Kitchen Makeover Plans: Bye-Bye 1970’s

Now that it’s fall and the weather will be cooling off, I wanted to show you my kitchen makeover plans. I have been planning how I am going to begin making over my 1970’s era kitchen on a small budget. I have been gathering inspiration on Pinterest and supplies and am now ready to begin next week.

If you are new to my blog, then you may not know that the money we planned to use when we first moved into the house to gut the kitchen and install a brand new one… went to buy a boat. We do live right on the water’s edge and so it was a no brainer decision, plus I knew I could get the look I wanted for the kitchen using my DIY skills. I, however do not have boat building skills :-)

Kitchen makeover plans for a 1970's kitchen. Before DIY makeover

The kitchen has a nice layout and everything works. I am very happy with it, except the fact that it is all very brown. I have already painted the ceiling fans white, but that is all so far.

Here is my inspiration…

white kitchen inspiration

…a white and bright kitchen.

How am I going to get this look for my kitchen on a budget?

Let’s dissect this pretty kitchen a little, shall we? Breaking down the details allows me to see what I can DIY myself.

1970's kitchen before updating on a budget

Here is one side of the kitchen and what I plan to do to get:

  • White cabinets – I can paint my stained brown cabinets. I have done it twice before in previous homes and will be using these products again:  Glidden Gripper and Sherwin Williams Pro Classic in semi-gloss.  To create the glass door look, I simply am going to remove a few cabinet doors, paint the insides of those cabinets to create an open shelf look.
  • Carrara marble counters – Fake the look with a countertop painting kit from Giani in the color White Diamond.
  • White subway tile backsplash – Brand new glass tiles from Aspect that are peel and stick will make it fairly easy. No grout needed.
Plans for updating a 1970's kitchen on a budget
  • Chrome pulls and glass knobs – D. Lawless Hardware has quite a array of affordable classics. I need pulls, knobs, and hinges.
  • Gooseneck faucet – I had this Delta Touch 2 O Cassidy faucet in my previous house and miss it.
  • White sink – I would really love a white apron front sink, but we would have to change the arrangement of the cabinets and dishwasher. A plain white drop in sink will have to do. This makeover is not about ripping things out, but just doing a cosmetic makeover. I found this one at Lowes. It is acrylic. Does anyone have any one?  Do you like it?
  • Glossy white appliance finish – The double oven on the wall has a flat primer on it. I think the previous owner had it done to cover up the original avocado green color.  I will use high heat glossy white paint to finish the job.
  • Dark wood floors – Right now the wood floor in the living room and kitchen is not stained, but has an orange-toned varnish. We eventually will have these redone so they resemble the color in the photo.
  • Big windows with no coverings – I have two sliding glass doors and a window. I do need to have coverings for sun control, but I did make them white so the blend in with the wall color. You can read about how I covered the window, here and what I did for the sliding glass doors I will be showing you later this week.

(affiliate links)

  1. Giani Countertop Paint | 2. High heat paint  | 3. Bar Pulls & Glass knobs | 4. White Hinges | 5. Delta Touch 2 O Faucet | 6. White Sink | 7. Aspect Glass Tiles in Frost White | 8. Primer: Glidden Gripper | 9. Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Paint – self leveling | 10. French Bistro Comfort Mat

In my inspiration photo there is a banquette. I loved the one in my previous house and could create one in the dining area of the kitchen. I like the round table and chairs I have now. If I create an L-shaped banquette, I could use the table that used to be in the dining room of my previous house.  Maybe a project to take on next year.

UPDATE:  The Kitchen is Finished. See the finished kitchen in this post with Before & After Photos

Kitchen Makeover DIY

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  1. Maybe I’m over looking the post, but what color paint did you use on the cabinets?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Ashley – The paint I used on my kitchen cabinets is Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint in the color Pure White 7005. I used semi-gloss.

  2. Alex Sutton says:

    Your kitchen is my inspo photo! I don’t think I have the DIY skills necessary to make it look as good as you were able to, so I’m definitely going to need to hire a cabinet painter, but I love this! I love the clean look that white cabinets give off and how easily they can brighten a room. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I was wondering if you could tell me more about the peel and stick tiles. Are they easy to apply and would you recommend them? I am thinking about doing a backsplash in my bathroom and am wondering how well they would hold up? Any info you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Darlene – The peel and stick tiles I was going to use are made by Aspect. I ended up not using them only because the white tiles were not white enough. The tiles do not need grout, but the glass tiles do need to be cut just like tile. The others – stone, metal looks can be cut with snips or a craft knife. They will hold up as long as you prep the wall with paint first.

