Kitchen Reno On A Budget: Part 1

Kitchen Reno on a Budget. My plan to find the money I need to give my kitchen a makeover!


I am very grateful for the beautiful and comfortable home that we are lucky enough to have.  But the kitchen is TINY.  Only one person will fit in it at a time.  People offer to help me cook or clean up and I have to decline because they won’t fit and they’d just be in my way!  (I’m still grateful, I promise.)  So I’ve started this series to document our journey of doing a kitchen reno on a budget.

We’ve dreamed and schemed up ways to improve the kitchen, but short of a major gut job (which we need to win the lottery to afford), there’s not much we can do.  The layout of the main floor is such that there’s really no where to expand to.

So we’ve decided we’re going to make the small improvements that are realistic plus pretty it up as much as possible.

There’s just one problem.

We have a $0 budget.

My plan to find the money I need to give my kitchen a makeover!

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My husband very recently finished up his university degree.  (I’m a proud wifey!)  But when we sat down to crunch the numbers, develop a budget and a loan repayment plan, it was pretty depressing.  We currently have zero wiggle room for extra things like hair cuts and new clothes, let alone a kitchen reno.

But I am a stubborn and determined woman.  And a $0 budget won’t stop me!

Breakdown of Costs: Phase 1

(We’re taking on this project in phases.  We’ve broken it down such that if we never get past phase 1, it will still be a big improvement and the kitchen won’t look unfinished.)

New Cabinet – $246.45
Butcher Block – $316.25
Paint & Supplies – $172.50
Knobs – $253.00

Total: $998.20


Here’s a ‘before’ shot of the offending kitchen…

I'm planning a kitchen reno on a budget. Here's the before shot! Phase 2 will include a new sink and faucet, and updated countertop and backsplash.  If we get that far.  🙂  I really hope we do.

Alternate view of my tiny kitchen.

Our Reasoning

We currently have one drawer in our whole kitchen.  A single drawer. (See above.  The drawers under the sink are fake.  Ugh.)  It houses the sharp knives, veggie peelers, etc.  Our cutlery lives in mason jars on the counter.  And we have so little counter space.  We need to add another cabinet so we can gain a drawer and a place to set down dishes that isn’t the stovetop.  (Yes, I’ve accidently melted stuff.  Oopsey.) The new lower cabinet will go to the left of the stove.

I know the butcher block is pricey, but we’ve opted for it anyway because if we never end up changing the rest of the countertop, the butcher block will still look like it goes.

Originally we wanted to replace the cabinet doors, but that would have run us upwards of $750.  So we’re going to try painting the old ones instead.

I’m splurging on pretty knobs.  I will not be talked out of it.  Remember that I’m stubborn?!

Here are a few kitchens that I loooove!

These are a few inspiration pictures.  I haven’t yet nailed down our new kitchen design, I figure I still have a few months to figure it out.  I’d looove an apron front sink but they are very pricey.  We’ll see how phase 1 goes.

How We Plan to Afford Phase 1

Here’s where I’ve been getting creative!  It’s going to take us a little while to have the money saved up, but I have some ideas of how we’re going to manage it.

Selling Stuff

We have a few things lying around (microwave, printer etc) that we’ll sell on Kijiji.  I plan to do a thorough purge of the house to see if I can find anything else to sell.  I’ll probably come up with some toys and clothes that will earn a few dollars.

Saving Up Our Allowance

We currently give ourselves $200/mo in cash to spend on whatever comes up.  Like a trip to the trampoline park or a coffee date.  You know, life stuff.  Using a cash system has REALLY helped us stay on budget and start achieving our financial goals.

I want to take it a step further and be as frugal as possible.  If there’s anything of the $200 left over, it will go towards the kitchen reno.


Any cash back that I earn from now til reno time will go towards the reno.  I do a lot of online shopping for my businesses, although I’m new to Ebates so I’m basically starting with nothing.  However, a few of the shops we plan to purchase supplies from are on Ebates; Home Depot, Wayfair & Anthropologie.  So I’ll earn cash back on the reno purchases!  Win!

Checkout 51

I use this rebate app every week when I do the shopping.  I earn about $20/mo doing it.  Checkout 51 is super easy to use and totally free.  I’ll put my rebates towards renos and every little bit will add up!

Grocery Money

We have a $125 weekly grocery budget.  If I manage to stay under budget, I’ll put the balance in the reno account.

Also, next week we plan to buy nothing but the essentials, like milk and eggs.  I’ve noticed that we have a ton of food in the freezers and cupboards so we’re challenging ourselves to make do with what we’ve got. Ideally we will be able to put $100 towards renos.


