DIY Small Galley Kitchen Remodel

See how we transformed our tiny galley kitchen and original 1960’s cabinets ourselves!

You don't need to gut a kitchen and a big budget to transform it! Click through to see how before photo and for details of how this tiny 1960's galley kitchen was transformed.

It’s been months coming (nearly six to be exact) so I’m thrilled to finally share all the details about our big DIY kitchen update! If you need a refresher on exactly what our kitchen looked like before, here’s a refresher above (and more details). Our home was built in 1967 and we still had the original kitchen cabinets! They were in pretty good shape despite their age but the dark walnut stain made the already small galley kitchen feel even smaller.

Shortly after we bought the house in 2010 we purchased a new refrigerator and dishwasher. Those were must haves on our list. The photo below shows how exactly how the kitchen looked the week we moved in.

Last fall, we started transforming our tiny kitchen 2 weeks before we hosted Thanksgiving. In those 2 short weeks we painted the original 1967 wood cabinets (you can see more about that process and my tips and tricks on my cabinet painting post) and got the new range installed just before midnight on Thanksgiving Eve. After that, we took our time and working on the kitchen between lots of traveling and events. We originally were going to keep the old laminate countertops and cover them with concrete but after installing the slide-in range we realized that we would have to hack up the laminate so much to get it to fit property. My dream kitchen would have a large butcher block island and marble countertops so we went with the later and purchased ours from Ikea. Our handy friend (who unfortunately can’t install yours since he just moved to France!) installed them for us with Kevin’s help. Then we put off things for a bit because I had a Meet + Make coming up then my super handy dad came up and helped Kevin install our dreamy bright white subway tile backsplash.

We put a lot of time and sweat into our DIY kitchen update but I have to say every ounce of energy was worth it! I find myself lingering in the kitchen after doing dishes or making coffee and just staring at it! Anyone else ever complete a DIY project that made you do that?

Resources for all the items and supplies is at the bottom of the post.

If your kitchen is tiny and outdated don't wait to do a big remodel. You can DIY it and use many of the existing components to make a huge change!

Here’s what the kitchen looked like when we moved in and here’s what it looked like just before we started the transformation.

Loving this 1960's galley kitchen transformation! They kept the original cabinets and made great use of the tiny space. (Click through for more details)

Hairpin legs can be used in this kitchen too! Loving this built kitchen bar with hairpin legs.

We kept the previous layout of the kitchen, which had this wrap around counter bar. We made this piece of butcher block slightly less deep (20″) than the rest of the kitchen so it would be easier to move around and make it more like a bistro. We finally replaced the super traditional spindle legs that supported the counter with steel hairpin legs.

We plan on hiring a cabinet maker to adapt our over the range cabinet to fit an over the range microwave so we can remove it from this wall shelf. That’s going to be phase 2 of this update, which after it’s done, I plan on hanging a pretty globe light above this counter.

Convert your existing cabinets into open shelving by removing the doors, filling the hardware holes, and painting it bright white.

My dream kitchen would have tons of open shelving but just because we weren’t getting new cabinets didn’t mean I couldn’t make that happen. I simply removed the doors from one cabinet, filled in the holes where the hardware was, and painting the entire thing white. I’ll admit it was a bit tedious to paint but it makes the kitchen look even brighter (and shows off our pretty dinnerware).

Wall outlets with USB ports make for convenient charing stations throughout the home.

Kevin updated two outlets in the kitchen with ones that have built-in USB chargers. So convenient since we always seem to misplace the wall adapters!

Love this Samsung Chef Collection range. It works so well with subway tile and butcher block countertops.

Isn’t she a beauty? I seriously love this range. After using one that was older than I am (and hence +- 50 degrees off) for several years this oven cooks like a dream. It’s also a double oven, with one door, that allows me to multi-task or rather multi-bake like a pro.

If you own an older home you can install a range and convert the old wall oven space into a convenient pantry with pull out shelves.

After installing our new range we decided it was time to splurge on a trash can that matched the look and quality of our other appliances. My life tip is to spend money on a nice trash can because it’s an appliance too! We lucked out and got a great deal on a floor model from The Container Store and I cannot recommend it enough. Oh and it has a 10 year warranty too.

Extend the life of your kitchen knives by storing them on a wood knife magnet. It's prevents them from getting dull and looks nice!

We removed the tile backsplash that was previously only above the cooktop and sink and replaced it with bright white subway tile. Not only is it super affordable (only $.22/tile) it was an easy way to brighten the entire space.

Love farmhouse sinks but don't like their price tag? Go for a drop-in composite sink vs. porcelain to save a ton and instantly update your kitchen.

Wayfair provided this gorgeous farm house sink and matte black faucet. The sink is large enough to wash entire sheet pans in! I’ve always loved apron front farmhouse sinks but sink we were working with the original cabinets we opted for a drop-in farmhouse sink. We chose a composite/resin sink vs. a porcelain one because of it’s durability. It has the same look as porcelain but is a fraction of the price.

This matte black faucet looks super minimal but it's so functional! The nozzle pulls out into a sprayer than can reach every corner of a large farmhouse sink.

My favorite part of the sink? The faucet for sure! It’s minimal but oh-so-functional. The nozzle pulls out and converts into a sprayer that can reach every corner of the large sink.

Loving this adorable bright yellow mini Keurig!

