How I Renovated My Kitchen – Reader Story

Did you update your bathroom? Revamp your kitchen? Install new flooring? We would love to share your project, big or small! Send us what you did and our editorial team will consider it for our “My Fresh Home” series, which will be published every Thursday. Check out our submission instructions at the bottom of the page.

Today we want to share a story from Freshome reader Patrick’s, who completed a Kitchen Renovation:

Over the last few years, I’ve been slowly renovating my small kitchen. I really enjoy doing DIY home renovations, and my kitchen desperately needed the update, because the space felt very outdated and dysfunctional. 

These updates range from small, quick fixes, too much more involved projects. Here are a few:

Cabinet Handles: 

Cabinet handles are pretty straightforward to install – you just screw them in. The tricky part is making sure that they’re centered and level with each other. When measuring, you need to take into consideration the size and shape of your handles. 

Cabinet handles usually come with either one or two screws. One-screw handles are pretty straightforward – just mark where you want it and drill. But if you’re installing handles that have two screws, I recommend creating a template on a piece of paper that measures the difference between the holes. Then you can simply hold the template up to the cabinet and drill, so you don’t have to worry about measuring and re-measuring. I used tape to make sure the paper didn’t shift.


This was one of the first things I wanted to get done. I really didn’t like the appearance of the existing appliances, and I wanted to make the room look and feel modern. Not to mention, all of the old appliances came with the property when I bought it and were probably purchased second-hand. They were on their last legs, so choosing to invest in new appliances ensured that I had reliable equipment.

I purchased all of my new appliances – a microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator – from Lowes, which included professional installation, so I didn’t have to put in anything myself, except for the microwave. If you’re getting an over-the-range microwave, definitely ask someone for help! Mounting a microwave is awkward, and having an extra set of hands is incredibly helpful.


If you’re not comfortable with plumbing, this is where I would recommend you use a professional. If not, you need to always make sure you turn off your main water line before you begin, or you’re going to get soaked. 

Installing the sink itself was pretty easy if you go with a top-mounted configuration. I say it took some trial and error when getting all of the piping set up, to make sure everything was connected and neatly positioned under the sink. I would highly recommend watching a couple of YouTube videos if you’re nervous – there are plenty of great resources out there.


When I bought the house, it had low-quality laminate flooring. I have dogs, and water spills are a common occurrence, so I really wanted a waterproof solution. The new flooring I installed is a luxury vinyl plank and claims that it is 100% waterproof. 

Installing flooring can feel like a daunting task, and it does take some time, but overall, it isn’t overly complicated. It all boils down to measuring (and re-measuring), cutting, and locking each piece in place. 

I used three different power saws to complete this project – a miter saw, jigsaw and table saw. As I am someone who really enjoys DIY projects, I decided to invest and purchase my own saws, because I can use them for multiple projects.


I painted over my tan walls with a bright, light blue, to add some brightness and color to the kitchen, and make everything look a little less brown (I had brown floors, brown walls, and brown backsplash with white cabinets). 

If you’re new to painting walls, I would just recommend that you take your time and try to cover everything you can with canvas tarps or old sheets or blankets, to protect your furniture or appliances from accidental drips. Use a flat, wide brush to create a border around your room in more detailed areas, like near cabinets and backsplash, the ceiling, molding, etc., then use a roller to fill in the larger areas.

Overall, I feel like these updates make my kitchen both more visually appealing and functional. The larger refrigerator has given me tons more room, I have a much quieter (almost silent) dishwasher, and my microwave actually works! I also love the additional depth the new sink provides, and the new faucet helps a lot when it comes time to do the dishes. The light blue paint color really opens up the room and adds a pop of color, the space definitely needed. I’m happy with what I’ve completed so far, and I’m excited to take on more projects in the future.

What do you think? Do you want to remodel your kitchen?

How to Submit User Stories

1: Include “My Fresh Home Project” in the subject line. Then, in the body of the email, please provide an explanation of why you chose to do the project, an outline of steps you took to get it done, and any advice for readers considering similar projects. Make sure to include your name and any before/after images you have! 

2: Email your story to [email protected].

And that’s it! Easy, right? If selected, your story will be shared as an article on Freshome!


