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Kitchen update: new tile backsplash and more


Hello, all!  Today I’m sharing with you some long-overdue pictures of a DIY budget kitchen makeover that I finished earlier this year.  If you recall, my condo needed LOTS of cosmetic help when I bought it (over two years ago now!).  In addition to being the Crayola Condo (it seemed as if it had 64 different paint colors), it was also very dated.  Updates are happening little by little as the time, energy, and budget permit. Anyway, the kitchen was probably the worst room in the house when I got here and the one that needed the most attention.  It looked like this on the day of closing.


Before picture of budget kitchen makeover


A closer view:

Ugly kitchen with black microwave, pinkish counters, and 1980s tile

The white enamel sink on the right was so worn that no amount of cleaning could make it white again.  The microwave clashed with everything, and the counters had an overall pinkish-brown tone to them.  And this tile kept me awake at night:

Ugly kitchen tile gets a budget kitchen makeover

Ugly kitchen tile.

By the way, in case you are wondering, that’s not some kind of custom Mexican mosaic art tile. That’s white bathroom tile with a decal on top.


One Saturday morning last September, I couldn’t stand it anymore. That tile had to go.  Starting cautiously in a discreet corner, I used a hammer an chisel to see if I could pop the tiles off the drywall without doing too much damage. It took about two weeks to remove the tile completely, and overall the drywall survived in fairly good shape with the exception of a few big holes over the sink area.  Here it was mid-demo:

Removing tile from drywall during kitchen makeover

If you ask me, it looks better already. 🙂

Old enameled iron sink would not come clean

The old sink and a better view of the pinkish countertops.

Parts of this budget kitchen makeover were easy to do myself, such as demo-ing the tile and hauling it out (in small buckets – that stuff’s heavy!). But I needed professional help here as well.  A friend recommended his buddy Jeff to help with replacing the sink and faucet, repairing the holes in the drywall, and preparing the walls for the new backsplash.  As soon as the new sink and faucet were installed, I began to see that I’d soon be looking at that old, tragic kitchen in my rear view mirror.

New stainless steel sink and Delta faucet

Ahhhh! Such an improvement. I think there’s light at the end of this long, dusty tunnel.

And Still More During!

But before the new backsplash could be installed, one big thing still needed attention – the pink laminate countertops. The laminate itself was actually in terrific shape – no major chips or scratches.  All that was wrong here was the color. I wanted something brighter and more contemporary with a stone-like look.  New counters (even the cheapest laminate) would cost over $3,000.  I’m concerned about how much money I spend on the condo – I’m afraid of over-spending and not being able to recoup that money at resale.

So, looking for less expensive alternatives, I finally hired a company called Miracle Method to resurface the existing counters.  They were here for 3 days, and their process involves cleaning, sanding, and preparing the existing surface, then spraying layers of a solid color and speckled coating to achieve a stone-like look. The whole thing is then thoroughly sealed with several layers of a clear coat. I did a LOT of research about how durable this product is before selecting it for my kitchen, and everything I learned showed one happy customer after another, some of whom eventually had hired Miracle Method to come back to their home 15+ years later to resurface it again simply because they were tired of the color!  And I have to say that having lived with the finished product for 9 months now, I can see why there are so many great reviews for Miracle Method.  I am thrilled with my “new” counters.  They are super easy to clean, don’t stain or chip, and the total job was just $1,100!!  (By the way, I am not getting paid a penny for that raving endorsement of Miracle Method. I just wanted to share my feedback for others who may be considering their services as a very affordable option for new countertops.)

Newly refinished countertops by Miracle Method were key to my budget kitchen makeover

“New” countertops from Miracle Method.

Will it Ever End?

With the new sink in place and counters refinished, it was time to start putting up the new backsplash.  It is challenging to live in a home with an ongoing kitchen renovation, and I felt ready to complete this project.  I searched everywhere for affordable tile options (there is a mind-numbing selection available) and decided on natural stone tile.  I rejected the idea of a counter-to-cabinet backsplash – a partial backsplash with plenty of wall space between the stone and the cabinets enlarges a tiny kitchen.  Travertine tile is affordable, beautiful, and is available in umpteen different sizes and shapes.  A very generous friend helped me install the backsplash, and we completed it one or two evenings.

DIY travertine tile backsplash was easy using SimpleMat

Tile and spacers, pre-grout.

Tile work is FUN!  And it is faster and easier with a product from Home Depot called SimpleMatSimpleMat is basically a double-sided adhesive sheet that you trim to size and use to adhere the tiles to your wall without troweling on messy adhesive or mortar.  I recommend this product if you’re thinking of a DIY tile project (again, there’s no paid endorsement here – it’s just good stuff). Once the tile was done, I primed and painted the walls, replaced outlet covers, and did a bit of decorating.  And then… voila!

And Finally, After!  My Completed Budget Kitchen Makeover

After picture from my budget kitchen makeover

After picture with new tile backsplash, sink, and refinished countertops

Truly, I am thrilled with the end result!  As far as updates go, it was a very affordable budget kitchen makeover at around $2,700:

  • Countertop refinishing – $1,100
  • New sink and faucet – $300
  • Tile and supplies – $400
  • Labor for drywall and sink replacement – $800
  • “New” white microwave from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore – $20
  • Paint and miscellaneous supplies – $100 ish
  • Sweaty equity and generosity (tile demolition, painting, tool loans, and assistance with tile installation from a patient friend – PRICELESS!)

If you have redone a kitchen on a budget or have any questions about my own re-do, please leave me a comment below!


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