White Kitchen Makeover: Small Updates to Make a Big Impact

Sometimes there are homes and rooms that need a total renovation: gut it and start from scratch. More often, you can work with what you’ve got to make something that works — which might still take knocking out a wall or two 🙂 But no matter where you start from, there are some details and finishing touches that can really turn a good-looking room into a beautiful room. Things like fresh paint, some added trim or finish work, and personalized homey decorating.

One of our readers, Jenny, sent in these before and afters of her home and she nailed it! The befores are nice, but the afters and the small touches that Jenny added (on her own, self-taught DIYing, I might add) really just take her kitchen from nice to amazing! Jenny is here today to share her gorgeous kitchen makeover and some tips for making a home facelift successful. And Jenny paid us the highest compliment: “Yours was the first DIY home improvement site I ever came across and the inspiration for me believing that maybe, just maybe, I could do a little DIY, too.” We’re blushing and so thrilled to have been part of your story, Jenny! Remodelaholics, be sure to leave her a comment to let her know what a great job she did!

UPDATE: Paint colors and decor sources at the bottom of the post!

 Beautiful kitchen facelift! When you want an update but don't need a full renovation, just a few small finishing touches and details.

4 Steps to a Successful Kitchen Makeover
from reader Jenny

In the two years I’ve lived in my current home, I have undertaken dozens of home improvement projects, doing nearly all of the work myself, even while pregnant with my 4th child. In the process, I have learned two things: 1) “Yes, I can!” With hard work and determination, I can transform my space all on my own, in true DIY style; and 2) Small and simple changes can have a significant impact on the look and feel of a space.
This kitchen BEFORE is nice, but the AFTER has so many little details to make it amazing!
My kitchen facelift is the perfect example of how a “can do” attitude joined with thoughtful improvements can transform a space. I didn’t have what I would call a ‘bad’ kitchen, but it lacked personality. When I moved in, I could see where, with a little care, I could make it more to my liking without a major renovation and without significant expense. So that’s what I did! Here’s how:

So many little details make this space just right -- the shelf over the kitchen sink window, beadboard and trim on the cabinets, and decor with character!

1) Catch the Vision

I first had to come up with a plan. To see the picture in my head of how the kitchen could be better. I started by considering how I and my family use the kitchen space and what we needed to make it function well for us. Immediately, I knew we had to have more light! The kitchen was dimly lit and felt dark and unwelcoming in the evenings. I hired an electrician to install several additional pot lights in the ceiling, as well as two pendant lights over the island. This was the most expensive part of the makeover, but one I wasn’t comfortable doing myself. It cost about $1,000. Well worth the expense!
The beadboard backsplash and crown molding make such a difference in this kitchen makeover

I also identified that the minimal wire shelving in the pantry was insufficient, so I ripped it out and installed custom wood shelves and converted a coat closet in to a second pantry so that we’d have enough space for food storage. I then built a custom spice rack and attached it to the pantry door to maximize the space even more!
Built-in pantry shelves are soooo much better than those wire shelves. This woman DIYed her own, after teaching herself how to do it!

pantry makeover

I want this pantry closet! Just look at all those can organizers to keep food rotated!


