before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Budget-Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover

by Lauren Chorpening Day

Ashley and Luke Mayes’ home in Springfield, MO is being transformed room by room. The 3,800-square-foot house was full of carpeted bathrooms, wallpaper in every room and loads of outdated finishes when they got the keys. Ashley, home blogger at Bigger Than the Three of Us, and Luke, software manager at Experian, have been fast learners and eager to DIY everything themselves. Their kitchen and dining room have been changed dramatically between a few spacial and cosmetic improvements. “We do almost all the work ourselves. Our biggest renovation to date was our kitchen, eat-in and dining space. Those spaces definitely set the tone for the rest of the house,” Ashley shares.

To make the kitchen as cost effective as possible, Ashley and Luke decided to use the existing lower cabinets with new handmade doors and a few coats of dark grey paint. They kept the granite countertops and while the stone isn’t preferred by Ashley, the savings were far too great to consider the alternative. The wall that used to house a pantry, desk and fridge were reworked with the refrigerator and pantry swapped and range and counter space where the desk used to be. The doorway leading to the dining room was removed and the wall opening was widened, allowing the two spaces to flow into each other. “I love how the dining room flows into the kitchen space. A funny story about the wall that the dining and kitchen share: We knew the wall wasn’t load bearing, so we started taking it down one day. We got to a 2×4 that was just stubborn. Luke looked at it and started to go get some different tools to help get it down. I looked at it and just went for it,” Ashley laughs. “I hung on it to loosen it up and it worked!” The dining room was given new wallpaper and a chandelier. The entire living area also received new flooring.

While there are plenty of big-ticket items in the Mayes’ dining room and kitchen project, they worked primarily with refinishing and updating existing pieces where they could. “We want to create a space that feels like us while matching the home style (which tends to be more classic) with our style (we love mid-century), all while not having anything too precious or fussy so that friends and family will feel comfortable,” Ashley shares. The end result is a space that looks completely new, even though the main components have just been given a facelift. –Lauren

Photography by Ashley Mayes

Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
The Mayes' kitchen before the makeover.
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
The Mayes' kitchen today. "I love this view because I built the cabinets that flank the oven, wine enclosure and built-in pantry with my Grandpa. He didn't think we needed eight spaces for wine, but I assured him that we did! He had the last laugh though, because after I left for the day, he made the wine enclosure removable," Ashley jokes. "He told me that eventually, I would see that I didn't need that much storage for wine. Ha!"
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
Ashley and Luke removed the soffits and upper cabinets, tiled the wall and added floating shelves.
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
New cabinet doors on the existing cabinet boxes were DIYed by Ashely and Luke and then painted "Cracked Pepper" by Behr.
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
"The kitchen is interesting because it's not a large space, yet it feels pretty spacious with seating areas on both sides," Ashley shares.
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
"To get the small pantry, we had to take a bit of the space of the formal dining room," Ashley says. "We wanted the spaces to flow really great together so that it didn't seem weird."
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
Switching the positions of the pantry and refrigerator has allowed the dining room and kitchen to flow into each other more beautifully.
Before & After: A Budget-Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
The formal dining room before.
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
"As much as I hated the built-in china cabinet when we moved in, it's grown on me and I think it's an interesting piece in the room now. I absolutely love how our hardwood floors work with all the textures in the space," Ashley says.
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
"We love the space because it's an extension of our kitchen. It adds more seating when we host, which is also great. I found the table at Habitat Restore and it's been my favorite find ever," Ashley says. "I reupholstered two chairs with vintage black and white fabric that my Grandma has had for 65+ years."
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
The new wallpaper, floors and chandelier gave the dining room a completely new look.
Before & After: A Budget Conscious Kitchen and Dining Room Makeover | Design*Sponge
Luke, Ashley and their son Greyson in their home.

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  • Wow, this is an amazing transformation. They were able to make that existing countertop work beautifully.

  • Smart and stylish DIY updates.. A thought for the kitchen counters: One way to change the look of granite countertops without replacing them is to change the polished surface to a matte finish (usually a job for pros). Tones down the pattern and gives a more contemporary look to the stone, imo.

    • I had no idea that changing granite to a matte finish was an option!! Definitely filing that away for the future. I just did my own DIY countertop project and I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle another counter yet, I’m STILL cleaning up the dust.

  • Oh wow, what a fabulous makeover on that kitchen. Looks so fresh and up to date. Love it all.

  • Really nice makeover but it can’t believe she didn’t think it’s a large space! It looks huge to me!

  • Beautiful transformation, love it all. Please move your wine elsewhere, storing it above the fridge will ruin it. (condenser puts out heat, which is wine’s enemy)

  • Beautiful as they look, I’m not very fond of open shelves in the kitchen. Somehow it is against common-sense. Grease tends to accumulate there from cooking fumes and dust too. You have to clean them very often to avoid dust setting there and getting stuck to grease. If you leave a pan in the top shelf for two weeks and then you intend to use it, you will have to wash it. It’s better to keep things closed in the kitchen. Glass doors help to make the space more diaphanous while keeping grime and dirt out.
    Of course, some people would pay the price to have a certain style. But I see very often people oblivious to the fact that you will actually have to clean and maintain it. That is: will it look as beautiful after years of use?

    • I think that is the kind of thinking that comes with experience. When I was younger, I would always go for the look that appealed to me. Now that I am older, my first thought is, “Wow, that’s beautiful. How much time and effort will that take to maintain?” They did a wonderful job with the kitchen – it really doesn’t even look like the same space. Love the darker cabinets!

  • What a brilliant and stunning performance / transformation this is! The only thing I would def change is the wine-depot! :) As an every day wine drinker I can tell you that this placement is beautiful but totally against everything wine needs. And it’s too high up!!!! :) Emily is right about it too. But you did an incredibly beautiful job, it’s fresh, light-filled, practical, love your table too, love everything really and wish you all the happiness in your transformed eating/living space.

  • Very nice makeover. The dark gray color of the cabinets are very modern and a good match with the stainless steel appliances. Love the way they changed around the location of the stove and turned the cupboards above the refrigerator into a wine storage space. This gives me a couple of good ideas I might try in my condo, although my kitchen space is much smaller.

    Thanks for sharing/posting your DIY photos.

    J.Davis, Long Beach CA

  • Stunning transformation! What is the source for the kitchen ceiling light fixture (that replaced the fan)? Love it!

  • Everything is fantastic! Not overdone and within a budget. This is going in my style file!

  • Beautiful clean current and cool. Love all the details. I’d really like to know where the rug is from.
    Thank you.

  • Love the Scottish Highland Cow picture. I have one I’m going to hang in my bedroom. Curious where you found it. Beautiful remodel. Loved it.

  • Beautiful kitchen! Before the makeover, the kitchen looked so full or crowded. Now it looks light and I love the open shelving. I also love how the dining looks full of life now. Great job!

  • When we plan about remodeling our kitchen and/or dining or our entire home, we are fretted over its expenditure. As we have no experience on it, we ask to our friends and relatives different questions regarding our plan. Some of their replies may satisfy us and some may be blown away. So for better, we have to consult with a reputable home renovator. It helps us in every way including estimating the budget as per our requirement. Using their experience and skill, they can offer us the ideas to design our home in budget friendly.

  • Stunning transformation. Funnily enough, the inherited built in in the dining room ended up being gorgeous eye candy.

  • This is so inspiring. I am in the middle of re-imagining our kitchen on a budget and I love seeing kitchens that have retained some pieces in favor of spending money on others. So bright and cheerful!

  • Hello! I love your kitchen! Can you please tell me where you got your semi-flush brass light? Thanks!

  • Love it! Would you be so kind as to share the floor information. We are just about ready to start our long awaited kitchen renovation and flooring is a struggle.

  • Where is the gold kitchen light semi-flush mount from? Or can you provide me the name of that light fixture? Thanks!

  • Love what they did. Had to laugh about the cabinet built-ins…I’ve totally hated something that had to be left in place and then…somehow…as we’ve made changes, bought furniture, or painted…the much-maligned piece has suddenly become amazing!
    As much as we want to make big changes to our new spaces, a little time spent living in them can really bring the entire picture together.


  • I totally love your makeover idea. Would you be so kind as to share the floor information. Thank you for sharing these awesome ideas of yours. I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into posting these. Thanks!