Ok, so I’ve never tried this before, but what the hell.  I’ve got nothing to lose and pretty knobs to gain.  I’m gonna give it a try!

Side Hustles

I’ve done a lot of research on legit work from home hustles.  Unfortunately most of the hustles out there are only for residents of the US.  But I’ve found a few that are available in Canada.  There are transcription, site testing and evaluation opportunities.  I’m also trying a weight loss app that gives you money if you meet your goal.  I know, lol.  But if any of these things work out, I’ll write a separate post about them and share the details.  (I don’t want to promote anything that I haven’t tested out first.)  Wish me luck!


We don’t really have one.  Obviously I’d love for this all to happen sooner rather than later, but we need $$ first.  It will likely take several months.  The only real constraint is that painting the cupboards and doors will be easier if the weather is still good.  So that gives us til the end of September ish.

Now I need your help!

My husband has allowed me the power to choose the new knobs.  I’ve narrowed it down to these six.

These are the pretty new knobs I'm considering

They are all around the same price.  The cabinets will remain white on the top and be painted a grey or minty blue on the bottom.

Help a girl out!  Tell me in the comments, which would you choose?



  1. F is my absolute favorite!!! I am looking to redo our kitchen as well and I may have to borrow your idea for the knobs! I’ll keep checking back to see how it all goes for you, we have a $0 budget too so your ideas have given me a little inspiration 😉

  2. Ohh…so sorry for your precious kitchen :). When we think that our existing kitchen does not satisfy our requirements, we suddenly think of improvement and that too on a budget. To keep the budget affordable, we have to do it ourselves. The color and lights of the room should be augmented for an aesthetic look. We have to take care of the cabinets, if they are old enough we can makeover them and install at a point where they will be convenient to use. To mitigate the spacing issue, you have to give much attention to arrangement of assets wisely.

  3. A or C for sure! Timeless and beautiful with just enough whimsy to be interesting! Plus, for reaale they would appeal to most buyers 🙂 we did a redesign on a zero budget as well and refaced the cabinet fronts ourself using beadboard and trim. They turned out great!

  4. E or F are my favourite, but all of the options are really nice! I’m super excited for your renovation and can’t wait to see the progress. I’m Canadian too, so I understand your frustration that so many work at home jobs aren’t available to us.

  5. Tiny kitchens are the worst but I’m loving your ways of staying positive and frugal! I choose the C and F knobs 🙂 Can’t wait to see when it’s done!

    1. Yes, so frustrating! It was heading towards ‘deal-breaker’ status. And I’m not ready to move yet. So doing a makeover was the only choice!

  6. Choice F, hands down! I think your kitchen is cute. I have a tiny kitchen, too, with horrid builder-grade oak cabinets. I want to at least paint them, but with two littles and two cats, I’m scared.

    1. Thanks! I’m a little daunted by the painting job too, hopefully we can schedule some help when we are ready to do it!

  7. This was such a fun read! I really admire you and your husband sticking so tightly to a budget, SAVING the money first instead of taking out a loan, and not giving up. I think that’s fantastic. Congrats to your husband’s graduation, too! Option F really stands out to me. I like the matte color and the texture of them. That’s my two cents 🙂 I look forward to new updates!!

    1. Thanks! We’ve done the loan thing in the past and it always seems like a good idea at the time, but we spend so long paying it off! This time we needed to do things differently. 🙂

  8. I love A & F!

    And I too have noticed I don’t utilize goods in my freezer enough.
    Since we are moving in a few short weeks, I too have been only buying the essentials at the store and trying to get things cleaned out of the pantry and freezer!

    1. Yes! I was surprised when I really looked in my cupboards and realized how much food was in there! We’ll have a few more creative meals to make use of it all, plus the stuff in the freezer!

  9. I think your kitchen has so much potential! Your inspiration photos are beautiful…some of my favorite ones out there that I too used when we did a kitchen reno. The knobs!! So many pretty choices but I really love A and C. For me, they are fresh and new but still have a timeless quality! Best of luck!

    1. Thanks! Once I let go of the dream of a total redesign I began to see the potential too. I was drawn to the timeless quality of those knobs too! They might be more universally appealing if we have to sell the house.

  10. I love the D knobs. They are so unique. I haven’t seen any like them. I always like to add little pops of brilliant color to things as well. Those just look really pretty without being overly feminine.

    1. I agree, those knobs are so unique! I’m a big fan of colour, I always pick something bright rather than neutral. My issue is reining it in sometimes! Lol

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