Replacing the Cabinetry in This Kitchen Only Cost $500

You’ll be surprised—and inspired!—by some of the cost-cutting ideas that went into the renovation of this kitchen in a mid-1800s Victorian home located in Kingston, New York. Principal designer Maryline Damour of design and build firm Damour Drake undertook the project from concept to completion with the goal of transforming the space utilizing a careful mix of high/low budget materials. The result offers so many examples of how to use a renovation budget wisely.

AFTER: Maryline achieved her vision of a “rustic, glam, Victorian” kitchen by integrating a mix of high/low materials. Opting to refurbish used cabinets purchased for $500 and construct inexpensive countertops left room in the budget for splurging on the wood-paneled wall treatment, and the eye catching light fixture.

In terms of design, “the goal was an updated Victorian style kitchen,” Maryline explains. She wanted the kitchen to reflect modern aesthetics while referencing the architectural details of the era in which the home was built. In other words, Victorian but make it current.

After gutting the kitchen and reworking the floor plan to be more functional, Maryline sourced used cabinets from Big Reuse, rather than buying all new pieces. Another major save was the quartz countertops dupe constructed with $150 worth of materials from Home Depot. “Everyone thinks they’re Caesarstone,” Maryline says. Instead, they’re made from plywood painted bright white and coated in a thick layer of self-leveling epoxy resin poured on top.

BEFORE: “It was a mess,” Maryline says, of the crowded kitchen layout before, “practically everything had been crammed onto one wall of the kitchen.”

AFTER: The box-pleated sink skirt “is one of my favorite things,” Maryline says. “I was trying to reimagine what people would expect to see in a Victorian kitchen, so I used a very feminine floral fabric but then added box-pleats—instead of being flouncy, it looks very tailored.” The leather-wrapped cabinet door pulls add a hint of rustic warmth to the kitchen.

The warm gray and mauve color palette is a nod to the pink and purple paint colors typical in Victorian homes. I wanted to “dirty the palette up a bit, making it less sweet, and more sophisticated,” she says. Another traditional Victorian design detail, the kitchen sink apron, was embraced but reimagined, with tailored box pleats for a crisp look.

BEFORE: Replacing the 1960s cabinetry with a set of base cabinets sourced from Big Reuse for $500 enabled Maryline to devote more of her budget to high-end touches like the custom Shiplap wall treatment.

AFTER: The epoxy-coated countertops were made from $150 worth of hardware store materials (finished birch plywood with a routed edge, paint, and self-leveling epoxy). What’s more, they were surprisingly fool-proof to construct, and “they’ve held up really well to use, without any staining,” Maryline says.

AFTER: Incorporating accessories like a table lamp and mirrors in the kitchen decor make the space feel less utilitarian and more intimate. The cabinet and wall paint color is Sherwin-Williams Proper Gray and the darker accent color used is Sherwin-Williams Mink.

Saving on the cabinetry and countertops left more room in the budget for some luxe splurges like leather-encased hardware pulls, and a beautiful glam overhead light fixture. The showstopper, of course, is the wall-paneling treatment—a riff on traditional shiplap that elevates the kitchen to show house–level design.

“Shiplap is everywhere in design,” Maryline says. “I wanted to do something a little different.” When she learned about a furniture-making company pioneering a unique wood-treatment process that uses a custom two-color paint effect designed to highlight the grain, her wheels started turning. After approaching the Iowa-based company, Aronson Woodworks, about applying the color process to panels suitable for a wall installation, they agreed to collaborate on the proposal. The result achieved the look Maryline hoped for perfectly, adding texture and warmth with a cohesive sophistication.

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