Easy, Budget Kitchen and Dining Room Updates

Today I thought we’d take a little trip back in time. Every once in a while (or maybe like at least once a week), I’ll be perusing Instagram or Pinterest and get a little bit discouraged about the state of my house. I start falling into that trap of internet inadequacy and comparing my stuff to other people’s stuff. I pride myself on being pretty immune to the comparison game most of the time, but I think in this world of social media, we all fall victim to it every now and then. Somehow it usually revolves around seeing kitchens and dining rooms–the two rooms in my house that drive me the MOST crazy (I’m just not a huge fan of the layout). Then I watch Fixer Upper and I might as well just light a match to the whole thing (I kid–mostly).

Dining Room Buffet MyFabulessLife.com

Basically, on any given day, I can sit look around my house and find about 1,001 things that I want to change, projects I want to tackle (I’m looking at you baseboards that still don’t exist FOUR years after we laid our floors), or things that just downright drive me crazy. So, the other day, I’m having one of these “I’m not Joanna Gaines, so life has no meaning–I just need to win the lottery” moments, and I also happened to be updating some old blog posts, which involved looking through old pictures. And I thought, you know what Jenn, you’ve come pretty damn far. My kitchen may not have beautiful custom cabinetry, or even finished paint in certain areas (#laziness), but in the time we’ve lived here, our little house has gone through quite the transformation and we’ve done quite a bit on the small budget we’ve had. So, today, I’m going to take you on a little time warp through the last eight years of our house. Actually, today is just the kitchen and dining room. The living room history is a whole other s**t show that deserves it’s own time-travel post. My hope with today’s post is that  you can find a little inspiration on that long road of making your house a home (ours has taken 8 years), or at the very least, get a good laugh at some of the HORRIBLE decorating decisions I’ve made. Is it perfect? Nope. Far from it. I mean, magazines aren’t exactly beating down my door, but we’ve come a long way and so can you with time and patience. And instead of being discouraged by how much more there still is to do, let’s give ourselves a little pat on the back today for how far we’ve come.

This is where we started when we very first looked at our house. Full of that beautiful builder’s grade charm. Tan walls, tan ceilings, boob lights (many of which still need to be changed out), cheap ugly tile, and yellow-ish cabinets. For the record: this was the previous homeowner’s decor, not mine.

Builders Grade Kitchen Before

So when we moved in, like most eager first time homeowners, we painted. Lord did we paint. Here’s a little pro tip: NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. EVER. (was that clear enough?) pick out your paint colors at the store. Also, when the experts on HGTV talk about “playing off of some of the colors in your inspiration piece,” that does not mean COLOR MATCH the piece. I wanted to display pottery I had bought on our honeymoon–remember, we were fairly newlywed homeowners–so I color-matched the pottery. It ended up in a big WTF situation. Also, sidenote: Things that are totally overrated: vaulted ceilings In. Every. Room. I hate them, except in the living room. Taller cabinets in that huge, wasted, ceiling space are on the “someday” list. But we’re focusing on positives today…focusing on positives.

kitchen before

The spacing and scale of the accessories just makes me laugh in these pictures, trial and error my friends. And this makes the blue look a little less cray. It wasn’t. It was that ugly, bright blue you see above.


I pretty much hated the blue situation like a week after we did it, but it was a lot of work, so I convinced myself I loved it, and we lived with it for a couple of years until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Also, I have this habit of changing my mind fairly often (as illustrated by this post), so sometimes I’m, shall we say, strategic about telling the husband that I’ve changed my mind yet again. Anyway, then I went a light, minty green–which I still love. And this time I also TESTED it on the walls for a few days before I made my decision. Funny thing: at the time, I actually wanted to go white, but “no one paints their whole house white” was sort of the sentiment, so I didn’t do it. Gray was also my first choice before the blue, and I got talked out of it. I should learn to listen to brilliant self.What can I say, I’m a trend-setter ;) Here’s another tip: Do what you want! It’s your freaking house! Who cares what anyone else thinks!  And it would have saved me a lot of time when I did actually decide to go white in most of the rest of the house (which is only like half finished to this day). The difference getting rid of the blue made was pretty staggering. Also, hello random plate hanging way off from the shelf. That’s called: Jenn didn’t want to put another nail hole in the wall, so she left them in the same place they had been with the old shelves.

kitchen before

I actually really loved this whole look for the most part–aside from that awful light that we re-centered and resulted in it hanging ridiculously high because we didn’t have extra chain. The biggest change was when we finally ripped up the tile and replaced it with laminate floors, and since we were undertaking that giant project, why not paint the cabinets too. Oh, and add a backsplash.

