Complete Frugal Kitchen Makeover for Less Than $500

Looking to discover how you too can makeover your kitchen on a crazy low budget? Here’s our frugal kitchen makeover for one of our previous homes!Don't believe that you can makeover your entire kitchen on a budget? This will show you how's it possible to completely revamp your kitchen for less! #farmhousekitchen #kitchenremodel #designonadime #kitchenrenovation #kitchenmakeover #cheapkitchenremodel #inexpensivekitchen

Frugal Kitchen Makeover

If you’ve been following Little House Living in our Facebook group or on my Instagram page, you already know that we moved from our RV and into a home again a while back. We had high hopes for doing fulltime RV living again but unfortunately had to move out after only 6 months of traveling due to some medical needs of our children. We are sad to have to leave that lifestyle behind, but we know that it’s for the best at this time and it doesn’t mean that we can’t revisit the idea sometime down the road.

But boy, did we have a surprise in store for us! Not long after we made the decision to stop traveling (we were in Oregon at the time), we got a call from my parent’s neighbors. My parents just have one close neighbor that lives in the house that I grew up in (my parents now live in the house that my grandparents owned when I was growing up). Anyway, they called us and said they were planning on moving and would we be interested in buying their home? You’d have thought this would be an easy yes for us and in some ways it was. To raise our children next door to grandma and grandpa and let them have the run of almost 80 shared acres?

Our hangup was that the house was a mobile home. We did not want to purchase a mobile home (or any home for that matter) because we wanted to build. However, this mobile home was well built as far as mobile homes go (surprising right?!) and we knew that we would be able to sell and move the home off the land when we are ready to build if everything works out that way. So we bought the house (which came in well under our budget thanks to it being a cheaper home!) and we worked on fixing it up to make it homey and liveable.

We ended up selling the home after a year because our family has gone into full time missionary work in another state but we LOVED what we did to the home to fix it up and the family that bought it loved all the upgrades also.

Life is always an adventure and though it’s easy to get hung up on how we wish things would go, it’s better just to go with the flow and enjoy the direction that life takes us in.

Now that we’ve gotten the backstory out of the way, I’m excited to share with you, pictures of our kitchen makeover! Since becoming debt free a few years ago we are determined to stay that way and to live as frugal of a life as possible while we save up the cash for our next goals. Keeping that in mind, we wanted to be able to redo this house to fit our family but stay on a very tight budget.

So….the kitchen in this house was NOT pretty.

Nope, not pretty. Nice and big, yes. Typical mobile home kitchen, yes. Potential? Yes!

We did not choose to make any major changes with this kitchen as far as removing appliances, changing out the sink, ripping out cabinets, etc. We chose to leave as many things in place as possible and use whatever we could in the makeover.

This means all the cabinets and the appliances stayed. We did replace the hood vent over the stove (it was disgusting) and put new trim around the windows, that’s it! It’s possible that we will replace the lighting sometime down the road as it’s rather small for the kitchen but at the moment it works, so it’s staying.

We began by priming the cabinets. We bought a cabinet painting kit but felt that things would stick better if we primed everything first. For this, we used Valspar Bonding Primer. It worked very well. It was a very thick, glue-like substance.

We removed all of the drawers and cabinets doors and painted them with primer. We saved all of the cabinet hinges but tossed all of the pulls, they were in bad shape.

Once the cabinet priming was done, we started the base coat of the countertop. For the countertops, we used Giani Granite Countertop Kit in Sicilian Sand. The basecoat for this color is black and we did not use a primer before painting the countertops. We let the primer on the cabinets and the countertop black base coat dry overnight before moving on.

On the second day, we also began painting the countertop with the colors from the Giani Kit. I let my hubby do this as he’s a little more of an artist than I am. πŸ™‚ There were 3 different colors in the kit that you sponged on at the same time.

It really didn’t look like much as it was going on!

We also began painting the cabinets with the color that we chose. We used the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Dark Kit in Seaside. Since we used primer we did not use the de-glosser that the kit came with but started right in on the color. It took 2 coats (and a little touch up) to cover all of the cabinets.

After letting all of this dry another day, we finally applied the topcoat on the cabinets from the Rustoleum Kit. We also applied 3 coats of the glaze on the countertops from the Giani Kit (letting it dry well between each coat).

When everything was finished with the cabinets and the countertops, we painted over the green wall that was in the kitchen with Valspar Simplicity Clay Angel colored paint. It took 3 coats to completely cover the green.

Kitchen Cabinets

I did not paint the inside of the cabinets. Instead, IΒ  covered the shelves with an adhesive Contact Paper. (They do sell it on Amazon but I picked it up for much less at Menards.) Most of the shelves were stained and in rough shape so this really cleaned them up.

