Updating an ’80s Kitchen, Part 1

We’re bringing an ’80s-style kitchen into this decade with a special two-part episode.

Homeowners Lloyd and Aimee Meyers and their two kids love their home, but they want to make some updates to their kitchen.

We’re happy to help this family with a renovation that’s inexpensive, at just $1,200 in materials, but will leave a big impact!

This article covers part one of the project.

Homeowner's Lloyd and Amy Meyers 80s style kitchen.
Lloyd and Aimee are looking to make several updates to their 80s style kitchen.

Preparing the Space

We begin by removing the galley rail above the windows in the dining area. It currently serves as a display shelf for decorative china, but modern homes don’t include this feature and it makes the room feel crowded.

The ceramic backsplash only protects the area behind the sink, so we will replace it with a subway tile backsplash that covers everything behind all the countertops. This consistent look will enhance the kitchen’s overall design.

We will replace the unsightly chandelier above the dining table, move the ceiling fan to a more functional location because Aimee cooks a lot, and remove the long fluorescent light above the work area.

Even the ceiling gets an update because this one has “popcorn,” or texture, that’s no longer in style. (Lloyd already removed some of the popcorn before we arrived.)

When removing a popcorn ceiling, I prefer using a metal scraper. The pros often sand off the scraper’s corners so the edges are rounded, which prevents damage.

Homeowner's Lloyd and Amy Meyers kitchen during demo
After removing the galley rail and chair rail, we begin patching any holes with the joint compound.

Once we’ve removed everything, we use joint compound to cover any holes we found and install new drywall in place of the sink’s backsplash.

Kitchen cabinets without the face.
We removed the kitchen cabinets’ doors to give them an upgrade.

Touching Up the Cabinets

Painting wood cabinets is on-trend, but Lloyd and Aimee like their cabinets — they just want to freshen them up.

So, instead of replacing or painting the cabinets, we’re giving them a facelift. That just means taking the doors off the boxes, cleaning them, repairing any scratches and applying a fresh coat of polyurethane before installing new hardware.

Touching up the kitchen cabinets.
Many homeowners paint their wood cabinets white, but if you want to keep the grain, just refinish them.

We will complete this project in episode two, but when all is said and done, the cabinets will look new and the hardware will complement them nicely!

A hole in the drywall ceiling to install recessed lighting.
With a little know-how, canless recessed lights are easy to install.

Installing Canless Recessed Lighting

This kitchen had massive light fixtures that were dated, unattractive, and didn’t fit the space. We’re adding new light fixtures, including canless recessed lighting that will accent the room and add ambiance.

The LED lights we will install, from Commercial Electric, are small and don’t put out much heat, so they’re energy-efficient and attractive (a win-win).

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Installation is easy — all you have to do is cut a small hole in the ceiling with a hole saw, attach the wires to the junction box and push them up into the ceiling!

Watch our video, How to Install Canless Recessed Lights, for more information.

Canless LED recessed lights
These new canless recessed lights make the space warmer and inviting.

The design of these lights makes them easy to install and the lights are just as bright — if not brighter — than the room’s original can lights!

Danny Lipford and Chelsea Lipford Wolf with homeowner's Lloyd and Amy Meyers

Production Thoughts

With these projects complete, we’re well underway with the Meyers’ family’s kitchen makeover.

The refinished kitchen cabinets will look new once they are back in place and the new light fixtures are much more of the Meyers’ style.

But we’re far from over with this renovation! Part two is coming soon with more projects to tackle.

Check back here so you don’t miss a thing!

Other Tips from this Episode

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A hole in the drywall ceiling to install recessed lighting.Watch and Learn
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Further Reading


    • Hi, Barbara! Painting kitchen cabinets is a popular trend.
      In this case, the homeowners did not want to paint the cabinets.
      We do whatever the homeowner wants and that fits their home’s style. 🙂
      Glad you enjoyed this episode!

  1. How did you clean the cabinet doors before restaining? What cleaning products did you use? My cabinets are “gummy” on the edges where hands touch them. I’d like to clean them but am at a loss as to what to use.

  2. Loved these episodes!! Going to start on my kitchen, with your help!! What did you use to clean the cabinets? I’ve re-watched the video but couldn’t find exactly what you used. Thanks in advance!

    • Hi, Carolyn. The answer is Liquid Sandpaper! It’s our go-to for cleaning, deglossing and prepping cabinets before painting or staining them.
      Follow it up with a fresh coat or two of polyurethane to completely transform old, worn-out cabinets!


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