Space of Week, Kitchen Cabinet Makeover
Credit: Jenni Yolo / I SPY DIY

Space of the Week: This Budget Kitchen Makeover Features a Stunning $150 Cabinet Update

This will inspire you to paint your kitchen cabinets.
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One of the major perks of being the little sister of Jenni Yolo, the design blogger behind I SPY DIY? She's always down for a room makeover. So when her sister bought a rental home in Milwaukee, Yolo stepped in to make over the kitchen, including painting the kitchen cabinets, updating the lighting, adding a butcher block countertop, and installing a subway tile backsplash. Not including the new dishwasher, the total kitchen reno cost less than $800, and updating the kitchen cabinets cost less than $150. Here's how the siblings pulled off the cabinet upgrade in one week—then shop the room to revamp your own kitchen.

The Kitchen Cabinets Before

Space of the Week, Kitchen Cabinets Before, wood cabinet fronts
Credit: Jenni Yolo / I SPY DIY

Before the makeover, the kitchen cabinets had dated wood cabinet fronts. To start, the siblings added wood trim to the plain slab cabinet fronts to give them a Shaker style look. Once dry, they used the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Kit in a greige (aka, gray-beige) paint color to modernize the wood cabinets.

The Kitchen Cabinets After

Space of the Week, Kitchen Cabinet Reveal
Credit: Jenni Yolo, I SPY DIY

After the budget-friendly refresh, this outdated kitchen is completely transformed. If you're debating whether you should paint your own kitchen cabinets, Yolo has one tip: "Go for it!! Painting cabinets is a budget-friendly way to transform a space. Using a kit is a great idea! We skipped the sanding and priming part and just deglossed, painted the geige color, and then the top coat," she explains. By deglossing instead of priming and sanding, the typically time-consuming process is shortened significantly.

"Also make sure you have realistic expectations, and factor in your usage," she recommends. "If you have kiddos riding tricycles into your lowers, you might see chips and scuffs down the road, but remember you can always touch them up!" If you have young kids or pets, Yolo suggests a mid-tone color for the cabinets, like the greige she opted for, to help hide fingerprints and scuff marks.

Feeling inspired to give your own kitchen an affordable upgrade? Here's everything you'll need.

Get the Look

Space of the Week, Kitchen Cabinet Detail
Credit: Jenni Yolo / I SPY DIY

Rust-Oleum Transformation Cabinet Kit


With this cabinet kit, you can tint the color to 11 different custom shades. The deglosser means you can skip the sanding, while the top coat offers stain and scratch resistance. Yolo assures us that the top coat isn't too glossy, just a beautiful satin finish that will be easy to clean. 

White Subway Tile
Credit: Tile Shop

White Subway Tile

$6 per square foot,

If you're having trouble choosing a kitchen backsplash, you can't go wrong with classic white subway tile. It's easy to wipe clean and won't go out of style anytime soon. 

Elkay Drop-In Sink
Credit: Amazon

Elkay Drop-In Sink


Yolo opted for a drop-in sink because with the new butcher block countertop, it meant the hole in the counter didn't need to be as exact as with an undermount sink. The matte black sink basin is sleek and modern. 

Globe Ceiling Light Fixture
Credit: Amazon

Globe Light


Instead of harsh overhead lights, this globe light illuminates the room with a gentle glow. When used alongside task lighting, this light fixture lets you see what you're cooking, yet makes the space feel warm and inviting. 

Loloi Kitchen Runner Rug
Credit: Amazon

Loloi II Hathaway Runner


Textiles, like this vintage-style runner and striped dishtowels, help make a kitchen feel cozy. Plus, washing dishes feels less like a chore when you have a soft cushion underfoot.