A kitchen with a large window

Make Your Kitchen Look Like New for Around $400 and Some Sweat

When I walked into Amy and Justin’s kitchen, my jaw dropped. It was like I’d stumbled into the wrong house. The gorgeous new cabinets and countertops made it look brand new.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when these friends told us they weren’t new cabinets and counters at all. They performed their kitchen makeover themselves—all for less than $400.

A kitchen with a large window

You may think that kitchen projects need to be left to the professionals, which of course is fine provided you’ve got thousands of dollars to work with. But if your budget is slightly under that—and you’re willing to contribute some sweat to the project—new products and methods now available can bring do-it-yourself options to any kitchen makeover.


Our friends refinished their existing cabinets (the doors and face frames) with a Rust-Oleum Cabinet Coating Transformations Kit that covers 100 square feet, available online and at home improvement centers like Home Depot.

The thing that gave Amy and Justin the courage and confidence to tackle this project themselves was the Rust-Oleum promise of no stripping, no sanding, no priming, and no special skills required. While their cabinets are made of wood, this product will also transform melamine, metal, and laminate cabinetry.

Of the three colors offered (white, espresso, and gray), they chose espresso. There is no way anyone would look at these cabinets and say this looks like a DIY project done by novices who must have gotten in over their heads (what most of us would worry about, I’m sure).

A less expensive option would be to spruce up shabby cabinets with a coat of paint. For the price, quality, and durability you really can’t beat Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Enamel, about $50 per gallon at Home Depot.


Replacing the cabinet hardware can completely transform the look of cabinets—even if you do not refinish them first. Cosmas makes a great oil-rubbed bronze cabinet round knob for as little about $1 per knob in a pack of 25.


Newly finished cabinets could enliven the countertops, or more likely, make them look tired and worn. But not to worry! You may have some great options there, as well.

The folks at Rust-Oleum also manufacture a counter Transformations Kit that will give old laminate countertops the beautiful look of natural stone. This Rust-Oleum product is durable, made to last for many years.

Another option to consider is the Giani Granite Paint Kit that will transform cultured marble, ceramic tile, and laminate countertops into the beauty of granite. This water-based product promises automotive-grade durability, too.


While our friends’ floors were in good shape, once you have your cabinets and countertops looking good, you may decide to tackle the floor. Should you opt for something like Armstrong Coastal Living laminate flooring, expect to pay $2 to $6 per square foot. The “lock and load” floating method of installation makes this kind of flooring another easy DIY project.

One more thing: Whether you opt to take on your kitchen makeover all at once or take it one project at a time, you’ll never regret paying for it as you go.






Photo credit: Critter-Cozies

First published: 4-24-15; Updated 3-9-22


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4 replies
  1. Betty says:

    We used the Giani granite on our laminate counters. It lasted for about 3 years before it started to break down. We followed exact prep and application processes but if you are an avid cook, be wary. It wore away at the sink from my husband’s belt buckle (yes, he does the dishes!).

    • Tracy says:

      I would love to see the before picture as well! They sure did a beautiful job. I have been wanting to do something like this, but I am not sure if the process would work for my laminate counters with tile on the curved front side. Love this post today!


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