A DIY Contemporary Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is the heart of the house. It’s the command center where family and friends gather all throughout the day and where meals and memories are made. With all the time spent in the kitchen, you want it to be someplace that is clean yet inviting, and a space that feels like home. If your current kitchen isn’t exactly your dream kitchen, sprucing it up is a project that you can do on your own, for less money than you may think! Kristy took her kitchen from a classic okay to a bright, contemporary NO WAY!!! Check out her DIY kitchen redo.

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Talk about a transformation!! Wanna know exactly how this happened? Read Kristy’s remodel process from her point of view below.


Taking on this kitchen redo is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, but to say I second-guessed this project on multiple occasions would be an understatement. I tried to talk myself out of it so many times because I was afraid to really mess something up…I mean this kitchen is the MAIN reason I wanted this home, and I didn’t want to ruin it!! But I did my research (hours and hours of it!) and really tried to mentally prepare myself for what I was getting into. It was definitely a little stressful, but I just kept envisioning the final product and how much happier I would be with my gorgeous new kitchen!! To be completely honest, this is what got me through this project, but I am so thrilled with the end result that all of the worrying was well worth it!


The first step was to pick out paint, and my goodness the options are endless! How is it even possible that there are about 45 different shades of black?! After much deliberation and votes cast by family and friends, I finally settled on Benjamin Moore Onyx – I wanted a sleek color that would complement the stainless-steel appliances and new black hardware for the cabinets (more on this later). I kept going back and forth on whether I wanted to do a complete one-color kitchen or if I wanted to go with a two-tone look, but after many many many internet searches, the two-tone is what I kept gravitating towards. Something about the contrast of colors really caught my eye.

After I grabbed all of my supplies, I started the leg work. I wiped all of the cabinets down with warm water and soap (I used Dawn Power Wash). I had a lot of those rubber door stoppers that had melted all over my cabinets (from the previous homeowner) and it took a lot of elbow grease to get all of that off…I may have cried multiple times just over this alone!! Once my cabinets were clean and dry, I checked them for cracks and rough surfaces. Fortunately, I have some really great wood cabinets that didn’t need any sanding. I highly recommend taking the cabinet doors off for easy painting, but if you’re afraid of stripping the screw holes, use a very small paint brush to get behind the doors (where they open and close). 

Now it was time to paint!! Well, primer first, of course. I did two coats of this because I have darker cabinets and I wanted the paint to cover fully. I worked in sections because I have a 5-year-old and 3-year-old, so completely closing off my kitchen was definitely not an option. This ended up being a good thing, though, because I could see how the kitchen was coming together piece by piece, and this gave me the motivation to push through when I felt like giving up!

I waited 24 hours between priming and painting to ensure that the primer was completely dry. For the top cabinets, I used INSL-X Cabinet Coat Enamel in Satin because I didn’t want a glossy finish (but you can use a gloss if you like that look!). I did 2-3 coats of this, and I opted for using a paintbrush the entire time – I tried a roller but it just didn’t paint the way I wanted it to, and I didn’t like how it was drying. It definitely took longer this way, but I’m glad that I did it because it looks so much nicer…totally worth the extra bit of effort! The bottom cabinets are the Benjamin Moore Onyx, and I also did 2-3 coats of this. 

In between drying time, I worked on my backsplash. I knew it wasn’t in my budget to redo the entire thing with tile, so I went with peel-and-stick subway tile (I used this in my DIY bathroom remodel, and it has held up so well that I knew I wanted to use the same brand for my kitchen). I would have loved to do the backsplash with real tile, but this semipermanent solution is a great substitute and I seriously love it so much!! Plus, it’s way less expensive and that’s always a win.

I highly recommend grabbing these tools to help cut and smooth out your backsplash (these were a lifesaver for me). I used about seven and a half of the tile sheets for my entire kitchen/desk area. *Tip: have patience and work slowly – this stuff is sticky and will adhere to most surfaces pretty easily, so if you mess up and you’re working on paint/sheetrock surfaces it will rip the area. However, if you’re covering it up anyway, it’s not a big deal…you’ll just lose some peel-and-stick along the way.

Prior to peeling the back off, I made sure to measure the pieces. I simply put the backsplash up against the surface I was working on and used my cutting tool to make slits where I needed to cut. Working around electrical outlets was a little tricky, but I found it easier to cut a hole in the peel-and-stick where the outlet would be instead of cutting individual pieces of peel-and-stick to place around the outlet. Once the peel-and-stick was on I used the smoother to get rid of any air bubbles. 


And just like that, a brand-new kitchen! Okay well, it was definitely a long month of paint strokes and sore body parts, but it was worth every minute of work that I put into it!! I feel as if I live in a completely different home and every person who has stepped foot in my kitchen since the remodel has said it is so much brighter and looks way bigger. The darker color on my bottom cabinets has really brought out my wood floors and dark granite countertops, and this transformation has given me a new-found appreciation for them, too. I’ve wished for so long that I had different floors and white granite countertops, but this new look really flows well and I couldn’t be happier.

As an FYI, I have not done any sealant on the cabinets (I was told the paint I used would resist water and can be easily cleaned without damage). I can say that it’s been a few weeks and I have already cleaned milk, juice, and water off of these doors MULTIPLE times (again, kids) and they have not been affected at all. Benjamin Moore paint is meant for cabinets without any top coat – at least that’s what I’ve been told!

I previously had silver knobs and pull handles but I figured if was redoing everything, it was going to be everything. I found some great pulls and knobs (and these handles for my island) on Amazon, but you can go to your local Home Depot, Lowes, or any hardware store to find new cabinet hardware. *Tip: make sure you measure out your old fixtures before purchasing new ones…I had no idea I had two different sizes with my island drawer handles and my drawer handles throughout the kitchen. Beginner’s mistake!

I wanted to add a couple of kitchen rugs that would soften the space and help tie the floors into the cabinet and countertop color scheme. I went with this gray and white patterned runner because it matched perfectly but would also hide dirt and spills pretty easily. I got a smaller matching one for in front of the sink, too.

One of my favorite things in my new kitchen is this cute little coffee station. There used to be a roll-down door here (it’s in one of the photos above) and I kept seldom-used appliances in here, but I decided to remove the door and make it into a mini cafe! My morning cup of coffee is even more enjoyable now that I get to make it here.

If you think that you can’t do this or that you don’t have what it takes – take the leap of faith!! There may be some tears (happy, sad, and frustrated) and definitely a few bad words, but the finished product will bring you so much joy and relief it will all be worth it. And if I can do it with two toddlers and zero knowledge of doing something like this, you DEFINITELY can do it. 

And if you’re looking for more remodeling inspiration, check out this DIY bathroom makeover and this modern farmhouse living room redo!

Thanks for reading!! Let us know what you think of this amazing transformation xo.

  1. Reed Johnson says:

    Awesome kitchen remodel. Love how the update in cabinet paint made the room look like an entirely different place. Great job!

  2. kristyleo says:

    Hi Reed!! Thank you so much for your comment! It was a project to remember for sure and I don’t wish to do it again haha but I couldn’t be more pleased with the results!

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