There were other, smaller updates that improved the efficiency of the space, as well, such as relocating an under-cabinet-mounted microwave to a spot where it would take up less space and adding a towel bar across from the kitchen sink. And, because I have kids, I even added a giant magnetic chalkboard to the exposed side of the cabinets housing the double ovens. A custom chalkboard was too expensive, so I had a local sheet metal shop cut a piece of metal to size. I used construction adhesive to mount it to the cabinets and then painted it with chalkboard paint.
DIY magnetic chalkboard in the kitchen
I spent time browsing Pinterest and home decorating sites to get ideas. Most of the kitchens on these sites were brand new and professionally designed. I knew that without spending a ton of money, my kitchen wasn’t going to look like those, but I also knew that I could identify elements of design and customization in these kitchens that I liked and then translate that in to something I could re-create in my own kitchen.
Crown molding makes SUCH a difference. And this woman did everything herself, after teaching herself watching videos online.
2) Plan and Prepare: Once I had a bunch of ideas in mind, I had to sift through them and decide what I could make happen with a little DIY magic. There were several things I would love to have done, but decided against either because of the time it would have required or the expense. I’m a mom of 4 kids ages 10 and under. I had to be realistic about how long I could disrupt our family’s living space while I made the improvements and how it would effect my family for my time to be swallowed up by this project.
Once I determined the ‘what,’ I had to figure out the ‘how.’ I am entirely self taught. Anything and everything I learned about DIY home improvement, I learned from watching a YouTube video or reading an online tutorial. So if there was something I wanted to do, I Googled it to learn how!
Adding trim to the end of the cabinets, plus that shelf over the sink goes perfectly with the roman shades
3) Don’t Forget the Little Stuff: Most of the improvements I made to my kitchen were on a small scale. I didn’t paint or replace the cabinets. I didn’t re-do the floors or install new appliances. But when you add up all the little stuff—-custom shelves above the windows, a new coat of paint, crown molding and wainscoting, and decorative touches—-it equals big impact. And I saved a lot of money by doing the work myself.
Lovely farmhouse kitchen details! Picture frame wainscoting and beadboard together.
I spent less than $200 on the trim wood for the crown molding, chair rail, and shadow boxes. The shelf above the kitchen eating area was made mostly of scrap wood, so the biggest expense was the hooks, which cost around $30. The shelf above the kitchen sink is just corbels, a board, and a piece of trim. About $30 to build. Several of the signs hanging in my kitchen, I made using scrapwood and paint I already had on hand. The bar stools and desk chair I picked up at a garage sale for $23 total. All I had to do was paint them. I used sheets of beadboard to finish off the ends of all the cabinets, to make a backsplash, and to improve the kitchen island. The beadboard cost about $100.
Update cabinets with beadboard and trim. Cheap and easy way to update your kitchen!
I even made my own kitchen table! I banded a piece of plywood with trim for the tabletop and attached it to 4 table legs I recycled from an old table and painted it to match my kitchen. Now I have a table that seats 8 and it cost me less than $50 to build.
4) Get to Work!: This is the fun part, but also the hard part! Take the time to be prepared and to think things through before starting. Start small and work from there as you gain confidence in your skills. If you’re anything like me, it’s going to take you longer than you think it will and there will be all kinds of hiccups along the way, but hold on to your vision. Don’t give up! It will be worth it in the end!
The pictures to prove it . . .
It's all in the details! Adding beadboard was a cheap and easy way to DIY a kitchen makeover.Install a towel rail on the island. Perfect.So easy! Adding beadboard to the exposed ends of the cabinets dresses them up. I love beadboard in a white country kitchen. And that shelf above the sink is great! Crown molding is the BEST! Fairly inexpensive way to update a room to look a little more glamorous. Adding picture frame wainscoting to a kitchen/dining room makes it so classy! Crown molding above the cabinets, too.
Learn to build what you need to save money on a kitchen facelift! This woman taught herself and then built a table and two decorative shelves, plus putting up tons of trim work. This is so perfect -- a magnetic chalkboard along the tall cabinets in the kitchen.Beautiful stair makeover! Removed the carpet and added white picture frame molding as wainscoting Chair rail wainscoting and a new paint color made a huge difference to this hallway. What a great organized command center! This would be great for my family.


Paint colors
Beadboard: I had Home Depot custom color match the color of my cabinets using Behr paint.
Crown molding, chair rail, and shadow boxes: White Dove by Benjamin Moore
Kitchen walls: Restoration Hardware Silver Sage

Bird plates: Birch Lane
White plates (above the doorway): Home Goods.
Large Bakery sign: AntiqueFarmhouse.com



Jenny, thank you so much for sharing this with us! I love how all the small changes you made added up to such a wonderful finished kitchen!

Want to show off your amazing skills? Submit a brag post here!

See more beautiful white kitchen inspiration here (click each photo):

white kitchen renovation with marble island and open shelving on Remodelaholic white kitchen remodel, Create on Remodelaholic marble kitchen island in white kitchen, Everyday Enchanting on Remodelaholic

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Jenny enjoys making life more beautiful in the details. For her, there's nothing more satisfying than figuring out how to get it done DIY-style! She dabbles in a little bit of everything . . . home renovation and decorating, graphic design, cake decorating and baking . . . whatever strikes her fancy at the moment. You're welcome to follow along with her DIY adventures on her Instagram account @turnip_greens_sweet_tea

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  1. WOW! This looks 150% better and all your remodeling skills are to die for. I would love to get some tips on how to make the beadboard look more professional. What size nails? What type of trim? Backing? GREAT JOB!!!

