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The mini kitchen remodel reveal

Have you been on the edge of your seat, wondering how my DIY mini kitchen remodel turned out? Well, here we go!

We didn’t do a full renovation, knowing we were only going to live in Virginia Beach for a few years before selling, but we still wanted to improve the kitchen and make it more comfortable and beautiful for ourselves in the meantime.

Kitchen Cabinet updates – simple and cheap

We started simple… replacing the dark hinges with white ones. At first, we considered painting them, but we knew that could affect how well they worked, and went for replacing instead. It was an inexpensive change, but really lifted the whole kitchen if you ask me… taking out a bit of the country-ness, and making the cabinets appear fresher and more modern.

a simple way to update cabinets can be as easy as replacing dark hinges for white ones. cute kitchen with white cabinets, subway tile backsplash, butcher block counters, tile floor, stainless steel appliances.

Clearing the counter with one simple change

Another thing we knew we needed to do was add a venting microwave over the stove. Microwaves take up so much space on the counter tops, and cleaning around and under them can be a pain, so we have always liked when they were installed somewhere else.

a diy mini kitchen remodel left this kitchen looking fresh and uncluttered. white cabinets, butcher block counters, stainless appliances, and subway tile bnacksplash.

We LOVED this change, and appreciated soooo much having our counter more clear and simple. It wasn’t “nothing” to install it, but it wasn’t hard to do, especially since the vent already existed.

a sprayer faucet sits behind a giant white single basin sink.

The simplest kitchen change that made the biggest difference – sink swap!

Another change that made a HUGE impact for us was to swap the shallow two-basin sink and the faucet without a sprayer. As far as quality of life goes, this may have been the #1 best choice of our DIY mini kitchen remodel!

We picked out a massive single basin sink made of quartz composite, and an inexpensive sprayer faucet, and it became sooooo much easier to wash large pots, cookie sheets, and anything else. The other sink was so cramped, so it was a massive improvement.

lots of fruit and vegetables soak in a gigantic white sink, surrounded by butcher block counters and subway tile backsplash.

Now I could wash an entire grocery haul worth of produce at once (just fill up the sink with water and splash in some vinegar, and go to town). It made me SO happy to see my colorful fruits and veggies swirling around in the sink while I prepped ingredients for the week.

best part of the diy kitchen remodel - switching to a huge new single basin sink. a child takes a bath in the gigantic white sink. butcher block counters and subway tile backsplash

And it was the perfect place for Henry to have a bath while I worked in the kitchen, too. I didn’t need to sit upstairs in the bathroom with him while he played. Instead, he could splash and play near me while I made dinner, and we could chat.

Bounce the light around the kitchen with bright white subway tiles

I feel like I have to talk about the backsplash now too. We went with standard 3×6″ white subway tile, with white sealed grout. My husband has done countless tiling projects ever since he was a kid. He definitely learned a lot from his dad and through experience (and trial and error). He did a FANTASTIC job on our backsplash! I have to say that I loved the reflectiveness of the tile all the way up to the cabinets. It really made the kitchen so much brighter and more cheerful.

spice jars on acrylic shelves hang on the side of the fridge. in the foreground, apple peels and cloves simmer in a pot on the stove.

Note than in the above picture, the backsplash wasn’t up yet, but we absolutely put it on this wall too.

Space-Saving Spice Storage that’s beautiful to look at (simplest part of the DIY mini kitchen remodel)

Onto less of a renovation thing and more of a creative storage solution. I needed to find a home for my spices that would work well for me. The drawers in this house are too shallow for them to stand up. They were even too shallow and narrow for drawer spice organizers! (Plus, I wanted that drawer to the right of the stove for my cooking utensils).

fresh bread in a cast iron skillet sits on a butcher block counter . spices are in jars on acrylic shelves above it.

Sooooooo… I came up with a solution that worked really well! I got these narrow acrylic shelves, and at first tried to hang them on the side of my fridge with massively strong magnets. But the magnets weren’t strong enough, so I ended up using 3M adhesive strips instead, which worked perfectly. Then, I transferred all of my spices, seasonings, and herbs into these beautiful glass jars. (They even came with labels for the sides or the lids. I put mine on the lids) so they’d be pretty to look at.i

I did have some that I use less often, so I didn’t feel the need to put into those jars. Instead, I just put those in a basket in the pantry. That way, they were easy to grab when I needed them, but out of the way for my daily cooking.

after a diy mini kitchen remodel, a child sits on a butcher block counter and licks a mixer beater.

