START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

A DIY Kitchen Overhaul for Under $500

A DIY Kitchen Overhaul for Under $500

A few years ago, when Abbey and Phil Hendrickson and their two young children moved from Buffalo to the couple’s hometown of Owego, New York, their 1881 century farmhouse came with many charms. But the kitchen, last tackled 40 years ago, was not one of them. Loaded with a long list of undesirables—faux-stone paneling, avocado green paint, and fake marble, among them—”it was a perfect storm of 1970s renovation work,” says Abbey. ”But in defense of the previous owners, I’m certain some of the additions we’re making now will horrify future inhabitants.”

We’re not so sure about that. We’ve been following Abbey and Phil’s progress via Abbey’s blog, Aesthetic Outburst, and the kitchen is looking pretty timeless to us. And did we mention that the couple did all the work themselves? Abbey, an artist and crafts stylist and author of  You Are Awesome: 21 Crafts to Make You Happy, is also the executive director of the Tioga Arts Council; Phil, meanwhile, is a graphic designer with a deep handyman streak.

Total tally for all additions, including paint, hardware, wood paneling, and new light? Less than $500.

Photographs by Abbey Hendrickson.


Above: The couple transformed the look of the existing lower cabinets and back door by going dark—they used Valspar Paint Forest Canopy (“my favorite paint color ever,” says Abbey). They also swapped in new hardware: Martha Stewart Living Bedford brass pulls and knobs from Home Depot; $4.49 per pull. They had dreams of replacing the existing green Formica counters, but left them as is. Write Abbey in her kitchen chronicle: “They add a certain charm. And I’ve convinced myself that if we had nice, brand-new countertops, they’d make the rest of the room look like complete crap.”

Above: Phil and Abbey created a makeshift island from a workbench found in the barn. “The height is great and it’s perfectly functional,” says Abbey, adding that it’s a stop-gap piece to be replaced at some point with “a flat work surface and nicer legs.” They refinished the floor themselves. “There are four different types of wood on the first floor alone,” says Abbey. “The kitchen floor is the darkest, so we sanded and clear-coated it and then stained everything else to match.” The light came from Lowe’s; it’s the Allen + Roth Edison 12-Inch Bronze Pendant Light with Clear Shade. The sconce over the sink is vintage.

Above: The kitchen’s other notable addition: a DIY beadboard backsplash that rises behind a new black range. The paneling was added right over the old yellow linoleum and Contact Paper. Explains Abbey: ”We picked up two sheets of cheapo beadboard paneling from our local hardware store, nailed it horizontally, caulked it, painted it, and voilà! A solution in less than two hours and for less than $60.”

Above: The counters are 1950s Formica with chrome edging.

Above: Up close, the beadboard paneling looks as if it was a labor-intensive project. “The Mrs. Smith’s pie plate artfully disguises a little dent in the wall,” says Abbey. ”I have no shame.” But she clearly has plenty of ingenuity.


Above: Here’s a glimpse of the Brady Bunch-style kitchen as it was; note the faux stone on the fridge wall. The vinyl floor was an addition that the couple made as a requirement for their mortgage—”the existing hardwood floor was in such bad shape, the appraiser didn’t think it was viable. So before we took ownership, we put in the cheapest floor we could find. We took it out and refinished the floor weeks later.”

Above: Here’s a glimpse of the floor in its original state. On the third day that they owned the house, Abbey and Phil started tackling the walls and cabinets. Wanting to do all the work themselves—and to spend as little as possible—they preserved as many original details as they could and used paint as their primary weapon.

Above: “We removed all the drawers, sanded them down, and sprayed every surface white,” says Abbey. ”I was so focused on covering the avocado green walls, I can’t remember which white we used. I’m sure it was something inexpensive from Lowe’s or Home Depot.”  To see more of Abbey and Phil’s house, go to Aesthetic Outburst.

In the midst of some remodeling yourself? Peruse all our Rehab Diaries, including Christine’s report on Finding Extra Storage Space in Unexpected Places and Justine’s Dream Kitchen for Under $3,000. And don’t miss our Remodeling 101 posts. On Gardenista, read Michelle’s post-renovation report: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When You Remodel.


Read more: Home, Household Hints

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love


Remodelista is a one-stop sourcebook for the considered home, guiding readers through the design and renovation process. Founded by four friends with a shared design DNA and appreciation for intelligent design, Remodelista counts architects, design professionals, and style-conscious consumers among its daily audience. The Remodelista aesthetic favors classic and livable over trendy and transient, well-edited interiors over cluttered environments, and thoughtfully designed products over mass-market, disposable goods.


+ add your own
10:22AM PDT on Jul 12, 2014

To see the previous owner had "FIXED" and "USED" the former kitchen was delightful...

10:40AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

I think they did a great job. Looks very inviting.

1:25AM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

They did an amazing job!

4:56PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

some good ideas

1:45PM PDT on Jun 29, 2014


7:45AM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

Am I the only one confused by the sequence of photos?

4:41AM PDT on Apr 30, 2014


4:21AM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

great kitchen

7:14PM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

Super job! :)

7:04PM PDT on Apr 19, 2014

Great new look. Liked the 'progress' pictures.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Well, some of the things sound obvious, but I can understand how digital profiles will lose out in t…

Of course, no vitamin will prevent from falling, this is a simple misunderstanding. But I am sure th…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!