Renovating a kitchen is a costly endeavor. The national average cost to remodel a kitchen is about $25,000 (or $150 per square foot) which is the main reason why I kept putting any updates off for so long. In my mind, I kept thinking unless I invest that much money, we won’t be able to make a significant impact in the kitchen, but I was wrong. Our kitchen renovation cost us under $1,000 and we changed the countertops, backsplash, and hardware. Read on to find out how.
Let’s look at where we started from. When we first moved into our house our kitchen had honey oak cabinets and yellow walls.
Then after painting the cabinets and wall, staining our floors dark and replacing the bar stools we lived with this kitchen for the next 2 years.
HOW THIS PROJECT STARTED
I must admit when we started this budget kitchen renovation I was not excited in the usual way I’m excited about my projects. If you follow me on Instagram then you know how I love to obsess about the details. With this kitchen reno that was not the case. I didn’t think I can make any big changes without spending a ton of money. Take countertops for example. To replace countertops in a small kitchen can cost you anywhere between 7-10k. That is just for one item. What about the backsplash or cabinets? Now you can see where I’m going with this and why my excitement was not there from the beginning.
But I was WRONG.
What kicked this project off is my discovery of epoxy countertops. My husband had been sending me a video of epoxy countertops and I was reluctant to give it a try until I saw a video from Giani Inc about how to make marble-looking countertops. I was so impressed by the result that I was convinced, even if we do not execute this project perfectly it would still be better than our Corian countertops. So we decided to give it a try and Giani Inc graciously gifted us their Marble Countertop Kit.
The kit includes everything you will need for the project, so there is not need to buy anything additional.
EPOXY COUNTERTOPS STEPS
Step 1: Clean and Sand Countertops
It’s important to thoroughly clean countertops and remove any grease and dirt present. If you are using a scouring pad such as SOS to clean the dirt, it is not necessary to sand afterwards but we used a sponge for cleaning instead and our sander to rough up the surface.
Step 2: Paint Countertops
Use a standard roller pad to apply a thin coat of primer over the whole surface of the countertops. Wait four hours for primer to drive before applying a second coat. We ended up applying four coats of primer but I think we could have gotten away with three.
While the primer is drying you can do some research on what type of veins you want to add and where exactly you want to add them to the countertops. I created a simple drawing of my countertops and the types of veins I wanted to add in each section. This was extremely helpful when I had to draw the veining because I knew exactly where I need to add one and how big it needed to be.
Step 3: Draw Marble Veins
Before drawing veins to my countertops I did a few practice drawings on the cardboard provided. What I found most helpful in drawing the veins is to hold the brush very lightly in my hand allowing it to move loosely and organically across the counters. You want to avoid creating perfectly straight diagonal lines and the best way to do that is to slightly wiggle the brush as you drag it along the surface. There are four types of veining you can add on the counters. Y-Vein, Crescent Veining, Ripple Vein and Ghost Veins. I drew all four throughout my counters.
The kit also includes a White Highlight paint that you can add to the veins with a sponge to give it more depth. I recommend doing this once you are done with drawing all the veins.
Step 4: Pour Epoxy
Mix Epoxy Activator can with Ultra Epoxy resin can for three minutes. Each set gives you enough epoxy to cover one 6-foot long section. It is important to note, that once you have mixed the two together, you have 30 minutes to completely coat the section. It takes about 10-15 minutes to coat one 6-food section, so you have plenty of time to complete the process. Use your foam roller to evenly distribute the epoxy throughout the section. Make sure you don’t press hard when rolling the epoxy to not overwork the distribution process as epoxy is self-leveling.
Once applied, epoxy will be tack free 6-8 hours. After 24 hours you can start using the dishwasher and after two days you may start using the counters but it is recommended to wait the full seven days for it to completely cure before putting anything heavy on the counters.
Since we saved so much money on our countertops we wanted to treat ourselves by installing marble tile for our backsplash. We removed the backsplash before we started the countertops because we knew what kinds of mess removing backsplash would be.
When removing tile you can expect that some wall damage will occur. We had to patch a few holes before installing new tile.
Since we never dealt with marble before we made our first major mistake in this project. In order to stay within our made-up budget, we chose a cheaper marble instead of going for the tile that would complete the kitchen. We assumed Carrera marble was fail-safe and would go with any kitchen but that was not the case.
This marble looked way more gray installed than what it looked like when we bought it. We even waited a couple of days hoping it was gray only because it was still wet but it never became lighter once it dried. I did some researcher regarding Carrera marble and found many people reported the same issue. If you are going for a super white type of marble Carrera is not it. This would have been beautiful installed in a bathroom but in our kitchen, it had a too stark of contrast against our super white cabinets. Luckily, we had only installed it on this small wall so it was easy to take it off.
The lesson we learned here is: Go for the best material if you are doing all the installation work yourself. Essentially pay yourself in the material instead of trying to save money there. The difference between the marble we should have gotten and the one we bought was less than $300.
The marble we decided was worth the extra cost is called Statuario marble. It has a brighter white background and beautiful gray veining.
By placing each marble tile next to each other there is a huge difference but as soon as you look at each individually you are not able to discern much of a difference. The undertones get lost when they are not compared side-by-side.
Here is what it looked like after we installed the Statuario marble.
My projects would not be complete without some vintage items. I found these gorgeous brass knobs and handles on Facebook marketplace and I never could have imagined what a huge impact the hardware made. The brass added such a warmth to the kitchen that was really missing with all the white and gray throughout. The best part, the whole bag of hardware only cost me $30!
During the project, I went to an estate sale and found the most gorgeous vintage roman shade. Without knowing if it would even fit on any of my windows I bought it anyway thinking I could use the fabric. To my surprise when we completed this kitchen reno, I decided to give it a try and they fit perfectly! I think the roman shade really gives is that extra layer of pattern.
Here ya go! I’m so surprised that we were able to renovate this whole kitchen on such a small budget.
Here is a final look of our kitchen with a before and after view.
I think tiling around the window really makes the kitchen feel bigger as it helped to elongate that wall and makes it feel higher than it really is.
Thanks for reading and following along with our kitchen renovation! Let me know what you think of this makeover below. If you are curious about each of the above-mentioned steps, we have videos of our whole project saved on our Instagram stories labeled DIY: Backsplash and DIY Countertops.
Polished Brass Knobs (our version was polished brass)