  4. Your dream kitchen is my dream kitchen (minus the island; my kitchen is too small), from the subway tile, to the silver hardware and Carrera countertop! Love it. And I love farmhouse sinks. My cabinets are the 70s brown like you had in your previous house. I was getting your email update, but haven’t received in awhile??? Anyway, I can’t wait to see your finished product. I wish I had your courage (I’m afraid I’m going to make a mess) and talent.

  5. I can’t wait for this project! I want to paint my cabinets and try the Giani kit on my counters… but I am really hesitant because I’m not sure if it’s as doable as it appears. I also wonder about the durability. I am really looking forward to reading about your experience.

  6. Your plan sounds very ambitious and completely do-able. We bought our house last year, but we did gut the kitchen. Ours, however, did not have a workable layout like yours has. It was pretty exciting, because it was the first time I had designed a kitchen for myself. In the past, I’ve done what you’re doing, and I’ve been very happy with the results. I’m sure your kitchen is going to turn out beautiful! Your design inspiration is gorgeous!! Good luck! I’m looking forward to seeing your progress!!

  7. Ill be looking forward to seeing your progress. I have one comment-I read on another blog about a HO who changed her appliance colors by having them ‘wrapped’ by a vinyl company-the ones that wrap buses with adds and so on. They will wrap your appliance in any color you want and from hr photos you just could not tell at all. Something to think about.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Loll – It is an idea to think about. Last week, Elsie from ABM posted about how she got her kitchen appliances wrapped. I read that and thought it was a cool idea. I would just need to find a company in my area that would do it and not costs a lot!

  8. Diane,
    Your new kitchen is going to be beautiful! Can’t wait to see the big reveal! I’m also getting ready to have my cabinets painted (too chicken to tackle it myself). My painter is a SW man and wants me to get the Pro Classic that you mention. I was leaning toward BM Advance until I read your post. Can you tell me what you especially like the SW product? Thanks so much!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathy – In my previous house I used SW on all the trim and my kitchen cabinets. It held up great, like really great! I like the ProClassic because it is self-leveling which I love since it diminishes brush strokes.

  9. Donna Dickey says:

    I have a white acrylic sink which I do not like. It has stains which I cannot remove. I will probably change to stainless steel. I got it at Menards and have had it a few years, so there may be better quality ones that would hold up better. Good luck with your project.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks so much for telling me about your acrylic sink. I am not sure yet what I will get, but hearing your review of the material is just what I need. Thanks.

  10. Patricia Wilson says:

    Since we can’t afford a major reno in our kitchen, I’ll be so looking forward to your new kitchen on a budget.
    Diane, you never disappoint.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patricia – Thanks so much. I am excited to get started. :-)

  11. Sue Verbaan says:

    I love your blog. You are both talented and brave , not to mention immensely hard working. My husband and I are Small time DIY people. We just paid to have a cathedral ceiling room and brick fireplace
    Painted. Well worth the price- one day! However, we now want to paint a three piece
    Thomasville solid oak entertainment cabinet and shelves which are way too orangy!!! We are thinking
    Chalk paint. Do you have any suggestions? Brand, make our own or some other paint? Wishing you luck
    With your kitchen projects. Sue

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sue –

      I really like the look of chalk paint on furniture when it has buffed wax over it. Fiddes and Sons in clear is my favorite wax. Waxing does take time after the paint is dry, but I think it makes a piece look professionally finished and not look like just a painted piece of furniture.

      Even if I don’t want a distressed look for a piece of furniture, I use chalk paint now since I like that the icky-tacky latex feel is gone when you use chalk paint and wax.

      Making your own is the least expensive way to go, but if you like a certain color a brand carries then it will be easier to just use ready made chalk paint. There are so many brands on the market now. Annie Sloan, Amy Howard, and Black Dog Salvage are ones that I have used and would recommend. If you want to create your own color, then making it with Calcium Carbonate Powder or buying Webster’s Chalk Paint Powder makes it doable. When I use chalk paint, I always go over the surface with sandpaper first, it only takes a few minutes to rough up the surface and provide some tooth for the paint to grab onto.

      If you would like to use regular latex paint, then you would need to sand, use a primer first, then paint. You can also use a water-based sealer over the paint to help protect it. Minwax Polycrylic is the best.

  12. I can’t wait to see your progress. You create such beautiful spaces. I am so glad I found your website.
    I am refreshing a couple of beds for fall by sewing new shams and scarves for the foot of the bed.

