Want to Design Your Own Small Kitchen on a Tight Budget?

Small Kitchen Design – Condos

227168_10150594659220092_835561_nA few years ago, I was able to finally realize my dream of designing and remodeling my kitchen to just the way I wanted it after making some money on the last case I ever worked on, to date, albeit it was a meager sum.  Nonetheless, I felt I had to reward myself for my last piece of successful legal work and begin to live the dream I wanted to live.  Of course, I also worked grocery for about five years by then, and we were basically living a minimalist rather cramped life on that income with some help from my wonderful folks.  I live in a very small two bedroom condo with a loft, and I raised my two boys here for a good 10 years.  Our living quarters evolved tremendously in that duration.  At first, the loft and walk-in closet attached to it was a storage space for a part of what was left of my law office when I down-sized.  The loft also served as my home office space with a dinosaur-like desk top computer and monitor on it.  I had the master bedroom and bath.  My sons shared a bedroom and bunked; they used the hall bathroom.  We had a dining room for dining and a living room with a fireplace for hanging out.  We still had a  bright red leather couch set that I was finally able to get rid of in a useful way when my first son started his second year of college.  He moved into a big house with four other U.C. Davis students, and they all welcomed the bright red leather couch set.  I’m sure it served a useful life for three years with five guys studying and whatever else they all do in a big house on campus.  I can only imagine, or not!  Well, once that couch set was gone, I bought a lovely neutral sectional from Costco for under $1,000.

Condo Living Room

Anyway, to back track, we had help from church about nine years ago when four strong teenage boys moved the ginormous amount of heavy stuff in the loft and storage closet down a spiral staircase and down a flight of stairs to my garage and the dump.  My older son had moved out of the boys’ room when he felt he needed his own space into our dining room area.  I put a curtain rod and huge drapes across the dining room to divide it from the foyer and front door.  This was his makeshift bedroom for a few years, and he seemed happy with what little privacy he had in there.  However, once the loft was cleared by grace, my older son got to move his bedroom to the loft.  We, now, had a dining room to enjoy again.  Until then, we ate in the living room.  We really made do, but that’s what a family does – they make do in order to be together!  Make it work.  Anyway, this was the cramped living arrangement we had.

I really hated my kitchen, and I had the electric coil stove.  It came with really old appliances and almond laminate cabinets from the 1970’s.  Yuck!  There was an almond tile countertop with cracks to match the ugly cabinets.  Not very inspiring for a kitchenista like myself.  I wanted a warm inviting entertainment space that I could cook and enjoy life in.  And, I wanted to increase the seating capacity for more guests.  Once I had a budget set aside for the dream, I took charge and designed my own kitchen on a super tight budget (approx. $12,000-15,000) with ready-made cabinets and the help of my favorite handyman and some others.  I made daily morning and evening trips to Home Depot, LowesAce Hardware, to name a few.  The granite countertop was a must in my dream kitchen, so that was a custom-made splurge complete with a breakfast  bar granite slab and deep sink that opened up my condo kitchen into a more warm and inviting space for entertainment.

After - My Kitchen

I worked like a maniac on the kitchen project, and we completed it in time to have my sister’s family for Thanksgiving, although some construction was still going right up to the day before Turkey Day and some after. The work didn’t require any permits, since we didn’t mess with any of the structural walls.  I created all kinds of storage space for pots and pans that didn’t exist before.

After - My Kitchen

I bought this pull out spice rack from Lowes; it was in stock.  Love it!

After - My Kitchen

I bought this Lazy Susan Corner Unit at Home Depot; it was in stock.  Plenty of space for baking dishes, serving ware, and cutting boards.

After - My Breakfast Bar

I also invested in a new microwave and induction top range with convection oven.  Our condominium association won’t allow any gas ranges in the complex, so I wanted the next best thing that was, indeed, on the cutting edge.

After - My Kitchen

This, of course, required a whole new set of steel-based pots and pans that would work with the induction top range.  I created a hanging pot rack space over the countertop to store all the pretty new pots and pans I had.

After - My Kitchen

I learned in life that you have to realize your own dreams and can’t wait for them to just happen.  No one else can really do it for you, so you have to trust and believe in yourself.  Work with whatever you have, and just do it, I guess!  This was the inception of “Sweetkitchengirl”.  My enthusiastic cooking endeavors and food photography with my iPhone camera started therein, because I wanted to share the dream I had realized.  Ultimately,  it lead to creating  “Sweetkitchengirl: On the Cutting Edge” and blogging my thoughts, recipe and happenings.

On the Cutting Edge

Here are the before and after photos of my condo kitchen and dining room remodel.  I hope you like my new kitchen and get some great storage and design ideas from it for your own small spaces.  Happy small kitchen designing!!!  Please share your thoughts and questions with me.:)


Related Images:


  • Meg Burns says:

    What a beautiful kitchen! I’m doomed to renting for the next ten years or more, but if I do ever buy again, I’m going to bug you for kitchen advice for sure! This is exactly the sort of approach I’d like to use — compact, maximal use of minimal space, but still open and inviting. Great job!

