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Velinda’s Under-$20,000 DIY Kitchen (& Laundry Room) Gut Reno



Welcome back! If you’re just showing up, you’re late. The party at my place started yesterday. Go catch up, then come on in…everyone’s in the kitchen, which is FINALLY (hopefully?) a place you wanna be. 

Some of you just disobeyed the “go catch up” part of what I just said. Shame on you…the Cliff’s notes:

  • Entire house renovated and furnished for under $55K
  • No money, gross house
  • Making decade-old Craigslist finds work over and over again
  • Not yet a designer; no training or experience
  • Tons of sweating out equity and DIY-ing by our “team”: My mom, her wife, my 11- and 13-year-old sisters, some very good friends, my wife, myself and one brave contractor

Now for our budget kitchen. While in school, I heard from other students a professor had taught, “you can’t renovate (truly renovate…not update) a kitchen for less than $20K.” Challenge accepted. We barely made it under that mark. Once again, I’ll be sharing all the numbers later. But here’s what we had to work with:

Ehd For Blog Velinda's Reno Kitchen Before 1 1

First impression: Barney & Friends.

This tragic little (4’x10′) galley kitchen was claustrophobic, unfunctional and apparently painted purple by a 5-year-old. Beyond it: a laundry room (8’x8′) that opened into the tiniest 5’x5′ bathroom. (More to come on that soon). I’m assuming this utility space is where past tenants shoved both their laundry and refrigerator because there was zero space for a fridge in the actual kitchen. Everything in the room was sticky since there was no hood or ventilation, so clean up was fun *vomit emoji.

Ehd For Blog Velinda's Reno Kitchen Progressf 1

Redoing this tiny beast meant saving a second round of funds, so for years, the kitchen was a lingering project. But some changes had to be made early. When we bought the house in 2012, while we were still doing permitted work upfront (windows, plumbing and electrical), it was time to commit to some long-term decisions. We couldn’t afford to push out exterior walls to really add space to this room,  but I wanted to change the layout/open it up as much as possible. There wasn’t yet a design, so, we knocked out some walls (with help from our contractor) and hoped for the best. Then, we lived in it for five years. It looked something like this:

Ehd For Blog Velinda's Reno Kitchen Before 1

The only thing good about the kitchen during this hold period (besides the memories we made…awww) were a couple of these initial changes. We replaced the door that leads outside with a glass-panel option which visually expands the space a ton. Then, inspired by the arched entry of the dining room (bet you stragglers wish you were caught up now), we opened up the claustrophobia-inducing doorways that divided the kitchen from the adjoining spaces. On top of turning oddly-divided tiny rooms into one now “larger” space, this added an extra dose of the home’s original character. Wiring for a line of (IKEA) pendants also helped visually connect the once-divided spaces.

Ehd For Blog Velinda's Reno Kitchen Progressd 1

Other than these permitted upgrades, we basically knocked down half the cabinets to make room for a refrigerator, painted the remaining cabinets, and utilized a lot of IKEA storage solutions. Oh right… and painted the walls really gloomy colors! That always helps.

Ehd For Blog Velinda Reno Kitchen Progressb 1

We spent five years stepping over chunks of missing floor where walls used to be and dodging jagged-edges where cabinets/tiling came to abrupt ends. But in 2016, it was FINALLY time to officially undertake this project…

Flash Forward:

Velinda Diy Lores 20

Velinda Diy Lores 21

The renovation in 2016, including all supplies, appliances and labor cost $18K and for this round, the team included Rick (same contractor), Katie and myself…with a friend popping in here and there (my mom was in chemo at the time, so our free-labor was called away. Excuses, excuses.).

Our DIY contributions: Anything we could do to limit Rick’s time. Demolition!!!! So fun. I took a jackhammer to the old floor tiles (and now I want to be a demolisher when I grow up). The clean up/disposal was not so fun. There was a lot of lugging along the way, but we handled it ourselves thanks to Bagster.

It’s mind-blowing what haul away can cost! I was really impressed with Bagster. We bought a $30 bag at Home Depot, filled it while it sat in our driveway, then called to have it picked up for less than a couple hundred bucks! We had to do this twice (during the entire reno), but it cost a fraction of what dumpster rentals and other alternatives would’ve. Don’t throw you money in the garbage, folks!

Ehd For Blog Velinda Reno Kitchen Progress C 1

Adding to our DIY endeavors, Katie and I assembled ready-made cabinet boxes (not IKEA). Our contractor, Rick, secured them into place/balanced them once they were built and then we stepped back in to install every door, knob and pull (sacrificing a few additional years off our lives. Never again!).

