Kenneth and Kym Sigler have lived in their home for 15 years and have no plans to relocate. They reached out to us with a clear goal — to upgrade their space instead of packing up for a new place. So, we rolled up our sleeves to help these homeowners turn their outdated house into an even more inviting home with a kitchen refresh.

To update the Siglers’ galley kitchen, we:

Removed the furr downs above the kitchen cabinets
Removed the scalloped valance above the sink
Converted a cabinet in the pantry to house the microwave
Installed a new range hood
Laid porcelain tile over the existing vinyl floors
Created a focal point for the kitchen with a mosaic tile backsplash

Removing the Furr Down

Transforming the Siglers’ kitchen began with a simple yet impactful step: removing the furr down. The furr down is the enclosed area between the top of kitchen cabinets and the ceiling and can make a kitchen feel cramped and dated. Removing the furr down can create the illusion of a larger kitchen, but it can also expose plumbing, wiring, or ductwork that may be hidden inside.

After locating and cutting any caulk lines, we carefully removed the trim and pried off the furr downs plus the framing that supported them. For the Siglers’ kitchen, removing the furr down uncovered the vent pipe. To conceal it, we constructed a wooden box around the pipe using plywood.

To seamlessly blend the new box into the wall, we extended the existing crown molding to the newly opened space above the cabinets and wrapped the molding neatly around the box, enclosing the vent pipe. We also added coordinating molding to the top edge of the cabinets for a finished look.

After that, the walls were given a fresh coat of paint, which reflects more light and enhances the feeling of vertical space in the kitchen.

To learn how to work with furr downs, you can watch How to Remove the Furr Down Above Kitchen Cabinets for step-by-step instructions.

Installing a Range Hood

We upgraded the kitchen by removing the old over-the-range microwave and rehoming a new one in a previously underutilized section of the pantry cabinet. The new range hood, with its sleek design, not only complements the kitchen’s more open aesthetic but also ventilates much more efficiently, whisking away cooking fumes to the outdoors.

The switch from an over-the-range microwave to an elegant range hood contributed significantly to the kitchen’s spacious feel, enhancing both the form and function of the space.

For guidance on selecting the perfect range hood, explore our article on Choosing a Range Hood for Your Kitchen. And if you’re ready to install, our video tutorial on How to Replace a Range Hood in Your Kitchen will walk you through the process step by step.

Laying Tile Over Vinyl Floor

To bring warmth and personality to the kitchen, we put down porcelain tiles that looked like brick. 

Kenneth and Kym wanted the rustic look of brick floors without the maintenance brick requires. Brick, while charming, demands more upkeep due to its porous nature. Porcelain is less porous than brick, offering superior resistance to moisture and stains and making it ideal for the spills and messes that are part and parcel of a bustling kitchen environment. 

To prep the old vinyl flooring, we applied a multi-surface bonding primer so we could install the new tile right on top. To create the look of traditional mortar joints, we used a slightly larger spacer than usual for the grout lines.

The following day, we coated the tile surface with a grout release to simplify cleanup after grouting. For even easier installation, we selected a single-component grout that requires no pre-mixing or sealing.

To learn how we installed the tile, you can watch our video on How to Lay Tile Over an Existing Vinyl Floor for step-by-step guidance.

Installing a Tile Backsplash

Installing backsplash is an easy way to change the look and feel of a kitchen.

To give the Siglers’ kitchen an updated look, Kym chose a striking mosaic tile that stands out beautifully against the countertops and cabinets. The diverse colors and distinctive teardrop pattern of the tiles infuse the space with a dynamic visual texture.

This enhancement breathes new life into the kitchen, ensuring it’s a bright, welcoming space.

For those interested in the detailed process, our comprehensive Ceramic Tile Backsplash Project Guide offers a full rundown of the installation steps.