  13. Hi Diane,
    I love seeing all the changes you are making to your dream house and I’m sure the kitchen will be wonderful as well. My daughter has a 70’s house too and she painted her drab brown cabinets a nice crisp white. What a difference – it looks like a brand new kitchen! Good luck with the redo – can’t wait to see the end result!

  14. I painted my kitchen cabinets once. Never again. I’m a bit older than you and just don’t have the energy. You have enthused me though and I’m calling the painter to get them done! Can’t wait to see your kitchen. I like your plan.

  15. Hi Diane – is it worth the effort to replace hinges? Could you just sand them and paint over? I have a sturdy bathroom vanity that was painted by the previous owner with a 70’s mult-layered fake wood paint treatment. I would like to paint it a solid color.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carol – With the amount of use the kitchen cabinets get, painted hinges will look awful in a few months, plus the existing ones are dark and rusty. Sanding them would require way too much effort for really no gain. The paint will wear right in the center moving section of the hinge. I know this because I painted the hinges on a bathroom cabinet in my previous house. They needed constant touching up. If the hinges on my kitchen cabinets were hidden hinges I would leave them be. :-)

      Does the fake wood treatment have texture? If so you may want to sand the vanity smooth and then paint it.

      1. Ah, nice painted cabinet and chippy hinges, not a good look! The cabinet doesn’t have texture, so I am lucky there.
        Thank you!

  16. Mary Heicher says:

    Nice, I can’t wait to see the result.

  17. You go, girl! Thanks for your continued inspiration. I’ve painted my kitchen cabinets twice now – it’s a big job, but you’ll be sooo happy when you get to the end!

  18. I had a Jenn Air cooktop just liike yours; I loved it. The downdraft feature worked really well when I burned-er, cooked dinner. I love the pattern of the wood floors. It reminds me of the ones you see in Fench apartments.

  19. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

    Diane your kind of “redo” is the kind I do too! I love that there are so many things that can be ‘fixed’ with paint, in all it’s formulations. Love love love! That updated white kitchen will be yours soon :-)

    PS Glidden didn’t have Gripper primer when I did my former home cabinets several years ago, so I used Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 in interior/exterior formulation. I did use the same SW paint you’re using. A great combo and the paint held extremely well :-)

    I cannot wait to see your finished room. Blessings, Diane and Ed.

  20. Melissa Leach says:

    Do you ever rest? Can’t wait to see the progress in the kitchen. Let us know how you like the large single sink. I am so accustomed to having two sides, one for washing and one for rinsing even with a dishwasher. I am excited to see how all your kitchen diy’s come together.

  21. Wow Diane another out of the ball park idea. You do such fabulous work I have no doubt that the kitchen will come out beautiful.

    I have a question, my oak stained cabinets have Minwax Polycrylic top coat. I know I have to sand that off to paint. When the painting is complete do you use a top coat in the kitchen.

    I have used SW Proclasic on a bathroom vanity and did not top coat it.

    I have been planning to do this for over a year, I have a Wagner sprayer, which I can use for the doors, but do not want to use it for the base cabinet. What type of rollers do you use for the cabinets? I want to paint my cabinets, 29 doors and 9 drawers a very light gray.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Dee – That’s a lot of cabinets to paint!!!! I thought I had a lot… only 22. :-) The rollers to use when painting furniture are foam or mohair that have rounded edges.

      Mohair rollers in the same size help level the paint so it dries smoother. They cost more, but are worth it when you use self-leveling paint like SW ProClassic.

      I do not apply a top coat sealer to the cabinets themselves when I use semi-gloss paint, but if I am painting the insides, I do use a sealer on the shelf surface where dishes will go. It does help remove that latex tacky sound when you remove items from the surface.

      If I wanted a satin finish, I would use a satin finish Polycrylic to protect the finish, since satin isn’t as easy to clean as a semi-gloss finish is. Hope this makes sense. Happy painting!

      1. Thanks so much for the information. I wanted to do a satin finish, because I thought semigloss would show more roller or brush marks. But with the semi gloss there is less work as not sealer. I sealed my cabinets with the PloyCrylic 5 years ago and have not liked it since day one. I will look into to mohair rollers.

        I love your ideas and your website. Have learned a lot from you and my painted furniture has turned out great. But kitchen cabinets really scare me. I need to wait for it to cool off down here before I start, hopefully i will get the nerve to do this.
        I am not going to paint the insides so that helps too.
        Cannot wait to see your finished kitchen.
        Thanks again for your help.

