Watch this video to see how we completed a minor kitchen makeover that made a big difference without spending a lot of money.

Kitchen update projects included:

    • Countertops: Learn how to refinish plastic laminate countertops to give them the look of granite.
    • Cabinets: See how to clean and apply a new coat of finish to kitchen cabinets.
    • Cabinet Hardware: Tips on how to remove and replace cabinet hinges and knobs with brushed nickel hardware.
  • Cabinet Storage: Add pullout wire baskets and tilt out sink cabinet hardware to increase cabinet storage and convenience.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, we’re pulling off a kitchen makeover on a miniscule budget. If you’re looking for a change you can make with spare change, stay tuned. You know, this kind of outdates the kitchen.

It’s easy to talk to people about kitchen re-modeling because the kitchen is the center of family life in so many homes, but finding the budget for these renovations isn’t always so easy. This week, we’re helping homeowner Stephanie Ward makeover her kitchen and we’re going to do it on a shoe-string budget.

Stephanie Ward: We’ve been here, well a total of 10 years.

Danny Lipford: I see.

Stephanie Ward: And, it’s just outdated. The countertops are chipping, they’re kind of dingy, and, dark. And the cabinets are falling apart a little bit.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, I thought you had one of those neat little tilt-outs. But it’s just actually coming loose, isn’t it?

Stephanie Ward: It is.

Danny Lipford: Of course, it’s small, I guess you’re a little challenged on some of the storage?

Stephanie Ward: Oh, my goodness. Let me show you.

Danny Lipford: Uh-huh.

Stephanie Ward: Very much so.

Danny Lipford: Oh, yeah! There you go. Well, I’ve got a couple of different ideas. First of all, we recently did a countertop and we used a finish that looks just like granite that was very easy to apply, so, maybe we can talk to the folks that do that and see if we can take care of that.

Stephanie Ward: That’d be great.

Danny Lipford: Also, you know, this kind of out-dates the kitchen. You don’t have a whole lot of hardware here. We could maybe upgrade that to, say, polished nickel?

Stephanie Ward: Oh, that would be great.

Danny Lipford: That’d look pretty good and kind of go along with your sink and so forth.

Stephanie Ward: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: So that looks pretty good. And then also, we probably could do a little bit of cleaning and finishing these cabinets without changing the color, but just put maybe just a little bit of the gloss back on it that it once had.

Stephanie Ward: That’d be nice.

Danny Lipford: That countertop finish I was telling Stephanie about is from Giani. They’ve not only agreed to send us one of their granite finish kits, they’re sending an expert, Ashley Fleming, to help Stephanie apply the finish.

Ashley Fleming: We’ve got the primer, b lack roll-on primer. And then our three mineral colors.

Stephanie Ward: That’s a lot!

Ashley Fleming: These give you the granite look. These smaller cans do.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Ashley Fleming: And then the last step is the top coat.

Stephanie Ward: Wow, that looks like a lot of work.

Ashley Fleming: It’s not. It’s really not. It’s for people who have never done a lot of house projects. You could have never painted before and you can do this. It’s really that easy. You can roll-on your black primer.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Ashley Fleming: Just with this roller, you go right over your old countertops. This is the exciting part right here with the minerals.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Ashley Fleming: You sponge those on. So you’ll see with each step you just go straight up and down with your minerals. But first we have to get all of these items off of here before we can get this project started.

Stephanie Ward: Let me get my son to help us move some things.

Ashley Fleming: Okay.

Stephanie Ward: Could you help us move some of these things off the counters? Maybe if you can start reaching on top of the fridge, because I can’t reach there.

Ashley Fleming: Yeah, the tall guy.

Stephanie Ward: Oh, it’s a mess under there. It’s a good excuse to clean.

Ashley Fleming: After we paint your counters, you’ll want them cleared off all the time because you’ll like looking at them again

Stephanie Ward: Absolutely. You know, out of sight, out of mind.

Danny Lipford: Allen’s a little late to the party, but he’s here to help with some of the moving.

Allen Lyle: Hi, Jack. You’re tall. How tall are you, Jack?

Jack Anderson: 6’4″.

Allen Lyle: I used to be 6’5″. Do you know how I shrunk? Moving stoves. Come on.

Danny Lipford: And the countertop repairs.

Allen Lyle: That’s good. Get in there. Two hands. Get going. Scrub it! Scrub it!

Stephanie Ward: We’re scrubbing, we’re scrubbing!

Allen Lyle: Ashley, let me ask you something here.

Ashley Fleming: Yes?