Butcher Block Bliss – the best choice for a mini DIY Kitchen Remodel

At this point, you’ve probably noticed the countertops, and you’re like “Emily, why haven’t you said anything about that butcher block yet???” Because the old counters were some kind of cheapie laminate material or something, and they were mostly black. They weren’t the worst counters I’ve ever seen, but we were changing the island anyway. The island had a bar-height section, and we wanted it to be all one level. AND we were putting in a new sink, so it made the most sense to just replace the counters altogether.

a child sits on a butcher block kitchen counter, holding a mixer beater and smiling. the kitchen has had a mini kitchen remodel and looks fresh and modern

We settled on butcher block because it’s SO affordable compared with everything else we like. Plus, it would have felt really weird to put in quartz or something fantastic like that, while keeping the old cabinets. So we got the wood at the hardware store and my husband cut the pieces to size, then stained/sealed it with so many layers of Waterlox.

You don’t have to do all the sealing we did, but we wanted to have strong and waterproof butcher block, with minimal maintenance. I think if you don’t seal it similarly, you’d treat it with oil instead, and periodically you’d need to re-oil. It would give you a different experience/feel and a different look, aesthetically, so it’s just up to you what you decide.

We loved the counters so much. They did get little scratches and dings, but it added to the charm, and wasn’t a problem at all.

three children smile, sitting at a butcher block kitchen counter, with make-your-own-pizzas in front of them

A family-friendly kitchen: Counters make the difference!

And we absolutely USED the counters. Before , the bar height section of the island made it much harder to work around the entire island. It made it harder for the kids to sit for a meal and be comfortable. (And not worry about pushing their drink off the ledge accidentally).

child in an apron rolling dough on butcher block kitchen counters

Just like in our old house in Maryland in 2014 (where we had a counter-height peninsula), the kitchen became a hub of activity. It was a place where the kids could do artwork. They could help me with cooking, or enjoy their meals while I worked and we chatted.

fruit baskets mounted on the wall

Produce Storage NOT on the countertop

If I didn’t mention our fruit baskets, I’d be doing you a huge disservice… because while we’ve had other solutions in other homes, they don’t work everywhere. For instance, we had a 3-tiered hanging basket in Ridgecrest, CA that worked perfectly in that kitchen. But here in Virginia Beach, if I hung it anywhere, it would just be in the way of cabinets, or be really awkward looking.

Instead, I found these AMAZING heavy-duty baskets to mount on the wall. I used gorilla hooks to hang them, and they could hold pounds and pounds of potatoes, apples, and anything else I threw at them, without even flinching. If you have a wall in or near your kitchen where you could put these, I HIGHLY recommend them. That way, you won’t need a fruit basket taking up valuable counter space, and you can store as much produce as you need to in a convenient way.

That’s a wrap! I hope you liked our mini DIY Kitchen Remodel

I hope you liked the “after” tour of our DIY mini kitchen remodel. We did change a lot of things, but since we were working with the existing cabinets, didn’t change the footprint of the kitchen at all, and tried to keep costs minimal since we knew this wasn’t our “forever home,” it felt more mini than maxi.

Our Virginia Beach home belongs to a new family now.

Sure enough, as we had anticipated and planned for, after 3 lovely years in Virginia Beach, we sold our home and moved to Maryland. I hope the family who bought our house loves the kitchen as we left it, which is so much better than we found it.

Here are a few photos from our real estate listing from when we sold the house. This kitchen was so good to us.

bright and airy kitchen remodel - white cabinets and butcher block counters with subway tile backsplash
bright and airy kitchen remodel - white cabinets and butcher block counters with subway tile backsplash, stainless steel appliances
bright and airy kitchen remodel - white cabinets and butcher block counters with subway tile backsplash

But wait – there’s more! Kitchen Renovation, that is.

If you want a massive kitchen overhaul though… just wait! We’re in a new home now, and doing a COMPLETE kitchen renovation. When I post the “before” I’ll link it here, and you can follow along! You’re going to love it.

What was your favorite part of our mini DIY kitchen reno? What did you feel made the most impact? Will you copy anything we did for YOUR kitchen? Tell me about it in the comments!

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Emily! I have been following you for so long I can’t actually remember what year it was that I found you but I do remember it was when I started following a Paleo Diet and your first daughter was a baby!

    I love the Butcher block countertops and I’m hoping this post will convince my husband that we should use them for ours!

    I’m so happy your email landed in my inbox again this morning. Reading your blog again is like being reunited with a long time friend who you haven’t seen in years.

    • good luck convincing your husband on the butcher block. we both really loved it!!
      thank you for being with me all this time. <3 glad to see you again too!


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