French Country Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover On A Budget

Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover On A Budget

French Country Kitchen Makeover On A Budget

So, here’s a quick intro. Almost three years ago, my husband and I bought a home with heavy cigarette smoke damage. When I say heavy, I mean it. The walls were brown. The grout was stained in all the tile-work. We hoped that we could salvage the drywall and seal in the smell, but otherwise, we knew that most surfaces would have to go or be sealed in order to get rid of the smell. When we bought our stinky house, we knew that every single room needed remodeled. And we knew that it would be expensive. But I also had a dream. A dream of a little country kitchen where I could spend hours happily cooking away. I’ve always loved a French Country vibe and I’d been collecting blue dishes and copper decor for years just waiting to find a place for them to belong.

Kitchen: Before

Our little house in the country was begging for a country kitchen, it just didn’t know it yet. There was no way that I would be able to afford to gut my kitchen and start over because that would have blown the entire budget for our house. We saved money by doing all the work ourselves and by keeping the original cabinets. I also attempted to keep the original appliances as well. That blew up in my face. If you find yourself considering buying a smoke-damaged home to remodel, you should really consider having the owner’s give an appliance allowance. Within the first month, the fridge died because of all the nasty cigarette smoke build-up on the coils. I killed the microwave trying to clean the brown crud out of it. And despite taking my oven completely apart and cleaning every piece of it, it would still smell like someone was blowing a cigarette in my face every time I turned it on. So yeah. That didn’t work out. But, so far in our other projects, things have stayed below or within budget, so I feel like I deserve new appliances. Anyway. The kitchen. I loved the space and the open layout of the kitchen. I decided to keep the cabinets and paint them because I couldn’t afford new cabinets. They were oak and well-made, but they stunk. Bad. After cleaning as much of the cigarette crud off the cabinets as I could with Krud Kutter and TSP, I painted the cabinets. I followed this tutorial, because if it’s good enough for Bob Vila, it’s good enough for me.

modern farmhouse kitchen makeover on a budget

Cabinets Before

First, I took off all the doors and hardware and lightly sanded all the surfaces.  I used Zinnser’s B-I-N Shellac to prime them. This is the primer that we used on the walls as well because it’s simply the best thing out there for sealing in smoke damage. It also gives a nice, smooth primed surface on wood, perfect for re-finishing cabinets. We attached beadboard using a finishing nailer to the exposed sides of all the cabinets and added it all around the kitchen island when we refinished that as well to give the kitchen a more custom look. I love how the cabinets turned out. I painted the cabinets with Benjamin Moore Advance in Bavarian Cream. The cream is such an inviting color and it’s held up wonderfully even with three small children. I still haven’t found hardware that I love, so as of yet, they still don’t have hardware, but I love them anyway.


modern farmhouse kitchen makeover on a budget

For the island, I used a repurposed butcher block table that had been a dining table of my parents. I had been lugging around with me since college, dragging it from house to house every time I moved, waiting for the perfect house to put it in. It just so happened to fit perfectly on the existing island cabinets, so I think it was destined to go in this kitchen. To match that, I bought IKEA Karlby countertops: I wanted these because they were thicker than then Hammarp ones so they matched the thickness of my butcher block. And also cheaper. The Karlby has a top of beechwood over particle-board. I was kind of nervous putting particleboard in the kitchen, but I planned on just sealing the heck out of it so I hoped it would hold up okay. I had my big chunk of raw butcher block for the island for a food prep area, so I didn’t care if I could cut up food on the IKEA counters, I just wanted them to be sealed and look nice. My husband and I cut the countertop to size with a jig and a circular saw. The angled pieces were tough, but he has a steady hand. I was worried about the steam from the dishwasher, but IKEA sells an adhesive metallic strip that you place above the dishwasher and so far there haven’t been any issues. The counter does not have water damage around the sink as well, another concern of mine. I’ve had these counters for close to two years now, and they have held up exceptionally well. Fingers crossed.

We took out the stainless steel builder’s grade sink and replaced it. I had my heart set on a farmhouse sink. But when I looked up prices online for a real, porcelain farmhouse sink, I knew my husband wouldn’t go for it. I found this acrylic sink and decided to try it. I read that they can be more delicate, so I bought plastic sink protectors to keep them from getting dinged up. I also don’t poor boiling water into the sink as I read it could damage it. I’m careful about knives in the sink as well, but I think throwing knives into the sink while you’re washing dishes is just generally a bad idea anyway. In the two years I’ve had it, I haven’t had any scratches or knicks in it, so I’m very happy with it.


modern farmhouse kitchen makeover on a budget

Backsplash tile from China plus border tiles from Home Depot

For the backsplash, I really wanted something with a bit of a French Country flare. I couldn’t find tile for the backsplash that I liked anywhere, so I took a chance and ordered some porcelain tiles from China with the design I was looking for from I was pretty nervous about what I would get, but they arrived quickly and were in great shape, so I was pretty thrilled. The backsplash went in easily and the cream color in the tile was a perfect match to the cream of my cabinets. I purchased some porcelain blue mosaic tiles from Home Depot to add a border between the backsplash and the countertop:


modern farmhouse kitchen makeover on a budget

Bookshelf/column support for breakfast island

My husband built up bookshelves on the back of the island for all of my many cookbooks that acted as the support columns to a breakfast counter as well. We used the Karlby countertop for the breakfast counter. For the floor, I used some porcelain tile from Lowes that is now discontinued. I used this tile for the main flooring in the entryway, downstairs hallway, and one bathroom as well. So, as much as I like it, I’m okay that they discontinued it because I was able to snatch up a bunch of it for a deep discount.





