thrifty diy investment that pays dividendsIf you’ve bought your first home, you are familiar with the exhilaration of being handed your first set of keys and no longer having to tiptoe or keep the kids or pets quiet so as not to disturb the neighbors who are a mere thin floor, ceiling, or wall away.

You are probably also familiar with the list of projects that just keeps growing as the years pass.

I don’t recommend putting off almost all projects like we have in the past, only to later ratchet up the to-do list in an effort to get the house looking great so you can put it up for sale.

There is a lot to be said for choosing your upgrades wisely and being able to enjoy them while you still live in the home.

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Improvements are not all equal

While all improvements are generally good for one reason or another, some can be an investment that will pay dividends both now and later.

A kitchen facelift is one of those projects, and the especially good news is that the actual experience needed is minimal, depending on how much you decide to change.

We moved to Tennessee last summer and recently purchased a home we love.

Although it met our criteria of being structurally sound and move-in ready, we decided to budget for sprucing up the kitchen because it was straight out of the 1980’s: dark mauve walls and equally dark stained oak cabinets with very dated hardware. Plus, there was a countertop we wanted to move about a foot higher to accommodate swiveling bar stools so our company could sit and visit if we were working in the kitchen.

Oak kitchen mauve walls before wm

Lay the groundwork, do the deed

After much discussion, planning, and testing, we decided to go with buttery yellow walls and a soft off-white for the cabinets. We also thought we’d attach vinyl floor tiles to the backside of the kitchen counter to give it a richer look that offset the white. They look like expensive ceramic tile when installed and are durable, hide the dirt, and easy to clean.

We made a plan, purchased the materials, and proceeded to clean, sand, paint, hammer, glue, and nail our way to a fresh new look.

While I couldn’t tell you the exact cost, I’ll share what I do know:

Hours spent: Many. Sorry, I just didn’t keep track.

Cost: $407. We already owned paint brushes, sand paper, etc, so those things are not part of this total. The cost did include a spiffy new faucet on clearance—$105—because the old one leaked. Also, when I used the old sprayer, it stuck in the “on” position and continued to soak me and everything else in range. If we had gone with just paint, new hardware and hinges, the cost would have been about $220.

yellow white kitchen diy after wm

Here are some of the dividends you, too, can enjoy, doing a project like this:

1. You get to work towards a tangible, short-term goal with your spouse. The time spent together can be joyful, and it can also provide practice in being generous with your patience. 🙂 For example, when my husband was placing the counter onto the brand new wood support brackets, he hit one of the brackets and broke it in half. The fix was simple, and he moved the bracket next to the wall where it won’t show. Problem solved, no fighting needed. If you are concerned about too much time together, however, I suggest checking out this wisdom from Dustin about co-puttering.

2. You get to enjoy the fruit of your labor. This is a huge improvement over hurriedly completing projects because you want the house to look good when you put it up for sale in the very near future. We’ve done it both ways, and living with the fresh new look and more user-friendly end result is much preferred. We enjoy such a sense of delight and satisfaction every time we walk into our newly bright and sunny kitchen!

3. You will find the space easier to keep clean. The Broken Window theory basically states that when a building is in disrepair, more damage is apt to be done. Conversely, when it is kept in good shape, it is less of a target. The same holds true for your home. While you may have tolerated and/or not even noticed everyday grime on your cabinets, you are much more apt to stay vigilant in keeping your new space clean and tidy.

4. You may be more comfortable having friends and family over. As Lisa-Jo Baker says, “If I wait for my house or my life to be perfect before ever inviting someone into it, I just might never let anyone in.” Like Lisa-Jo, I believe we shouldn’t wait for the perfectly decorated home before throwing open the door to generous hospitality. That being said, if freshening up or remodeling a space gets you comfortable with hospitality, go for it!

5. When you decide to sell your home, your efforts could pay off. Kitchens are important to buyers, and a brighter and more up-to-date space just shows better and is more appealing. Plus, you may be able to get a better price for your house. As the site notes, “Kitchens tend to be the heart of a family home so anything you do to improve your kitchen will add value.”


I believe paint gives a lot of bang for the buck, and I recommend it for most any room that needs a facelift.

If you would like to tackle a kitchen facelift but need direction, The Frugal Girl shared a practical how-to post here.

For more background on two DIY products that I consider must-haves for freshening and refinishing, read this.

One last thing: Do you remember my post about places to find free and nearly free stuff? My hubbie picked up the old-fashioned orange and blue soda framed print showing on the left wall in the photo above on a regular walk through our neighborhood. The homeowners had put it in a cardboard box with other items to be picked up in the morning with the trash. Yes, we did a little neighborhood curb shopping that evening. 🙂

Question: What DIY investment have you made in your home?

A thrifty DIY investment that pays dividends.001


About the author 

Kim Hall

Kim Hall created Too Darn Happy to help you build stronger and more joyful relationships through offerings of fresh perspectives and practical advice. Having been a wife for thirty years and a mom for almost as long to two daughters, she also shares occasional cautionary tales of her own character building life experiences. Kim recently authored her first ebook, Practicing Gratitude and Discovering Joy-Thirty Days to a Happier You. You can connect with Kim on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, too!

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. Love it!! Y’all did a great job!
    I love doing projects around the house – when we have time. 🙂 I have a list of things to hopefully get done over the summer.

  2. Ah, time, time, time. The nemesis of all home projects. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by, Melissa, and good luck with your summer DIY!

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