Three Affordable Kitchen Countertops to DIY

One of the things that I love about blogs, is that I get to see how real people overcome the obstacle of working within the parameters of a budget to achieve the look that they really want. Rather than just giving up or settling for less, they rise to the challenge and come up with their own affordable alternatives.

This was the case with Carmella, who writes so beautifully on her blog, Assortment, about living in a 665 square foot cabin that she shares with her three boys, husband and dog. Oh, in a 665 square foot cabin that she designed, no less.

Carmella had her heart set on soapstone countertops for her 13 feet long kitchen, but since it was outside of her budget, she had furniture grade plywood cut to fit instead. Then, she painted the plywood with black chalkboard paint and sealed it with paste wax. She writes that it does require some occasional maintenance, but that it has held up well to its frequent use.
Carmella wasn't sure how her DIY countertops would turn out but, as you can see, her gamble paid off. She was able to get the look of soapstone for less and now has a beautiful, classic, country kitchen.


If your countertops are in decent condition but it's not in your budget to spend thousands of dollars on marble, there are products on the market you can use to update them without breaking the bank.

Diane from In My Own Style, used a DIY faux Carerra marble paint finish to give her kitchen countertops a polished, classic, but modern look.

In My Own Style

Didn't Diane do an amazing job updating her laminate kitchen countertops to make them look like Carerra marble?

In My Own Style

In My Own Style
If you love the look and feel of a more modern industrial kitchen you could always DIY your own concrete countertops.

Ben at Home Made Modern has an amazing tutorial you can follow for making your own concrete countertops.

Home Made Modern

You'll definitely need to have confidence in your DIY abilities to tackle this project, but imagine how satisfying it would be to see these thick concrete countertops every time you walked into your kitchen?

Home Made Modern
When you're upgrading your kitchen countertops on a budget, there are a lot of DIY alternatives that you can use to get the kitchen of your dreams. All it takes is a little imagination, a good tutorial and some sweat equity!

How to Make a Rustic Glam Patio Bar Cart

Whew! So this was one of those projects that wasn't supposed to be too time consuming or complicated.  But, I have had issues all along the way including computer issues up to the last minute!

I wanted to have it done by Tuesday, but I finally finished it up Wednesday evening and if you follow me on Instagram (and you should because, oh the excitement, that is my life behind the blog scenes!) you saw a little sneak peak of what I've been up to.  I also wanted to get it done because I thought this would be a fun project to share at iHeart Organizing's Four Week Wait-No-More Organizing challenge.

We grill year round here and in the summer months, we eat out a lot on our patio.  I needed some extra storage for things like plates, napkins and cups to keep handy outside.  I decided to use one of the upper cabinets I had gotten for cheap, cheap, at ReStore a few years ago, that I wrote about in this post.

I already had some white spray paint, so I sprayed it white, but then I ran out of paint.  Rather than going to get more, I decided to use our white trim paint and brushed it on.  But, it was looking streaky from brush marks.  So, I let that dry and rolled it on to the cabinet doors.  If I had just gone to get more spray paint, this part of it would have gone a lot faster.  

I also wanted to use some of the pallet wood that I still have in my garage.  Rather than borrow my sister Michelle's miter saw to cut it like I would normally do,  I decided it was high time that I became a legit miter saw owner.  So, I bought this ten inching, sliding compound miter saw.
It took more time trying to figure out how to get the blade on, set it up and then how to use it.
It made the process of just having to make two straight cuts much more complicated than it needed to be.
I finally got my cuts done and sanded the wood down with my circular sander.  Then I used the same Danish wood oil in dark walnut, that I used for our coffee table that you can read about in this post.  I love using Danish wood oil because it's easier to control how dark the wood gets than with normal stain.  I didn't want it too dark, so I just put on one coat.  I do still need to seal it with some polycrylic to protect it from the elements.  It will be protected from rain, but with our harsh sunlight, it will fade fast without some type of protective finish on it.

