You know that giant pile of money you’ve been sitting on that’s collecting dust, waiting to be put to use in your brand new kitchen?
Yeah, me neither.
The far more common scenario is this: 1) you have a vision for your kitchen remodel, and 2) you have limited time and money. That’s the situation my husband and I found ourselves in with our first renovation. And our second. And our third…
The reality is that all renovations are done within a budget. In my opinion, that’s one of the fun things about it! It forces us to get creative. This inevitably leads to this question:
“How much of this remodel can I do myself?”
The answer? You can DIY countless elements of your kitchen redesign. Often small, inexpensive DIY fixes can make a major impact on the aesthetic and functionality of your space.
The Perks of DIY Home Renovation Projects
I am a strong advocate for DIY (do it yourself) home renovation projects. When Matt and I took on our first kitchen remodel, we didn’t know much beyond painting walls and pinning stuff on Pinterest. It was incredibly satisfying to learn these skills and watch our vision come to life. We studied and researched ‘how to tile backsplash,’ and through the process of DIY-ing our kitchen backsplash, we found that this is one of the simpler projects. We’d never installed cabinets before, but with the help of our family and further YouTube research, we installed a 14’ run along with a section of uppers, without hiring help.
We also realized that the one skill we brought to the table prior to this first renovation- painting walls- was not to be dismissed. Paint makes a huge difference and is often a great place to start if you aren’t confident wielding power tools. Here’s a before and after of our hallways at Camp Miller. Creative paint lines, along with some simple additional trim pieces, completely changed the look of our cabin.
The accumulation of projects like these has saved us thousands of dollars in labor costs.
However, my advocacy for DIY comes with a stringent disclaimer. KNOW YOUR LIMITS. For example, I am not a structural engineer. Therefore, I do not take down walls without- at minimum- an inspection by someone qualified. Another example is in regards to electrical. Other than swapping light fixtures, I do not know how to do electrical work safely and up to code. Therefore, we always bring a licensed electrician into our home.
By knowing your limits, taking the time to research beforehand, and recruiting the help of willing friends and family, you can accomplish major changes in the aesthetic and functionality of your home. You will save money and you’ll feel a tremendous sense of pride when the work is finished.
My advocacy for DIY comes with a stringent disclaimer. KNOW YOUR LIMITS@diyhome.school
How to Know Which Projects to DIY
I like to consider four elements to any renovation idea. This is what I call a “pre-planning method” and it’s an essential part of any remodel. You can sketch this out on scratch paper, or use this one page PDF download I put together (request your copy below). I call it the “4 Square Method” and you’re welcome to try it!
1. How much time do you have?
As a mama with a full-time job in education and multiple side-hustles (Realtor, Airbnb Superhost, Design Consultant, and Blogger), this question is always the first one I consider. The simple equation for me looks like this:
2. What is your budget?
Head over to the DIY Home School Store for more resources regarding budget (don’t see them yet? They’re coming!)
I’ll be honest. I tend to go by “feel” and very rough numbers. But that is some risky business. You’ll want a clear picture of the costs involved, so you know which elements to scrap, shelve, DIY, or hire out.
The simple equation I use for budget is:
However… doing work for as cheap as possible is not always a positive. After renovating, your home needs to be safe, functional, and beautiful. Sometimes that means spending more in certain areas.
3. Which projects do you already know how to do?
Make a list of the pieces of the project you feel confident about. These are things you already know how to do, or you feel confident in learning. YouTube is still probably the greatest free resource for self-education, but it’s also unregulated. Make sure you watch a few tutorials on the same project before diving in yourself.
4. Which projects will you get help with?
Every other part of the project that didn’t make the “DIY” list in the previous step, throw it into this box. These are elements you either don’t have time to learn, you aren’t confident about, or simply you’d just rather not. That’s ok! While doing everything yourself can be the cheapest way to renovate, it can also be the slowest. Moving the needle forward often involves recruiting the right help.
Moving the needle forward- in any endeavor- often involves recruiting the right help.@diyhome.school
Examples of Quality DIY Projects: Kitchen Edition
To see a bit about our kitchen renovations, head over to my Camp Miller Kitchen Series. Or, try the following from our first home which we refer to as the Little River House:
- A Year’s Salary with One Flip
- Kitchen Backsplash on a Budget
- Installing Laminate Wood Floors
- DIY Kitchen Island for Under $100
I like to draw inspiration from lots of different places. Below are 16 stunning, creative, and economical DIY kitchen projects from other bloggers and designers. I’d love to know in the comments which ones spoke the loudest to you!
