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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

7 easy ideas for a kitchen makeover on a budget.

Updated: Jan 26

Fed up with your dated kitchen? Use these tips to complete an affordable kitchen makeover.

Minimalist kitchen makeover on a budget

This post is all about how to complete a kitchen makeover on a budget using my kitchen DIY project as an example. I'm going to show you the issues and challenges with the original kitchen and how I overcame them with affordable and achievable DIY techniques.

Why complete a kitchen makeover on a budget?

A kitchen makeover on a budget is ideal for transforming a tired kitchen without spending a lot of money, the process enables you to upgrade or improve your current kitchen to create a fresh look that better suits your needs.

If you haven't read my original post or if you read it months ago and need a reminder, here's what the old kitchen looked like...

What are the benefits of completing a DIY kitchen makeover?

Done correctly, a DIY kitchen makeover can have the following benefits;

  • Improve the lighting

  • Create a built-in look

  • Add colour

  • Upgrade hardware

  • Upgrade worktops

  • Create a stylish space you love

  • Add personality with a uPVC door upgrade

Let's look at how you can realise these benefits using my kitchen makeover as an example

1. Improve kitchen lighting

The downstairs of our house was extended by the then-owners back in the 1980s. They simply stuck an extra room on the back of the house (no, literally! They didn't even add heating or remove the external UPVC window and instead left it in place as a very odd barrier between the kitchen and the extension). We had the window frame removed when we bought the house but didn't have the budget to open up the space fully, which would require a giant (expensive) piece of steel. I've since built a breakfast bar up against the old window but that was after this initial revamp so you'll need to pop over to the affordable kitchen transformations post to read the details. The extension offered extra space but created issues by making the middle room feel like a corridor between the original front room and the new back room and because they didn't add any side windows, the extra distance to a natural light source meant the kitchen area could be dark at times. We installed some bifold doors a few years back which helped the light issue, but there was still work to do. Added to this, the ceilings aren't tall so I had to opt for the best kitchen lighting for low ceilings.

To overcome the kitchen lighting issues I added the following...

A bar pendant over the main worktop area

I found this lovely minimalist bar pendant on the John Lewis website and it has three different settings, which are selected using the wall switch so it can change according to the task at hand, ranging from bright task lighting to gentle ambient lighting.

A large wall mirror

Adding a mirror is a well-known trick to bounce more light around the space and create a lighter, brighter feel.

2. Create a built-in look

freestanding fridge in kitchen corner before makeover

I was fed up with the fridge looking out of place

DIY fridge surround after kitchen makeover

in the corner of the kitchen, so I built a DIY fridge surround to go around it and coated it in microcement to match the worktops and backsplash. You can watch the insta reel I shared which shows the process here 

It solved all the problems (ugly, floating, clutter magnet) and helped this side of the kitchen feel more connected with the opposite side which was looking decidedly more loved!

Bespoke units like this can run into the thousands from kitchen manufacturers, especially with less mainstream finishes like microcement so I was really chuffed to have done it for £150. Read the step-by-step post I wrote on how to build a DIY fridge surround

3. Add colour by painting kitchen cabinets

The off-white kitchen units were extremely plain and uninspiring. With the kitchen being quite dark, white units should have helped by bouncing the light about a bit, but the blandness worked against us and it all just merged into a sea of meh! One of the main improvements in this kitchen makeover on a budget was transforming the kitchen cabinets and drawer fronts with Rustoleum kitchen cupboard paint in the shade Tea Leaf.

Before and after painting kitchen cabinets

Tips for successfully painting kitchen cabinets

  • Be sure to leave enough (more than you think) time I’m between coats that the paint fully dries.

  • Once painted, leave the doors off for at least 24 hours even if they seem dry as I wasn’t patient enough on the first couple and they scratched a bit initially as the paint hadn’t fully cured.

  • You'll need to paint the infill panels and other non-removable components in-situ, so be sure to tape off around them with painter's tape and remove the tape while the final coat is still wet.

  • I painted some large tester patches of the three colours I'd narrowed it down to and lived with them for a few days and ended up going for a darker shade than I initially thought. If I hadn't done the large tester patches I would've inevitably ended up having to repaint as would've chosen the wrong shade! (Not the first time that has happened, as my husband will tell you!)