Allen Lyle: All right, I’ve got an in-cap that I can place on here.

Ashley Fleming: Okay.

Allen Lyle: Now, all these chips, we want to fill that, right?

Ashley Fleming: I would say wood fill. Mmm-hmm.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Ashley Fleming: And then sand it down. Make it even with sandpaper.

Allen Lyle: All right. I can do that for you.

Ashley Fleming: Yup.

Allen Lyle: You can actually buy an in-cap kit. It has two in-caps: one’s for the right-hand side, one’s for the left-hand side. Right, left.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Allen Lyle: We don’t need that side, and I already cut this one down because I only need this little bit.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Allen Lyle: See that? That’s the glue already. It’s already on there.

Stephanie Ward: Okay, wow!

Allen Lyle: All we’ve got to do is we’re going to push it where it needs to be. We’ll leave it just a little bit over the top. This is where our trusty iron comes in play.

Stephanie Ward: You look good holding that iron.

Ashley Fleming: I know!

Stephanie Ward: I’ve got a stack of laundry.

Allen Lyle: Starch? What’s the next step?

Ashley Fleming: Taping off…

Allen Lyle: We need to get some caulk?

Ashley Fleming: Yeah, removing caulk and taping off.

Danny Lipford: The caulk on most countertops isn’t paintable. So it has to be removed and replaced with a paintable variety. The label on the tube will tell you if it accepts paint or not. As they’re masking around the countertop edges, Stephanie’s husband Jamey drops in on his lunch break.

Jamey Ward: Wow.

Stephanie Ward: Hi, there.

Jamey Ward: You weren’t kidding. What’s going on?

Stephanie Ward: Well, I’ve decided that I wanted the counters re-done, and Ashley is here to help me get it done.

Ashley Fleming: I helped create the disaster. Hi, nice to meet you.

Jamey Ward: Nice to meet you.

Stephanie Ward: So we’re going to use this granite paint to make our counters look like granite.

Ashley Fleming: Yeah, beats paying $3,000 for a countertop.

Jamey Ward: Yeah, that’s true.

Ashley Fleming: So no complaints, right?

Jamey Ward: That’s true. I guess we’re eating out tonight, right?

Stephanie Ward: Probably for a couple of nights.

Danny Lipford: While Jamey recovers from the shock, let’s check in with Joe for a Simple Solution.

Joe Truini: If you’ve ever used paint stripper to refinish a piece of furniture, you know it’s an extremely messy job. Well, here’s a quick tip that can make the job a little less messy.

Take a cardboard box, and cut a slit in it with a utility knife that’s slightly longer than the width of your putty knife. Then inside you can fill it with strips of newspaper or sawdust, something to help absorb the mess that you’re going to be dropping in there.

And then, what you can do is scrape up the paint stripper. This has been sitting about 30 or 40 minutes. Scraping, you see just how easily this comes up, but it’s a pretty gooey mess. And then just take it, put the knife in the cardboard, and draw it through. And you see it just drips inside, and eventually that will puddle up on the bottom and the newspaper will absorb it so it won’t spill out of the box.

And the reason this is a nice, handy tip is that when you’re finishing a piece of furniture, you’re going to be doing this a lot. You’re going to be scraping the surface and cleaning the blade. And you should do nice, short strokes. Work quickly; you get the job done with no problem at all.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re helping homeowner Stephanie Ward pull off a budget makeover for her kitchen and we’ve just finished prepping her countertop for a coating that will make them look like granite. Now it’s time to get started with the transformation by applying step one, the black primer.

Ashley Fleming: First we start with the foam brush.

Stephanie Ward: Okay, how much?

Ashley Fleming: And dab that off a little bit. Okay, lift it up and let me see it. That looks good. And then you just run that right in the corners.

Stephanie Ward: Oh, wow.

Ashley Fleming: And now you’re committed.

Stephanie Ward: And now I’m committed.

Ashley Fleming: Here we go!

Stephanie Ward: It kind of looks like Sharpie ink.

Danny Lipford: All right, you’re getting to the point of no return now, huh?

Ashley Fleming: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Right, all the primer. And you’re going to just do that back edge as well.

Ashley Fleming: Yeah, all the edging with the foam brush.

Danny Lipford: That’s great. That’s going to look fantastic. We’re going to be working on the doors out front.

Ashley Fleming: Okay.

Danny Lipford: Once the edges are cut in, Stephanie uses a small foam roller to cover the larger flat surfaces. The cool thing about this kit is that it includes these tools along with the paint so you have everything you need in one package.