We also chose to do a tile backsplash just for ease of cleaning and to take the kitchen up another level. I picked out some bisque colored small subway tiles from Menards and a similar colored grout.

Cabinet Pulls

After this was all finished, we put the cabinets back together using the hinges that we had saved. I ordered these Drawer Pulls in Warm Chestnut (which matched the faded brass of the hinges pretty well) from Amazon.

Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover

We also replaced the 2 small cabinet doors that had gold glass in them. (So not my thing!) We had a ceiling tile leftover from a previous remodel and we broke the glass out of the doors. Then we cut the tin tile to fit in the doors over the oven. You can also see the replaced vent hood here. Although it added quite a bit to our makeover budget, it was worth it. The other one was really gross.

So finally, our frugal kitchen remodel…..

Kitchen Before


Frugal Kitchen Makeover


Here is an exact breakdown of our total to complete this kitchen makeover on a budget:

Countertop Kit – $79
Cabinet Kit – $28 (clearance at Lowes)
Paint – $25
Primer – $24
Drawer Pulls – $99.95 (and we have some leftover)
Vent Hood – $89
Tile & Grout – $108
Light Switch Covers – $5
Window Trim – $17
Contact Paper – $5.99

Total = $480.94

Products Used:

Kitchen Makeover on a Budget

I love how the kitchen turned out. So completely different than the one it was before…the kitchen I grew up with! Now it fits our style and looks nice and updated not only for us but for those who bought it from us later. All done on one crazy low budget, a $500 kitchen makeover! A little paint can go a long way!

—Need more DIY and renovations? Take a walk down memory lane and read the posts on our Farmhouse Renovation from a few years ago.

Have you ever done a frugal kitchen makeover? How did you save?

Frugal Kitchen Makeover for Less Than $500

This Frugal Kitchen Makeover was originally published on Little House Living in October 2018. It has been updated as of October 2019.

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  1. What an awesome transformation and those counter tops look sweet! Looks like you went from the late 80’s to present day – awesome job!

    We currently live in an RV while we finish out our Tiny House. We’re empty nesters so I’m here to share you can definitely revisit a simpler lifestyle later. It’s good for kids to have roots.


  2. Wow! Great ideas for a kitchen makeover. We redid ours three years ago, after our children were grown. We had old counter-top that was popping up, not just stained. We had to replace it. We kept all appliances in same place, but chose a small additional refrigerator instead of a dishwasher. Many people are not aware that the steam generated by a dishwasher ruins lower cabinets after a while. We chose a much deeper stainless sink with faucet that was higher than old one. Much better for washing dishes easily.
    The most interesting thing is that the company that made our custom cabinets when the house was brand new in 1972, remade our destroyed lower cabinets in 100 % wood to match our old uppers. All cabinets were then repainted in a light colored industrial quality powder coat epoxy paint. We had to put in a new floor. We chose a very hard-wearing tile floor in a shade that co-ordinates with counter-top and hardwood floor next to it. Kitchen is right off of the garage and porch. We chose a darker color for it, for that reason. Not regretting that decision.

    1. I love your idea for a small fridge instead of the dishwasher. I don’t use a dishwasher so the one in this kitchen will just be hanging out. Maybe if we stay here long enough I will change it out with something functional for us!

  3. Well done!
    I live in a Manufactured Home and my kitchen is very tiny.
    I would love to redo the whole thing. On a small budget of course like you and your husband have done.

  4. Those cabinets look soooo nice! And I love that your kitchen has white appliances (ours has stainless steel ?). We’ve been in our house since March and we still have not painted our ugly oak cabinets. Will look into the kit you used, for sure. Glad to see you’re settling in.

    1. Thank you! Yes, we kept all the white appliances that were here. They aren’t new but they are functioning and that will work perfectly for now πŸ™‚ I’m not a big fan of stainless steel either, especially when there are little sticky fingers around. πŸ™‚

    2. I don’t know why there is so much negativity toward a mobile home when you live in an rv. Mobile homes have to be extra strong structurally to be able to be moved. They can be very large and spacious. They just have a lot of stigma attached!

      1. I agree about mobile homes. I live in one and love it. It is a single wide and I down sized one of my sister’s lived in one for 40 years. Most are not moved. Love your make over.

  5. Wow! Y’all did a beautiful job. I get nervous thinking about doing it by myself, but you have given me lots to think about. Enjoy your beautiful kitchen!

