Alma Project: Kitchen Remodel!

By Kate Riley July 3, 2012

Greetings all, doesn’t it feel so strange that the Fourth of July is on a Wednesday?  It’s totally throwing me off but I’m happy for the day off tomorrow.  Well as I’ve been hinting at for days, we are really proud to have finished the kitchen at our Alma Project just in time for four new families to move in.

If you’re unfamiliar with this project, you can read the details and the motivation behind it here, but basically we adopt a house every year with our local Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) and we take time every few months to upgrade the spaces (playroom completed in April).  This home is shared by women with children who are making the transition from homelessness to success stories through counseling, job training, and abstinence from substance abuse.  This four bedroom home currently houses 9 people, including 4 mothers and their 5 children, each family shares one of the four bedrooms.

The kitchen was a total disaster when we started and we had limited funds and only six weeks to make the necessary changes before the new families moved in.  Thankfully,  several of you donated to the project and we were able to raise $1,550 from your donations (thank you donors, see list below) but that wasn’t nearly enough to get us where we needed to go.  So I struggled with what to do, and thankfully others stepped up to take this to the finish line.

First was Home Depot.  I’ve got to give them so much credit for this transformation, I wrote to them and asked them to donate cabinets to replace just the center island and they generously agreed.  Then when they sent their kitchen designer and cabinet supplier to the site we told them the story of the purpose of the house.  They looked around and they decided to do an amazing thing.  Home Depot decided that just the island wasn’t enough, they were going to donate all, yes ALL NEW kitchen cabinets.  I can’t explain how amazing it was to get that email.  ALL NEW CABINETS?   Wow, we’re talking several thousand dollars in cabinets donated for this cause!  THANK YOU HOME DEPOT!!

Thanks to Kelly and Nicole from Home Depot corporate, Christine, our local kitchen designer, and Keith, Craig and John our local cabinet supplies who all came together to replace all the cabinets for the entire space.  COTS was also able to allocate $1,700 to the project so with the donations by several of you, Home Depot, and COTS we were able to complete this full kitchen remodel for just over $3,600.  Without any help it would have cost us $9,000 in just materials (not including any labor).

Here’s the full tour and the story to go with it!

alma house kitchen tour


First, I’ve got to show you what this kitchen looked like before we started.  You can see there was this horrid grease covered black hood we knew we had to get rid of, cabinets that were falling apart and a range that was not meant to be placed in an island.

island before


In addition the surround cabinets did not match, they were stock cabinets from two different home improvement stores.  The barstools were too high and this layout did not make sense for four families sharing one kitchen.  It was all too cluttered and dysfunctional and it had to change!

hood view before


This was the day the team got together and decided to totally gut this kitchen ceiling to floor and start over.  Notice the florescent and “boob” lights to the left, that black hood, and the ceiling light to the right.  Ugly, weird, all wrong.

team together


Since Home Depot was supplying all new cabinets, we removed all the old ones (some were donated to Habitat, others kept for another project) gutting everything all the way down to the tile floor.  (I so wanted to replace the floor tile but since it continues all the way into the entry, it would have been a huge expense.  Since it was in decent condition we left it in place and worked with it.)

kitchen gutted


Given the abundant light, white appliances, and the number of residents, I thought it best to use wood cabinets instead of white cabinets for the surround, but chose white cabinets for island and a butcher block top.  We also replaced the hood with a sleek stainless and glass version and updated the light fixtures and seating too.

Here’s the first look!

alma project kitchen remodel after

 kitchen window alma project

Wow, it’s so different!!!

Remember that awful florescent light/hood/boob light/ceiling fan combo?  It’s all gone, waaaahoooooo!  Warren (our COTS contact and the home manager) obtained a permit to make changes to the ceiling, and he ripped out the hood, the florescent light, and the ceiling fan that was there before, added new recessed lights, and patched and painted the ceiling, a huge job!  Warren, you are amazing!

ceiling new recessed lights


The new focal point is this sleek stainless steel and glass range hood which brings this kitchen into the modern century, don’t you love its contemporary vibe?  Such a stark contrast to what was there before.   We got lucky with a new range too, Warren stopped into our local Habitat for Humanity Restore and found this older model white range for $150, total score!

new island and hood


We found a butcher block countertop at IKEA and cut it to fit the new range, and here’s a peek at the new white island cabinets and pulls.

