BE­FORE & AF­TER

Smart shop­ping and sweat equity helped a pair of handy home­own­ers trans­form a dated and cramped kitchen while keep­ing their bud­get and style in­tact.

Better Homes & Gardens - - Contents -

Smart moves re­sult in an on­bud­get kitchen up­grade.

You could call Myquil­lyn and Chad Smith nest­ing ex­perts. They’ve set­tled into 14 new houses in 23 years, hon­ing their DIY chops with each move. A kitchen re­model, though, was un­charted ter­ri­tory, and the 1987 farm­house they found in Mid­land, NC, was due. “We did the re­model in stages,” says Myquil­lyn (cre­ator of, no sur­prise, then­ester.com). “We paid cash for ev­ery­thing, so we worked slowly.” They started by knock­ing out most of the wall dividing the cramped kitchen from the din­ing room and re­work­ing the floor plan to in­clude a big is­land. That was phase one, and it took sev­eral months. Next came a bak­ing sta­tion, some tiling work, and even­tu­ally a new ceil­ing treat­ment. “This was the first kitchen I ever had any say in,” Myquil­lyn says. “Get­ting to pick out ev­ery­thing was so ex­cit­ing that it far out­weighed the has­sle and lit­tle in­con­ve­niences.”

BE­FOREScrap­ing off the orig­i­nal pop­corn ceil­ings with putty knives created a smooth sur­face for painted planks of lauan ply­wood, which Myquil­lyn and Chad Smith bought and had cut into 12-inch boards at a home store.The Smiths bal­anced a few splurges (like quartz-sur­fac­ing coun­ters and new appliances) with sav­ings on self-as­sem­ble IKEA cab­i­nets and ba­sic sub­way tile. Wood floors were an up­grade to the vinyl, though still a bar­gain: The wood was sal­vaged from the walls of an en­closed back porch.

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