Small Kitchen Storage and Organization MyFabulessLife.com

Fall Kitchen MyFabulessLife.com

Then came the black walls in the kitchen. I loved the green, but I was ready for a change (see what I mean by “changing my mind”) and wanted to do something kind of bold, so black it was. It just so happens, I’m starting to itch for a little change again, so the black walls may be going soon–the jury is still out. At this point, the husband and I have a deal that I get to paint as long as he doesn’t have to help–it’s a beautiful relationship we have.

Kitchen Counter

Farmhouse Dining Room Black Walls MyFabulessLife.com

So basically, in the last few years, we’ve transformed these two rooms by:
-adding a new light (that I got for free)
-adding a shelf above the buffet
-adding a new faucet to the sink
-and adding a backsplash that cost us less than $100

The floors were a big ticket purchase, but they run through our entire upstairs, so aside from the floors, the total cost of changes in this room were probably somewhere in the neighborhood of $350.00.

It may not be perfect, but when I look back to where we were and where we’ve come, it’s kind of rewarding. And most importantly, we’ve put a lot of sweat and tears (I literally cried when I painted the cabinets), into making this OUR little home. And that’s really what’s most important, right? Not that it’s Pinterest or magazine perfect, but that it’s a little piece of us and our family. So, next time you have any of those feelings of “internet inadequacy,” sit back and take a little trip back in time and see just how far you’ve come, or just how possible it is to make your home a place you love even on the tiniest of budgets. Slow and steady friends…slow and steady.

You Might Also Like:

Kitchen Renovation Before and AfterHow to renovate you kitchen on a tight budget | MyFabulessLife.com

 How To Install A Wood Plank Backsplash

Fall Kitchen MyFabulessLife.com

 How to Paint Cabinets

How To Paint Cabinets | MyFabulessLife.com


  1. Bethany says

    So glad to hear that I’m not the only one who just can’t leave the paint alone. We’ve lived in our house for about 7 years and we’ve painted the living room so many times that my dad told us he thought the walls might just grow together if we put many more coats of paint on them. ; )

    When we moved in I wanted ALL dark colors. Dark mocha in living room, kitchen, and hallways. Chocolate in our bedroom (I wanted plum but was too chicken…thank goodness). The exact same blue as your kitchen in one guest room and lime green (????) in the other guest room.

    Most of my days are now spent day dreaming about the day that my husband agrees to paint.

    • says

      Oh my gosh! It’s like we’re soulmates! My living room was DARK brown with like a purple hue and a terrible green accent wall that was supposed to be mint, but ended up way more like pale lime! I feel like the mid 2000’s were a dark time for me and my paint choices :D

  2. says

    Jenn, great post! I laugh a lot and find myself in you. Totally freaking at certain times when my choice of painting was terrible! kkkk
    Once I decided that our two of our dining room walls had to be the green that in Brazil we call “verde-bandeira” to match with the green trees from outside…
    “Verde” means green and “bandeira” means flag. It is called “verde-bandeira” as a reference to the green we have in Brazil’s flag.
    This is the color: https://www.suvinil.com.br/pt/familias/4/971/verde-bandeira.aspx
    And the result was really, really bad but… My husband to do not like too many changes and waste of money… so…I survived for a few years looking daily at it!
    kisses ML

  3. says

    I have to show this post to my husband;) and I’m not even painting walls (seems like too big an investmnent for me at the moment), just moving furniture around! I liked the mint version, and black too. It’s evident your style – and skills! – are evolving. Your home is actually pinterest worthy;) But the thing that brings me back here is that beautiful “A few of my favourite things” art that I pinned quite a while ago and haven’t even began workign on making something similar .. (I hope that sentence is readable?) So, thank you for that in your sincerity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>