new white island


I love how both the countertop and the window shade have those same variegated wood tones ranging from light to specks of dark, beautiful!

shade and butcher block


The far wall was another horrible mess, it had an old table that was piled up with so much clutter.  There is no dining space in this house, so it made sense to turn the far wall into an eating zone with plenty of storage.  Here is the wall before, there’s that ceiling fan I couldn’t wait to get rid of!

 sb kitchen wall before

Here is the new wall, complete with all new cabinetry for storage and a place to sit and eat.  We used standard 30” cabinets place on top of a base that was framed to lift them up, then covered the front in toe kick.  It’s now has new counter height stools for enjoying meals in the kitchen!

dining wall alma project


Four families share three refrigerators, one stayed on the wall seen above, and two were relocated to the other side of the kitchen.  I painted the pantry door with Rust-Oleum brush on chalkboard paint for grocery lists or children’s doodles.

chalkboard pantry door view

Another neat product I tried – Rust-Oleum makes an Appliance Epoxy and I used the mini touch up version to freshen the refrigerator handles.

rustoleum appliance epoxy


Here is one of the best features in this kitchen, the glass tile backsplash!   It’s a gorgeous medley of gray green glass, clear glass, and taupe ceramic 1” x 3” tile by Jeffrey Court called ‘French Palace’ right off the Home Depot shelf!  I love how it pulls together the soft green paint on the walls, the countertops, and the glass range hood!  Also from Home Depot, we purchased new Wilsonart laminate countertops in a color called ‘Perla Piazza’.

glass tile and laminate countertop

backsplash tile

We purchased a new Glacier Bay double basin sink in stainless steel, a finish repeated in the range hood and cabinet pulls.  This is such a bright and cheerful space, I certainly wouldn’t mind doing my daily dishes here.  :)

new sink plus backsplash tile

The wall paint is ‘Soft Meadow’ by Glidden, which looks just perfect with the glass mosaic tile.

glass pendant over sink

Here’s another before and after shot, from when we first started gutting the kitchen to when it was complete.

window wall before

window wall after

Another favorite detail is that glass shade above the sink that replaced the “boob” light that was there before, a much more modern fixture!

new sink blind tile


That’s the story of this kitchen makeover!  Together with some donations raised via PayPal and the Home Depot, and our sweat equity,  the three of us totally transformed this kitchen with our DIY know how, we’re feeling mighty proud!

team warren kate matt


Here’s the cost breakdown: Cabinets: donated by Home Depot; Countertops: Wilsonart Laminate ‘Perla Piazza’ countertops: $890; IKEA beech countertop: $195; Range hood (paid for by COTS) Frigidaire, $1,192; Cooktop/range, Habitat for Humanity Restore, $150; Glacier Bay stainless sink, $259; Mosaic glass backsplash, grout and thinset, $275; Pulls and knobs from Home Depot, $100; Paint $50; 4 X-Back stools Kmart, $100; backless saddle stools from Bed Bath & Beyond) $120; Kitchen accessories (rug, towels, utensils, containers, etc.) $160; glass shade pendant $89; new woven shade, $100.   Total = $3,680

alma project kitchen window view

alma project kitchen remodel after


We feel high as a kite right now having another fabulous transformation under our belts, and knowing this kitchen is for such a worthy cause, helping to improve the lives of women trying to get back on their feet.

utensil holder on island


Again, a huge thanks again to Home Depot for their amazing and generous donation of the cabinets for this complete remodel, we could not have done this without them.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to this most recent round of donors who made this kitchen a reality!  Stephanie Norris, Catie Cole, Karina Dhar, Pattie Zipper, Erika Brown, Jennifer Jones, Donna Williams, Sherrell Walker, Mary Corey, Stacey Porter, Heather Pehrson, Karla Uphoff, Lisa Bechinski, and James Debbs.

To donate to the next phase of the Alma Project (the family room) please click on this button in the sidebar, we could really use your support!

Dodonate today


Have a Happy Fourth!


  1. I’ve been checking your blog all day for these pics! Wow, such a beautiful kitchen! I can’t believe it was done by just the 3 of you! Amazing! The women/families who live here are so very blessed to know you.

  2. Wonderful. Truly stunning transformation on such an incredible budget. I really take my hat off to you, and echo the kudos to Home Depot.
    The tiles are my favorite part; I’m sure those will now be flying off the shelves!