  22. Hi Diane, Love your blog. Just wanted to pass along a wonderful source I found for the pulls you have pictured. I just ordered 80 of them from Rok Hardware and the price was unbelievable! Free shipping too. I’ve ordered other items from them too and have been extremely impressed with their customer service.

    Can’t wait to see the “after” photos of your kitchen.

  23. So excited to watch the progress.

    Two years ago we put in hardwood floors on our entire main level and took down a wall from the kitchen to the dining room. Love my white glazed cabinets. We accented the peninsula with a black rubbed cherry.
    I too LOVE that faucet you have – same one in my kitchen.

  24. I have to second the person who said, “If you really wanted to- I’m sure you could build a boat.”
    It looks fantastic! and I look forward to reading all about your adventures.

  25. Barbara Dudas says:

    I am pretty sure you could in fact build a boat if you put your mind to it with your creativity:) Can’t wait to follow along with this project. I know it’s going to be great!

  26. I repainted my kitchen cabinets last summer. It is a BIG job, but so worth the effort. I also took down the old wallpaper in my kitchen and put up new paintable wallpaper from Lowes. I had bamboo shades on the big window and on the kitchen door,but they still let in too much light at certain times of the year. My refrigerator sits opposite the big window over the sink area and it was ‘cooking’ in the sunlight. So I purchased decor fabric and hot glued and hand-stitched fabric over the shades. They look great, keep out the sun when needed, and added a colorful element to my kitchen design. They are holding up great.
    I finally feel like this kitchen reflects me, my style!

    Good luck as you go forward with this project! Can’t wait to see your results!

  27. Beth Fagundes says:

    Hello Diane!! Another winning project for you! I am so excited to watch your progress.
    I have a question about the adorable kitchen comfort mat you show in the pictures. The link takes me right back to the blog page. Can you provide information on where one can find a mat like that?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beth – Sorry about that. The mat comes in two sizes and can be found at Ballard Designs.

  28. Wow!! You are amazing!! I can’t wait to see the transformation !!!! Good luck!!

  29. lois black says:

    sonds like a great plan. Can’t wait to see the progress!!

  30. I am excited to watch your kitchen makeover, especially your tips for success. My daughter used Giani countertop paint on two rental apartment units. It works great and pretty easy to apply. There are some simple maintenance precautions – such as no hot pans sitting directly on the surface, gentle cleanup- no scratching, gritty solutions.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi RS – That is great to hear about the countertop paint. I never put anything hot on my counters now, so I won’t have to change any bad kitchen habits. Thanks for taking the time to tell me. :-)

  31. Hi Diane,
    Quite a project to undertake in a short time! Wishing you the best as you go along.

    I, too, am in the middle of a DIY kitchen redo with a before Christmas finish plan. Ended up getting new cabinets since my laminate cabinets from the late 70’s are really toast. They had a hard life before I moved in. The new cabinets are unfinished, so still lots of work to do. I got the primer and paint (also from Sherwin-Williams, but went with satin) and will spray the doors and drawers. Took out part of a wall and some upper cabinets to open things up. Will raise the ceiling from the 70’s drop to level with the rest of the house. Adding pot lights and a new tile back splash. Banquette, too. Whew, it’s a lot of work, but so, so worth it. Definitely looking forward to seeing your progress and ideas!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carol – If the weather gets nice and the humidity low, I may take the cabinet doors outside to spray them. I have to take them off anyway to add new hinges so it will save time. Your makeover sounds like it is really going to make a huge difference….the room will look brand new. I do look forward to someday taking everything out and planning a shiny brand new custom kitchen, but for now….paint is the way I can get it to look better. When the going gets tough and your energy starts to plummet over the next few months as you progress through all that you have to do, just keep that final after image in your mind.

  32. MarianneB says:

    p.s.—what is self-leveling paint & why would it matter? Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marianne – Self leveling means less brush strokes show up in the painted finish.

  33. MarianneB says:

    Hi Diane! I might of said this before, but I adore your “make it work” approach to renovating. You always have such an elegant process to your makeovers and updating, it really is inspiring. Do you love to cook/cook a lot? Because I really would like to hear how the Carrara treatment goes under heavy use. Thanks so much!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marianne – I would never call myself a foodie or love cooking, but I do spend a good amount of time preparing and cooking all type of food and use the counters quite a bit. Chopping on cutting boards, moving appliances, serving food, and use the counters for entertaining purposes. I will be able to post about how the paint treatment holds ups under all the use.

