First person: Kitchen makeover in one week for just $7

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First person: Kitchen makeover in one week for just $7

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My husband and I moved into a 90-year-old house a few months ago. Most of the rooms had been remodeled by the previous owners -- except for the kitchen, which had new cabinets but decades-old wallpaper that was peeling and leaving dust everywhere.

During a recent holiday break, we decided it was time for a change. We didn't have any money for a remodel, but our kitchen badly needed some help.

Tuesday morning we started stripping the wallpaper. The best way we found to get it off? Score it with the edge of a scraper (I made big crisscross marks), spray with some warm water, and let sit for a few minutes; then get the scraper under the edge and scrape off as much as possible. It's tedious, but a necessary evil. Between the 10-foot ceilings and a total of 11 layers of wallpaper dating back to the 1920s, it took us all day and into the night to scrape and peel off all that paper.

Wednesday we raided the basement. The previous owners had left behind paint and other supplies. We found patching plaster, paint, primer, and the tools we needed. It took the entire day to patch the walls where the plaster had come down.

Thursday we sanded the patches, repaired anything needing a little more attention, and primed the walls with three coats of primer.

Friday we painted the walls and the trim, but ran out of the paint we had found in the basement after two coats.

Saturday we made a trek to the hardware store to find a suitable substitute. They had the perfect color in their clearance bin! So we went home to finish up painting and hanging the cabinets.

Finally after one week of work we were finished with what we could afford.

Here's what we spent:

$1 for a scraper

$1 for a plate to cover an electrical opening

$5 for paint

Some advice: Cover your stove with a tarp first; it's a nightmare to clean wallpaper dust off appliances! Also, make sure you get absolutely all of the wallpaper off of the walls. If you don't, when you go to paint it will peel and bubble and crack and you will need to peel it off anyway.

We still need to stain the cabinets, install wainscotting and a chair rail, and repair the ceiling. But compared to what our kitchen looked like five days before, we're impressed with what we accomplished in one week with just $7.

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