Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

Budget Kitchen Makeover

By: Danny Lipford
In categories: Interior, Kitchens and Baths, Today's Homeowner
Kitchen after DIY budget remodeling project.

Kitchen after DIY budget remodeling project.

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You don’t have to hire a contractor and spend a fortune remodeling your kitchen. With a little creativity and by doing much of the work yourself, you can end up with the kitchen of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Kitchen before DIY budget makeover.

Kitchen before DIY budget makeover.

Ordering Cabinet Doors

While the tile floor and cabinets in this kitchen were in good shape, the doors, drawer fronts, and countertops had seen better days. After measuring the cabinet openings, unfinished raised panel doors and drawer fronts were ordered through the local home center from Quality Doors.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the order form carefully, remembering to take into account the overlay around the doors and the number of doors per opening.

Prep Work

After the old doors, drawers, and countertops had been removed, any necessary modifications were made to the cabinets. These included installing a narrow cabinet next to the door and trimming the hanging cabinet to accommodate a microwave over the stove.

A two-part auto body filler was used to patch holes in the cabinets since it sets up quickly and doesn’t shrink. Start by mixing a small amount of catalyst with the filler.

Then use a putty knife to push the filler into the holes, removing any excess before it sets up.

Once it has hardened, sand the filler flush with the wood.


To prepare the cabinets for painting, a liquid deglosser was applied to allow the new paint to bond with the old. When using deglosser, body filler, or any flammable or hazardous material, be sure to read and follow all safety instructions.

The cabinets were primed with a yellow tinted primer. This was followed by black latex enamel on the exterior and yellow paint in the interior. Sheets of plastic were used to create a temporary spray booth in the storage shed to paint the doors.

Inside, a foam roller was used to give the cabinets a uniform texture.


The countertops from VT Industries feature Wilsonart Bella Capri plastic laminate with a Barcelona double-waterfall molded edge to give them the look of natural granite at a much lower cost. VT Industries countertops are available at The Home Depot.

A Culinaire™ stainless steel sink and faucet from American Standard were installed before the countertop was put in place to minimize the time spent working in cramped quarters. After a bead of caulking had been applied to the rim around the sink, it was attached to the countertop with fastening clips. The faucet and sink strainers went in as well, leaving only the supply lines and drain pipe to be hooked up.

When everything was ready, tinted sealant was applied to the mitered ends of the countertop. The two pieces were carefully aligned and joined together with miter bolts in precut slots before being screwed to the cabinets.


Once the countertop was in place, a Compact Evolution Series™ food waste disposer from InSinkErator was installed. An optional air assisted SinkTop Switch™ makes using it a breeze.

A combination microwave/convection oven/vent hood from GE was installed over the stove. The unit mounts on a metal plate that is attached to the wall. Once in place, it is secured to the hanging cabinet.

Hanging Cabinet Doors

The cabinet doors featured adjustable European style hinges that were tapped in place with a rubber mallet. Expanding plastic anchors secure the hinge to the door without driving any screws.

To hang the doors, a strip of wood was clamped to the face frame of the cabinet for the doors to rest on, which allowed for perfect alignment. A cordless drill/driver made quick work of drilling the pilot holes and driving the hinge screws into the cabinet frame.

The doors were then fine-tuned by turning the adjusting screws on the hinges.

After the doors and drawer fronts had been attached, the cabinets were distressed to give them an antique look by lightly sanding along the edges until the yellow primer peeked through.

The final touch was installing the Amerock weathered nickel drawer pulls and door knobs.

Other Tips From This Episode

Measuring Tile

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Measuring Tile

Here’s an easy way to measure the small pieces of tile around the edge of the room without using a tape measure. Place the tile to be cut directly on top of the last full tile. Put another tile on top of it that is pushed up against the wall. Using the edge of the top tile as a guide, draw a line on the bottom tile. Cut the bottom tile to the line for a perfect fit.

Wagner Control Spray Sprayer

Best New Products with Emilie Barta:
Wagner HVLP Sprayer

The Wagner Control Spray is a high volume, low pressure (HVLP) sprayer that’s designed to spray thinner materials with maximum control and low overspray. It features three adjustable spray patterns along with Wagner’s special Lock-n-Go system for easy cleanup. Wagner sprayers are available at The Home Depot stores.