Ehd For Blog Velinda's Reno Kitchen Progressa 1

Now, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry maximizes storage space and creates a clean, simple line where giant appliances used to jut out awkwardly. The added height (plus light reflecting off of white) makes the space feel bigger. My two cents on white cabinets: yes, white kitchens can be boring, BUT white cabinets don’t have to mean a white kitchen…it’s what I love about white (and other neutral cabinet options)—the flexibility. At the time of this renovation, I was obsessed with the idea of green cabinets, but I worried green cabinets could end up being a very pretty, but more quickly-passing trend. Since cabinets are one of the biggest ticket items in a kitchen reno, I’m unlikely to afford being able to swap them out anytime soon. Even painting (if done really well) is expensive…so, I stuck to something classic/timeless and neutral, knowing I can update the wall color and even backsplash tiles easily with each passing whim. Though maybe not show-stopping, It’s a lot harder to go wrong with white. 

The cabinets weren’t IKEA, but were still incredibly affordable (we got the through Cabinet City). I’m pretty sure they’re from China and I have mixed reviews as far as the quality. Now three years later, they still look great! But what made them extra affordable is we did pickups from the warehouse ourselves, so we saved on shipping costs. I can’t tell you how many times we had to make a lengthy drive back and forth swapping out door faces that turned out to be juuuuust warped enough not to close. There’s one door that still has a tiny gap when closed because after two exchanges, we finally gave up. If we had been dealing with shipping back and forth, I can’t imagine how far behind our project would’ve run. Still, I love that these are real wood and the paint finish/shaker detail feel high-quality (and is easy to clean). I’d rate the quality higher than IKEA.

Velinda Diy Lores 23

Velinda Diy Lores 27

We added lower cabinets/countertop space, wrapping them around the corner into the former laundry room…which now serves as a bar (pro tip: in any design, whiskey bar = must have). The space still also functions as a utility room, with 24-inch counter-height electric washer/dryer. It’s surprisingly hard to find non-massive washing units in the US and it required installing a 220V for an additional $600. (Are they making this size in an affordable, gas option yet??) I did a TON of research for these because opinions of electric washer/dryers were low…but we love this pair and are so happy they don’t consume more of the very limited space.

Velinda Diy Lores 26

Our appliances were sourced from all over (Craigslist included OF COURSE…new Bosch dishwasher score!). All machines are as compact as possible to avoid projecting into the 3-foot wide walking path (and to maximize storage). Instead of going deep or wide with the fridge, we utilized height to gain additional cubic feet (13 in total?). Enough space? For sure. If Katie and I had a child (in theory…not in the works), we’d keep this fridge. If we had two (god help this imaginary us), probably not. (Quick shout out to Ashleigh Ninos of Nino Studios before moving on; she created that small white artwork on the bottom shelf.)

Velinda Diy Lores 24

The white tile (on the other side of the kitchen) was chosen because it’s classic and the original tile was square, so it’s a nod. The backsplash tile here was chosen as a nod to the home’s Mediterranean soul and by 2016, I was into the graphic simplicity of black and white. We kept the original nook and extended the wood flooring to make it feel bigger by unifying the rooms.

Velinda Diy Lores 25

Looking Back: 

  • I wouldn’t change a thing about what we DIYed. It was all doable, but if you’re headed toward the same boat, expect a breakdown or two. It’s overwhelming, especially when you’re eating from a fridge in your living room while dodging giant boxes of dust-covered “inventory.”
  • Despite the mentioned frustration, I’d source from Cabinet City again over IKEA. But that’s only because I live close enough to assess in person/make exchanges in a timely manner. Now, if I could afford to have custom doors made for an IKEA base (which I definitely couldn’t at the time), I’d splurge for that.
  • Engineered countertops are my friends. On our budget, natural stone (though gorgeous) wasn’t an option. But, engineered quartz (along with the porcelain in my basement kitchen) can be simple, clean and pretty PLUS so user-friendly! I don’t personally mind this “faux” option. But take a careful look if you’re choosing a faux stone with veining… laser-printed veining can look super cheap super fast. Proceed with caution.
  • I regret cheap plumbing fixtures! The sink faucet is a China buy (eBay) and it will NOT stop spinning/wiggling due to cheap hardware/threading that won’t fasten tightly enough to stay put. Spoiler: This “save” didn’t serve me well in the bathroom either (stay tuned for that tomorrow).
  • Affordable cabinet hardware can be good. These knobs are heavy, print-resistant and cost a fraction of what I was finding in my research. I worried they’d feel cheap. They don’t. 

