How we transformed our kitchen on a budget.

AD – (This post contains links to products that have either been gifted or offered at a discount as part of an unpaid partnership.)

The very first blog post I ever wrote was all about how I intended to make the most of the kitchen that was here when we moved in by making a few simple tweaks to make it our own….. (you can read it here if you’d like a laugh!) as you might have guessed from the title of this post that isn’t what we actually ended up doing so I’m here to tell you how we went from a ‘few tweaks’ to a full kitchen makeover without even changing a cupboard door!

We couldn’t afford a brand new kitchen so I had put many hours into researching how to paint laminate kitchen cupboards but was too afraid to actually go through with it in fear it would look, well, rubbish! I then looked into replacing all the doors but struggled to find the right size to fit the units we had so the dream dwindled and weeks turned into months which turned into years of us living with a #shitchen.

How things looked before….

That all changed when I saw a post on Instagram by the lovely @whiteandwooddecor of her DIY kitchen makeover and how she’d transformed her dated beech units into two tone shaker cabinets of dreams with no more than some MDF and a tube of no more nails! So inspired by her idea, and after she very kindly answered the 5000 questions I DM’d her, the wheels to transform my own kitchen were quickly set back into motion.

The thing was, despite my grand ideas this project still needed to be completed on a budget which basically meant we had to do as much of the work ourselves to keep costs down, or that was the intention anyway, it didn’t quite end up that way but I will explain all as I go along.

So, here is what we did


The transformation of these units is probably our single biggest DIY achievement in this house! I know that is a bold statement but if I told you these are the same cupboard doors as you see in the before pictures would you believe me?! Well cross my heart they are! You can read Vanessa’s blog post on how to create these shaker style doors here but in short we stuck 7mm plywood strips to the door fronts with a strong adhesive then once dry primed them with Zinnser Bullseye 123 primer. We then used a Farrow and Ball dark tones undercoat on the lower units before giving all the units (including the inside of the doors) three good tops coats of Farrow and Ball Modern Emulsion in Railings and Wimborne White. Finally we replaced the handles with aged antique brass pulls on the doors and cup pulls on the drawers.

Farrow and Ball Railings and Wimborne White


I’ve always wanted butchers block style worktops despite people warning me they were quite high maintenance so it didn’t take me long at all to choose the solid oak worktops from Worktop Express. Everything can be ordered online and they also offer a bespoke cutting service so all the worktops can be delivered ready for fitting. The pre cutting didn’t quite work out for us as we live in a Victorian house with very wonky walls and the service works on the assumption you have perfect 90 degree angles!

Due to said wonky walls fitting the worktops wasn’t quite as straight forward as we hoped, in fact we spent a whole evening just staring at the gaps between the worktops and walls wondering how we were ever going to make them fit! In the end we did employ a local carpenter to fit these for us to save our sanity then we protected them a few coats of Osmo top oil.


Our kitchen is north facing and quite frankly dull 90% of the year so I knew I wanted to keep the tiles white in order to bounce light off the walls. When we moved in there was very uneven blue mosaic tiles just underneath the wall units which I quickly painted white as a stop gap. These were chipped off by Mr T which left the walls in a pretty poor state so we did have them skimmed by a plasterer ready for our shiny matrix white subway tiles from Topps Tiles. We initially intended on tiling ourselves and borrowed all the tools we needed from my Dad but due to a number of factors including lack of time and Christmas fast approaching we ended up paying a tiler to do it and it only took him a day!

Oh how I deliberated over how to have the tiles laid and even put it out to a Instagram poll, I loved the herringbone style, I also liked a vertical stacked style but in the end we went for a standard brick layout. Do I regret this?, maybe just a little, but I still love the finished result and taking the tiles right up to the ceiling has made the room look and feel so much bigger.

Open Shelving

Our kitchen is small. We have eight cupboards and one drawer….yes one drawer…in fact I told Mr T the other night the next house we buy has to have significantly more than one drawer or I’m not buying it! So removing all the wall units in favour of open shelves was not an option. I knew I wanted to get them in somewhere though so we removed a double wall unit that was on the opposite wall to all the others and replaced them with four scaffold board shelves which we made ourselves (DIY blog post on how coming soon). I love how they open up the room so much and allow extra light to flow through plus they give me endless hours of styling opportunities!

Fixtures and Fittings

We didn’t replace any of the appliances, there was no need to as the layout was remaining the same, so the oven, gas hob, extractor hood, washing machine, dishwasher and fridge are all as they were.

We did replace the stainless steel sink with a white ceramic one (another giddy moment for me after pouring over Instagram and Pinterest for hours!) and we fitted a new tap from Bristan called The Liquorice which is fab for watering plants as it has a flexible hose, others might say this is useful for washing dishes or cleaning the sink, which it is too of course!

