We Paid Cash: A New Kitchen

We paid cash!

A testimony from Liz

Shortly after we were married, my husband and I started house hunting. Our budget was pretty limited but we finally found a builder who was building houses in our price range.

The downside to a brand-new home in our price range meant that everything was budget grade. We were so excited to have a new house that we didn’t care. Fast forward 15 years, the trendy counter top I picked out was outdated and our budget cupboards had seen better days.

I was so dissatisfied with my kitchen that it was influencing the joy that I felt in my home. I constantly nagged my husband about it. It may seem petty, but I actually prayed for the discontentment to be taken away. I truly wasn’t expecting the answer that I received from my prayers.

While listening to the radio one day, my husband found out a local kitchen remodeling store was offering a giveaway for $4,000 worth of free counter tops. We both agreed that if we won we would get new cabinets.

To our delight, my husband’s ticket won! 

We told the builder that we would need to wait to install so we could save money for cupboards, too. The plan we immediately implemented was to:

We had the floor plans drawn up right away so we had an idea of how much money we would need. We wanted to get higher-quality cupboards, new appliances, a garbage disposal, and a better kitchen layout.

To keep our expenses down we:

  • Re-used the existing cupboard hardware
  • Had the plans fit the existing footprint eliminating the need for new flooring
  • Re-used our dishwasher even though it didn’t match our new stainless steel appliances

Shortly after Christmas I found out I would be getting a nice bonus that would help pay for the cupboards. I called the builder to let them know we were ready to start.

Much to my delight the cupboards we had picked out were on sale — saving us about 15% off the original quote! At this point, the only items left to worry about were the appliances. To help pay for those we sold our refrigerator, stove, old kitchen cupboards and counter tops, and saved our tax return money.

When it came time to buy appliances, we mercilessly shopped for the best price. We watched for deals, price matched, and used a last-minute coupon to get a terrific price on a stove, refrigerator, and microwave.

It took us about nine months to save enough money. Our total out of pocket for the remodel and new appliances was about $9,000 — which (between my bonus, our tax return, the items we sold, and the money we saved) was paid for completely with cash!

In addition to being a wife and mother, Liz works outside the home and blogs at Wonder Woman I’m Not – a home management blog for the busy woman striving to find balance in their lives.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  1. says

    That’s awesome, Liz! Our kitchen needs a complete redo too…we’re currently saving for furniture which is more important at the moment, but I’ve really been thinking about making the kitchen our next big project.

  2. J says

    Your kitchen is really nice. I would love to see a “before” pic. It is a distant dream to someday replace appliances and counter tops. I am afraid to dream for new cupboards. grin

  3. Megan Hopkins says

    I am curious how stainless appliances be a better deal than classic white? When we were refrigerator and dishwasher shopping, it seemed that the price always went up just to get that particular color!

    • Missi says

      I don’t think she mentioned them being a better price than the white, but instead that she shopped for the best price for what she was looking for. It’s not a good deal if the white would make you unhappy with the remodel!

    • says

      Megan – I would agree that typically stainless steel is more expensive than white but not horrendously so (at least in our case). Our existing appliances were white (bought with the house) and didn’t match the counter tops at all. knowing that I wouldn’t be getting new appliances for another 15 – 20 years coupled with the fact that I really wanted stainless steel was worth the extra couple hundred dollars. If the difference would have been significant I would have opted for black appliances.

  4. Dona says

    Oh, this is such a fitting article for me to read right now. I almost feel like God is breathing on me right now! I have been really unhappy for a long time with our kitchen and I confess I have nagged my husband to death about it. My kitchen is from 1963! The only thing updated is our appliances and our countertops are a cheap formica from about 10 years ago. I never dreamed when we bought this house that I would be dealing with this kitchen for so long. But my husband is determined we will pay cash for any upgrade. I am really trying to stay on this goal but there are days I want to cry over it because it seems so far off for me. I do suffer from a little envy of all my friends and their beautiful kitchens. I know in the big picture I am a very blessed woman and I hate admitting that I have such jealousy and envy in my heart. I am certain God is using this to teach me a lesson in life. I just pray it will soon be over. I hope I can look back soon and say I paid cash for a new kitchen. Glad your efforts have paid off. Your kitchen looks awesome.

    • Heather says

      When we bought our first home, it still had the original 1950 cabinets – very dinged up. The only updates was hideous brown vinyl flooring (1970’s?) and awful counters that were also very worn and scratched. I naively thought we would soon have the money to remodel (soon being about 6 months). However, it ended up being about 7 years, and yes, we did it in cash, also. How I do love it now (it’s been 1 1/2 years, and I still don’t take it for granted).

      But after the first year or so of that seven years, I gave up hating it, and came to a certain level of acceptance. Once I lost my impatience to get it done, I was a lot happier. The food still tasted just as good.