Before we get to the budget, let’s look at just a few satisfying side-by-side before and afters:

2x2 Grid 2500 Pixels Horizontal Copy 2

Laundry Room B&a

Ahh, that feels good. Now! The numbers! Here’s how it all broke down. Full disclosure, a small portion of the general reno cost went toward the original kitchen changes in 2012, so add a couple thousand for that…but still, we are standing right at $20K. (Come back tomorrow to join me in the bedroom and bathroom…warning there’s only one bath in this bungalow, so get your tickets now. We’ll be wrapping this party up tomorrow!)

Emily Henderson Velinda Diy Reno Kitchen 1


*that are still available, because it’s been three years

Refrigerator | Range | Wine Cool (similar) | Cabinet Source | Cabinet Hardware | Patterned Tile | Jute Runner | Pendant Lamps | Front-Load Washer (discontinued) | Front-Load Dryer (discontinued)

***photography by Veronica Crawford

Fin Mark


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Loveley of

This is seriously beautiful! what a difference! the floors looks so good and opening up the walls did wonders. it all looks fabulous. the glass panel door to outside also was such a good decision. it definitely made it feel more open to see the outdoors. give us more!


Yay for beautiful budget-friendly renovations!! Great work! Please give us more of these renovations that most of us can actually afford!


Yes please please please – more realistic renovations on this blog and please without all the sponsored donations and unrealistic materials usage.
This series is wonderfully inspirational and realistic, Velinda!


What Karen said!!


What Kristin, Karen and Alice said! These beautiful Velinda posts have been some of the most genuinely inspiring content in a while!


Couldn’t agree more – this is actually doable!


Yes, agree! I’m glad I’m not the only one to do a half baked reno, before doing a full renovation. We’re on year 7 of modest updates, with this year getting flooring. 4-5;more years before a full gut job on my kitchen!



Megan Lec

Absolutely in love with this kitchen and inspired to take on some more DIY projects in my own kitchen and laundry room. I’ve been contemplating adding cabinets to our laundry room for months and would love to learn more about your experience building your own (and more on ikea cabinets with designer fronts!) Can’t wait for the last reveal and hoping to get a peak of your outdoor space. The glimpse of the cafe lights through the windows is calling to me.

Cris S.

I would love to hear more on this also – I blew my cabinet budget on the kitchen and now my laundry room has nothing but the washer / dryer (stacked on top of each other – does anyone else HATE that as much as I do?) and an horrific plastic sink basin hanging out in the open. More money is NOT coming our way and I would love to learn more on putting stuff together one’s self, etc. Velinda – love the kitchen. You achieved so much in modifying what was there. It is really functional and lovely. What… Read more »


Lovely lovely kitchen! I love that you maximized what was given and it still looks like it perfectly belongs in the house, albeit super cool. Would you mind sharing where on Amazon you purchased your hardware? We’re looking for something similar and affordable!


Yes please. Tell us more about the hardware. I’ve been looking for new handles/knobs and am shocked by the prices.

Absolutely gorgeous kitchen!!! Impressive on any budget – I’d never know you spent under 20k.

Loveley of

you can get knobs exactly like this from cb2! i have them in matte black and they are not expensive.


All of your cabinets cost less than $1k?!?!? That is crazy! Amazing job! Love it!


Once again I love this post and the budget breakdown. Thanks for sharing!


Smart choices, beautiful results. I love this house. Way to go Velinda!


I love this! The new kitchen looks gorgeous – really bright, open and clean. I love the touches of wood with all of the white. For the price, the cabinets look great! Very impressive budget. I’m not sure a kitchen reno is in my future, as our house wasn’t a fixer upper and I don’t know if it’s wise to put that much money into something that’s already decent (really basic white cabinets – not wood at all. I’d rather ikea). But I’ll have to think about it – maybe someday!


I know the feeling – our kitchen has low quality, builder grade white cabinets that are from 2001. From across the room, they look fine, but up close the quality shows – but I doubt we’ll ever spend the boatload of money it would cost to replace them (we have a pretty large kitchen with a lot of cabinets). I think though that replacing our laminate countertops with a composite/quartz of some kind is totally within the budget (I really want to waterfall the counters now after seeing this post, which would also cover some of the low quality cabinet… Read more »


Ahhh, beautiful. Velinda, I am loving your posts!! The mountain house posts have been some of my absolute favorite, but most of the design choices are not in my price range. Your ideas have been so great. Love that y’all showcase such a variety of different options and ideas for different budgets.


