabinets, and sink, they also painted the countertops white.

Credit: Josh Booher

“We used a countertop resurfacing kit to turn the existing brown tile countertop white with an almost terrazzo-like finish,” Josh explains. “If I had my way, I would’ve loved to fully replace the countertops. Even though they look better and brighter, they’re still tile, which I just don’t love for kitchen counters.”

But still, he says, the lighter shades on the big surfaces do a lot to bring the kitchen into the 2020s. The light pink and brass touches (a new faucet from Amazon, a new light fixture, and antique brass pulls) help maintain a vintage aesthetic.

Another great piece that adds old-school charm is the newly-added island. “We wanted to add an antique-style worktable in the center,” Josh says. “We searched extensively for an actual antique one but didn’t have much luck, so we decided to work with a local craftsman to make one for us.” It’s become one of his favorite pieces in the space.

Credit: Josh Booher

“I also can’t believe how much I love the addition of the island worktable from a purely functional perspective,” Josh says. “It’s become the spot where my husband and I do almost all of our prep work when cooking, and I absolutely love it.”

Josh says that the custom piece was one of the biggest splurges in the room. “The bulk of the money we spent was on new appliances (refrigerator and dishwasher), the custom island worktable, and a new window,” he says. “If not for those things, someone could easily do this project for under $1,500.”

Credit: Josh Booher

To address the “blah” floor tile in the space, the couple came up with the budget-friendly solution of adding a rug overtop. They also added a cozy cottagecore wallpaper for more visual interest. Both, once again, are great ways to work around dated features rather than tearing them out and replacing them.

“I think it’s important to showcase that you don’t have to be stuck with a kitchen you don’t like just because you can’t afford a full renovation,” Josh says. “There are so many tools and kits out there that can help you breathe new life into what’s already there!”

And with his innovative solutions throughout, his kitchen demonstrates just that. To see more kitchen money-saving transformations that work around existing features, check out these eight impressive kitchen redos.

This project was completed for the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A $4,000 Vintage-Inspired Kitchen Redo Has Tons of Budget-Friendly Ideas to Steal