Ashley Fleming: Your kitchen looks like it’s somewhere in the 20s in square footage, but the average countertop footage in the United States household is 35 square feet, and that’s what our kit is made to cover.

Stephanie Ward: So another reason why I’m excited about getting this done is because I have stains on my counters.

Ashley Fleming: You’ll no longer have to live with stained laminate.

Stephanie Ward: That’s fantastic.

Ashley Fleming: Very exciting. Let’s roll right over that stain.

Stephanie Ward: All right! I’m excited.

Ashley Fleming: This’ll be the last time you have to look at that.

Stephanie Ward: So far it’s really easy to apply.

Ashley Fleming: You’ll see later how it’s going to show through the final finish.

Stephanie Ward: Like a contrast?

Ashley Fleming: Mmm-hmm. Yeah, the different colors, the layering of the different mineral paints, really give it that granite-rock look.

Danny Lipford: But that will come a little later after all this primer has dried. Meanwhile, Allen has moved to the back porch to stay out of the rain. Now I see you’re using your old microwave trick there. Microwaving a sponge.

Allen Lyle: I am. You know, we have so many people asking about, “What was that again?” It does such a good job, but I don’t want to trip over everybody inside so I brought it out.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, that’s a good idea. All right. Well, I guess we can go ahead and take all the hardware off these first. You want to do that? And I’ll keep you stocked up with everything.

Allen Lyle: Yeah. That will work.

Danny Lipford: You know, these things are in such good shape.

Allen Lyle: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: I won’t have to do any staining on them at all, but I know you picked up what some clear polyurethane?

Allen Lyle: Well, I did some of the satin finish. And I figured we could just spray the front of the doors and it’ll look really nice. Just putting the shine back on these things.

Danny Lipford: But first, we have to get them cleaned.

Allen Lyle: Ooh! That’s hot. Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot sponge!

Danny Lipford: To tell you the truth, how did we get stuck with cleaning and they’re inside doing all the work?

Allen Lyle: That’s because they decided that they could do it better than we could.

Danny Lipford: This is going to be great but they’ve gotten that to a point where it’s already primed inside.

Allen Lyle: Uh-huh.

Danny Lipford: So, they can’t do anymore. We get this, a coat of polyurethane on this. And then we’re ready to call it a day as well.

Allen Lyle: That’s right.

Danny Lipford: And do the rest of it tomorrow.

Allen Lyle: Don’t think that’s cleaning? That was clean water when I started.

Danny Lipford: One of the things when you’re using any kind of spray which is, this is a situation that’s ideal, is that you really don’t need the urethane to be very thick on the doors, but one of the things that you have to do is shake the heck out of the can and continue shaking it as you use it.

Also, you want to put a very, very light coat on which is the same thing you want to do any time you’re spraying. And that right there is about all you’re going to want on there. Also, it’ll dry very, very quickly. And many times when we’re out on the road and Allen runs out of his hair spray. I just, no problem.

Allen Lyle: No problem.

Jodi Marks: You know, if you have a busy kitchen like I do, there’s nothing worse then flipping the switch for your garbage disposal and it not working or it’s not working properly because it’s not powerful enough. So if you’re in the market for a new garbage disposal, or you want to upgrade one, look no further than right here.

This is the InSinkErator Evolution Select Plus. And basically this is the Mac Daddy Cadillac of garbage disposals. Now, what I like about this is that it’s got three-fourths horsepower. What that means is like a smaller model has one-third, you can get a half, you can get five-eighths, or you could get three-fourths, and that’s what this one is.

Now, one would think that if it’s more powerful, it’s going to be louder. But this one actually isn’t. With the SoundSeal, it’s actually quieter. Another thing I like about this model, it has the quick lock mount collar, so that if you’ve got an InSinkErator that’s an older model, or it’s not as powerful; all you’ve got to do is just twist that one off, twist this one into place, and you’re good to go.

Another thing I like, too, is that it’s got an anti-microbial sink baffle; so that it eliminates any of that bacteria build-up. So this is just a win-win all the way around.

Danny Lipford: We’re transforming homeowner Stephanie Ward’s kitchen on a budget with some simple projects like painting the countertops and replacing the hardware.

Stephanie and countertop painting expert Ashley Fleming finished the first step on the counters, while Allen and I were prepping and resealing the cabinet doors. Ah, it looks like the primer dried well overnight.

Ashley Fleming: Yeah, primer’s done and we’re ready to make rock.

Danny Lipford: Okay, what’s the process there? I see you have all kinds of little artsy stuff here going on.