  34. Gloria Gawa says:

    Hi Diane, you definitely have your work cut out for you. In my previous house I painted my cabinets also white and stained the center island a dark mahogany. I cut out some of the panels in the upper doors and added beveled glass. We had a desk area that wasn’t used, so I turned this into a beverage center by adding shelving with wicker baskets. We also had a 4″ space between refrigerator and cabinet that I made into a pullout spice rack. I also added more detailed moulding at the top of cabinets and on the corners. Really miss my old kitchen, I guess because I had put so much of me into it. My new house has been much harder to add that special touch. For some reason it’s more appreciated when you do it yourself.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Gloria – I agree with you that when you DIY a room makeover, you do end up putting a lot of your self and style into the room. You know every inch and it becomes something that makes you feel good. From you description it sounds like you put quite a lot of yourself and style into your kitchen makeover. I can understand why you miss it. In your new house, it may just take some time to get a better feel for it and how you can add your own style to it.

  35. This is great inspiration for me, I have just moved into a much smaller house (downsized now kids left home) and am actually loving the neat and tidy space of my kitchen diner although it looks dated and old fashioned with or he wood like yours. My husband is overseas and I go to see him in four weeks so have set myself a four week make over challenge to pretty much do the same as you, although thrown into this to build a nook bench and paint table and chairs. Do you think it’s achievable? Oh and I work full time ..,.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carolyn – Whew…that is a lot of projects to get done, but it can be done. Since you will be alone you can get everything set up so when you come home from work you can put a few hours into painting every night and then on the weekends. I would write down a daily schedule…Day One…sand cabinets, clean, set up drop cloths and then keep them in place so the next night you can do the next step without having to do any set up. Do the same for the table, chairs and bench. Keep them on drop cloths so you can simply paint a coat on while your dinner is cooking. :-) I find when the paint is drying on one project you can be painting another. This is a good use of your time…doubles your output. Good luck and when the process begins to get old and you start to lose interest in having to apply another coat of paint, just keep the end image of a transformed kitchen in your mind.

  36. Hi where did you get your sink?
    Love it with the faucet!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Angela –

      I have not ordered the sink yet, but so far it is my top choice for the price. It is acrylic so I need to research a bit more since I have never had one before. Cast iron ones are a little too pricey for a single bowl sink in the size I need. I found it at Lowes. Here is the info that you can plug into the search bar at Lowes: Dekor Master 22-in x 33-in White Single-Basin Acrylic Drop-In 4-Hole Residential Kitchen Sink Item# 248922 Model# 78400

  37. Did you sand your old cupboard before you did the job?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rose – I have not started the process yet, but yes I will be sanding the cabinets. It is a must. I don’t have to take them down to the bare wood, but need to rough them up enough to remove the sheen and provide some tooth. I will be following the process I did when I first painted the cabinets in my previous house many many years ago. They held up great. You can read about that process here: and the update I did on them here:

      I have been asked why I am not going to use chalk paint. I may, but I would still sand first and use Gripper or a good primer that will block the wood tannins from coming through the paint and changing the color.

  38. Hi! You were my inspiration ( and guide) to redo a pink(!!!) Corian kitchen counter top. I am curious to know why you’ve chosen to go with a kit (Gianni). I followed your method and did it freehand. It’s been 2 mths. now and is holding up nicely even after spills,water,etc. YOU do not need a kit! Go for it!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Gretchen – I originally was going to use the faux marble technique I used on my kitchen desk which I recently repurposed and made into a sink vanity for the powder room. That finish has held up better than I ever imagined. But, since readers look to me for my reviews and opinions on all things paint, I want to try out the paint. It is the only reason I plan to use the the Giani paint kit. I will then be able to answer questions about it and compare it to my method. :-)

  39. Paige Coggin says:

    Good morning, Diane. I am so excited for you! I actually have the ame picture saved as one of my favorites. I can’t wait to see your progress. Will it be finished by the holidays? I’m back in school for my Bach in nursing so I’m still dreaming about the kitchen.

    Oddly and thankfully, I still love my green and black kitchen from 2003 but it IS time to go!

    Have a great weekend

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Paige – I do plan on having the kitchen done by the holidays. If I get it started and get in marathon mode, I can get a good part of it done in a few weeks. When I painted the kitchen cabinets in my previous house it took 3 weeks and that was when my daughter’s were little and I only had time to paint when they were at school. Now I can paint all day if I have the energy. :-) How many years to do have left in school? My twin sis has a few nursing degrees and now heads a nursing school so I know how busy you must be with classes, studying, and clinicals. Best of luck with all of it.