    • says

      I can totally relate – our kitchen is from 1959! And it’s retro in a not-good way :). I try to change what I can (we’re not allowed to paint the cabinets, because we are renting, but we can paint the walls), and have made one area of the kitchen more “me.” I also just try to keep it clean and organized – honestly, I’ve seen kitchens that had beautiful cabinets and countertops, and were covered with clutter. I’ve also seen ones that were old and dated like mine, but nice because they were clean, cozy, well-loved. In fact, I was recently looking at some pictures I had taken of a friend’s house 10 years ago, because she had decorated it so cute, and was surprised to see that her cabinets were the exact same ones as the ones I hate in my own kitchen right now! But I don’t remember her cabinets. I remember the cups of tea she made for me when I was having a hard day, and the quilts that covered the dark 70’s wood-paneled walls.

      • Kelli says

        I agree– I find myself “wishing” for granite counter tops and better cupboards and then I remind myself what is truly important in a kitchen—-a clean, organized workspace to cook good meals for my family. Having granite counter tops won’t make me a a better cook.

    • Becky says

      I have lived in my 1955 house for almost a year now. It was foreclosed and needed a lot of work. My husband made the new cabinets, we put granite tile over the existing wood counter, got new appliances (the fridge barely worked, not stove or microwave) from my husbands work- that saved a ton… We don’t have a dishwasher, but that is a dream of mine…. Luckily, by doing this ourselves, buying tile instead of a slab and getting appliances onsale and with his discount we did all of this for around 1000. It takes time and patience. We still need to work on a few drawers (my husband nailed 2 of the drawers shut bc we were running out of time for our daughters 1st birthday party- but you can’t tell… I just need the space for utensils, etc) and do some touch-ups… Now we just need the motivation- we worked every spare minute for months and we are just exhausted and tired…. hopefully we will get back to it soon!

    • says

      I can totally relate about the envy. It really made me feel bad that I was so dissatisfied with what I had when I knew that I should be thankful for what I had. Once that green eyed monster gets a hold of you it’s hard to shake loose. Have you tried some more inexpensive cosmetic changes? Before we won the countertops I did a few things to try to increase my satisfaction level. Painting, new hardware and curtains may not have given me quite the thrill that the new cabinets and counter tops did but it did help ease the dissatisfaction a little bit. Maybe a few simple changes will get you over the hump until you can save enough money for a complete re-do. Good luck!

    • Angela O says

      Last year I visited Guatemala to do some missions work. Boy did that trip put my life into perspective! Before then I had a long list of honey-dos for the house, but since then I am reminded over and over what truly matters. I dont need the best; in fact, with the best often comes more work–a bigger house means more space to clean, stainless steel appliances means lots of extra fingerprints to rub off, etc! Besides, this world is not my home–it is my temporary dwelling place! Be encouraged today with what you do have–so many people in other countries would be delighted with running water in a home!

  5. Jennifer says

    Don’t you love when the Lord answers prayers in such fantastic and unexpected ways? We got our down payment for our first home in a similar manner. We had walked to a fast food restaurant to get dinner, joking all the way about which family member would “loan” us a down payment without expecting us to repay the loan. And when we got home, I stopped eating in the middle of dinner unexpectedly to check our voicemail and we had won a contest that I had entered while searching for a job. $20,000 cash. Such a HUGE blessing. We no longer live in that house, but we are still using the living room furniture we bought with that money…though it has definitely seen better days :)

  6. says

    Way to go on saving for your kitchen. I can empathize with an environment physically depressing you – some people are more visually sensitive than others, and when you spend a lot of time in the place, I think it’s worth it (if you can afford it) to make it a pleasant place to be.

  7. says

    Your new kitchen is beautiful! It must feel extra wonderful to not have any debt for it hanging over your head!

    You mentioned that in 15 years the kitchen needed remodeling. I just wanted to let you know this it totally normal with many new homes — not just yours. My husband does remodeling/home improvements and he sees “new 10 -15 years” budget homes that need new kitchens, floors, furnaces, roofs all the time. Before I learned this from him I thought you built a new home and would be good to go for 20 years lol — at least on most things. Building a home costs so much to begin with it’s difficult to justify the extra expense of purchasing high qualitity theoretically longer lasting items.

    • says

      Thanks – it is nice not having to worry about making payments. You are right about the houses needing to be remodeled. Before we re-did the kitchen we actually looked into moving. All the houses we looked at were built at about the same time and they all needed the same upgrdes! We decided that we were better off staying in our home and investing some money. I’m glad we did because that was right before the housing burst!

  8. says

    Our new home will be finished next week. We went with very traditional cabinets, colors, tiles, etc. We are in no way trendy and didn’t want a hasty decision to be out of date in just a few years.


    • says

      Congratulations on your new home- very exciting stuff. I’ve learned my lesson about trendy. Because it was a “cookie cutter” house I was trying to differentiate it from all the other houses in the subdivision. Hindsight is always 20/20. Now I just have to do something about the gray bathtub and toilet! :)

  9. Suzanne says

    Congrats on paying cash for your upgrade – your kitchen is lovely. You should look into a new panel for the front of your dishwasher – sometimes if you unscrew the one on there and flip it over, it’s a different color – don’t know if it will be stainless but it might be worth checking. Anyhow, new panels for a dishwasher cost very little. I have also seen people use paint that adheres to plastic/metal/etc. on those panels. It is generally a spray paint and it really does work well and comes in loads of colors including metallics – one of which is a dead ringer for stainless steel!

