Updating the kitchen in our rental property for less than $500.00.

A few years ago, my husband and I bought a rental property.  We knew that we wanted to find a house that was in sound shape structurally but needed some cosmetic updates. We were looking for a gem that was being overlooked because it was ugly.  I have to say we found the perfect property we were looking for, a charming older home with some very quirky design choices.  Once purchased, we decided to jump in with kitchen updates first.



Dark and dingy.

Dark and dingy.

Dark cabinets

Coca-cola wallpaper

It’s AMAZING, isn’t it?  The kitchen was decorated in a coca-cola theme, and you have to admire that once they chose a theme, they ran with it.

Coca-Cola details in kitchen

We have had many updates to make throughout the house, so we set a $500.00 Kitchen budget.  500.00 DOLLARS Seriously??? Yes, my husband kept telling me.  <Insert big sigh>.  I had to constantly remind myself that we were not going to live here. For example, I hated the tiles floors, but they were in pretty good condition, so we decided they had to stay.  I planned the rest of the kitchen around the tile color.

Alabaster White Cabinets

Alabaster White Cabinets

First up was painting the cabinets. We chose a creamy white color to work with the tile.  The wood cabinets were in decent shape.  We filled the holes in the middle from the previous knobs with wood filler during prep to move the hardware to a more modern placement.  The best advice I received during the process was to PREP the cabinets.  We used plenty of TSP and elbow grease to remove years of dirt and grime off before using a high-quality primer and finally paint.

COST: $225.00

Painted tile

Next up was the black and white tile.  We didn’t have it in the budget to replace, so I decided to try and paint them (remember my budget!).  I used white tile paint on the tile (here) and then, to add a bit of contrast, went back over the grout lines with a grout paint pen in grey (here). While I was very nervous, I have to say it turned out fine and as a bonus…it’s holding up well!

COST: $50.00

I used a product called featherfinish to update the countertop

I used a product called feather finish to update the countertop

I really love concrete countertops and would love to put one in here, but the cost was prohibitive.  So I found a product called Feather Finish online that was perfect.  It’s a skim coating that goes right over the laminate and, once coated, is durable and food safe.  Find it here.  I will post a step-by-step tutorial soon.  COST $60.00

View into the study.

View into the study.

We painted the walls an SW Nomadic Desert to tie in the floors.   $50.00

Kitchen Hardware

The final elements kept the original doorknobs and tied them in with the burnished gold pulls and knobs.   COST: $57.00

Kitchen update final

The countertop is food safe thanks to the sealer and has held up well.

The countertop is food safe thanks to the sealer and has held up well.

That’s it!  If you are following along with the $ totals, you’ll find we actually ended up UNDER budget.  Proving a little paint goes a long, long way!

I apologize for the picture quality.  Photos were taken on my iPhone. I can never seem to remember my camera!

Until next time,


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  1. Libbie, you are right what a difference paint can make. Your makeover is terrific! Thanks for sharing on The Creative Circle!

  2. I’ll bet you can sell those Coke knobs! Looks much better updated.

  3. Beautiful makeover! Love the white cabinets!

  4. Cathy Cann says:

    Hi Libby, love seeing what you can accomplish with a budget! I recently had my 30 yr old cabinets professionally painted leaving the old brass hinges. The cabinets are cream colored and Im finding the hinges distracting. Theyre darker than the antique brass handles. I wonder if you painted your hinges. They make such a seamless look when the same cabinet color. Please dont tell me to have new hidden hinges put in, that is not an option,

    • Libbie Burling says:

      Hi Cathy,

      I hope my husband doesn’t read these, but I always paint my hardware if it bothers me. It does require a touch-up on occasion, but I don’t mind it. 🙂

      Hope that helps!

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