    • admin says:

      Meg darling!!! Thank you so much! I’m ready to be bugged for kitchen advice, anytime. Hope your new life in Italy is wonderful.:)

  • John Marbut says:

    You did a great job!! It is a very nice makeover and wisely usage of the room. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and pictures, enjoy your kitchen!! :)) Thank you Sweetkitchengirl!!!

    • admin says:

      John, what an honor, getting this compliment from you!! I’m thrilled.:D As Director of Kitchen Sales at 84 Lumber, I’m sure you’ve seen it all as far as kitchens go, so THANK YOU!! Hope you get a chance to “like” my new facebook page: Sweetkitchengirl.:-)

      Best regards,

  • chefperry says:

    Love the blog, and really love this post, being a small condo kitchen owner myself, lol.

    Sharing this with our subscribers!


    Chef Perry

    • admin says:

      Chef Perry, I am humbled and grateful for your praise!! Thank you, also, for the nice comment on “Casual Cooking” a Linkedin group, and for “pinning” my blog on Pinterest!!! That’s a new frontier for me and my first pin ever, so Merci Beaucoup!!! Finally, thank you for sharing this with your subscribers..I’m speechless.;D



      ps.- Please check out my new facebook page: Sweetkitchengirl and “like”, if you like, that is.:)

  • Mina Joshi says:

    The New kitchen looks great with lots of work tops. Congratulations on your blog too. If you like vegetarian food – do take a look at my blog.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much, Mina!! I love vegetarian food, too, especially Indian veg..:) What’s the name of your blog?

  • Kathleen says:

    I loved what you did with the kitchen. I also have a small condo kitchen and you gave me some great ideas for my new kitchen. I look forward to reading your blog.

    • admin says:

      Thank you, Kathleen! I truly appreciate your comment. 😀 We really have to think about how to best manage our space with a small condo kitchen, so it can be like doing a puzzle!

  • Jean-Paul Lauwereys says:

    Dear Sweetkitchengirl,
    Regarding the very minimalistic space you had to puzzle your dream kitchen into, you did an outstanding job. Congrats! :-)
    Really like your breakfast bar slab overlooking your kitchen and for interaction with the cook.
    I didn’t notice a hood above your induction plate counter though?
    How are you dealing with the fumes there or am I overlooking something?
    Greetings from Jean-Paul.

    • admin says:

      Hi Jean-Paul,
      Thank you so much! 😀 I love the breakfast bar, too, for your exact reason. I thought I replied to your post a very long time ago, but it looks I might have done it on LinkedIn and not here. :( Anyway, I wanted you and readers to know that the microwave oven directly above the induction plate has a vent and fan intake and output which is well-hidden. It’s pretty good with the fumes. :)
      Best regards,


  • tester says:


    There is perceptibly a whole lot to understand about this. I feel you made some good points in features additionally. I relish, cause I discovered exactly what I made use of to be having a look for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you g…

  • Pat Kong says:

    What a nice transformation! I can use some of the ideas for my own kitchen too. Great job!

    Thursday May 2, 2013 at 9:22 am

  • Melanie says:

    Your new space turned out beautifully! Always admire someone who takes their dreams on and finds a way to pursue what is important to them. Best wishes with your blog and moving forward into a new stage of life!

    Friday April 26, 2013 at 7:18 am

    • admin says:

      Melanie, thank you so much! I thought I replied some time ago, but it looks like it didn’t post. :( This kitchen is where my dream begins and is a foundation for me to go forward with my life. It was the thing I needed most to put me back together again.;)

  • micro job says:

    micro job…

    Extremely good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and required to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!…

  • 手機保護殼…

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I discovered your web site by chance, and I am shocked why this coincidence didn’t happened earlier! I bookmarked it….

  • peter Locher says:

    Smart kitchens for small spaces :0)

  • Dear sweet kitchen girl,
    It’s so refreshing to see how you took your given space and made it your own. Nice use of space and more importantly, it’s your space. Thanks for sharing your vibrant thoughts and pictures with us!
    Rick Winslow

    • admin says:

      Dear Rick,
      Thank you so much for the compliment! 😀 I haven’t looked at my kitchen post in awhile, and I get very emotional when I do..like right now. This kitchen is so fundamental to my starting my life over again and moving forward. In a way, it is my everything..

  • click here says:

    click here

    I think this net website has actually got some rattling excellent info for everybody. “Nothing surely is so disgraceful to culture and to people as unmeaning wastefulness.” by Count Benjamin Thompson Rumford.

Leave a Reply


Loading ...

Sorry :(

Can't connect ... Please try again later.

%d bloggers like this: