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Your Pre-Weekend Dose of Serious Eye Candy: 10 Reader Before & After DIY Kitchens

A good, satisfying before and after is good — nay — necessary for the soul. It’s what keeps our design juices flowing and reminds us that almost anything is possible and few spaces are beyond repair. Today, we think we could all use some inspiration and design happiness so we are re-sharing this post with some breathtaking DIY kitchen renos done by YOU, the readers. If nothing else, we hope it provides a positive emotional lift to kick off your weekend and/or inspires a fun weekend project. Let’s get to it:

When I hear the words “kitchen renovation,” my first thought is always, “my god that’s a lot of work…and money.” But when I hear “DIY kitchen renovation,” I basically want to immediately take a nap because that my friends is A LOT of work and makes me tired simply just imaging it. This coming from someone who by no means “renovated” her kitchen but did attempt a couple of sizable DIY upgrades. Those were even nap-worthy. But aside from the guaranteed exhaustion, renovating your kitchen, a space where you spend SO much of your time (I mean your precious food is in there) is nothing if not completely worth it. We have proof.

So with all that said I am here to present to you some #ShowEmYourDIY badass readers who took on their old kitchens themselves and created something they could (and should) be extremely proud of. It’s time to see the dark, the purple, the magical painted garden kitchens hit the road and indulge in some serious “after” eye candy. It is Friday after all so bring on the sugar…

Let’s start with the less “gut the kitchen and start from scratch” and more “a little refresh”. While creating a completely new space is most likely everyone’s dream (i.e. Emily’s Mountain house kitchen that still makes me short of breath whenever I see it) not everyone can or wants to build something from nothing. That may be because it’s a rental, or money is an issue or a light refresh is all you really actually want.

Here we have Kendra Murphy’s adorable little kitchen. This kitchen SPEAKS to me as a long-term renter.

Emily Henderson Showemyourdiy DIY Kitchen 12

All Kendra did was give a fresh coat of paint to her cabinets in Behr’s Granite Boulder, switched out the cabinet hardware, added that cute light and restyled the shelves. She did just a beautiful job and didn’t have to do an insane amount of heavy lifting to transform her wonderful updated kitchen.

Would you believe me if I said this next kitchen is for a family of seven? Jana Robertson and her husband want to eventually tear down this home and start from scratch to better accommodate their big family. So instead of pouring a bunch of money into something that will be someday demolished, they refreshed the heck out of it for a temporary, more livable situation.

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Down with the outdated wallpaper, new paint, counters, sink and appliances (which they could reuse) and they have a totally new feeling kitchen. Hope you get to see the whole new space someday. 🙂

Next up we have Avery Michael’s extremely happy and fresh kitchen. Want to guess how much it cost???

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This day-and-night transformation only cost $250. That’s right, the same price as a fancy pair of jeans (which, ha, we’re talking about tomorrow if you’re interested). She used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Duck Egg Blue and Pure White, brass hardware and this colorful rug. She then had her dad tile the backsplash a year and a half later. As you know if you followed my Makeover Takeover, I love a father-daughter reno project. She made sure to say that the $250 included even the paint brushes. What a difference a little paint and tile makes.

Now that we know the power of paint and hardware, let’s dive a little deeper into the world of DIY kitchen renovations.

Emily Henderson Showemyourdiy DIY Kitchen 101
after photo by rachel loewen

Martha Pfister decided to save a lot of dollars by painting her cabinets and installing pretty hardware herself. So where she saved on the cabinets freed up some more money for a new countertop, backsplash, sink, faucet, floors and a new range. While this was not an easy renovation, it sure is stunning. The color of those lower cabinets (Benjamin Moore’s Misted Green) is so pretty. Are you also sensing a light gray/green trend here? In case you were wondering, the upper cabinets are Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace.

When fashion blogger Jess Ann Kirby tagged the #ShowEmYourDIY hashtag of her extremely charming and cozy kitchen, it was a no brainer that I needed to include it. Not only am I a fan of Jess (not because she has a great name) and her instastory humor/fashion, but her and her boyfriend have poured their hearts into their first home and it shows.

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What I also love and appreciate about their kitchen process was that it was a PROCESS. The initial transformation was an insane upgrade but Emily is the first to say if you don’t end up loving your initial design then switch it up. That is exactly what they did. So while the dark blue cabinets and medium toned floors were very pretty, they decided they wanted a lighter feel and repainted the cabinets with Farrow and Ball’s Inchyra Blue and bleached the floors. But then they got these beautiful Cafe Appliances and upgrade more they did. It looks pretty darn amazing all finished.

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Thanks for tagging, Jess!