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Reclaimed Resources: 8 Ways to Score Recycled Materials

Building with recycled materials offers two-fold benefits. Not only are you building with cheaper materials that come with a story, but you’re also helping to offset some of your carbon building footprint. It’s no secret that building materials can really eat into your building budget. Just like the housing market, material prices can ebb and flow. By searching for recycled materials whenever possible, you can save more of your money. Not sure where to start? If you know where to look, you’ll find an abundance of reclaimed materials at your fingertips. Here are some of the best places to score free and low-cost materials.

Reclaimed wood kitchen

Reclaimed material adds extra character to your home. Image: Pillar & Peacock

Social media and online classifieds

The best place to start is by putting out the call to your friends and family on social media. Chances are someone on your friend list has something you need sitting in their garage right now. Post a message on your page and then post messages on indoor swap meet and online classified sites. There are entire websites, like Freecycle, devoted to exchanging used goods for free. You can find wood, tile and counter remnants and even tools there.

Building reuse stores

Habitat for Humanity Restores are outlets that accept building material donations like fixtures, cabinets and even tools. They then resell them to the general public for pennies on the dollar. You can check if there’s a Restore near you, but if you’re not lucky enough to have one, try thrift stores.

Industrial style bedroom

Check out demo sites for reclaimed stone and metal, too. Image: Barker and Stonehouse

Bartering and trading

Hey, you’re not looking for a handout, just recycled materials! Trading some of the extra materials you have on hand can be a win-win situation. Don’t have anything extra? Offer to lend a hand for a builder or a neighbor who has materials you need. Or, take a look through your garage and post some of the tools or toys you don’t use on trade or sell sites. It’s a great way to get to know your community and help offload some of your extra stuff, too.

Scratch and dent centers

When floor models or packaging becomes damaged, it’s usually unsellable for retailers. While some stores might write damaged items off at a loss, others send the damaged things to scratch and dent outlets. There, you can find screaming deals on materials that have minor cosmetic issues, were returned by customers or were ordered incorrectly. Check out these outlets for things like carpeting, lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, flooring and even appliances. If you’re willing to overlook cosmetic issues or are less picky about color and finish, you can outfit your home on the cheap.

Barnwood home exterior

Make contact with local builders for first dibs on scraps. Image: Appalachian Antique Hardwood

Building sites

Here’s the thing: building sites almost always have remnants and leftovers in their garbage bins. Before you dumpster dive for scraps, however, check to make sure it’s kosher with the builder. In fact, calling a builder to see if they have extras of your bathroom tile or an incorrectly ordered chandelier can help you connect with contractors who are happy to give you scraps they would have thrown out otherwise.

Demolition sites

Demolition sites are the real motherlode for recycled materials because in most cases, the materials are headed to the dump. When you think about how many homes are renovated while still in technically good condition, it’s a no-brainer. Cabinetry, for example, is updated frequently, even when there’s nothing wrong cosmetically or functionally. Keep an eye out for demolition sites to score reclaimed wood, brick, cabinets and even tile and flooring.

Salvage yards

Salvage yards are usually run by individuals who can see the potential in just about anything. Even the pallets used in shipping can become reclaimed wood if you can find them in good condition. Take a Saturday afternoon and head over to your local salvage yard. Let the owner or manager know some of the things on your wishlist and, more often than not, you’ll find someone happy to help you on your treasure hunt. Salvage yards are great for upcycling metal and reclaimed wood and finding replacement parts for pricey tools.

Industrial style kitchen

Reclaimed materials make for great architectural features. Image: Jane Kim Design


Hey, no one can give you their recycled stuff if you don’t ask, right? Simply putting the word out in your neighborhood can give you a huge return on your time. Printing a flyer that lets your neighbors know what you’re working on and some of the materials you’d like to recycle can help you reclaim things practically from your own backyard. Put a few flyers up around town or post them on community bulletin boards to make sure you get the word out.

Whether you’re renovating your home or building from scratch, your local hardware store isn’t the be-all, end-all for materials. Getting creative about sourcing and looking beyond the usual avenues can help you save money, plus it adds more to your story. Give materials new life by committing to recycle and reuse whenever you can and you’ll appreciate your finished project even more than before.

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