    1. I found those at Ikea a few years ago (not sure if they still have them). I plan on planting some herbs in them as soon as I uncover where I packed my seeds πŸ™‚

  6. Gorgeous! You guys did a great job, and for so little money, that’s so impressive!!! Although I had to laugh- your before kitchen is prettier than my now kitchen! Mine is extremely dated (and, um, falling apart in multiple places) and is in desperate need of a complete overhaul, but it’s unlikely to be changed…maybe ever, if I’m being honest, unless I figure out how to do the entire thing myself. Maybe after my daughter goes to school full time… We’ll see. πŸ˜‰ Seriously beautiful work on the kitchen, and welcome home! πŸ™‚

    1. Haha yes, I know the before kitchen could have been worse, although I forgot to photograph some of the rough areas like the stains on the counters and the crumbling interiors of the cabinets (which I covered with the contact paper). It’s really not hard to do something like this, just takes a bit of vision and some determination πŸ™‚

  7. Wow Merissa!
    That is a beautiful makeover! Did you use that countertop kit right over regular laminate counters?

      1. How do you like the countertops now that you’ve lived with them awhile? I’m considering doing that too but was concerned with the finish not lasting long

        1. We still love them! They are easier to get scratches in of course, although if we decide to reglaze them with poly that would take care of that. They are not flaking or chipping though. THey still look new!

  8. I have white lacquer cabinets in my kitchen that I love but after nearly 20 years they either need to be replaced or redone. I wonder if the stuff you used on them would work on the shiny cabinets? It would really be a lot cheaper. Was it easy to use? Did it go on smooth or was it hard to apply? Did it stink?

    1. I think you could paint over just about anything if you use a good primer. The primer we used was recommended by a store employee when we bought our cabinet paint and we were really happy with it, it was very thick, like glue. The primer was a little smelly (I opened windows and ran a large air purifier for several days), the paint itself was not really that smelly.

  9. Looks Great!!!!Such inspiration for those same old same old same old kitchens!! You guys always do such neat work!! Sorry to hear you had to come off the road, but it looks like God keeps taking care of things anyway!!

  10. I can’t believe how much that brightens up the room. Y’all did a fantastic job and it looks amazing!

  11. What a beautiful job! And for such a great price! I cannot imagine when you come up with the time to do this! It is a much bigger undertaking than you made it look! Well done!

    1. Thank you! And haha…we took about a week and seriously powered through this makeover. I needed a kitchen so I wanted it done! It was some long days but it was worth getting it finished πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! No, we did not have to sand the cabinets before painting, the primer was super thick, like glue, and it stuck to even the glossiest surfaces.

  12. Good job guys!!! It looks AMAZING and you did so great. That’s wonderful you were about to salvage the old cabinets and just paint them! Way to be frugal ;). I wish we were able to salvage our cabinets and do something like that when we did our kitchen remodel, but ours were in baaaaaad condition and not salvageable. Once again good job!! Oh and also, 80 acres of land.. girl! Amazing! How fun!!

    1. Thank you! And oh I totally understand, we replaced the cabinets in our last 2 homes. The last home we just took them out and used them elsewhere (really poor setup) and the home before that they were literally falling apart and covered in animal feces.

  13. That is one of the best kitchen makee overs for that amount, I have seen in years. Congradulations and enjoy! We truly are so happy for you and your family.

  14. I am so happy for you. You and your husband are so talented. I love being part of your journey that you share. I am not able to live simply, because of having a brain tumor removed and it is hard for me to do things. I get tired easy. So I rely on a lot of things prepared..
    . I love the kitchen and it looks so bright and clean.. I am looking forward to more posts.
    God Bless you and your family.

  15. Excellent makeover at any price! Lots of hard work went into painting, I’m sure…but looks absolutely great and so much brighter! Great job!

  16. Merissa I am completely gob-smacked! It looks amazing. Just showed my hubby what you did with the work tops, we don’t have anything like that over here but so super effective. You two deserve everything good you work so hard to achieve what you want, awesome job!

    1. Thank you Julie! You might be able to do something similar on the countertops with the kit. You probably could do some kind of primer, a base coat, and paint as desired with an epoxy finish. (If you can get those things where you are πŸ™‚ )

  17. Congratulations on your “new” home. Your kitchen looks so fresh and airy! It must seem huge after the RV. We are considering downsizing and in one of your posts, you mentioned removing games from boxes and music from cases. I owe you a HUGE thank you for that morsel. It was something I had not considered. I’ve let go of most of our games but the one or two remaining, now take a fraction of the space. Also, I am purging my CD collection, have purchased a CD book and will be putting the keepers in there (Not quite finished with the decision making process – but close.) The sheer volume that will be leaving is amazing. I know life throws us curve balls. I’m not sure what is in store for us, but wanted to say “Thank you,” and wish you and your family many blessings.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it does feel really big right now, I’m sure that feeling will take a while to go away. I’m enjoying a bit of “breathing space” though, especially as we are indoors more for the colder weather. I’m so glad that you found those tips useful! We did that so many years ago and I’ve never regretted it. Books, movies, music, games, are all fun but take up so much space with “packaging”.

