budget modern mediterranean kitchen makeover

When we moved in, the kitchen was only partially renovated. I don’t know why anyone would do that, but that’s what it was! The cabinets were new as well as the counters, but not the island nor the floor. So, we started by building a concrete and wood slats kitchen island a few years ago, making it more functional and with more storage. But, although the rest was new, the appliances were built in and old. Plus, other things were also not very functional. We had to get rid of our appliances at the time since everything was built-in and ours didn’t fit. There was a stove top with no hood, and just cabinets everywhere didn’t make it for me. I wanted a more airy space and a place for all things coffee. So, we decided to go for a budget modern Mediterranean kitchen makeover when we changed the appliances.

I’m going to take you through every DIY we did to take this kitchen from white bland to a richer space we love to cook in. even if you’re not going for this look, you can use the same DIYs in your own kitchen if you are looking for an affordable makeover.

Modern Mediterranean kitchen makeover on a budget - view of white kitchen with wood and gold accents

A look at the before and why a Budget Modern Mediterranean Kitchen Makeover

This is a look at what the kitchen looked like when we moved in. The changes we first made were mainly the kitchen island and light fixtures changes. We also removed one cabinet by the window and replaced it with open shelving. you may think why remove storage in a rather small kitchen? Well, access to natural light came in mainly from the window by the sink. And, having two cabinets on both sides felt heavy. I preferred reorganizing the storage and optimizing it to have a more airy space.

kitchen makeover on a budget before picture

And here’s what we changed some time ago to optimize the kitchen island and the lighting.

First part of the kitchen changes

Design Concept

I had already started integrating Mediterranean elements in my home, as well as Scandinavian. I wanted to continue with this for a cohesive look, and a modern twist. The way I went about it is to work with materials and shapes. The Scandinavian elements are represented mostly with the wood slats on the kitchen island.

The Mediterranean elements were already integrated in the island as well, with the white concrete. So, to continue with this, I decided to add a custom range hood with plaster and curved shapes. Also, I wanted to integrate more wood to complement the slats on the island. I wanted a darker look however, more particular of the Mediterranean design. In order to highlight the Mediterranean aspect even more, the black lighting was not fitting any longer. So I decided to changed them as well and go for a brushed gold look.

Once I determined the design elements and materials, it was time to fit in the elements in the spaces we had. That was not the easiest, as I did not know where the cabinets were from. I actually thought they were Ikea cabinets first, and when I went to buy additional ones, I was told they were not Ikea made. This is really where the coffee station started to take shape, which also meant more DIYs!!

How we DIYed each element of our Budget Modern Mediterranean Kitchen Makeover

As soon as we determined all the design elements, we got to work. With the changes we were making, we also had to slightly modify the kitchen island to optimize storage. The changes were on the inside, to accommodate the trash, recycling and compost as well as other storage. Every single item in this makeover is a DIY that anyone can do to elevate their kitchen. Here they are, one by one.

Plaster range hood

I was so excited for this one! Not only because there was no hood before and it was of course needed, but because it was custom.

I drew my shape, and chose Venetian plaster color matched to the walls (Simply White by Benjamin Moore).

We bought a regular hood to fit in, with the buttons in the front. I have a blog on the range hood DIY, so you can read all about it there.

Pull-out coffee station

This is a feature that I am so happy to have right now, and the most complicated! Given the custom space previously taken by the built-in oven and microwave, I had to come up with a design that fits exactly this. So, after several measurements and drawings, I came up with a design that included a pull-out shelf, a fixed one, and a drawer.

Framing and backsplash

First, I had to find the same backsplash as the rest of the kitchen, because I wanted a continuity. I could have left it without tile, but because the coffee machine was there, I wanted to be extra cautious. Unfortunately, here again I had no idea where the tile was from, and could not find it. Until, I found someone on Facebook Marketplace who was selling a leftover tiles from a project, exactly the same but matte instead of glossy. I still took them because they were the same size and texture. I knew I could add a glossy finish to them afterwards.

