Weeknd Project: Low-Budget Kitchen Renovation

Low-Budget Kitchen Remodel

New kitchen on a budget. An easy make-over in a weekend brightens up a gloomy kitchen.

I’ve been talking about renovating our kitchen for years but I suffer from a problem that I’m sure many young homeowners face. Lack of funds. And because I can’t afford to tackle a huge kitchen remodel I’ve avoid even them most basic upgrades.

I don’t know if it is the cold weather, the night-time mice problem, or the downtime on my holiday vacation, but this past week I decided it was finally time to make a few kitchen upgrades.

The beauty of the projects I took on is that they make a big difference without breaking the bank.  I have access to a woodshop, which made all of these upgrades doable, but only spent about $300 on supplies.

1. Beadboard Wainscoting with chair rail and baseboard: After removing a bank of cabinets along the wall below the window I applied beadboard panels with a decorative chair rail and wide baseboard. Learn how to apply wainscot panels and trim in our previous post. Materials: 1/4 Masonite beadboard. 20 linear feet of 8-in. wide poplar. One tube Liquid Nails. One tube silicon latex caulking. Cost: $80.

2. Hanging Wall Cabinet: In less than three hours I built a simple hanging wall cabinet with shelves for mugs, cups, glasses and vases. I have yet to make the glass-paned doors so I added those with Photoshop. Materials: Half sheet 3/4-in. birch plywood. Half sheet 1/4 in. birch plywood. 12 linear feet 4 in. wide poplar. Cost: $80

3. Rolling Kitchen Island: I reassembled the bank of cabinets that I removed from the wall into a kitchen island. Five casters screwed to the underside allow it to roll around to accommodate the ever changing layout of our small house. Materials: Recycled base cabinets. 10 linear feet 4 in. wide poplar. Half sheet 1/4 in. birch plywood Cost: $25

4. Laminate Island Countertop: A friend of mine turned me on to soapstone countertops because they’re great for high-end DIY work. Soapstone can be cut an shaped with standard woodworking tools like routers and jig saws. That would have been an ambitious project so instead I picked up a sheet of MDF and countertop laminate at Lowes and cut, shaped, and laminated  a shapely countertop. I’ll be applying an edge veneer next week. One sheet 3/4 in. MDF. One sheet laminate countertop. Cost: $100

Next up… I’ll be extending the beadboard frame and panel theme into the kitchen over the next few weeks. Stay tuned…

It’s ‘Wainscot’ not ‘Wainscoat’… and How To Install It


Our bathroom got a makeover over the past few weeks thanks to the heroic painting efforts of misses weekndr and my own do-it-yourself inspiration.

We installed wainscoting in our bathroom and used the opportunity to choose a new paint color, one that “complements our skin tones” as the wife notes, and lightens up the place. Before I get into it, let me ask: is wainscoting the most controversially mispronounced word in the home improvement dictionary? While it does technically coat the walls, it’s not pronounced that way! Take a listen if you don’t believe me.

wainscot-4Why Use Wainscot?
The wainscoting solved a few problems for us. First, there was a rotted area around the trim where the wall meets the bathtub shower insert, which needed to be ripped out and replaced. Second, I’m not so good with drywall seams, especially when patching a small section of a painted wall, so instead of sweating over the details, I covered up my drywall patch with 1/8-in. thick masonite beadboard, purchased at Lowes as a 4×8 sheet.

wainscot-5How to install it
The first step after the drywall is complete is to attach square baseboard trim to the wall. I used 4-in.-wide maple trim. Next,  cut the beadboard panels into strips (I cut the panels in thirds making each 32-in. tall) and adhere the panels to the wall with liquid nails. A few shots from the pneumatic nailer will hold them in place as the liquid nails dries.

To conceal any gaps that might appear between the baseboard trim and beadboard due to inconsistencies in the plumb and level of the floor or wall, attach a decorative quarter-round trim over that corner joint. This also adds some additional flair to the baseboard trim.

Finally, I nailed a molded chair rail along the top edge. I butted the trim right up against the beadboard and sealed the joint with silicon puddy. You can also overlap the trim if you need to conceal major gaps along the joint top (as seen in photo) or go one step further and cut a rabbet along the edge of the chair rail that hangs over the beadboard.

crown complete

wainscot-2You don’t have to be extremely precise with the miter joints and transitions. As the old saying goes, ‘without puddy, paint, and glue, what would a poor carpenter do?” With that advice in mind, fill all the nail holes, seams, and edges with a latex or silicon caulking and sand smooth. Then apply a coat of primer and a few coats of top coat paint, and Voila!