  18. I’m amazed and gasping! Thank you for sharing this and giving others hope that they can give things an update for a small cost.

    1. I hope so too! Enjoying our space is important and hopefully this will inspire others to make the changes they’ve been wanting to do…for a fraction of the cost they think it might be.

  19. I love your updating. I need to do mine which is very small but is a single wide. It is the perfect size for me and my cat. I hope mine looks as good as yours when it is done. Blessings.

    1. Thank you Frances, and good luck with your makeover! It’s really quite easy to make it look nice and bright, this was not a difficult makeover πŸ™‚

  20. Wow what a beautiful kitchen. And so BIG too. You have done an amazing job. My kitchen is about quarter the size of yours (I live in a typical tiny house here in the South Wales valleys) and so very very run down. We can’t afford a new kitchen and your post has given me a lot of inspiration for doing our kitchen up and making it look good as new again. Thank you.

  21. Looks wonderful! I am going to be painting my “great room” and starting to take things down and get ready for it. It’s almost like moving!!! A great time to declutter and get organized if I can work up the energy to get this all done in the next couple of weeks! Love your blog!

  22. Such an inspiring post – you proved that you don’t to have a huge budget to spruce up your space!

    Best wishes in this new chapter.

  23. I’m going to be on the lookout for that Valspar Bonding Primer. The cabinets in my 815+ sq ft double wide ’79 mobile home are definitely not in good shape and that primer could help. When I had the home inspection done (a little over 3-1/2 years ago) I found out that there was a recall on the dishwasher — which they were still using. And it did some damage on the cabinets near it. Don’t know if the primer will even things out, but it’s worth a try.
    Congratulations on a job well done! Your guardian angels are apparently experts in remodeling! πŸ™‚

  24. The kitchen is beautiful. Great job! I love following your blog. I have learned to love the home I’m in and have been making inexpensive changes to suit our needs and likes. Following your advice and simplifying has made cleaning and maintaining our home so much easier. We used to think that we would find the right spot and build our β€œdream” home. It’s the American dream, right? We changed our dream. We are living in a double wide mobile home that we have been renovating and the land it sits on his finally paid for. We have one loan to pay off and we will be debt free. Taxes are so much cheaper on a mobile home. When people say, β€œyou just live in a house trailer”, they are trying to degrade us. I just smile and say, β€œyes, it’s the one with the white picket fence around my front yard”. I also think to myself and it’s paid for. My husband built the fence out of scrap wood that a near by business was glad to get rid of. My advice to everyone is make the home you are living in your dream home and be happy with what you have. Please keep writing, I enjoy it.

    1. Thank you so much for these comments! You are so right and we were just talking about this last night…our taxes are very cheap, insurance is very cheap, cost of living here (in this house, not this area) is very inexpensive and we have an average and are right next door to family. It might not be a “perfect” house but it’s safe and warm and we aren’t throwing away money for unnecessary things. πŸ™‚

  25. I just love the Seaside blue….so soothing. I am going to paint the wall behind our bed in powder blue. The color totally relaxes me. You did a wonderful and very impressive job in the kitchen.

  26. That is gorgeous! I was just telling my daughter a week or so ago that I wanted to do something similar in our kitchen – because I love whites and pale blues together. Plus, our counter top is dark blue so it would go very well. And brighten it up. And then I saw your post today … and showed her the photos. I think she finally understands just how pretty it can be. πŸ™‚

    1. I hope you are able to do it Kristy! My original plan didn’t actually have blue cabinets (I was thinking white), but I’m so glad I changed my mind.