Ashley Fleming: Yeah, we take this sponge and we dip it into our mineral colors and we’re going to apply those right down on the countertop. And that’s where it becomes granite.

Danny Lipford: While you guys are doing that, I’ll teach Alan a thing or two about installing some hardware on the cabinets, all right?

Stephanie Ward: All right.

Danny Lipford: Okay, so you started without me here, I was going to show you how to install cabinet hardware.

Allen Lyle: Okay. I’m almost done with that, buddy.

Danny Lipford: Fortunately, there’s a better spirit of cooperation in the kitchen.

Ashley Fleming: So when you go to hit the, touch the countertop, just a light dab. Yup, perfect. Yup.

Stephanie Ward: That it? Just kind of wherever?

Ashley Fleming: Yup. And you work randomly; you don’t want to go in a row. Yeah, perfect.

Stephanie Ward: I mean, right now, this does not look good. So…

Ashley Fleming: No, at first it’s okay if it look like this. You’re thinking, “I don’t want a spotted countertop”. Just keep going. Don’t be afraid.

Stephanie Ward: Yeah.

Ashley Fleming: You cannot mess this up. You can always adjust it. Now, we’re going to take this color and it’s going to be the same process. Dip that in, dab it off.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Ashley Fleming: Yup, and lightly.

Stephanie Ward: Just over?

Ashley Fleming: Just right over it. Yup. Nice. And the first two colors, still you’re wondering, “I’m not seeing it, it looks spongy.” The third color, that’s thick. When it gets like that, you haven’t messed up, but it is a little thick.

Stephanie Ward: Yeah. I saw that.

Ashley Fleming: You want it to be a little lighter than that. And maybe, if you start seeing the same pattern too much, you can kind of rotate the sponge.

Stephanie Ward: Yeah, the sponge, okay.

Ashley Fleming: And you don’t want to twist, though.

Stephanie Ward: Got it, yeah. I saw that.

Ashley Fleming: Just straight up and down. Yeah, exactly.

Stephanie Ward: It is a little scary. You don’t want to mess it up.

Ashley Fleming: After you get to the next color and you see it come to life you’ll get much more comfortable with the process. Yeah, you can see these little areas that are starting to get fine, you know?

Stephanie Ward: Right, starting to look pretty.

Ashley Fleming: This is where you’re like “Okay, all right, it’s getting prettier.”

Stephanie Ward: It’s like, “Oh, okay, I like this now.”

Ashley Fleming: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: It looks like Stephanie is really hitting her stride. Meanwhile, Allen and I are about to wrap up installing the new hinges.

Here’s something you have to be real careful with. When you’re in the aisles of the home center, make sure you bring with you one of the old hinges, because there’s a lot of differences here.

First of all you want to make sure your screw pattern is exactly the same. You also want to make sure the offset in the hinge is the same. And the footprint on the screws that go into the cabinet itself are the same, that way you don’t have any touch-up, any worry, and when you get to this stage in the game, it makes it go real easy.

Back in the kitchen, Ashley is adding some details to enhance the illusion of real granite.

Ashley Fleming: It’s good if your whole countertop gets a certain kind of direction going to it.

Danny Lipford: Mmm-hmm.

Ashley Fleming: And so, if you just use different colors afterwards, they kind of get this motion going, it’ll mimic nature more. Like where the water corroded the minerals.

Danny Lipford: They’re even adding some veining by exposing some of the black primer.

Ashley Fleming: I might soften it just a little.

Stephanie Ward: Yeah, you’re not going to hurt my feelings. Trust me.

Ashley Fleming: You still see the line but you’ve got this other layer going on top of it. So it makes it look like it’s down underneath there.

Danny Lipford: The paint has to dry before the sealer is applied. So while it does, we start putting back up the cabinet doors. This is also a great time for Allen to help Stephanie install the tilt-out.

Stephanie Ward: I’m trying!

Danny Lipford: As well as a roll-out we picked up for the cabinets. The tilt-out hardware dismounts onto the old false doorframe and gets screwed into place.

Stephanie Ward: So this is really neat. What is this?

Allen Lyle: It’s a ring holder. Isn’t that cool?

Stephanie Ward: Oh, okay.

Allen Lyle: And there goes your sponge, right down over here. All right, so, now we’ve got that done how about underneath here. We get a lot of people who of course, all of their cleaning supplies are typically under the kitchen sink.

Now, you’ve got your pipes in here and there’s not a lot you can do, but we can put a roll-out tray right here. I’ve got one with me. And it is so easy. Stephanie, it is so easy.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Allen Lyle: Four screws straight down and you’re done. All right. One screw.