Design Considerations

When renovating a kitchen, think about how you use the space and how you’d like that to change. To gather inspiration, you can visit sites such as Pinterest or look at kitchen displays at home improvement stores. When planning, you should think about these key elements in your design:

  • Layout: Does the existing layout suit your needs, or should it be adjusted? An inefficient layout leads to frustration over time. Commonly improved areas include work triangles between the sink, stove, and refrigerator.
  • Cabinets/Storage: Assess whether you need more cabinets, drawers, pull-out shelves, wine racks, or other storage solutions. Think about the contents stored in each area to optimize configurations.
  • Countertops: Evaluate countertop space and surfaces. Do you need more workspace? Would you prefer a different material — granite, quartz, butcher block?
  • Backsplash: The backsplash offers a chance to personalize with materials like tile, metal, glass, and stone. It also protects walls from splatter.
  • Flooring: Look for durable, low-maintenance flooring that withstands heavy traffic and spills while also being comfortable underfoot. Popular choices are wood, tile, vinyl, and linoleum.
  • Lighting: Proper lighting serves both form and function. Ensure lights provide sufficient illumination for tasks while also creating a bright, welcoming ambiance.
  • Ventilation: Effective ventilation removes odors, grease, steam, and smoke. Downdraft systems, range hoods, or over-the-range microwaves are typical solutions.
  • Appliances: Evaluate the condition, efficiency, and functionality of major appliances. Upgrading to energy-efficient models can save long-term.

So, Is Remodeling Your Kitchen Worth It?

Kitchen remodels require substantial investments of time, effort, and money. However, for homeowners who plan to stay in their houses for years to come, renovating the kitchen can make daily life much more enjoyable.

The key is focusing on changes that suit your needs and style rather than doing a remodel just for resale value. Well-designed renovations that improve workflow, storage, lighting, and ambiance can let you truly love spending time in your kitchen.

Updating worn surfaces like floors and countertops also restores the fresh, clean look that makes cooking and cleaning easier. Replacing outdated appliances with energy-efficient models adds convenience and can reduce utility bills.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

While cosmetic changes like painting cabinets or replacing hardware and fixtures make a noticeable difference, focusing only on surfaces won’t fix deeper problems. The most satisfying kitchen remodels often involve foundational changes like reconfiguring layouts, moving plumbing and electrical, and replacing aging wiring and ductwork.

If a renovation sounds unappealing because of the mess and hassle involved, remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Staging projects over months or years can make renovations more manageable. Just be sure to start with essential structural, system, and appliance upgrades before moving on to more cosmetic facelifts.

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FAQs About Remodeling Your Kitchen

How much does a kitchen remodel cost?

The typical cost of a kitchen renovation hovers around $26,825. Budget-conscious projects can run as low as $14,600, while more expansive remodels may reach up to $41,400.

What is the most cost-effective kitchen remodel?

Limiting the project scope to essential updates rather than wish-list additions will be the most cost-effective approach. Focus first on repairs, storage solutions, layout changes, new appliances, and upgraded surfaces like countertops and backsplashes.

Can I remodel my kitchen myself?

With proper planning, skills, and time, DIYers can likely handle painting, installing new fixtures, retiling floors and backsplashes, refacing cabinets, adding shelving, and more. But plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and structural work often requires hiring professionals.

What should I update first in my kitchen?

If your kitchen is outdated but still functional, first focus on surfaces like paint, flooring, and backsplashes since they make a visual impact. Then save up for bigger-ticket items like cabinetry, countertops, and appliances when budgets allow.

Should I remodel before selling my house?

Remodeling solely to boost resale value often won’t pay off. But if your kitchen truly needs repairs and updates to function properly, that work can appeal to buyers. Avoid personalizing with bold styles or colors. Emphasize repairs, traffic flow, and neutral elements like white cabinetry.

Editorial Contributors
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Abbie Clark


Abbie Clark is a writer and blogger. She is the founder of "Hey She Thrives", where she writes about all things motherhood, coupled with expert cleaning tips that echo the warmth and order of a loving home. She is also the co founder of "RideRambler." There, you can find all of the info you'll ever need on DIY car fixes and Auto news.When not writing, you can find Abbie chasing her toddler, trying a new cookie recipe, or fishing with her husband.

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Lee Ann Merrill

Chicago-based Lee Ann Merrill has decades of experience writing and editing across a wide range of technical and scientific subjects. Her love of DIY, gardening, and making led her to the realm of creating and honing quality content for homeowners. When she's not working on her craft, you can find her exploring her city by bike and plotting international adventures.

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