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Beacon Senior News

How to refurbish your kitchen on a budget

Jun 25, 2020 03:52PM ● By Jan Weeks


I only wanted new blinds for the kitchen. However, the best-laid plans, etcetera.

Wandering through JC Penney’s window department, I fell in love with pale gray, custom vertical honeycomb insulating blinds. The clincher? They were half price. I ordered one for the slider, one for the small window and settled back to wait for delivery in a couple of weeks. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot. When I removed the one-year-from-ancient traverse drapes, I found a doggy door, long forgotten because the drapes had hidden it for years. Butt ugly doesn’t begin to describe the flimsy Masonite cover and dark steel frame.

My nephew, a carpenter, tore out the eyesore and patched the hole. He and I installed the new blinds, a two-person job. That wasn’t the end of it, though.

The creamy walls looked dirty, and they clashed with the blinds. So off to buy the palest gray and stark white paints available. Fortunately, I like painting, because I would spend the next two weeks painting the walls and refreshing the cabinet paint.

Years ago, I’d changed the cabinet bases from dark wood to white and in a misguided fit of home improvement, painted the doors and drawer fronts spring-green. They really didn’t work with the new color scheme. Off came the doors (all 22 of them) and seven drawer fronts. The original brass hardware, discolored and dirty, would have been an insult to a second-hand store.

My neighbor Bob set up makeshift tables in his workshop, which is nearly as big as my house and outfitted with every tool imaginable. Two weeks spent stripping green paint, sanding surfaces, and priming doors in batches crawled past.

The doors came home to my studio to be given three coats of pure white paint. Replacement hinges and knobs fit the clean lines I envisioned. Mounting the lower doors was easy. The high ones, not so much. Again, Bob arrived and had the tall upper doors in place (with me holding them) in half an hour.

The room looked great except for the 1980 wood-grained Formica countertop with loose edge strips that caught on anyone passing. Replacing the counter would mean big bucks. There had to be a less expensive way.

The Miracle Method

before kitchen renovation

refurbish kitchen on a budget



On Saturday I invited friends over for drinks. After they’d oohed and aahed about the “new” kitchen, I said to them, “There’s a company in town that refinishes counters for a lot less than replacing them. Next time I see their ad, I’ll write down their number.”

Sunday morning I went out to get the paper and lo and behold! There was a $70 off coupon for Miracle Method.

Monday, I went to the showroom to find out when I could get an estimate. The young lady left, returned, and said, “How about today?” I barely beat Robert, the Miracle Method boss, home!

On Thursday, the fridge took up residence on one side of the dining table and the stove on the other. Plastic sheets draped cabinets, sink and floor. The installer had filled all the dings and cracks. By 5 p.m., the Formica had been transformed into what looked like a granite slab. Even though I’d been warned not to touch, I couldn’t help gently tapping the “stone” with an inquisitive finger. I was in love.

On Friday, the installer sprayed her little heart out, then cautioned me, “You can put things, including the appliances, back in 24 hours, but not heavy things like the microwave because it will mar the surface. Give it 48 hours.” The plastic came down, she cleaned up, and was gone.

Kitchen on a budget

When the stove and fridge were back in place and my usual countertop clutter restored, my heart felt as if it would burst. Friends and strangers alike had created a modern space decades away from the 40-year-old kitchen I’d worked in for 18 years.

As I worked, my vision of what I wanted changed, getting better with each step. Because I invested a lot of sweat and looked for bargains instead of buying new cabinets and countertop, I spent less than $2,500.

The best part of the refurbishing cost nothing. Relining the cabinets and drawers made me revisit my stuff. Did I actually need 23 coffee cups? How about the garlic press that left most of the garlic in the basket? Or three partial jars of thyme? And really, how many cutting boards does one woman need?

I had gotten into the habit of leaving dirty dishes in the sink and boxes of cereal and other clutter on the counter. Now I’m eager to keep my kitchen clean and neat. I sit in the morning sun, serene and joyful, write in my journal, and smile as I look at my brand-new kitchen.