I have a narrow kitchen and will be renovating on a budget, so this is great inspiration! I’m curious to know more about the compact washer/dryer. I’ve been looking into compact due to limited space. Is the dryer vented or ventless? I’ve read a lot of negative reviews about ventless (mostly that it takes forever to dry), so if that’s what you have, do you like it? Could you possibly share a link to the washer/dryer you have? I appreciate any info you can share!


This is great!


What is that gorgeous knife block?


Seriously inspirational! I am in the middle of a kitchen Reno, and my goal is to spend less than $3000.00. Love seeing this make-over!


LOVE the kitchen! I’m getting ready for my own kitchen reno and this is exactly the look I was going for. Would you mind telling me the name/brand of the countertop? Thanks!


Can I ask what brand and color of paint you used throughout your place? It’s a nice clean looking white, without seeming too cold.


Hey, EHD team! I’d love to see a layout of this home – I’m curious to see how all the rooms flow together. Really enjoying this series!

Sara Nelson

I love your lights! Can you share the source pretty please?

Roberta Davis

Nice job! Much better layout and looks like plenty of storage, too! Amazing how the white brightens up the space so much. It must feel so much better to cook in this space! Curious about your path to becoming a designer, Velinda!


Oh I love this so much! After seeing the incredible mountain house for months, it is so nice to see a breakdown on a real life, attainable renovation that is still useful and beautiful. Please keep these coming!


Gorgeously fantastically frugal inspiration for real people!
It’s just beautiful, clean and so much more functional.
Yaaay you guys!

Question: Did you grout your stove splash back tiles?? It looks like maybe you didn’t.

Alexandra Rose

Ah, lovely! And it’s great that you went with an electric washer/ dryer. The challenge is on to electrify everything on our homes to stop relying on the fossil fuels causing climate change. If you’re buying the solar option through your energy provider, then when you’re washing your clothes clean, your washing is REALLY clean (if you know what I mean ;)) No emissions in sight! I would also love to know the source for the washer and dryer.


hmmm…depends on where you live. here in Illinois most of our electricity is from coal burning plants, so natural gas appliances are much cleaner!

Alexandra Rose

Hi Kelly,

Thank you for clarifying! I meant that if you have the option to buy renewable energy, all of your electric appliances wouldn’t produce carbon when they are used. It’s important to know where your energy is coming from when you make the decision as every place is different. My parents live in Illinois and they are lucky enough to have the option to buy all of their energy from renewables. They are just North of Chicago, though, so maybe being close to a big city is the reason they have that option.


Velinda, I just popped back here to say try using some silastic underneath the faucet that won’t stop spinning/moving around. You’ll need to let it be absolutely still (read: unused) for 24 hours, but that should stop the spinning. You kinda glue it down with the silicon.
Unfortunately, this happened with our expensive Kohler bathroom sink faucet and that’s how we fixed it. It was due to poor plumbing installation, not the product itself so much, althouhh a part gave way since it wasn’t galvanized, but plain old steel.


Would love more info on the resources. Particularly the fridge (don’t see that on the list, so not sure brand or anything to look). I love a good galley kitchen! This is amazing on any budget!

Just added whatever was still available to the bottom of the post!


Great kitchen! Loved yesterday’s entry, too. Looking forward to tomorrow.

I’ve pretty much stopped reading this blog because I’m not interested in unlimited budgets.

This, however, seems like a nod to the content I used to enjoy here. I’d like to see more.


So impressive! And beautiful! I love everything you’ve done, here in the kitchen as well as what we’ve seen from the rest of your house so far. The tile above your stove is gorgeous, and I love that you kept that nook, so much character! I will say that the shelved glassware above your bar is giving this born and raised California woman a bit of earthquake panic lol, but it’s styled beautifully. Thank you for letting us into your home; your posts continue to be some of my favorites.

Vicki Williams

Would love to see actual sources for items as Emily usually does. Great reno. Totally good job! .


Velinda, this is so beautiful and a great use of space (giving me tons of ideas for my galley kitchen!). I have to know, though, do you actually like your renovations? I’m so so sorry if I’m reading your voice wrong, but with the spaces you’ve shared so far, it seems very “I did it this way, but only because I had to”. I think budget decisions can be the best and are absolutely relatable/aspirational! You’ve certainly got the eye to take ‘basic’ materials and turn it into something lovely. While I know you didn’t renovate your home for blog… Read more »

kim gorman

You made some excellent choices!! The kitchen is beautiful, timeless and fits the house perfectly. I love the countertops, can you share the color? Thanks!!

