If you have champagne dreams of tackling a kitchen reno, but you’re working with a beer budget, don’t be discouraged!!  In my opinion, great style and taste has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with the budget you have.

It’s true that an updated kitchen can add tremendous value to your home, but if you’re planning an economical redo, it’s important to determine where you really want to invest (ie. appliances) and then think about smart ways that you can save.

I recently completed a “before” and “after” kitchen makeover for Chatelaine magazine with a very modest budget and a heap of elbow grease.  It just goes to show that you can create a luxe look for less…

chatelaine kitchen makeover   After” photo credit: Erik Putz

Here are 5 ways that I saved on this makeover project that you can easily do in your own home…

1.   Work with the elements that are staying…not against them

At the beginning of any décor project, it’s important to make a list of which elements are staying and what is going.  In the above kitchen, we decided to keep the existing natural stone countertops to save a chunk of change.  They were in great condition, and their creamy beige colour instantly became a key ingredient in our overall palette.  I always say that the more you ignore a colour in a space, the more it will stick out like a sore thumb.  By taking the existing counter colour into consideration, I was able to determine colours for new paint and finishes to compliment the overall look.

chatelaine colour plan

*All paint colours via Benjamin Moore

2.    Give your existing cabinets a facelift

If your cabinets are in good condition and you like the profile, consider transforming them with a simple coat of paint!  Cabinets take up a huge amount of visual space in a kitchen, so by updating the colour or finish, you can affordably change the entire look and feel of a space.  If you’re planning to tackle a cabinet facelift on your own, it’s important to use the proper products and thoroughly complete each step of sanding, cleaning, priming, and painting.

3.    Choose a budget friendly backsplash

In the Chatelaine kitchen makeover, we removed the old backsplash ourselves which helped to save on labour costs, but we also saved by selecting an affordable, yet classic white subway tile for only 34 cents each from Lowes.  It’s important to know when to DIY and when to call in the pros, and when it came to the installation of the new tiles, we opted for a professional to ensure they were perfectly spaced and in line.  We also selected a light gray grout to define the tiles and for no added cost, it created a customized look.

4.    Update your hardware with a fresh coat of paint

I always think of hardware as the “jewelry” in the kitchen, but if new handles or knobs aren’t in the budget, then give them an instant budget makeover with a new metallic coat of paint.  One of my favourite DIY tricks is to actually buy budget lighting and knobs in a less expensive brass finish and then transform them myself to pewter, bronze or brushed nickel with spray paint.  It’s an easy way to get a high end look for little investment, and no one will ever know the difference.

 5.    Customize with colour

A simple paint application that I love to do in kitchens is to wrap the wall colour onto the ceiling.  Because the cabinets typically take up a large portion of visual space, there usually isn’t a lot of wall space for colour, so by bringing the wall colour onto the ceiling you create a seamless transition for the eye and a unique, customized look for very few extra dollars.

What’s your favourite budget makeover trick or tip?  Leave a comment below, or better yet, tag me to an Instagram pic of your own project:  @LeighAnnAllaire

For a closer look at this makeover, check out a collection of behind-the-scenes videos available on Chatelaine.com

So, the moral of this story is, by flexing a little DIY muscle and creatively considering your budget, it’s not impossible to turn your kitchen makeover dreams into a reality…


Photo credit: Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault

Product Sources

Backsplash, flooring, pendant lighting, curtains, appliances: Lowes, www.lowes.ca

All paint finishies: Benjamin Moore, www.benjaminmoore.com

Fabric valance and pillows: Tonic Living, www.tonicliving.com

All accessories and artwork: Bouclair. www.bouclair.com


Now, it’s time to share the WINNER of the Black & Decker steam mop giveaway!!!

Drum roll…

Happy DIY-ing!



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