  3. Beautiful and very practical! Great job Kate and team! I wish I can do my kitchen Reno with the same budget! Oh, my, you really outdid yourself! Kitchen renos are usually the most expensive! I love it!

  4. Oh, Kate. It’s amazing!!! Everything pulled together SO beautifully, and I know these families will appreciate every detail of it. Job well done to ALL of you!

  5. Hold the phone, WOW!!!!! When I was reading and scrolled down to the first picture of the new kitchen, I actually said, “no way!” outloud–the transformation is absolutely stunning! Marvelous job with envisioning how lovely the kitchen could become. What a gift for these families; a peaceful, serene, clutter free kitchen with plenty of storage.

    I can’t wait to see what else you have up your sleeve for the rest of this house. Awesome job to everyone involved!

  6. Kate, this looks FANTASTIC! What a wonderful result, and I’m sure the families must be thrilled with the functional and beautiful space you’ve made a reality. Well done and truly inspirational.

  7. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!! WOW! It is beyond amazing Kate and after my first “oh my gosh”, I had to shout another “oh my gosh” when I saw how much the total cost was! unbelievable! Great job you guys!

  8. Gorgeous! That kitchen has such a peaceful feel to it. I love that you donate your time and talent to such a great cause. I wish more people were like you!

  9. Wow, you did a remarkable job without busting the budget . Kudos to you and the team. It looks beautiful!

  10. Dear Daughter…I am so thankful for your giving heart…this is a beautiful transformation. I’m sure all at the Alma Project feel very blessed.~~Mom

  11. I’ve been so looking forward to seeing this. What an incredible job! They are so lucky to have you!
    Well done!

  12. You are wonderful! Thank you for helping these woman and families. They are worth it. You’ve created a beautiful space that exudes calm and peace and love.

  13. This is amazing! Since you introduced the Alma Project last year I’ve thought about looking for something similar to volunteer here in the Basque Country. I definitely have to get serious about it! What you guys have done is really, really great.

  14. I admire your generous heart and enormous talent. This bright, beautiful kitchen would enhance anyone’s life! You are an inspiration and should be so proud!

  15. What a fantastic transformation! Lucky people!! It looks great and I really do like the soft grey wall color – I’m liking grey more and more!! LOVE that butcher block countertop too – I want one! ;-)) Happy Fourth of July!

  16. What a wonderful job. You guys are the best. With you involved I knew it would be perfect. A wonderful project to be a part of.

  17. Really beautiful work as always and for such a worthy project. I think it’s so important for everybody to pitch in somewhere they know of a need. Kudos to you. BTW – where is the kitchen rug from, too cute!

  18. Wonderful job, Kate. It looks great, and I can tell how much this means to you. I admire you and your family for taking on this cause. BTW, I love the island. I’ve been planning a white island with a wood top in my own kitchen, so it’s great to see how it looks here!

  19. You are amazing Kate not just with your design but your time and love! They are lucky to have you. Have a wonderful 4th.

  20. Wow–terrific remodel! Love how the neutral tones all work together so nicely. Such an incredible improvement from the “before” mess. Great job.

    I was wondering if you could tell me where the rug is from?

    • Hi Jamie that *wrinkled* :D rug is from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

  21. Holy crackers it looks AMAZING!!! Seriously, you should do consults, I bet you could do wonders with my freaky living room!

  22. Great job! Where was the woven shade from? I’m looking for something similar and it ” looks expensive “

    • Hi Marcy, that’s a Levolur blind from Lowes, they cut them to fit for you, I have two in my house!

  23. I’d say that kitchen was a hot mess! The ceiling acne was really strange. But boy oh boy Kate you guys did an amazing job once again! The floors even flow now with the cabinetry and countertops. What a great use of space for the eating area, such a smarty pants! Even though you didn’t have to spend the $9000 for this kitchen remodel, that price is a steal for the look someone could get. This space is so much more functional and inviting, what a great place for the women to interact and cook with their families, I bet they love it.

  24. Amazing job Kate and crew! What a blessing for those women and kids who are starting their lives anew!

  25. Wow! You did a great job. That house must have been built by the same person who built my boyfriend’s grandma’s house. The layout is identical. I had to do a double take. LOL

  26. Words cannot describe my feelings on reading this blog entry. Everything you and the others did is so beautiful – in so many ways! I wish there were 100 million of you all around the country. So many of us need help so desperately these days. But every project, every contribution, every volunteering that we do — it all helps. Goddess bless you and those who did this project. I was so moved by your blog post, I made a contribution to the Alma Project. I wish it could be more. Maybe some “Secret Millionaire” will come along — well, you never know. Seems like millionaires like to be on t.v. now to give away money to those in need. Goddess knows, we have far too many of them, and not enough generous millionaires!