Hannah Gokie

I just wrote the exact same sentence about the cheap faucet we put into our kitchen renovation! It seems like a place you should be able to save some money on, but no! Ours has only been in for a year and the hose keeps getting *stuck* under the sink because it’s too flexible. Anyway, all that to say 1) this kitchen reno is incredible and lovely and very inspiring, and 2) don’t ever buy cheap faucets! (For anyone curious, and since I always troll the comments here for more bloggers doing DIY stuff, our kitchen reno is right here!… Read more »


What type of pot is that on your stove? It’s so sculptural; I love it!


I just saw it at Target! It’s the dutch oven from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen, $40.


It looks great, this is a very interesting post. thank you.


So so soooo gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing your reno, Velinda. It’s really nice to see something closer to my budget — and without compromising on style at all!


Wow! Not only am I impressed with all your hard work and staying under budget, but I feel like you killed it by using that space in the best and prettiest way! Great job, ladies!!! So good!


VERY inspiring! Thank you for sharing Velinda!


Beautiful, but where did you stash the microwave? we currently have the over the range version and we’re trying to figure out a new solution with our tiny kitchen and limited counter space


I love the white kitchen–it’s timeless IMHO. Also I love the tile behind the stove! These kinds of posts feel like old EHD and I’m VERY into it. And, judging by the 0 negative or judgemental comments, everyone else is, too! Bravo!


OMG, I love it! Your basement kitchen reno is probably my favorite post of all time on here, and this is a close second. And can I say that I L O V E that you did the pendants in a row instead of adding a bunch of can lights? It’s a personal quirk of mine that I absolutely cannot stand recessed lighting in old houses and cottage style houses. I love when people are creative with instead and use the lighting to make a statement, even– especially– in a small space!

Paula Carr

Me, too! I hate that “runway” look you can get with can lights.


The kitchen is glorious! I love every single thing about it! Including the floor, cabinets, range hood and countertops. What a great rug, too! The room has so much light and looks like a wonderful place to be.


I have a weird question. In the photo showing the shallow shelving with the jarred pasta and black cooking utensils, there are two grooved notches in the sidewall (one really long and one short). What is the function of those? I can’t figure out what it might be for and it’s bugging me, haha.

Love the renovation. It turned out beautifully and I’m impressed by all the blood, sweat and tears you put in (and all the real life information!) Thank you for sharing.


Love this (and yesterday’s!). Some of my favorite blog content in a while; thank you so much for sharing!

Would you please share the lengths you used for the cabinet hardware? The link goes to 3″, but how long are your loooooong ones? PS–would love a post about mixing cabinet hardware styles–how to decide which cabinets get vertical pulls, and which get t-knobs. Love your mix!


This is awesome! I’ve loved every post you’ve written, Velinda – starting with the awesome Mountain House Closet, and your basement kitchen is a DREAM.

One question – I’ve been eyeing that tall Summit fridge for a while now, but top of my must-haves for a fridge is QUIET. Have you noticed if your fridge is particularly noisy?



Love, love, love what you’ve done to your home. It looks spectacular. Loved the living room reveal yesterday, and the kitchen/laundry – just wow. Enjoy!


I’m even more impressed today than yesterday… didn’t think that was possible. We remodeled our kitchen for $15,000 but that was over 30 years ago … and that was considered really cheap at the time …cheap in price, not looks or function.

Double wow.


I’m so so impressed by this. It’s gorgeous and it’s giving me the push I need to take on my kitchen. Once question I have is how did you work out the layout and measurements for the cabinets etc. Did you use a an online tool like Ikeas or just good old pen and paper?


Velinda, what brand did you use for the cabinet hardware on Amazon? They are lovely so would like to use them in my house.


SO lovely. This is gorgeous and definitely does not read as “budget kitchen”! I also re-did our kitchen for about the same budget. I know it’s not an easy project to pull off and you nailed it. I also went with white cabinets and engineered quartz, and also regret my cheap kitchen faucet! Oh well, live and learn 🙂


Love this reno. Keep up the DIY content, pretty please!


What a SPECTACULAR transformation!! This is one of the best renovations I’ve ever seen! Well done!!! I too am a budget renovator of an old kooky house, so I am loving these posts. Thank you for sharing!!


My husband (then fiancee) and I renovated our kitchen in 2011-12 for about $10,000. We kept the stove and the floors, but everything else was new. We built the cabinets ourselves, which saved a lot of money. We also made our countertop out of concrete- that is probably where we saved the most. Your kitchen looks beautiful Velinda. Congrats!

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