    • Lisa says

      My brother sprayed his panel and it looked great! A really cheap fix until it dies or you can afford a new one.

    • says

      Ironically, our dishwasher has since died and I’ve put off purchasing a new one. We were just discussing the other night whether to buy black or stainless steel. Since no one sees it (it’s on the other side of the breakfast bar) it will probably come down to price. If they are relatively close I’ll go with stainless but otherwise I’ll probably stick with black.

  10. says

    Knowing what you want then waiting for the opportunity. This reminds me of a couple I know who recently found a kitchen cabinet and granite countertop set used on Craigslist. Good things come to those who wait.

  11. Kathy says

    Your kitchen looks great! Thanks for the inspiring story. God definitely blesses our patience and faithfulness.

  12. Ginger says

    I don’t even have a kitchen! Still haven’t made it that far. I’m still a renter. But posts like these keep me motivated, and I know that I WILL get an outdated kitchen of my very own within the next two years. :) Thanks for sharing your triumph. Your kitchen is lovely! I would also like to see a “before” photo as well. Same for all these type of posts.

  13. Sakura says

    Great kitchen! I’m hoping to be in your same shoes next april! My parents just updated their entire kitchen and it does make a world of difference on how you feel being in the space. Thanks for sharing.

  14. carrie says

    I saw online somewhere u can buy “sticker” stainless steel for ur appliances u can stick it to ur existing dishwasher and tada! It’ll match!

  15. Amber says

    Looks great! I have similar feelings about my kitchen; the previous owner replaced everything 10 years ago, but it was all low-quality stuff, poorly installed, and not matching (there are at least 5 shades of beige and brown in my kitchen). I’ve done a LOT with paint. One tip: the paint guy at Menards directed me to this incredible primer that you can even use on ceramic tile.

    I just saw a half-off granite countertop deal (something like Groupon), and I SO want to do it. But I’m not sure I can justify using cash for that. Great job being so disciplined with your finances!

  16. says

    That’s fantastic! I appreciate you sharing what it cost, too, because we want to redo our kitchen next summer and I’m pretty clueless about costs. This summer we’re having our upstairs bath gutted and redone, something we’ve saved toward all year. Yay!!

  17. Audrey says

    Love this!! My favorite part is that your kitchen has almost the exact same size and layout as mine! We just bought a house in April, and I hate the cabinets. They are dark brown (original to the 1969 house), and the appliances are black, and it’s just so dark and yucky. Our remodel won’t be for a long time so we’re painting the cabinets white this summer to hold me over (making our kitchen black and white! My favorite color combo). My question is where is your dishwasher and is it convenient? Our kitchen does not have a dishwasher and I’m not sure if we would even be able to put one in, but since your kitchen is identical to mine, I would love to know if you like your dishwasher where it is (I think you said it’s behind the breakfast bar?). Even better, I would love to see pictures!! 😀

  18. Kristie says

    And I love it that you have done such a beautiful job with a small kitchen! I get a little weary of the mansion “remodeling” that is often showcased in magazines, with the “smaller” outdoor kitchen “next to the pool,” etc. Your contentment with a smaller house, as well as your resourcefulness and willingness to give public thanks to God for His gift to you, makes this a very nice article!

    • says

      Thank you. There have been many times throughout the years that I’ve longed for a bigger house. It’s been difficult as our income level has risen to not give in to the temptation, especially when we were considering moving and the bank wanted to give us almost double what we were comfortable with! Staying in our “starter” house has given us the freedom to travel and weather a huge salary decrease without to much trouble.

  19. says

    If you have a truly vintage kitchen with period cabinets and countertops, definitely consider selling then on Craigslist! There are many people who are into restoring older homes with period fixtures and cabinets, stoves and ‘fridges, sinks and bathtubs – yes, even older toilets, especially if they are the old-school tank-on-wall kind! This can be an excellent way to get you to your dream kitchen even faster.

    • says

      Even if they aren’t vintage I would suggest trying to sell them. I put a notice up advertising the entire kitchen (all cabinets and the countertop) for $300. Within one day I had it sold and picked up from my house. There are many people who want cabinets for a cottage or garage but don’t want to pay top dollar.

      One tip to help sell them is to make sure they are super clean. I wiped down every thing really good and lemon oiled the fronts and sides.

  20. says

    Beautiful!! Love the colors. Its a gorgeous style…not too trendy. it won’t date itself 15 yrs from now. From one small kitchen owner to another…great job!!!

  21. Kate says

    One thing to keep in mind is re-sale value, too. When we were shopping for a new house in October 2011, I can’t tell you how many houses were priced at the top of the range, but had outdated kitchens. If the kitchen looks dated, the whole rest of the house will look dated. I’m sure that it’s a combination of people not having the money to update or redo the kitchen, and two, that we all learn to live with what we have and start to not notice the flaws. So the lesson is to keep making incremental updates to your kitchen, even if you can’t completely revamp the cupboards and counters. You never know when you might have to sell your house.

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