  27. Lovely make-over πŸ™‚
    We moved from Holland to Germany last year and are still in the process of building our own kitchen. Since it is custom in Germany if you rent a house there is mostly no kitchen in it at all(in Holland you wouldn’t be able to rent a house to anybody when there there is no kitchen in it! )because people move their complete kitchens with them; totally crazy and unpractical since it doesn’t fit in the new house and costs a lot of time and money, but OK that’s a weird German custom πŸ™
    The last people who lived here took the counter etc with them; they left two wall-cabinets hanging so I have some place to put my glasses, cups and plates and a little food. My little deepfreeze didn’t fit anywhere in the kitchen so I put that outside of the house in the hall-cabinet(this house is from 1890 and the hall-cabinet-one stair down-used to be the toilet; we live here with 9 families) The top of the hall-toilet is sticking about 1,5 m2 out in the kitchen so I can’t use that corner to put cabinets in. I use this top to cook on.
    We have to do everything on a budget to and so we build all the cabinets ourself; till sofar I have a wash-cabinet and my counter is a piece of plastic on top of my washing-machine and dish wash-machine. I cook on a 2-pit electric-thing and hope we will be able to purchase a big wooden counter and a stove soon so I can try out some of your yummy oven-recopies. We only had a washing-machine and a small fridge when we came here and have since bought the dishwasher. I am happy that we have an Ikea rack hanging on the ceiling where I have all my pans on hooks. I have a wooden ornamental shelf crafted by my old-uncle with seagulls which I painted white and made some hooks on it where my bigger kitchen-utensils hang on. On top I have my bowls etc. I have a small three shelf open rack for my herbs and spices next to that. Since we have the doors to the hall, bathroom and study-room in the kitchen there isn’t much pace for counter-cabinets below.
    We bought a small wooden table you can clap in with little but deep drawers in it from Ikea where you can sit with 2 our 4 people which is now in one corner where there are 2 huge heating-devices hanging on the wall. We have to be really creative with this kitchen. I have a small old cabinet in the hall in the house with some more kitchen stuff and a little wooden rack above it on the wall. I am very happy that our ceilings are very high(3,5m2) so I try to use that space as good as I can: we have several little wooden stepladders in the house LOL

    1. Thank you for sharing about your kitchen and how you’ve made it work for you! I had no idea that you take your whole kitchen along with you in certain countries!

  28. your kitchen looks very nice, you did a good job on it. My kitchen needs updating too, i will try to use some of your ideas.

  29. Hello! Beautiful job!! πŸ‘πŸ‘ I was wondering were these cabinets wood? Or laminate?
    Thank you!

  30. Saw this on line. Beautiful job. Before starting my own kitchen makeover I just wanted to ask if it is holding up well. So afraid to refinish cabinets if they scratch etc. my cabinets happen to have cherry finish.

    1. The cabinets are holding up really well! The countertops have needed a bit of touch up here and there around the edges. If we’d have finished them with an actual poly sealer they would have been fine.

  31. Oh Merissa! Love you kitchen remodel! I always get excited when I see someone who lives in a mobile home and blogs about it! I also started blogging years ago when we were renovating a 1986 mobile home and was hoping it would inspire others that you can still have a nice home even a mobile home! We ended up purchasing a new mobile home in 2016 because our home flooded. After the flood I didn’t know if i was going to continue blogging, but decided to blog about our experience purchasing and setting up our new mobile home and now it’s mainly about things we’ve done to our home like DIY projects. Anyway! Your kitchen looks fabulous! It’s amazing what paint can do!

  32. Do you think this kind of primer and paint could be used over the vinyl covered mobile home cabinet doors? Unfortunately, mine are not real wood and the vinyl coating is beginning to peel off. My mobile home was bought new almost 3 years ago and it has partical board cabinets covered with something like contact paper. Disgusting! Your blog post has encouraged me to revisit possibilities.

    1. You could definitely give it a try, just clean them really well and try the primer first and see how well it attaches. This particular primer was so thick…like glue, I’m thinking it would stick to just about anything.

  33. Your makeover is amazing!! Now that it has been a few years how is it holding up?? Is the paint easy to clean up? Any chipping or pealing on the counters or cabinets?

  34. Love the look of the after! May I ask what kind of wood that is? Is it just lamanite? My kitchen has the same wood grain look but its actually just like a sawdust board with laminate paper….not sure how to go about painting it!

    1. The wood was the cheapest laminate type of wood they make. We found that super heavy primer was the key to making anything stick to it πŸ™‚

  35. Your kitchen looks amazing! I love how the paint makes it feel like a brand new kitchen, while still keeping the natural esthetic of the original cabinets. I’ve always been super nervous to paint them myself, but after reading through your experience, cabinet painting has never seemed easier or like something I’m ready to try. Thanks for sharing!

  36. My wife and frugal are not friends. Her latest money buster was a cabinet refinisher in Hurst, TX, that was actually a good price, but too much for us to handle right now. You have given me tips and ideas to pass to my wife to tame her need to update our home. Much appreciated.

  37. Merissa this is an awesome post! We are starting to remodel our kitchen, and this post is super inspirational. We have recovered from the holidays and are ready to get going! We are going through our to-do list and once our dumpster rental gets here next week we will get started!