  2. Thank you, Nichole! Very kind of you! I used construction adhesive for wood (comes in tubes just like caulk) for attaching the beadboard to the exposed ends of my cabinets and to the sides of the kitchen island. For the beadboard installed as a backsplash, I wanted it to be easy to remove (and not mar the drywall behind it) in case I changed my mind someday and wanted to remove it—-it’s held in place by the caulk I used at all the seams and by the outlet covers (I had to put extenders on all the outlets so that they would stick out far enough to be flush with the beadboard). But if you wanted something not as permanent as adhesive and not as temporary as caulk, you could use pin nails or very fine gauge finishing nails—-just make sure the nails are thin because beadboard (especially if it’s made out of MDF or particle board) can split very easily at the point where the nail goes in. I purchased 4′ x 8′ sheets of beadboard at my local big box store (about $20/sheet). I used a table saw and miter saw to make the cuts I needed. (You can also have the employees at your local big box store cut it to size for you—makes it a lot easier to fit in your car on the way home!) When planning the cuts for your beadboard, always try to cut along one of the indentations on either side of the bead. That way, when you go to match up ends, you’ll get a seamless look (just be sure that you plan for which side of the bead you need to cut along in order for the butt ends of the two pieces you’re joining to come together and look like one piece). Oh, and beadboard generates a ton of dust when you cut it, so keep that in mind, too. Always caulk along the seams and edges when you’re done—that’ll give you the really clean look that makes it seem as though it’s always been there. I’ve seen it where people use a small piece of edging trim along the outside edges of beadboard panels on cabinets and on backsplashes. I chose not to do that, but you should consider it. Best of luck to you!

  3. Can you tell me if your kitchen flooring is vinyl or hardwood, etc. I am thinking about using something similar to this in my kitchen and family room. P.S. Love your kitchen makeover.

  4. Hi, there, Cathy! You can buy the flooring at Home Depot. It’s “Home Legend” hand-scraped engineered hardwood flooring in Walnut Java. Our floors were installed by the previous owners and I have to say that while I love the look of them, they are very, very hard to keep clean because they’re so dark—-the smallest crumb and ittiest bit of dust is readily visible. And because of the hand scraping finish, which, again, I adore the look of, I run in to this problem where the raised portion of the boards get a lot more wear and tear than the recessed portion of the boards which gives the floors this visually uneven appearance. That’s mostly an issue in the kitchen and hallway, though, which are high traffic areas. Our upstairs hallway and living room and dining room don’t do that. Anyway, just my 2 cents. We had real hardwood floors on the entire main level of our previous home and I have to say that engineered wood holds up a lot better than hardwood (ie. our engineered wood floors don’t scratch and dent as easily as our real hardwood floors did). Good luck with your new floors!

  5. Hi Jenny,
    I agree with everyone – your home is simply stunning! What color did you use in the dining room for the dark blue? It’s such a rich color.

  6. Hi, there, Tami! Thank you for the compliment! The color in the living room and dining room is Sherwin Williams Naval. I originally purchased the paint directly from Sherwin Williams, but it was requiring 3+ coats to cover the wall so I returned the paint to Sherwin Williams and went to Benajmin Moore instead. I had Benjamin Moore color match the Sherwin Williams paint color in the “Benajmin Moore Regal Select” paint. It covered beautifully! A really big difference. I went with an eggshell finish because it shows fewer flaws in the drywall and with such a dark color, I knew flaws would be more noticeable. You can see more pictures of my living room and dining room in this post here: https://www.remodelaholic.com/tips-tricks-installing-trim/ Thanks again!

  7. Thank you for your quick response Jenny! We’re all so inspired by your taste and your home. I’m copying EVERYTHING!! : )

  8. Hi Jenny,
    It all looks amazing.. Are you able to tell me where you got the ‘high tea’ 3 plate stand from please? its the one white one near the cooktop..
    Thank you… 🙂

    1. Thank you, Donna. I purchased the stand almost 4 years ago, so I don’t know that it would still be available. It came from tptdeals.com. Good luck!

  9. Thank you so much for posting this! I have 4 young kids as well and although I want to make changes to my house, I just don’t see how I can do it with so much going on but this gives me hope. Just a little at a time, a lot can be accomplished. I appreciate the encouragement and how you have proven little touches can go a long way.

    1. Thank you, Marilyn! You hit the nail on the head (pun intended)!! Just take things a little at a time, project by project. You’ve got this! Good luck!

  10. Hi there your work is incredibly beautiful! Can you please tell me where you got the supplies for the wainscoting and crown molding?

  11. Wow, I love your kitchen transformation. Fabulous results! I love the paint colors you choose, the changes, everything. Thanks fr sharing, have a Happy New Year.

  12. Pinned this awhile ago just went through it! What an awesome job! I love your style…all the pics and tips are great! So glad I saved this and finally opened it! I am in the process of decorating a very small home and got some GREAT ideas from you! THANK YOU!