  27. I too, look forward to these announcements. Thank you for giving back and putting so much time and energy into helping these families. What a beautiful job. It is inspiring.

    Bless you!

  28. I too love the back splash and that little rug! Definitely a bright and cheery space that anyone would love to cook and eat in.

    How did you get all four of the x-back stools for $100? I looked on KMart’s website and it looked like they were $100 each (out of my budget, unfortunately).

  29. hi Kate,

    This is a GREAT remodel! Its very impressive and encouraging for the DIYers out there. The one thing I’m wondering is where did you get that Glass lamp shade piece? Its beautiful and I know there is a perfect place for it in my house!


    • Hi Chelsea, it was from Home Depot, I found it on their shelf a month ago, I looked online and couldn’t find it… check at your local store!

  30. Wow! Beautiful! You are very talented. What a happy place for the families to begin their fresh starts to brighter futures. I love it all, especially the backsplash and the glass shade pendant. Is the pendant from Home Depot? It would work very well in my kitchen. Thank you!

  31. Looks great!! Even the floor looks like it was a part of the plan from the beginning!!

    • Thanks so much everyone, we love it, but more importantly, I’m sure the moms love it too!

  32. Kate, you all did a fabulous job on this kitchen, what a difference! I must say, I’m also very impressed with Home Depot for stepping up as they did – I hope they know how much their generosity is appreciated, although I often shop at Home Depot, this makes me want to shop there even more.

    Congrats on a job well done!

  33. This is the best thing I have read today. To Kate and all the lovely folks who gave their time and money to this project to bless the mommies and their children – I just said a prayer of blessing for you and your family.

  34. That kitchen is absolutely beautiful! What an amazing job you have all done on this home. I’m sure the families are so excited. Megan

  35. Two words: awesome and amazing! So genrous of Home Depot. Thank you for doing this–faith in action.

  36. A.MAZ.ING!!! What a kind heart you have! You are an inspiration, and I will DEFINITELY be shopping at Home Depot more often now!!

  37. Wow! The moms must be just thrilled. You and the home team are magicians, not to mention kind and compassionate individuals. When it comes time to work som serious magic in my home and believe me it needs it, I’ll have to turn to the Home Depot to come over with their wand.

  38. You and Home Depot will have free passes to heaven! (I know these things!) beautiful work! Amazing transformation.

  39. This is a great! I did kitchen and bath design for a while and I know it’s not easy to make such a complete transformation without moving walls, plumbing, etc! You did excellent. One question…where did you get those canisters (the ones that house the coffee beans)? I love them!

  40. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, Kate! The beautiful, welcoming, storage-galore kitchen will be an inspiring space for the families in this home. Will you get to see their faces when they see it for the first time? Thank you for sharing your immense talents with them (and your readers!).

    And a huge waa-hoooo to The Home Depot. I’m so impressed that they jumped on board and contributed in a big way. I’ll shop there the next time I need supplies!

  41. Wow, the kitchen looks great! This is such a worthy project – thanks for all you do to help these families.

  42. The kitchen is absolutely gorgeous! It really takes talent to pull such a thing together on a tight budget- great job! I love those glass tiles and the cabinets are beautiful. Way to go, Kate & team! And kudos to Home Depot for stepping up with such generosity.

  43. Kate, amazing, amazing job!! Its hard to believe that’s the same kitchen! I also love that you kept the tile floor because while it certainly isn’t ideal, you don’t even notice it with all of the other upgrades. It definitely goes to show that you don’t have to change the look of the whole kitchen without even touching that one problem area. Fabulous job!!

  44. Hello, thanks so much for sharing! My husband and I are about to move in to a similar space (it’s a house owned by our church with a private bed+bath and a shared kitchen/living space, and I love the clean, unpretentious look of your remodel. We don’t have even $1000 in the budget but I think with paint, a little tile and some new lighting we can make a big difference! I was wondering where you purchased those adorable kitchen towels with the tree motif? Thanks so much for sharing the process, the sources, and the cost details– very helpful!