Refinishing existing kitchen cabinets. This is very similar to the process we used at Little River House. I’m a big believer that much of what is already in your home can be remade into something beautiful. This type of restoration is easier on the planet and your wallet!
Some of you may know my affinity for small houses. I love them. I love the coziness, the small footprint, and the economy. As a realtor, I also love their resiliency to market fluctuations.
Shavonda and her family downgraded to a small bungalow and this move ended up opening the floodgates to her creative design style. Her belief is, “Just because you live small it doesn’t mean you can’t have big bold style.” Here she features a small kitchen refresh. I love her color choice for the cabinets- and she painted the existing hardware, too!
In this post, Ashlee from Cherished Bliss shares her top tips for remodeling a kitchen, DIY style. I especially love her example of a design vision board. And don’t skip over the note about adding a 15% margin to your original budget.
This post is wonderfully helpful. Timisha of Toolbox Divas put together a list of the 10 tools you’ll need for home renovating. Not gonna lie, I’m still missing one or two of these, and my life is the poorer for it. At the end of the article, you’ll see helpful video tutorials on how to use the power tools.
Who doesn’t love a good IKEA hack? I’m a big fan of the minimalist look of this floating piece that Megan put together from IVAR cabinets. This is another tenant of frugal renovating- build off of what is existing or that can be cheaply purchased.
Also, how beautiful is her homestead?
Simple hack with a major impact: raise your existing cabinets for a much less 90’s builder-grade aesthetic. And if you need it, add an extra shelf below like Aimee did.
If you’re someone who needs to see the whole puzzle put together, this post is for you. Ashley takes us through an entire kitchen renovation, with simplified step-by-steps, video tutorials, and links to the products used. The end result is beautiful!
Ahhh, Young House Love. If you type “DIY” into google, their site is the first suggestion for you. This husband + wife team is legit. I love this post, which is an update of their small kitchen renovation and how they got very crafty with the small space. (Look out- another IKEA hack!)
My favorite tips from this article include the battery-light sconce and the window box view- improver!
How beautiful are these copper pendant lights?! Note: I typically hate pendant lighting. Something about where they hang, breaking up the sight line between me and the people I love who tend to gather in the kitchen. However, I will take back these sentiments in regard to this example.
You may have seen this DIY range hood cover all over Pinterest. It’s a fairly simple DIY with huge aesthetic impact, and this particular post is a helpful tutorial. Let’s also give a round of applause for Kristy’s use of the Kreg jig (#goals).
If you love Nina’s guide to this build-your-own kitchen island, you should see her Instagram (gorgeous). And what’s more impressive, is that they scored the exact dimensions of their marble counter through Craigslist for $200.
I’m telling you, it pays to obsessively stalk salvage and resale sites. That’s how I found a 10’ run of old bakery cabinets that served as our kitchen Island!
Cassie’s custom built island is a fantastic example of what I lovingly refer to as, “No-Wait-I-Changed-My-Mind” design. This is actually my design style of choice! (Sorry dear husband). Read how the original vision for the island just didn’t have the functionality. No problem. When the plan doesn’t go as planned, go ahead and have a different plan. Or something less wordy.
To see my DIY kitchen island from our Little River House, read this. It cost less than $100 to build.
Olivia’s story is a very relatable tale of quarantine: she decided to finally redesign her kitchen, DIY style, on a shoestring budget. Check out the before and after! This was achieved with a total cost of $325. Well done!
Ericka’s blog is simply inspiring. Her home has that wonderful 1980’s vibe (hint: they’re renovating everything), and in this post she shares the projects in the kitchen that gave the biggest bang-for-buck. Milk paint and a floating luxury vinyl tile floor are two examples.
I absolutely love Kori’s farmhouse (I might stalk her Instagram account, it’s fine). In this article, she shows how to use base stock cabinets from Home Depot to create built-in cabinetry. While this tutorial is for her living room, we used the same tactic at our Little River House.
Which of the above DIY kitchen renovation projects inspired you most? Comment below!
Do you have a clever kitchen hack? I’d love to hear more!
Look for parts two and three in the Camp Miller Kitchen Series, coming soon. I will be sharing relevant tutorials, a breakdown of the tools used and skills needed, a deeper dive into my design choices, as well as a Q&A from readers.
Which reminds me… what questions do you have? Write them below in the comments or find me on Instagram. You can also join my Facebook group “How to DIY Your Home Renovation” where together we are cultivating a community dedicated to answering each other’s questions and sharing our proudest moments as DIY-ers.
Have you joined my email list yet? Please do! This is DIY Home School’s most sacred space.
Thanks for reading and good luck DIY-ing!