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BEFORE | Old, Wood Cabinetry

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The key to keeping renovation costs low? Being flexible with materials that can be found for a steal. Take it from Sheena Tobin, who set out to update the kitchen of her Mobile, AL, rental home while sticking to a strict $150 budget. Wanting a cheerier space in which to cook for her family of six, she kicked off the project by stripping the dreary striped wallpaper, removing the dated scalloped valance above the sink, and prepping the walls and cabinets for a white-and-green color scheme.

Shown: Because the landlord planned to gut-renovate the house after she moved out, Sheena Tobin had free rein to transform the dark, dated space however she saw fit.

AFTER | Fresh, New Kitchen

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After applying fresh coats of paint, Sheena found a peel-and-stick wallpaper with a subway-tile print at a local discount store and hung it in place of a tile backsplash. She also bought a few low-cost products both online and around town, including a shade to dress up the ceiling-fan light, a mini pendant for over the sink, and a bamboo window blind. Finally, to help the dishwasher blend in with the cabinets’ new paint job, she covered the door panel with leftover wallpaper, then painted it the same green. A few accessories, such as a rug and a plant from other rooms, pulled the design together for no extra cost. Sheena, who blogs at, is totally smitten with the refreshed space, summing up, “It’s brighter, cheerier, and way more fun!”

Shown: Even on a tiny budget, Sheena managed to pull the kitchen out of the 1980s and into the 21st century with a bold paint color and some quick-fix materials.

The Project Tally

Stripped the existing wallpaper, then primed and painted the walls and cabinets $47

Upgraded the cabinet hardware with brass pulls $25

Removed the scalloped valance above the sink and hung a secondhand bamboo blind $17

Made a DIY pendant for over the sink using a discounted light kit and a thrift-store glass vase; added a shade to the ceiling-fan light and dressed it up with leftover tassel fringe $10

Added a faux-tile backsplash using peel-and-stick wallpaper $26

Covered the front of the dishwasher with leftover self-adhesive wallpaper, then painted it to blend in with the cabinetry $0

Appropriated a plant and a rug from other areas of the house $0

Total $125