Kitchen Before

This is one of the very few before pictures of the kitchen I own.

I didn’t write a blog or have a Facebook or a Twitter or a Pinterest account back then, so I never took before pictures.

I was too busy with the during.

And that during?

It was so super budget friendly that it squeaked when it walked.

It had to be.

I had already spent all of our money tearing down walls and adding plumbing and putting built-ins in the butler’s pantry that there wasn’t much left over by the time we got to the kitchen.  Some might call that poor planning.  Me?  I call it time to get creative.

Here are my favorite quick and easy budget upgrades to our kitchen.

1. Transom made from old windows

Here’s the after of the kitchen with the original floors (super budget friendly to use the original flooring underneath layers of carpet and linoleum).

And you can see one of my favorite projects at the top of the picture.

It’s a transom we added to the opening between the living room and kitchen.

It started out life like this.

It was a large window and we used one of the rows of the panes to make the transom.

You can see the after here.

And from the other side here.

And here’s the how to on how we installed it.

2. Painted brick

This was a super budget friendly upgrade to the kitchen.

See the fireplace (or back of the fireplace from the other room)?

It was red.

Not a pretty red.  The kind of red that has stuck around the kitchen and eaten too many snacks kind of red.

We primed it and painted it the same color as the walls.

I was a little hesitant at first, but then I never looked back.

The painted surface makes the brick blend in instead of looking snack-bloated.

3. Free-standing kitchen island

We debated on the island when we remodeled the kitchen.

I went back and forth on a built-in island because I love the look of them so much that I get island envy if I spend too much time on Pinterest.

But it wasn’t in the budget.

Not even close.

So we got this free-standing island from IKEA.

It was 1/5 of the cost of a built-in island and I’m so happy with it.

It’s held up all these years and it keeps everything right where I need it.

The stools for the island came from IKEA, too.

Kitchen Thistlewood Farm

4. Faux transom windows

See the faux transom windows over the windows on either side of the door?

They weren’t always there.

You can kind of see the space above the windows in the very first before pictures.

File it under awkward.

Kitchen Window

Here’s another picture so you can see it better close-up.

All it took was a little molding and a little imagination.

You can see the entire DIY here.

5. Peel and stick tile

Easiest, best, most economical solution that I’m still in love with seven years later.

Peel and stick tile in the butler’s pantry.

This room is right off the kitchen.

You can see it peeking out here.

Here’s the 411 (total aside: does anyone even say that anymore) on how we installed the tile.

6.  Door molding

See the molding over the door that leads into the front room?

See how finish carpenter high end it looks?

It started out life as a 1″ x 6″ board.

And then we added door molding.

It was an easy budget upgrade.

See the DIY here.

7.  Plate rack turned recipe wall

School House Rock always said that necessity was the mother of invention.

So true.

This recipe wall started out as a blank wall that was kind of an awkward hallway between two rooms.

I couldn’t add a big piece of furniture and it looks so empty.

Enter the recipe wall.

It started out as a plate rack.

DIY found here.

That turned into a recipe wall.

DIY found here.

Thanks, School House Rock.

8.  Glass front cabinet doors

See the doors at the very top of the cabinets?

I saw them somewhere and dreamed about them forever.

Until I saw how much they cost.

So instead?  I just ordered every day builder’s grade cabinets and had the doors made separately and painted.

It was about 1/2 the cost of custom cabinets.

I love the kitchen and it’s budget self.

But my favorite post I’ve ever written about the kitchen has nothing to do with remodeling and everything to do with overlooking the obvious.

Here’s a little story to go with our budget remodeling.

I hope it makes you smile on a Monday. 🙂

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  1. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Definitely made me smile this beautiful Monday morning! I've tried to come up with what my favorite thing about my favorite room in your house, but I can't. I love it all!!!

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Linda, LOL! Thanks for the question friend! It's actually in the butler's pantry! You can see it here: Hope this helps and let me know if I can ever answer any other questions! Happy day! karianne

  2. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Love! Love! Love! Thanks for sharing it all. I'm in love with those doors above the cabinet and the island idea...battling with island decisions right now. Happy Monday, friend! And loved the live video!!

  3. Image for Deb Deb

    I just LOVE your way with words! It is always a pleasure reading your posts. Your stories are fantastic and your home is beautiful beyond belief. It looks perfect but friendly, which isn't an easy feat. I wouldn't change a thing, other than the tweaking that is such a joy of life. I too love our home and feel it represents us. It is my joy to move stuff, and tweak stuff, and yes, clean stuff. It defines who I am. You are an inspiration!

  4. Image for Teresa @ Teresa @

    What color are your kitchen walls? They are so clean and crisp! Also, I have a deep passion for that recipe wall! I wonder if I could trust myself to get the lettering straight? Your whole house is amazing.

  5. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Oh yeah! It's still my most favorite kitchen in all of blogland. Well, next to mine. ;) haha. Seriously, I wish I had a spot for a recipe wall but I don't. It's ok though. I loved your apple story too - why do we do that? Not only focus on a minor imperfection but then start comparing ours with yours? So, yep. I totally love your kitchen and that it's thrifty and loved. What a warm and inviting space!

  6. Image for Ellen Ellen

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that story of the smushed apple!! It is one of my favorite tales - filled with wit, humor and a valuable life lesson. I really loved that the sad little apple was given the opportunity to be a rock star! Thank-you the apple saga revisit. P.S. The easy budget upgrades are amazing too!

  7. Image for Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer

    Love love love the all the charming details in your kitchen! I have been hanging onto two tall four or five paned windows that once belonged on either side of a front door a friend was replacing. I'm hoping our next house has a place to use them as transoms, all thanks to yours I saw years ago! You ALWAYS inspire! XOXO

  8. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    I love your kitchen. It is one of my favorites. I love how you take the ordinary and transform it ti something extraordinary. It gives home to others who don't have the big budgets for remodeling.

  9. Image for Cindy Richter Cindy Richter

    Love your entire kitchen. I've been wanting to do a recipe wall forever but have nowhere to put it. :( BTW - love how your sweater in your picture matches the colors on your new blog! :)

  10. Image for Lynn Frisbie Lynn Frisbie

    I love the kitchen and all the details....amazing job, well done! may I ask what color did you paint the walls and the trim? I love the color you choose for both.

  11. Image for Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie

    That's a kitchen space I could live in, even if I can't cook. I have never heard of a "Transom", sorry I'm from South Africa, but what ever it is it looks so gorgeous. I think I'll use that word at our next braai after I look it up on google ;-) You have a truly lovely home

  12. Image for Deborah Deborah

    Wow! This is my first time visiting your post. I am very impressed with your creativity. I just love how cozy and beautiful your kitchen looks and more impressed that it was budget friendly.

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