Now that the tiles were secured, we proceeded to build the coffee station space. We used oak covered plywood to build the inside frame. I then tiled the back, grouted and applied a high gloss sealer and finish for the extra sheen. Stained followed – I stained everything with wood age accelerator from Varathane. I applied 2 coats, and another 2 coats of polycrylic with a matte finish and lightly sanded with a 220 grit paper in between coats. We added pine wood to create a facing and stained them with the same stain. We did the same for the fixed shelf.

Coffee Station DIY

A look at the before/after, and the steps in building the built-in coffee station with pull-out shelf and a storage drawer.

The pull-out shelf

Now onto the pull out shelf. Initially, I shopped for the same quartz counter that we have. I was so glad to find the exact same one, but… we were quoted $1800 for that small piece. I was not going to go for something that pricey, but wanted something that could take water in case of spills. So, we DIYed it, and here’s how.

We bought a large piece of tile, cut to measure and glued it to a piece of plywood. Then, we applied edge tape on the sides, and stained it the same color. We added another fixed shelf on which the pull-out shelf will be fixed. Using drawer tracks, we fixed the pull-out shelf we DIYed and adjusted to the desired pull-out length. We then used pine wood to create a handle which we DIYed with a router, and fixed with a brad nailer.

DIY panel-ready trash cans

trash recycling panel ready diy

Now, I had to find a place for the trash, compost and recycling bins. This led to slightly modify the kitchen island compartments. On the far end, we had two doors with shelves inside to store some large serving platters. I moved these to the dining room sideboard to free up this space. I looked for the panel ready trash, however, I could not find anything with the specific measurements of this cabinet. So, we explored another DIY.

We went with the Ikea HÅLLBAR pull-out three cans and system. We had to hack it to fit and work with a panel front. So, we made a double cabinet front and made it look like it’s two panels. Then we used

DIY steps for panel ready trash can

Open shelving and above fridge Space Optimization

Well, you saw earlier that the open shelves next to the sink were done in the first part of the kitchen makeover. There is nothing complex about this. However, what I can say is that most people would rather keep storage. And I will say, if storage is going to make you feel boxed in like this cabinet did, take it out. It is worth it to rethink you storage if possible to accommodate a more airy space, more natural light in and the possibility to add decor you like and greenery. It changes so much in a kitchen where you spend quite some time. I’d much rather have this and my plants on the shelves when I’m at the sink than another huge cabinet.

Another storage we had to take out was the cabinet above the fridge. I would have left what we had, but this fridge is taller than the one before and that was the only way to make it fit. What we did though with the remaining smaller space is an open box that I stained like the rest of the wood elements. I am using it for decorum but it can also be used for books or anything else that is also aesthetic.

Upgrading other elements in the kitchen

We also upgraded other elements that we already have in our kitchen. We swapped the island light fixtures that I found at HomeSense. We also spray painted the wall sconces and the handles and knobs.

Bringing everything together

With this kitchen makeover on a budget, I played with materiality to create a modern Mediterranean look and upgrade both aesthetics and functionality.

Materials and their impact

Wood. It was a must for me to have wood elements, as it is a part of biophilic design and has an impact of our wellbeing. Since I already had wood slats on the island, I added more of them around the microwave and other wood elements above the fridge. With the open shelves, I get wood elements throughout the kitchen. I just stained the slats on the island as I was going darker to better contrast with the white appliances, and add more warmth.

Concrete and Venetian plaster. A little similar in look, these two materials are beautiful for an organic and textured look. Plus, having texture engages the senses and impacts our creativity. I had the concrete on the island, and used Venetian plaster on the range hood.

The rest of the counters are quartz. But, adding art, vintage decor pieces and most of the time florals makes everything come together to create an organic space, take advantage of natural light, natural materials and a space where it feels good to cook in!

design for wellness and connection


Here are some sources of several items I have in the kitchen.

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