Stephanie Ward: One screw.

Allen Lyle: One. You know, one is the loneliest number.

Stephanie Ward: It sure is. This is industrial plastic. Kids, please do not use your teeth to open packages at home.

Allen Lyle: Boom. Anything you want in there. Pull it out and get to it, right back.

Stephanie Ward: That’s fantastic.

Allen Lyle: Putting everything back is your job.

Stephanie Ward: Okay.

Danny Lipford: Once the counters are dry, Ashley lightly sands a few areas to remove some of the high spots.

Ashley Fleming: If you do sand then afterwards you need to make sure that you wipe it down with a damp cloth and then a dry cloth, just to get rid of all of the sanding dust.

Danny Lipford: And then you’re ready for the sealer.

Ashley Fleming: And then, yes.

Danny Lipford: Because the sealer dries quickly, Ashley and Stephanie work a small area at a time to get the finish completely even.

Ashley Fleming: You have to work with it while it’s still flowing. Otherwise if it starts to dry too far and you put this roller onto it, it’ll become too sticky and leave a dry roll look. It needs to all be wet and flow together.

Stephanie Ward: We’re good I think.

Ashley Fleming: Looks good. No drips!

Stephanie Ward: All right!

Ashley Fleming: All right, you’re a professional.

Danny Lipford: While Stephanie’s counters dry, let’s check out a question for your kitchen.

Danny Lipford: Rebecca asks, “If my garbage disposal is stuck, is it time to buy a new one?”

If your garbage disposal sounds like this, well, turn it off. Because it’s in a bind, and if you leave it that way, it’ll end up tripping the reset button on the bottom of the disposal or even a circuit breaker in your home.

But to dislodge whatever’s causing it to be in a bind you can use the hex wrench that came with the garbage disposal. I know most people lose them, that’s okay. Grab your set of Allen wrenches, get the right size, insert it into the recess hole right in the bottom of the disposal, and turn it left and right until you dislodge whatever caused it to get into a bind.

Then a little extreme cleaning may be good. Put a little baking soda in, a half a cup of vinegar; and then, after about five minutes, boiling water. That should help clean it, and keep it from being a problem in the future.

Danny Lipford: Stephanie, could you ever imagine you could dramatically change your countertops and do it in such an easy way?

Stephanie Ward: No, never. I hated my countertops. They were ugly. And the color was old, it was old-fashioned, it didn’t go with anything, and I thought that I had to replace them.

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Stephanie Ward: I had no idea that this could be done.

Danny Lipford: Yeah, it’s an amazing process, and also, you know, changing the hardware, I mean, the brushed nickel is something that’s very, very popular, but still by matching the same footprint that you had on the original hardware. It was a pretty easy process as well.

Stephanie Ward: Well it was, I didn’t realize that something so simple could make a big difference, I thought I’d have to replace the cabinets as well. So, wow, that’s great.

Danny Lipford: It looks a lot better with a little bit of varnish, or poly, that really helped that a lot. But I’ll tell you, when you do a little simple improvement that makes so much sense like this.

Stephanie Ward: Mmm-hmm.

Danny Lipford: Everybody should have one of these.

Stephanie Ward: Oh, absolutely.

Danny Lipford: And that’s so easy, and the little tilt-out is awesome.

Stephanie Ward: I loved it. Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Works out a lot better, but, maybe inspired you a little bit?

Stephanie Ward: Oh, absolutely. I’ve already got plans to paint the kitchen and change the floors and I can’t wait to get started.

Danny Lipford: Ah, perfect.

Stephanie Ward: I realized it was a lot easier than what I’d thought.

Danny Lipford: And a lot cheaper, maybe.

Stephanie Ward: Yes.

Danny Lipford: Because, think about it. You know, $80 for all the materials, for the countertops, $120 for the pulls and the hardware, and the tilt-out and the roll-out, you’re only down, like, $200 in materials and, okay, a little sweat I put in.

Stephanie Ward: A little bit. Not a whole lot, though. Really, that’s what surprised me about the process, it was not as intimidating as I thought it was going to be.

Danny Lipford: Well, you did a great job on all of it. And you can see you can spend just a little bit of money and it can go a long, long way.

Hey, thanks a lot for being with us on this week’s show. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you next week right here on Today’s Homeowner. What kind of color did you have in mind?

Stephanie Ward: I’m going to do, like, a blonde.

Ashley Fleming: Now move over. Ooh!

Stephanie Ward: Ooh! Please be careful.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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