Now onto Laura of Velvet Sweatpants Interior Design‘s kitchen transformation. Laura and her boyfriend bought this house to be a rental but decided to live in it for a while and I can whole-heartedly say that I can’t blame them. They are essentially a remodeling power couple as Laura is an interior designer and her boyfriend is a journeyman plumber and gas fitter. I KNOW. She has a real gem on her hands. Those are insanely useful skills to have on hand.

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after photo by paisley photography

With their skills combined, they had zero labor costs. But even still, this remodel still cost them about $12,000 CAD (which is roughly $9,000 USD). Not cheap but LOOK at that before and after. It turned out so beautiful and welcoming. Also, I want to note that this kitchen is one of many advocates for IKEA cabinets. They look so good. I love that they are footed because it gives them that little hint of modern to elevate the space. For those wondering, the paint color is White Dove by Benjamin Moore (an EHD fav).

Moving on…never have I seen such an artistic approach to a kitchen with a paint brush. Have you? So while unique, Manny Lopez and his wife felt similarly and wanted something, shall we say, a bit  more modern? They designed their new kitchen and recruited family and friends to help get the job done.

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They raised the ceilings, installed can lights and changed out the windows which got damaged during demo (renos are never boring). Swapping out the garden scene floors for new oak wood floors was also on the to-do list. Lastly, they invested in new appliances but had a family member make that amazing wood hood. To say it looks a lot better would be a grave understatement. Amazing job!

This next stunner is by Sarah Smith and her husband Chris. “We spent our nights and weekends building the kitchen after we got home from work,” she told us. “It took about two months to complete. We had a budget of $10,000 and kept to it. We did the demo, built, painted and installed the cabinet boxes and doors, installed and plumbed the sink, tiled the wall, and designed and hung the open shelves. We did everything you see except for the fabricating and installing of our Carrara marble slab. We were exhausted!” Well, all that hard work obviously paid off.

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For the cabinets and sink, they turned to IKEA. The lower cabinets are painted with Benjamin Moore Gray and the walls are painted fan favorite Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. Don’t worry I made sure to ask about the drawer pulls and the awesome shelf. The pulls are from Pottery Barn and they designed the shelf brackets but had them custom made. It all turned out so awesome.

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have an amazing job then fall in love with a South African winemaker and move to South Africa with said love, now husband, and still get to do your amazing job remotely?? Oh and built a gorgeous kitchen? Well if you have, you can now vicariously live through EHD reader Whitney Ross le Riche.

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This kitchen is actually temporary and only cost them $400 in materials (gas, plumbing, and electrical was professionally done). I’ll let her explain how it all went down. “We patched all the water damage, painted the walls white, and painted the floor white with epoxy floor paint. I found a cabinet with a sink and faucet on FB marketplace for about $35, and it was in such rough shape that the sellers threw in another for free. We used another narrow cabinet my in-laws were tossing, and borrowed a bar cart and sideboard from family. We also built shelves into an old door we didn’t need. Throw in some trim scrap wood we already had to connect the cabinets, some melamine boards for countertops that we covered with marble Contact paper, and some leftover boards for floating shelves, and you have our kitchen! The bar stools were super cheap and the rug vintage, so the only real investment was our Lofra stove and LOTS of white paint.”

Here’s a view of the other side:

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Well, I am incredibly impressed and hope we get to see more from Whitney’s vineyard home in the future.

Last but not least we have a truly Emily Henderson-inspired kitchen remodel.

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Nothing makes Emily and the team happier than when a reader reaches out to say they were heavily inspired by one her designs. I mean look at that tile. It’s so freaking pretty. We are also definitely seeing those drawer pulls and obviously VERY much approve. I almost can’t believe that is the same space. Thanks Emma and Evan for sharing your wonderful kitchen with all of us.

Are you in a full-blown eye-candy sugar coma? Well, I am and I hope that you are gleefully inspired to potentially take on even a small project this weekend. Changing how your space looks can absolutely trigger positive change in your life and making that change with your own two hands (or the hands of a loved one, ha) is even more dopamine inducing. Go forth with confidence.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or ideas on what DIY topic you want next. Happy Friday.

Love you, mean it.


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69 thoughts on “Your Pre-Weekend Dose of Serious Eye Candy: 10 Reader Before & After DIY Kitchens

  1. While I like all these updates in general, I realy dislike that after photos are always taken with a better light and overall better camaras. It’s some a kind of cheating…
    On the first transformation, can someone explain me how they open that upper right cupboard?