The original light fitting was replaced with a industrial style pendant light from litecraft which made the room feel so much more sleek and modern. This was fitted by an electrician who happens to be my brother so didn’t cost us anything other than a cup of coffee and a cheese and pickle sandwich!

Finally we got a plumber in to replace the radiator with a white traditional column style radiator from I absolutely love this style of radiator and I’m slowly replacing all the radiators in the house with them! They look great, are superb quality and are a fraction of the price of traditional cast iron radiators.

Traditional Column Radiator


When it came to decorating I decided to strip the walls of the lining paper the previous owner had put up (oh how he loved lining paper….) but unfortunately after borrowing a steam stripper from a friend the steam not only stripped the wallpaper but it also stripped massive chunks of the plaster off too so we had to get our trusty plasterer in to skim all the walls….another expense we weren’t expecting. Once done we decided to kept the walls white, again to keep the space light due to the lack of natural light and we used Earthborne Lifestyle Emulsion in white which is fully scrubbable and moisture resistant which is perfect in the kitchen. Last but not least we are just about to paint the inside of the back door in sulking room pink again by Farrow and Ball because well basically I wanted to get some pink in somewhere!!

The (almost) finished article

What it cost……

  • Cabinets – £30 (MDF and No more nails)
  • Paint* – £166
  • Handles – £44
  • Worktops* – £345 (without bespoke cutting)
  • Metro Tiles* – £23 per sqm
  • Ceramic sink – £230
  • Mixer Tap* – £149
  • Column Radiator* – £234
  • Scaffold Shelves and brackets – £38
  • Pendant light* – £149
  • Labour – £680
  • Sundries (grout, adhesive etc) – £100

TOTAL – £2257

So that’s it, a whistle stop tour of our budget kitchen makeover. I haven’t gone into lots of detail in this post as you’d be here forever but I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have (like Vanessa did with me!) just leave me a comment below! Thank you for reading.

Jen x


*These items were either gifted or offered at a discount as part of a unpaid partnership.

I will only ever work with companies that I would genuinely be happy to recommend and use products I would buy myself.


  1. Jen
    February 3, 2019 / 7:41 am

    This makes me feel a bit sick when I think what we just spent on our new Wickes kitchen! But I would love to know how you did your own scaffold shelves. I mean I have an idea but was about to buy a bespoke made one on Etsy for £75? Maybe not worth it? Thanks!

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 3, 2019 / 8:08 pm

      Hi Jen, I’m sure your new kitchen look fabulous and don’t get me wrong if we could justify a lovely new kitchen we definitely would have gone for it!
      The shelves are so easy. I promise to write a quick blog post for next week but I definitely wouldn’t be spending £75 a shelf! We were charged £1 per foot of board so only £18 for 3 6ft boards!
      Jen xx

  2. Carrie
    February 3, 2019 / 7:48 am

    Hi Jen,
    Wow! This is so impressive! I’ve been following you on IG for a while so so nice to have the back story to your projects in a blog.

    Can you share where you sourced your sink from?

    Thanks so much and congratulations on another fantastic transformation x

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 3, 2019 / 8:05 pm

      Hi Carrie, thank you for your lovely message and thanks for coming over from IG! The sink is from TapsUK and is by Villroy Boch (I think that’s how you spell it!) ours is only a small space for the sink so this was one of the smallest I could find.
      Jen xx

  3. Linda
    February 3, 2019 / 7:53 am

    What a transformation, great makeover. Love the colour 😍

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 3, 2019 / 8:03 pm

      Thank you so much Linda xx

  4. Helen
    February 3, 2019 / 8:19 am

    Such an amazing transformation! Like you, I have desperately wanted to transform our kitchen on a budget for a couple of years now. I’ve been doing my research about paints etc, but the worktops are my most hated part of the room. When you replace the worktops, you say you had a carpenter to help you fit them. We have a gas hob like you, do I need to get someone who is gas registered? As I guess the hob needs to come out while the job is done?

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 3, 2019 / 8:03 pm

      Hello! Thank you for your message. Yes definitely get a gas registered engineer to remove the hob and then reconnect after. We toyed with doing it ourselves but then my Dad scared the pants off me with what could go wrong so we paid £100 to have it done properly.
      Jen xx

  5. February 3, 2019 / 8:32 am

    Oh my stars, I’m so excited by your post!! The transformation of your kitchen is incredible 😍 😍 I love what you’ve done and all the materials you’ve used and I am super excited that you’ve found a solution to painting manky kitchen cabinets.

    I have a rental home (long term -fingers crossed-) that has very cheap wrapped shaker cabinets that the previous tenants have attempted to paint (in part) and abandoned all hope halfway through. So I’ve got orange beech cabinets and pukey green (not the gorgeous sage green that shakers look amazing in) and streaky plinths.