Ask Danny:
Dealing with Hard Water

What is hard water, and is that something I should be concerned about? -Frank from Louisville

Dealing with Hard Water

Hard water is water that contains a high content of minerals such as calcium or magnesium. While not considered dangerous to your health, it can cause scale to form in plumbing and prevent detergent and soap from working properly. While there are several ways to remove minerals from your water, the most common method replaces the calcium or magnesium with sodium. This is done using a device called a water softener that is installed in the main water line running into the house. Water softeners are recharged from time to time with salt to keep them working properly.

Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® are provided by Ryobi.

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7 Comments on “Budget Kitchen Makeover”

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  1. Michelle Laine Says:
    March 23rd, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    I absolutely found this to be thouroughly informative video on remodel on a budget.The kitchen you features is almost identical to the kitchen in my rental unit I would like to remodel.
    I also Have another rental I would like to restore to live in it myself, it has hardwood floors that must be refinished, as well as the old windows that are in need of painting and restoration. I would love to get help with this project.
    I appreciate your show on TV as well.
    Thank You
    Michelle Laine

  2. Frankie Says:
    April 5th, 2008 at 7:27 am

    I noticed the cabinets appear to be painted black. I have been wanting to repaint my old dark stained cabinets black. I have a small kitchen, do you think this would look good?

  3. Kim Says:
    May 4th, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Frankie: I, too, plan to paint my old dark-stained cupboards in my small kitchen. I’ll be using either a semi- or high gloss for durability, and for reflective shine. The wall color is called “Country Peach,” which I think is a Behr color. It’s a bright color that contrasts well against glossy black. The ceiling is bright white. I used semi-gloss for both, to protect against kitchen steam and grease and make clean up easier, as well as offering more light in the evening. My kitchen gets all the morning sun, but very little light after 4pm. I also use compact fluorescent bulbs (2, each supposedly equivalent to 100 watts) in a fixture with a frosted diffuser (shade), so the shine reflecting off the gloss isn’t glaring, but does add interest. My 40+ year-old eyes also find the combination of gloss + fluorescent increases visibility for when I’m chopping or measuring (as opposed to the glare of gloss + incandescent, or flat/satin + any type of light). I had a hard time finding complentary curtains, so I made my own out of black & white towels, with “funky” black & white shoelaces snipped and fabric-glued to make tabs for hanging. I suggest that you get color samples from the bigger pamphlet-style paint cards, and toss them around various parts of the room at various times of day. (You can cut the individual samples off the card to make this easier). Whatever doesn’t look right to your eyes at any time of day gets tossed in the trash immediately to avoid later confusion. As you go through the process, you’ll whittle your selections down until you’re ready to tape the samples onto the surfaces to be painted (for this, get as many more chips as you need to make big enough samples to put in as many locations as you need). Leave the samples up for a day, to see how the color changes with the light. Don’t think about the color, just pay attention to your mood when you notice the color — that will tell you when you’ve found the right one. Good luck!

  4. Naomi E. Soldon Says:
    June 3rd, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I am also planning similar low budget renovations, but my cabinet boxes would not take paint well as they are a laminate of some sort. I do not care for their appearance, but their construction is adequate (I assume they are made by Wood Mode whose name is on the hinges). Also since I am not modifying the cabinet lay-out, it makes sense to keep the boxes. I plan to install new doors/drawer fronts on the cabinet fronts and exposed ends; and am considering them for the cabinet bottoms as well. Any comments/suggestions?

  5. gnorris Says:
    April 12th, 2009 at 5:09 am

    My cabinets are a dark brown laminate. I was trying to sell. the realtor suggested painting them white. My wife don’t like them. I had them painted with white primer. Are the dark color cabinets fashionable?

  6. susan brown Says:
    July 25th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I recently had a new foundation poured,and it caused several deep cracks in the corners,in my upstairs. How do I fix these cracks,and is this a normal occurence?

  7. Jenny Richter Says:
    August 14th, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    In updating kitchen cabinets, I need help with fixtures. Cabinets currently have hinges on the outside and handles are in bronzed color. I hope to change out the cabinet doors so the hinge is hidden inside but not sure what color handles I should choose. I have stainless steel appliances. What color hardware should I use?

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