    1. If you zoom in you can the hinges are set well beyond the shelf so the cabinet opens in front of the shelves.

    2. I agree, and I have to say I wish I had better before photos of my projects. My before photo here is less than desirable. I ran through the house right after we got the keys and snapped pictures of every room. The angles are awkward and it’s poorly lit. I wish I had done better so I would have a better comparison for the after of our kitchen! I know now for next time. 🙂

    3. I agree, and I wish I had taken better quality before photos of our kitchen! The before photo we shared here is not great. Right after we closed on the house and got our keys, I ran around snapping photos of every room. The angles are awkward and the lighting is poor. I would have liked for a better photo for a better comparison between the before and after. Now I know for next time. 🙂

    4. Alice I totally get where you are coming. I did try to brighten the befores because I know it can feel very deceiving when are so dark and the afters are so bright. However, I think we can all agree that the afters are vast improvements from the originials regardless:)

    5. I would like to point out that for I am sure for many of the folks who submitted, blogging and Instagramming are not their full-time passion or job. They probably took the before shot as a reminder or for reference during the process, not thinking they would be sharing it as part of an editorial piece on a large blog/editorial outlet. As for the afters being better lit and not from the same angle, again they probably took these photos to celebrate the completion of a long and hard process – again not to share for a side-by-side comparison. I would cut them some slack that they aren’t thinking about the details that we as readers have come to expect from professional content creators. Lets take a moment to celebrate their hard work, their ingenuity and for sharing because in the end, it’s scary to share someone you put your sweat and tears into especially in a day and age where folks are more likely to tear you down than build you up! Kudos to you folks and I gladly will support anyone who wants to take on my basement 😉

    6. I get that! But as someone mid-reno, I realised I barely even took a before snap (just kind of forgot), but also, there was no way I would have brought someone in to photograph it properly before. But I sure as heck will after because it is going to be gorgeous! I think it’s probably a similar story for most people:-)

    7. I think it’s a little strange that on the first transformation they removed the handles on the upper left cabinets. You can see them on the before pic and it seems like an impractical change. I’m also confused about the light they added. It looks like it must be a plug-in (or did they spend the money on electrical work?) and where does it plug in? Was that just for aesthetics or does it actually work. I don’t get changes that don’t have practical value. But it’s cute otherwise. I love how sophisticated some of these are after! Kudos

    1. Totally agree! And Still waiting for posts where readers submit their gross kitchens and Em weighs in and what she would do to them!!

  2. Love this post and appreciate it as someone moving into a rental with a crappy kitchen in two weeks! I’m also reminded of the kitchen makeovers on the new seasons of Queer Eye – Bobby basically paints the cabinets, sometimes does butcher block counter tops, and re-styles and it always looks like a whole new space!

  3. I love seeing real people’s home and what look like realistic redos! It’s really refreshing after seeing so many complete gut job renovations that aren’t realistic for many people.

  4. Wow! This is one of the better posts for realistic and affordable remodeling that I’ve seen. Everything is real and doable with imagination and a bit of hard work. That “artistic” kitchen! Whoa. Yes, more articles like this one, please!

  5. Can anyone tell me about painting IKEA cabinets? Do you have to get specific cabinets in order to paint them? I’ve considered that route before, but always assumed that I was going to be stuck with the color range in the store… Thanks!

    1. Yes me too! I know some people use doors from other companies and pint them but wonder if sometimes people paint IKEA stock doors.

    2. Hi Magnolia, my kitchen is the 8th one featured above – we used IKEA cabinets throughout, but we didn’t like the door choices either so we found a local cabinet maker and had the doors custom made. If you look at the cost breakdown of IKEA cabinets, the door is by far the most expensive part, so going custom didn’t cost us any extra money at all and what we got was solid hardwood doors that were easy to paint whatever color we wanted. Hope that helps!

    3. I think, outside of going custom like Chris said, you’d need to airbrush them depending on what type you’re talking and probably would wind up needing to pay someone to do the painting for you. If you already have them installed, that might be the better option, but if you don’t, a lot of people go with custom fronts and the IKEA interiors like Chris said.

    4. I’ve done it, using the cheapest flat doors (didn’t want a shaker style). I sanded them lightly, used a coat of laminate primer, Farrow and Ball primer, and finally three coats of Farrow and Ball paint, sanding with very fine sandpaper in between. I did the same with the bits of the frames you can see. For the kickboards, the only ones Ikea were doing at the time were laminate-wrapped plywood, and it turned out you could peel the wrap straight off and just paint the kickboards directly. My dog has scratched them all now, but they looked great for the first few years until we got him. The one under the sink has got a bit damp and the laminate is threatening to peel off now though so I would advise you to try to get solid wood ones as mentioned below instead – but if you’re just trying to upgrade an existing one it would be well worth it!