    Even tho it’s a rental house, we are allowed to decorate (to a “professional standard”) and as I’m a kitchen designer by profession, the shitty kitchen is my biggest issue with the house. So far, I’ve been dubious about spending time and money on a project that may fail but now I’ve found your post my hope has been tickled!!

    How have you found the paint has worn at all after a while of using the kitchen?? Did you apply it by brush, roller or spray?? Did you find the laminate parts more of a struggle than the timber frames you adhered onto the doors?

    Really hope you don’t mind my rambling comment and all the questions!!!

    Yours hopefully,

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 3, 2019 / 8:01 pm

      Hi Kim! Thank you for your message!! So far *touch wood* the paint is as perfect as it was the day we finished them. The plinths got a little bashed up when we put the oven back in but they touched up really well and you can’t see it now. I used a foam roller, plenty of paint and the laminate actually covered more evenly than the wood! We useda good primer so it was just like painting on to a new surface. Hope that helps!
      Jen xx

  6. Natalie Johnston
    February 3, 2019 / 9:16 am

    This looks fantastic! Well done on this and thank you for posting your costs.
    We are looking at revamping our kitchen this year but will probably keep the current cream Ikea kitchen the house came with as it is pretty modern (would love a Shaker kitchen one day!)

    Did you split the cost of labour from the cost of the worktops and tiling? That’s what we would be getting done to change it up you see.

    Have to say I absolutely love the coffee and tea station on the shelf it looks fab!

    Job well done for sure 👌🏽

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 3, 2019 / 7:57 pm

      Hi Natalie, thank you for your message!! Yes the cost of labour is additional to the cost of materials if that makes sense! The tiler charged us £200 and the carpenter charged us £100 (although that was cheap so expect to pay a little more)
      Good luck with your revamp.
      Jen xx

  7. Danielle
    February 3, 2019 / 12:10 pm

    Hi Jen,

    Love the renovation and it’s really got me inspired to do my tiles and worktops too. Your sink position looks just like mine- right underneath a big window with little gap between the back sink edge and a low ledge at the bottom of the window. I’m just wondering how you’ve finished that gap- is it tiles, worktop edge of just nothing? My issue with the space in my kitchen is that our sink is a bit shallow and it winds up soaked. I’d like to really limit the tiles altogether so was planning on just painting


    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 3, 2019 / 7:54 pm

      Hi Danielle, thanks for your message. We only have a very small gap between the worktops and the window ledge, about 10mm so too small to tile, at the moment we have nothing put you can really feel the cold from the outside wall so I think we’ll run a bead of silicone along it just to stop water going doing the back too.
      Hope that helps!
      Jen xx

  8. Cassie
    February 4, 2019 / 2:30 pm

    Hi Jen, Love the kitchen! Really well done.

    We have a similar set up to your before kitchen and I hate it. When doing the shaker style bits of ply to add to the doors did you just buy the ply from say b&q and get them to cut it to size or cut it yourself. I feel like this would be the most basic of bits that I would mess up. Seriously.

    Thanks so much for this post. It’s inspired me!

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 5, 2019 / 2:54 pm

      Hi Cassie! Thank you for your message. Yes I bought a big board of 5mm plywood from B&Q and they cut it into long strips 7cm wide then we had to cut them into the shorter lengths depending on the size of the cupboard door – does that make sense? xx

      • Cassie
        February 14, 2019 / 9:04 pm

        Amazing. Thank you.

        And did you have to use special cupboard paint or just standard F&B? I can’t stretch to F&B so was going to do a colour match with a cheaper paint but wonder if it had to be a special cupboard paint or would it work if I bought a decent primer?

        • thehousethatjenbuilt
          February 20, 2019 / 1:44 pm

          As long as you use a decent primer (we used Zinsser 123) you can use any eggshell paint you want it doesn’t have to be special cupboard paint x

  9. Tam
    February 4, 2019 / 2:54 pm

    Love your work Jen 😚

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 5, 2019 / 2:51 pm

      Thank you Tam!! xx

  10. Lauren Thomas
    February 6, 2019 / 6:56 am

    Hello. Love this we’re doing something very similar right now. Where did you get your handles from may I ask xx

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 6, 2019 / 9:43 pm

      Hello! They are from more handles. Good luck with your project! X

  11. February 6, 2019 / 11:31 am

    Super! Love the look – and happy I stumbled upon your Instagram account and post about it. I’m inspired- and passing this on to the hubby to inspire him too. We can do it! (I hope)

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      February 6, 2019 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you and if we can do it so can you! We’re no expert DIY’ers we just took our time. Good luck! x

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