We also decided to re-do the range vent as well. It was originally just oak like the cabinets, but I hated it. It just stuck out like a sore thumb. So I bought some Rustic Copper panels from We primed the original vent cover to keep it from stinking and installed the panels with Liquid Nails and copper colored nails.

modern farmhouse kitchen makeover on a budget

Crown Molding spray painted copper

My husband also installed crown molding around the top that I had spray painted copper around the top to finish it. Installing crown molding on an outside corner is hard enough, but to do it on an angled ceiling is practically impossible. I’m still impressed every time I look at it. I love it. It’s so much better than the oak veneer panel that covered the vent before. It’s like having a fancy range vent cover and still getting to have a microwave over the range. And without the cost of a fancy vent cover.

modern farmhouse kitchen makeover on a budget

Copper panel vent range cover


I used the same copper spray paint to paint these two spice racks from Amazon and installed them on both sides of my sink. I love having all my most-used spices right on hand and it cleared up a bunch of pantry space as well. When you have every kitchen gadget known to man, space is important. I also put in this copper pot rack, also from Amazon. I simply didn’t have the cabinet space for all of my pots and pans, and it’s so nice to have them all at my fingertips as I’m cooking. Because of our angled ceilings, we had to add chains to install the pot rack at the height we wanted. I just bought some chains at Home Depot and spray painted them copper, since I couldn’t find copper chains anywhere.

There you have it. I love my farmhouse kitchen. It’s a cook’s dream, with plenty of prep space to roll out dough and cut up veggies. All of my pots and pans are easy to access and I have tons of cabinet space to store all of my kitchen gadgets (Yes, I have too many. No, I don’t want to get rid of anything. Yes, I do think I need two different steamers and three fondue pots. It’s important, don’t ask). I spend the most time in the kitchen than any other room in the house, so if I had a bigger budget, the kitchen would have had more upgrades. But I didn’t. So it doesn’t. And I think it’s plenty cute just the way it is.

Modern farmhouse kitchen makeover on a budget

Finished kitchen with IKEA Karlby counters: I found the rooster in my mom’s basement (something she bought forty years ago). I cleaned up all the tarnish and now he watches over my kitchen 🙂

French country farmhouse makeover on a budget

8 comments on “French Country Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover On A Budget

  1. I want to remove the board above the cabinets and have an open space like your kitchen.. Do you have any suggestions on how to remove it? There is crown molding on the ceiling, and I don’t know if it is attached to the board…I loosened one section…I’m thinking about taking a hammer to it since there is empty space behind it!! Any help will be appreciated.

    • So, if I’m following what you’re saying correctly, you have just a sheet of wood above your cabinets and crown molding above? That’s super unfortunate, because that sounds like it’s just wasted space. Crown molding is usually nailed in at the top and bottom, so it probably is attached to the board. If you’re going to remove the board, you’ll probably have to take the crown molding off first. I would tap a putty knife in with a hammer between the board and crown molding and start loosening it, loosen it down the entire length and keep working it like that. When you have a wide enough gap, you can gently start working a crow bar in along the length of the molding as well. That way, the crown molding won’t just bust when you’re removing it. I wonder, though, if you could remove the front of the board, and leave the sides and crown molding up and add dividers instead to make little cubbies above your cabinets. I’ve thought about doing something like this before and it sounds like you might already be halfway there:

  2. LOVE, love, love your kitchen!!! Absolutely brilliant!! Could you PLEASE share the link of where you bought the beautiful blue, white and floral tiles from China? I adore them and would love to have them in my kitchen. Thanks so much for the inspiration! <3

  3. So Kati,
    Where do you dump your boiling water?

    This is amazing! I’m so impressed that you do all this work yourself. My husband IS NOT a handyman, nor am I a handywoman , so I have to hire most things done, which I can’t afford, so most things just go undone.
    I’m totally turned off by cigarette smoke smell, I wouldn’t have ever considered buying a house with it, heck, as a Realtor, I even hate showing houses that have been smoked in. 🤢

    • Thanks so much! btw, our realtor thought the same about the smoke. You wouldn’t know that this house was ever smoke in, though, which is impressive, I think 🙂 I didn’t use to be handy, but I think anybody can learn. Youtube tutorials and instructional books got us through a lot of projects. You can put boiling water in the sink if you run cold tap water at the same time, but I usually don’t even do that. I either dump it outside, or just wait till it cools. It’s not that big of a deal. I could probably just drain it in the sink and run cold water, like the instructions on my sink said, but I’m paranoid.

  4. I am kind of new to trying to create some new results with all the ideas I am reading about. I just read about some kind of paper that looks like subway tiles for a backsplash and the article said it came from Target and it is not contact paper. It was written by someone who rents. I cannot find the article/info that I just read! Any idea of what I am talking about?

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