  6. #8 is fantastic. I would really like to talk to that couple about specifics. Also could you do reader bathrooms next? I love seeing other people figure it out on a limited budget in real life.

      1. Especially after seeing Julie’s bathroom, I’m excited to see the rest of your bathroom MOTOs!

  7. I would love to hear how the epoxy floor paint holds up in a space like a kitchen or bathroom. The tile in my kid’s bath is just terrible but I don’t have the budget to rip it out for a while. I’ve considered painting or stenciling but I love the idea of epoxy paint because that’s what people use on garages, right? It has to hold up to foot traffic I would assume!

    1. Hi Natasha! We’ve only had it for about 5 months and it’s meant to be a temporary solution, but it’s held up quite well to normal foot traffic and dirt. What it doesn’t handle well is sharp items dropped on it, such as dishes. But if you’re not clumsy often like me, it should work really well. 😉 We used it in our bathroom also!

      1. That’s very helpful info, Whitney! Your space is beautiful. Love what you did. Where did you get your bar stools from? I love them!

  8. Great post! Any chance you know what brand/color the counter is in Emma and Evan’s kitchen?

    1. I’m so sorry but I wasn’t able to get that info. If I do I will let you know xx

      1. Hey Jess! Curious as to how you find the homes to feature? Do they reach out to you or do you source them all yourself?

  9. I have a good kitchen remodel for you. My husband and I did everything, totally gutted it. and we stayed on a budget!

  10. These are really great, it’s really nice to see what can realistically be achieved in different budgets. The first one does strike me as having a very girly college dorm/ first rental vibe which is nice for very young budget strapped decor enthusiasts. And I like how it flows into sophisticated updates too for family homes with character.

  11. Ah these are all amazing!!! Even just the ones where all it took was a little paint job, they look miles different than the before pics! Thank you for sharing!!

    xo, Brooke & Kelcy
    The Inspired Abode

  12. I would like to know if those who painted their cabinets used a polyurethane sealant after painting? I painted my kitchen cabinets using Benjamin Moore Advance (cabinet grade) paint in dark blue, and even 6 months later, some paint comes off on my hand if I rub it really hard. How do I prevent the paint from rubbing off onto my hands and clothing? I appreciate any ideas you can share!

    You can follow my entire home DIY renovation at

    1. Hi Brittany! Keep your eye out on Instagram when we do call outs. We typically announce what specifically we’re looking for for a story with the hashtag to use so we can see everyone’s amazing work!

  13. Congratulations to everyone featured in this post ( I am sure there were other great examples that Jess just couldn’t fit in), inspiring to see how all your hard work paid off and made such a huge difference and especially for a low cost in most cases! Very inspiring!

  14. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Manny Lopez and his wife would move the kitchen sink from the corner (where there is a window with a view outside) to the right wall, where there is a view of… literally nothing. I enjoy my kitchen sink window so tremendously, and it makes the chore of doing dishes so much more pleasant. I can only imagine the tedium of doing dishes in that kitchen. Having said that, I think the design elements themselves are beautifully chosen and the kitchen otherwise looks beautiful (as do all the others)!

  15. Please do more of these I love it! Bedrooms, baths, living rooms, outdoor spaces So fun!

  16. Bravo to all these kitchen renovators. It is hard work & these are great turnarounds for these homes. Love the aqua cabinet color & many of the backsplash tiles.

  17. I’m trying to decide if painting my cabinets would be a good idea in my kitchen. I really like the colors the Jana Robertson and Manny Lopez and his wife painted theirs. Would there be any way to find out what colors those are?

    I just love seeing before and after photos. So thanks!

  18. While they all are improvements, it’s kind of sad that so many of the ‘afters’ look so much alike. There’s a real lack of personality. I like the Manny Lopez kitchen the best, and even it is pretty same-old same-old. Been there; seen that.

  19. I’m curious about the hardware in Laura’s rental kitchen. Is it also from IKEA?

  20. By the end of the quarantine, my kitchen may look like that. I live alone and cannot stop painting. xo

  21. This increasingly present pattern in the comments where one person offers the faintest of critical commentary and others then feel compelled to chide them for not being grateful or generous is getting very tiring.

  22. There are way more choices for great cabinets for better configurations than just ikea.. try Thomasville for example

  23. These are nice but it hurts my heart to see that gorgeous charming 1930’s kitchen go…Im sure it has issues with functionality but I’m such a sucker for patina )-:

  24. These are beautiful but I am so unbelievably tired of white on white on white. The blue was a nice change but I am just so over the sterility of it all.

  25. Nice thing about a copper backsplash is that it can go well in traditional design to warm things up and can also make a statement in contemporary design.

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