Kevin and my dad installed the white subway tile backsplash in a day! I have to admit my mom and I were at the barn while they installed it so I’m not too sure about the process but they said it was a breeze. The tile we selected was self-spacing, which means that you don’t have to use tile spacers in it. The most expensive part of the backsplash was the 24 hour rental of a wet saw.

Dress up a dated kitchen light fixture by swapping it with a modern one. This single pendant light has 3 bulbs so it gives off a ton of light while not taking up a lot of space.

Since we moved in, we never liked the lighting in the kitchen. The track lighting was extremely directional and cast hard shadows on just about everything. Wayfair provided this simple semi-flush mount fixture that completely transformed the lighting in the kitchen. Since the previous track lighting was hung from one side of the trace ceiling, we had an electrician come and move the box to the center of the ceiling. I patched the old holes with colored wood putty and it looks like new! We let the warm wood paneling on the trace ceiling because it mimics the butcher block countertops and helps tie everything together.

Loving this bright white DIY kitchen makeover! The original 1960's cabinets were painted white and they adapted the wall oven space into an open pantry.


Butcher block: Ikea Karlby / 33″ hairpin legs: Etsy / Subway tile: American Olean Starting Line White / Range: Samsung Chef Collection Slide-In Range / Fridge: LG LFX23961 / Dishwasher: LG LDF6920WW

Light fixture: Dolan Designs Kalina 3 Light Semi-Flush Mount (discontinued) provided by Wayfair / Sink: Reliance Reflection single bowl kitchen sink provided by Wayfair / Faucet: Moen Arbor provided by Wayfair

Drawer pulls and knobs: Stone Mill matte black Nantucket / Trash can: Simple Human / Paint: Cabinets and ceiling- Sherwin-Williams Pure White / Walls Sherwin-Williams Sedate Gray provided by Sherwin-Williams / Wallpaper in dining room: Sarah Hearts for Walls Need Love / Knife magnet: M.O.C. / Mixer: Kitchen-Aid in pistachio / Apron: Orla Kiely / Keurig: Mini Plus in banana yellow / Wall hooks: black branches / USB wall outlets: Amazon / Counter stools: Crate & Barrel spin counter stool / Salt and pepper shakers: Bavaria salt and pepper mills / Potholder: Charles Viancin


  1. Sarah, it turned out absolutely beautiful and I expected nothing less ;) You have such an eye for this and so happy you are enjoying it!

    Ps. Totally looking into the subway tile and outlets for our kitchen! Thank you for sharing!

  2. It’s so beautiful Sarah!!! When I finished making over our own kitchen (we did a similar upgrade, working with a lot of what we already had, painting the existing cabinets, etc.) I remember wasting time in the space just to be able to stare at it. If I had your kitchen, I’d linger in it, too!! Beautiful work =)

  3. I’m not sure I’d be able to envision such a dramatic kitchen renovation if that were my house. You did such an amazing job!

  4. Wow! What an awesome transformation! The white makes the world of a difference and of course all the details and accessories are like icing on the cake. I love your wrap around breakfast nook and the wood panel ceiling. And yes, I totally know the feeling of lingering in a new kitchen :)

  5. fantastic work! I think the that wrap around bar is genius…what a great way to really use your space. Love the clean updates…what a difference white can make! and, I love that you shard how long this kitchen actually took…real life decorating can take awhile!

  6. Sarah it looks absolutely perfect, I would linger a little longer too! Every detail is beautiful, I couldn’t love it more! I came over from YouTube where I also have a channel :)

  7. Looks beautiful! How do you like the Ikea Karlby butcher block countertops? Are they holding up? Thanks!

    1. Thanks Kristen! We love the way the turned out too. They are definitely more delicate than traditional countertops like Formica or granite. They do stain easily so you have to be careful when cutting berries or even beets and they need to be oiled about once a month. I’ve also found that you can’t leave a cold glass on them for long otherwise it will leave a water ring on them. But for the price, you kinda can’t beat it!

  8. Ok, first, beautiful! Second, I have that same range and I’m dying to know how you got it to go all the way up against the wall. When I push mine up against the wall, the back vents create a gap, but I keep seeing pictures of people who have theirs up against the wall with the backsplash meeting the cooktop… help please!

    1. Thanks Chelsea! Since the back edge of the cooktop sticks out a little bit, it gave us enough room to kinda tuck the wires in there but it just barely fit. Since we were working with very old hookups, it might be different in your kitchen if it’s newer. Best of luck!

  9. Different strokes for different folks, right? We prefer the before for two reasons – warm and wood. The after kitchen is lit like an operating theater and you removed the color in the remodel. That you love it is all that matters and I am probably twice your age which may partially account for my preference.

  10. Hi Sarah! Beautifully done!

    Everything looks incredibly professional! We think you´ve made a great decision about the countertops: It gives all the warmth that maybe, but just maybe, marble would have killed. Ending up with a very “cold” kitchen.

    We arrived to your post while surfing Pinterest searching for Hairpin Legs ideas and loved it!

    Sorry if we mispelled something, since we are from far far far away (Patagonia, Argentina)

    We make these kind of hairpin legs and, every week or so, we try to post an inspiration on Instagram, and the way you use those was incredibly smart!

    We´ve sent you a message through Instagram asking for permission to share your pic as an inspiration!

    Keep on the amazing work that you and your husband do!

    Thanks for sharing,

    Flor & Mati

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