    Best, Katie

    • Hi Katie, yay for home renovation, yep you’re right a little paint, tile and lighting go a long way! All accessories including those towels were found at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

  45. ZOMG! What a BEAUTIFUL transformation! I am in shock. No wonder you’re high as a kite with this transformation, it’s absolutely stunning! And how awesome of Home Depot to donate as much as they did, they truly know the value in giving back to the community. I am so impressed. Great job! ~ britt

  46. Super great job, girlfriend! That is a lot of work (I know, I’m about to tackle a kitchen too!). What a wonderful outcome with those beautiful cabinets and all the details. Love it all! Those families are blessed.

  47. It is hard to believe that is the same space. As a child of a once homeless family, let me just say that words cannot express the gratitude that those families will have using that BEAUTIFUL space.

  48. Hi! This remodel looks awesome! I was just wondering where you purchased the glass shade pendant? I love it! Thanks!

  49. Whoa – that’s just gorgeous. I love that tile. what a wonderful (and really tangible and useful) way to help others. Love the functionality.

  50. I’m inspired by the “rightness” of this project. And, there is nothing in the world more important to a woman than a good kitchen that feels clean, organized, pretty, functional and just right. You hit it all.

  51. CG – seriously – you took what you had to work with and hit it out of the park! My heart is so happy for those families who get a second start in this house YOU are making beautiful. Bravo!

  52. Thanks, Kate, for the Jaclyn Smith set info — didn’t think to look for a set, and certainly didn’t think the set with 4 chairs would cost the price of two chairs bought separately! I’ll have to keep that strategy in mind :-)

  53. I’ve spent a lot of time working with the homeless at our local Union Gospel mission and when I see the before & after pictures I don’t think “appreciate” is the word to describe how those families will feel about what you’ve done. SO many times family shelters/womens shelters – and especially mens shelters (most donations go to women & children – people often figure men can take care of themselves. I toured a mens’ shelter once & the blankets on the bunks had cartoon characters on them & daisies, etc. What man can feel like a man surrounded by THAT every day?) – have to live with other folks’ cast-offs and when you’re already as low as you can get, it seems like an extra kick. Beautiful surroundings help them believe they can do better, be better, provide for their families, stand on their own two feet. You aren’t just providing a beautiful home, you’re offering hope in ways you may never even know about. What a beautiful, beautiful thing you are doing at Alma.

    • Well said Bonnie, thank you, “beautiful surroundings help them believe they can do better, be better, provide for their families, stand on their own two feet”. Amen! I couldn’t agree more.

  54. This brought tears to my eyes. I have looked back through the photos three times and made my husband come over and look and hear about everything you’re doing. I sometimes get discouraged that I don’t have construction or medical abilities to go on certain mission trips, but your work with Alma reassures me that God can use us all with whatever gifts He has given us. I am praying for my own Alma Project. Many blessings.

  55. I love the idea behind this project. It really makes me feel good to know there are people like you guys who exist in this world. Awesome job with the kitchen! When I saw the before picture, I was curious to see what you were going to do with it. It looks like a picture out of a magazine now!

  56. OH MY GOD KATE!! I was on vacation when you originally posted this, but I saw the link on Dear Lillie today. I am tearing up because that kitchen looks SOOOOO good. The before photos don’t really tell the story of how truly awful it was. It is so beautiful now! You are doing a wonderful thing for these families, and i know how much work you must have put into it. That kitchen is amazing!

    I am super excited to see the living room transformation.. Let me know if you ever need another set of hands!

  57. What a beautiful job. When I saw the “first look” I thought it was the inspiration photo, not the finished product! I can’t believe what you did on such a small budget. Wow.

  58. What a beautiful job. I am so happy these ladies have such a warm,pretty and clean space to enjoy.

  59. Wow!! You gave them a space any family would love to enjoy. A few years back, my family helped redo some spaces for a live in drug treatment center. It was so rewarding. The Alma Projects are some of my favorite posts. Thank you for sharing your talents in so many ways. (I am updating my kitchen and have had a sample of that same glass tile sitting on my counter right now for a few weeks now. I am sold on it after seeing it in your remodel. Wish me luck:) )

  60. This is so beautiful! What a great transformation, and your budgeting skills are amazing! I’ll bet those women were so thrilled to see the new kitchen!


    • That is the exact shape Nicole but it’s the clear glass version, thanks for the link, it will look fab in your kitchen!

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