Cottage Kitchen Makeover: How to Transform a Kitchen on a Budget

Liz Besanson
by Liz Besanson

If you are looking for cottage kitchen ideas, wait until you see my new kitchen. My husband and I transformed our very neglected 1957 kitchen into the European cottage-style kitchen of my dreams.

This was an extreme DIY project. This cottage chic transformation was extremely budget-friendly and easy to achieve with the choices we've made. Let me show you what we did and read on for the reveal at the end where all the details come together.


1 Cabinets

The kitchen looks rich and expensive. Although it wasn’t cheap, it was not expensive. A modest kitchen renovation in any size home can run from $20,000 to $50,000 and up. We used Home Depot’s stock cabinets. Some have veneer sides but the face and the doors are all genuine wood.

There’s a workaround for these cabinets. There are so many aftermarket parts you can add to the cabinets that can give you a custom feel. We painted them with several coats of very high-grade cabinetry paint from Behr.

We purchased hardware from Amazon that looks luxe and charm that look different from standard pulls and knobs.

2 Stone

One way we made the cabinets look extra special was by buying a beautiful piece of marble with minimal veining. I fell in love with the pattern of this marble. The tones are light grays and beiges.

3 The island

I almost opted out of having an island in the kitchen. I thought the space was too small. But we came across this very narrow, little desk that we thrifted for $25. But it’s now my island. My husband added wood trim, stained it, added hardware, and cut a marble top for it.

4 Shelving

We chose to install upper open shelving instead of cabinets so it would look like a little old French bakery. The shelves were stained to look distressed and old. We put the shelves on steel anchor brackets that hold 100 pounds each. Each board has about three or four anchors holding it up so we don’t have to worry about how heavy our dishes are.

5 Glass bookcase

I didn’t want to run shelving on the other side of the wall so I chose glass sliding door bookcases from Wayfair. They were the perfect size and gave the kitchen an old-world look. I added brass hardware from Signature Hardware.

6 Stone walls

This stone wall was the most exhausting part of this project. These stones took us an additional month to install. Why? Because I had to have a specific pattern on the wall, that’s why! I didn’t like the pattern of the stones on the mesh.

So we used special clippers to cut every stone by hand from a thick steel mesh. What a challenge! We also purchased the wrong mortar–we bought a thin-set type which was the wrong type for a heavy stone. We went back to Home Depot and bought large-format tile mortar in white.

We also realized the bigger stones were just not adhering to the wall. We had so much trouble that we took Gorilla Glue and set the stones on anchors and screwed them into the wall. We did this row by row by row around the kitchen.

Then, we grouted. It was extremely labor intensive. There was no piping or spackling–but because there was so much wall to cover, we were literally throwing the mortar on the wall. It all came together, though.

7 Details

All the details give this kitchen its appeal. Once we were done with the wall of stones, I took my accent pieces and put them all together with lights and curtains.

The big reveal!

Even if you don’t have a kitchen you love, a new can of paint or switching out curtains or cabinet hardware can make the difference.

Hopefully, these ideas gave you some thoughts about how to renovate, transform, or refresh your kitchen, especially if you’re looking for a cottage kitchen. Let me know in the comments what you think about this cottage-style kitchen.

Disclaimer: I may receive a small affiliate commission from purchases made via links in this article but at no cost to you.

Join the conversation
2 of 20 comments
  • Maureen Maureen on Apr 08, 2024
    Great job! Not only did you get the kitchen of your dreams (and mine too), but you and your husband created it! Talk about two home runs. Enjoy!
  • Maureen Maureen on Apr 08, 2024
    P.S. i’ll bet money open shelving will be popular for a long long time.