Holiday Kitchen Makeover ($500 Budget) BEFORE

before-01Initially I had planned to write just one post on my Holiday Kitchen Makeover, but as I started jotting down topics to cover, I realized that it definitely needed more space.

You see, I started this makeover with purely aesthetics in mind, but as the project progressed the mental/emotional aspects became so much more important that the painting and decorating.

As I sit here this morning, in my new-feeling, makeover kitchen, I’m overwhelmed with emotion.

Pride, I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished and is has less to do with my kitchen than you realize.

I’m No Longer Waiting for Tomorrow

I struggle with showing affection, I don’t like to touch or be touched and I have a very difficult time expressing my emotions. Maybe it stems from being an only child or I’m just in general damaged goods. Since identifying my “issues” I push my self to do things that make me uncomfortable in the here & now, in an effort to become more comfortable in the future.

So, instead of shying away from touching, I hug.

Ray actually makes fun of me for hugging people I’ve just met, he doesn’t understand how those little gestures mean so much from me both to welcome people into my life and also pushing myself to feel more ‘normal’ by not resisting touch.

And that gesture on my part, pushing through the awkward feelings, has helped me feel much more relaxed in general.

Obviously, when we see each other in real-life, anticipate a hug from me and know it authentically is my way of welcoming you into my life.

If you didn’t already figure it out, I passionately love to cook. Cooking is not only about food and eating, but more about giving my heart to the people I love in delicious, healthy foods. It’s my natural way of being and expression.

Cooking is My Happy Place

There is nothing in this whole entire world that makes me happier than creating a delicious meal. I crave the creativity and relish in the satisfaction of a full belly.

But here’s the thing. I’ve suffered from extreme HATRED for my kitchen for the past 10 years.

This irrational hatred that I placed on the space that I spend the most time, has cause me anxiety which has prevented me from inviting people into our lives and into my happy place.

I realized that anytime people came to our house I repeatedly apologized for our kitchen and explained our grand plans to remodel it.

I felt that I HAD to offer an explantation why, I as someone who spends nearly every waking hour in my kitchen, has a less than perfect space in which to create.

I was embarrassed by my kitchen. (there I said it)

It wasn’t always like this. or Rather I wasn’t always like this.

For years and years, my kitchen hosted friends regularly for Steeler Football parties. I invited friends over for in-home parties. I wanted people to be here, I wanted people in my kitchen with me.

But things changed and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it’s been spending 24/7 in my kitchen for the past 6 years as a professional blogger and cookbook author and the preconceived idea of what ‘her’ kitchen should be like….

This feeling of angst about my kitchen has prevented me from inviting people into my otherwise happy space. I resisted having people over to eat and frequently met visitors in the garage with a plate of snacks in lieu of having them in the kitchen.

This whole mental situation is sounding more and more crazy as I’m telling it to you.

And I’m realizing that my behavior is far more embarrassing than my kitchen, even when a complete disaster after 15 hour cookbook cooking days, ever could be.

But my kitchen, honestly, wasn’t that bad. Lump my kitchen-hatred with #firstworldproblems that plague many of us.

I guess I could have just kept all this crazy-Hayley info to myself and went on with life, but I do want to prove a point in all my dribbling on… I know I’m not the only one who’s holding back from being present because there is some CRAZY, irrational feeling you have about your living space.

And perhaps, you feel a little more agitated by them as the holiday’s approach too?

While I wish I could tell you some magic formula to just get over it. But it’s not easy and unless you hit the lottery, you can’t just blink your eyes and have the kitchen/house/living space of your dreams.

Our Decision Host Thanksgiving Dinner

You already know that I LOVE to cook and feed people, but you probably didn’t realize that I rarely cook big family dinners. And when Ray brought up how silly it was that we didn’t have the whole family over for holiday meals, since I am a cookbook author and all… I immediately refused because, of course, I hated the idea of having people over and in my kitchen.

Isn’t this ridiculous?

I adamantly refused to have our family over for Thanksgiving dinner because I didn’t like the aesthetics of my kitchen? People who know and love us. People who have been in my house/kitchen hundreds of times over the past 15 years.

So, again in a effort to push myself out of my comfort zone I agreed with him and we invited everyone over.

Then the wheels started turning…. MAYBE I could do a little DIY and improve my kitchen just a little…

My $500 Holiday Mini-Kitchen Makeover

What gave me angst about my kitchen wasn’t the kitchen itself, it was the appearance of it. And with disliking it’s finishes, I gave up on caring about it otherwise.

There was mismatched paint and no decor – I mean honestly, why bother with time or money when you want to remodel it anyways? right?


The idea of living with something you HATE and give you angst because SOMEDAY you want it to be different, isn’t healthy.

You need to be reasonably happy RIGHT NOW because there are no future guarantees.

If there is something in your life that is holding you back from happiness, CHANGE IT. 

The idea of a Mini-Kitchen Makeover before the holiday became an obsession. I knew it was silly to invest a bunch of money (that we didn’t have) into a temporary kitchen update, since we ultimately want to complete gut & remodel it at some point in the not so far future.

I talked to Ray, who’s the money-sensible part of our marriage and he agreed that spending $500 for a kitchen makeover is very reasonable, not only for us but for other people who, like me,seriously hate their kitchen but need to do something to get out of their funk.

And I also knew that, reasonably, Ray wasn’t interested in helping with a kitchen makeover. He’s not really into DIY stuff and gets easily frustrated with these projects.

My $500 Holiday Mini-Kitchen Makeover would also have to be something I could reasonably do all on my own, with very little DIY home improvement skills.

My Kitchen BEFORE

Now that I’ve bored you with all my mental craziness, I’ll finally get to the good part that you’re actually here to see….. the BEFORE!

My Holiday $500 Kitchen Makeover: BEFORE

I love my giant island/peninsula but hate the green chipped, laminate counter tops.

My Holiday $500 Kitchen Makeover: BEFORE

Our home is basically one large open space with a master suite on one end and 2 bed/1bath on the other. The Kitchen, dining and back hallway/pantry is roughly half of our small home.

My Holiday $500 Kitchen Makeover: BEFORE

As you can see, we have ample cabinets and the layout isn’t bad. But the orange-oak cabinets and green laminate counter tops are dated and worn out.

My Holiday $500 Kitchen Makeover: BEFORE

And like I mentioned before, my lack of decor, mis-matched walls and overall blah.


90% of the time you’ll find me at this sink area or just a step to the left at the stove.

Now that you saw the before, I’m sure you can’t wait for the big AFTER reveal.. huh?!?!?!

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 – Holiday Kitchen Makeover ($500 Budget) – AFTER 

Holiday Kitchen Makeover ($500 Budget) BEFORE


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  1. What??? After all that you are making us wait? Can’t wait to see it. I have been hoping to do something with my small galley kitchen. It is from 1972 and it looks it! I finally got a new ceiling light fixture last year and it made me so happy.

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