For the hardware, I used some modern cabinet pulls on the sides that I got at Home Depot.  For the front hardware, I took some knobs off of a cabinet in my bathroom.  I spray painted all of them with Rustoleum's metallic gold because there is nothing better than white and gold, except white and gold with rustic wood and margaritas.  
I did put casters on it, but they were too little and whenever I opened the doors, it would tip forward so I took them off.  I still need to get some larger wheels to put onto it, to make it an official "cart". 

I love the gold handles on the sides, they're just big enough to hold a pretty dish towel.

And the rustic wood on top?  It's the perfect backdrop for some margaritas, white plates and some yellow David Austen roses that are still blooming in our yard.  Really, who needs anything more than that?  Except maybe some chips and guacamole?

Now I have plenty of storage space for more plates, cups, napkins and forks.

 I still have a ton of room on the other side to add some citronella candles, grilling utensils and storage for extra party food like bags of chips or margarita salt.

I really love how this little bar cart turned out, and I'm looking forward to relaxing a little bit this weekend and enjoying some more of those margaritas!

Thanks so much for reading today!

linking up at DIY Show Off


Albuquerque the Magazine Feature

Back in April, I got an email from Adam Baca, a reporter with Albuquerque the Magazine, asking if I would be interested in participating in a feature on some of Albuquerque's DIY bloggers.
Under normal circumstances, I would have been elated and jumped at the opportunity.  However, things still weren't "normal" at our house since my son got diagnosed this past February with Hashimoto's disease (click here to read the post).  By this time, Jacob's headache had gone away, but he was now having gastrointestinal issues, including severe stomach pains after he ate.  He felt so horrible and the pain was so intense, that most days, he could not go to school.  He was also still having a lot of lethargy and brain fog.

I was exhausted and essentially a frazzled nerve ending of a woman.  I was barely keeping up with normal life things, like paying bills and cleaning my house.  In fact, my sister, Kathy, who has been such a God-send to me during such a horrible time, had started coming over once a week to clean my house for me.  It was about all I could do to take care of my son, get my job done (with a lot of help from my wonderful coworkers), and get dinner on the table every night.  We were trying to figure out the cause of Jacob's stomach issues and were waiting for his appointment with the GI doctor, when I got the email from Adam.

I knew I had to call Adam back, and when I did, he said that they were doing a feature on some of Albuquerque's DIY bloggers for their June Home and Garden issue.  I told him that I had not been blogging for a really long time because my son had been very sick since January, that he still was not doing well, and I didn't know when I'd be able to get back to blogging.

Adam was very kind and told me to think about it and let him know.  I sent a text message to my niece, Amy, who works in advertising in New York. I told her about the ABQ the Mag offer of a feature.  She was going to be coming into town that weekend and she really encouraged me to go for it.  I was still reluctant because my primary concern was to get my son feeling well again, and I was just not in DIY or blogging mode, at all!

When I talked to Amy that weekend, I told her that I just didn't want anyone coming to my house taking pictures right now because of the horrible timing with Jacob.  She reassured me that they probably wouldn't and that they would probably just take pictures off of my blog.  After I thought about it, I decided that if I didn't do it, I would regret it.

I called Adam back the following Monday and told him that, of course, I would love to be a part of their feature on Albuquerque DIY bloggers. Then he told me that the article would consist of me doing a simple DIY project in five steps or less.  He asked if I had a project in mind?  When I initially spoke with him, I didn't even ask what was expected of me in the article, so I hadn't even been thinking of projects.  The first thing that popped into my head was the project that I had done to distress our leather club chair and ottoman.  It has been my most popular project on my blog.  I explained it to him and he said it would be perfect.

I wrote out the steps of the project and sent them to Adam.  Then, he told me that a photographer would be calling me within the next two to three weeks to come over to take pictures of me distressing the chair.  Oh-My-God!  So, they were coming to my house after all.

Kathy and I spent the day before the photo shoot giving my house a much needed cleaning.  I kept reminding myself that the photographer was coming to photograph my chair and not my whole house.  Don James, the magazine's Photo Director, was great and even though I was nervous, he put me at ease.  He didn't use any special equipment, he just had me go through the steps of me distressing the ottoman and asked me a lot of questions about what I was doing and my blog, while he took pictures.  It was all over in about half an hour, and I was left with my house being cleaner than it has been in months!

I was invited to the launch party for the magazine at the end of May and I asked Kathy to go with me, since she has been so kind and supportive with everything that has been going on with my son.  It was a very nice party and they served us some delicious cocktails and appetizers.  What I  was really hoping for though, was to meet some of the other featured bloggers, but I couldn't seem to to find any of them!
Each of the featured bloggers got a two page spread with a little write up about our blogs and the steps that we had written out about our projects on one page.
The second page had pictures of some of the steps with a picture of my finished distressed leather club chair.
It was a lot of fun (which I was in desperate need of!) and a very positive experience.  Thanks, Albuquerque the Magazine, for the opportunity and for acknowledging some of our cities bloggers!

You can check out the other Albuquerque bloggers that were featured on their web sites listed below!

Southwest Desert Gardening 
Paper Crane Wishes
Cooking for Halflings and Little Monsters
Delineate Your Dwelling
Blue Eye DIY
Good to Grow

Have a great day!

Dining Area Updates

Sorry about the crickets here on the blog.  I've been trying to get caught up on work for my real job.  The one that pays the bills, keeps a roof over our heads and food on the table.  Plus, we are trying to settle in to a summer routine. 

Thanks so much, to those of you who left me comments about my son, in my last post. After Jacob's headache finally went away, he developed some digestive issues that we're still dealing with.  I'll be giving you updates, from time to time, and also sharing some more about the changes that we've made since his diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease.

Today, I wanted to give you an update on our dining area.  Our living room and dining are open concept.  I had already gotten four of the dining chairs painted and the seats reupholstered that I shared in this post (I still have two more chairs to finish).
Since I had painted the chairs white, I wanted some contrast so I decided to paint the table a medium gray.
I mixed two paint colors together to come up with a custom color.  After I painted it, I let it dry for two days.  No one was allowed to put anything on it, which was the hardest part.

Then, I gave it three coats of satin polycrylic so that it's very durable.  This is essential in our house since we don't have an extra bedroom or living area, this table gets a lot of use.  Lately, it's been covered in Lego (Jurassic World, of course!).
Or, someone's doing artwork on it.
Which is really just fine with me, because we live in our house.  It is never perfect and it's usually a little messy (but it cleans up nice for parties ;) and we're comfortable here.  So, I guess, that's all that really matters.

I also happened to find some beautiful curtains at HomeGoods when I was returning something.  They're 96 inches long and were just $15.00 a panel (woo-hoo!) so I was able to get a pair for the dining room window and also for the sliding glass door.
The fabric looks very linen like and they have a beautiful, large scale blue medallion pattern that adds some color and life to this corner of the room.
When our rose bushes were in full bloom last month, I loved how the pink roses looked against the blue and white curtains.
I've already thought about changing out the gray fabric on the dining chairs to black and white, but I usually like to decorate the table with colorful patterns so, it will work for now.  They'll need to be changed soon enough so it's something I can do down the road.
Of course, it's always something and now the bamboo shade is wonky.  So, I need to fix that.  I've been wanting to change up the paint color on the walls to a light gray.  Since it's an open concept room though, that means painting the kitchen, dining area, living room (with vaulted ceilings) and two hallways so, it's not something I could tackle in a weekend.  I'd also like to replace the chandelier with something that's a little more clean lined.
Here's a before picture to remind you of what the space used to look like, very brown and beige.
We're enjoying how bright and fresh this space feels now.  It's amazing how some paint and new curtains can really make a big transformation.
I'm so glad you stopped by today.  Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great day.