4. Upgrade kitchen hardware

kitchen cabinet makeover swapping handles

Despite numerous previous attempts, I'd never found handles that 'worked' aesthetically. In hindsight, that was probably because I hated the doors (& wished I had shaker cabinet fronts), so handle swaps would never fix the bigger issue. For a quick 'kitchen makeover on a budget' win, I swapped the cupboard and drawer handles for a modern, sleek alternative. I’d seen lots of gorgeous expensive ones, but I was really keen to do this revamp on a small budget so I plumped for these bargain ones from Amazon in the end which were only a couple of pounds each but have transformed the space and I love them. They are also easy to fit and keep clean once in place. I love how the Matt black finish looks against the new colour of the units.

5. Upgrade worktops

Although lovely to look at and easy to clean, the black worktops looked quite dated and really didn't help with the light

So, that was the list of issues and here’s what I did to resolve them…

An obsession with microcement begins...

I used on off-white polished concrete microcement kit from to completely transform the worktops and added a backsplash and ledge shelf in the process. The tubes on the side of the peninsula are one of my favourite things about this kitchen and people are always shocked at how strong and resilient they are, especially after I painted them with Rustoleum cupboard paint as they are waterproof and scrubbable too. In a later kitchen makeover, I added fluted mdf to the side of the peninsula for an interesting textured look.

6. Create a stylish space you love

Oh how I love this ledge shelf! This is by far my favourite new addition. I created it using some old picture shelves from Homebase which were about five or six pounds each. I flipped them upside down (to give a slightly deeper ledge for styling) and covered them in microcement. I love how you can change the feeling of the whole room by updating the ornaments & accessories on the shelves.

Some days, I feel like going more Japandi / minimalist, so I style with stoneware and foraged twigs, whereas other days, I prefer a more modern twist, so I go for my bargain Homesense monochrome print. I like the challenge of finding items small enough to fit on the ledge too as it’s only 8cm deep. In case you are thinking, 'but she's lost so much cupboard space, it's so impractical', fear not! the cupboards that were there were tiny so held very little indeed, in fact, one of them was a fake cupboard as the large boxing in the corner meant there was only room to place a door without any actual storage. In short, yes I sacrificed a couple of shelves where I stored my glasses (which have since been rehomed happily) and the first aid kit (also re-homed), but I've gained so much in extra light, the open, spacious feeling and the complete style transformation which more than makes up for it. I wrote a post about why removing wall cabinets can be a good idea.

7. DIY a crittal-esque faux reeded glass door

I’m really pleased with this door revamp. I used reeded glass film which was brilliant. You can read the step-by-step here…

Believe it or not, I've actually done another DIY kitchen makeover on this space since I wrote this post so have a read if you're looking for more inspo. I've also written about 15 creative ideas for decorating the space above your kitchen cabinets if you are looking for some good home storage and organisation options.

Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to keep you up to date with future DIY, decorating, interior styling and upcycling projects, if you would like to receive my (not more than weekly & no spamming I promise) emails then please subscribe (scroll down to the box at the bottom of the page).

Why not check out some of my recent posts...

Thanks again.



John Williamson
John Williamson
Apr 03, 2023

Loving your work. About to start my own microcement adventure with some moisture resistant MDF this weekend having bought a kit on eBay. Just wondered if you could share the working time of the microcement please? I have 2.4m2 of worktops (split in to 2 surfaces) to cover so I don't want to mix a large batch which is going to set before I'm done yet want a large enough batch to get consistency of colours for both of the worktops to match


I first found you on tik tok a couple of days back and I love your content/page. Your kitchen transformation was the first video I saw and I absolutely fell in love. I signed up to this app solely for this post and you absolutely did not disappoint-Massive fan girl moment over here, thankyou! 🙌🏻😂 x

Unknown member
Jul 04, 2022
Replying to

Oh wow! I think that’s the nicest comment I’ve ever received! 🥰 thank you so much! I sometimes worry that no one is remotely interested in my bonkers projects so this has made my day! Thank you!!!


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