Kitchen makeover: ‘We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900’

Marnie Goodman used paint, sticky-back plastic and online bargains to bring life, colour and style back into her dated, brown kitchen

When Marnie and Jamie Goodman moved into their three-bedroom, semi-detached home in Tiptree, Essex, 2019, they were already expecting their first baby.

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The house was liveable, but it would need some renovating – and Marnie, 30, a social media crafter (@life.of.moo on Instagram), and Jamie, 33, an IT field engineer, were too keen on the property to pass up the challenge.

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
Marnie’s kitchen before the makeover

‘We knew that moving before Polly arrived would be hard-going, but we loved the house and the location and could see the potential for it to be our perfect home. We were prepared for it to take some time.’

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
A once old-fashioned kitchen is now a bright, on-trend and welcoming space thanks to the newly painted cupboards, fresh flooring and quirky details

They revamped the bedrooms first, then Polly’s room ready for her arrival. When it came to the kitchen-diner, though, they needed a low-cost solution.

‘It’s a great space,’ says Marnie, ‘but the units are dated, although they are generally in good condition. And, while we want to rip it out and extend the back of the house, at the moment our budget won’t cover that kind of work just yet. So, we’ve compromised on a quick update until we can fit a new kitchen.’

Thankfully, the compromise didn’t mean there would be any lack of style, and the kitchen-diner was a welcome project during last year’s lockdown.

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
The couple replaced the tiles with new, fresh-looking white ones. ‘We decided to grout in black as it adds to the impact of the room and complements the black kickboards and radiator,’ says Marnie

‘The kitchen and dining area was really was one of the reasons we bought the house,’ says Marnie, ‘so, although we were only giving it a quick update, we didn’t want to do something we wouldn’t be happy living with as it could be a while until we get a new one.’

The couple discussed replacing the cupboard doors and ripping out the top cabinets to create open shelving, but the units were in great condition and they really liked the layout as it was.

‘It’s a really functional kitchen with everything in the right place, so it seems silly to rearrange everything when we wanted to keep on top of the budget.’ So, they decided the best option would be to paint the doors and drawers, replace the flooring, install new tiles and refresh the worktop.

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
A palette of spring colours keeps the look fresh. Marnie painted an MDF letter for the wall using leftover paint pot samples for an inexpensive way to jazz up the walls

The couple started removing the old tiles first, as they knew this would be a dirty, dusty job. It took them several days to get the tiles off, and then Jamie had to fix up a few areas of the walls where the old plaster had come away.

They found some simple square white tiles on the Walls and Floors website, which Jamie was able to fit himself. ‘We decided to use black grout to make them stand out more, and the finished result looks amazing.’

Wanting to make the space work as one, Marnie also decided to paint the radiator in the dining area and all the kickboards black, which brings the scheme together.

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
To keep costs down, the couple used a parquet-effect laminate, which comes in planks. Jamie found it really easy to lay and the effect is just like the real thing

With the decision made to keep the units, Marnie turned her hand to finding the right paint colour for the doors. ‘I wanted a pink, but not a girly, sickly pink – more of a subtle colour that would be easy to live with.’ After trying out lots of testers and various shades, she opted for a delicate pink Calamine shade from Farrow & Ball.

Jamie’s a dab hand at DIY; he removed all the doors and drawer fronts and cleaned and primed them so that the eggshell paint would take.

‘The painting took a couple of weeks as we really wanted to get the perfect finish, so did each area in sections, painting several coats and allowing them to all dry properly before fitting them back into place.’

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
Marnie loves pattern so there’s plenty of it in her new-look kitchen – even on the kettle! She cut out vinyl, cow-print stickers to give her existing one a unique new look

Marnie finished off the doors with some new handles from Amazon, which cost just under £20 for the lot.

‘I had thought about a new worktop but, again, the cost seemed unjustified, so I found a company online that provides a strong sticky-back plastic that is suitable to use on wooden or laminate and was perfect for the worktop.

‘It was pretty easy to do, but I needed to have a really sharp knife for cutting and fitting and I used a squeegee to get it flat and avoid any bubbles,’ she explains.

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
Rather than overload the room with pink, Marnie painted the radiator and woodwork in black for a punchy contrast. ‘Adding the black made the colours pop,’ she explains

The existing flooring tiles would be a real chore to take up, so the couple found some lovely parquet-effect laminate that would hide a multitude of sins. Jamie turned his hand to fitting the flooring with some thick underlay.

They laid it in a diagonal pattern, which instantly made the room feel longer and more spacious.

‘Once the flooring was done, we started to add some fun accessories. I made a decal vinyl for the space above the cooker and bought some fun circus letters for the wall. I also found a set of table and chairs on an online selling site, which filled the dining room space perfectly.’

Kitchen makeover: 'We gave our kitchen a retro revamp for under £900'
Marnie created her fun slogan wall by painting a scallop frame around picture ledges. ‘The letters, from Mag&Marge, can be changed to sum up your mood,’ she enthuses

Marnie then added houseplants and accessories in yellow, mint green and a splash of red too, which really brought the whole scheme to life.

‘I’m not afraid of mixing colour together and think this space is now a hundred times better to enjoy while we plan for the big extension. Best of all, we’ve managed to create a stylish kitchen-diner for under £900,’ smiles Marnie.

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Feature and styling Zoe Bishop. Photos Lizzie Orme. 

This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?