How To Update a Condo's Kitchen on a Budget | What Else Michelle

How To Update a Condo’s Kitchen on a Budget

Some condos, like DMCI, will not turn over the unit to the owner until it has been thoroughly finished. The good thing about it is that you can move in right away. But the downside of not having a choice to leave the unit bare is that you’re pretty much stuck with whatever kind of finish they specified for the project. It’s a homeowners’ dilemma because taking down the brand-new cabinets or re-tiling the floor and bathroom is kinda “nakakahinayang.”

When I was asked to decorate my sister-in-law and friend’s unit in Acacia Estate, the first thing I wanted to change was the kitchen cabinets and countertop. The laminate color was too dark for the unit and so the cabinets made the kitchen look even smaller. And since the kitchen is one of the first areas you see when you enter the unit, I want it to have an impact. But both my clients had very limited budget so having custom-made cabinets was out of the question.

Here’s what I did and what you can do too if you want to give your kitchen a make-over. Both projects cost less than P7,


Spot the difference! From vertical to horizontal cabinet handles. Just apply wood filler on the screw holes and proceed with these steps:

  1. Laminates can definitely be painted over. You don’t need to strip it off since it would damage the surface, making the project even costlier. Prep the surface by sanding it a bit using 220 grit sandpaper. Laminates are too smooth for the paint to adhere onto. Even if it is a textured laminate, sand it still.
  2. Next prime the surface using flat white latex (water-based paint). I personally don’t want to use oil-based enamel since condos usually have limited ventilation. Enamel odor takes forever to leave the room and you don’t want that.
  3. Choose any color you want in high/semi-gloss finish. Remember to still use water-based paint.

TIP: Since water-based paint dries much quicker than oil-based one, using a foam or cottom roller would ensure a smoother finish. Paint brush would leave brush marks unless that’s the finish you’re after.

With my sister-in-law’s kitchen (above), the mirror backsplash cost around P4,000 plus the quart of paint for P400+.

kitchen-before1For my friend’s unit, I wanted the kitchen to look clean, sort of Scandinavian-inspired. I initially planned on replacing the cabinet doors with melamine board for the glossy look but I realized that I had to replace the entire cabinet too with melamine board and that would go beyond the budget. So again, I had them paint glossy white.

kitchen-after1aThe glass doors looked great with the back of the cabinet painted blue-green. It might still have looked great if they only had white ceramics as contents. But who wastes precious space for such stuff anyway? So to hide the clutter, (because it really shows through despite the frosted glasses) I had the back of the glass painted too. Not bad, eh?

kitchen-after1bThe black countertop was actually just 60x60cm plain black granite tiles laid over the existing granite. I had the left part extended for a cooktop so the gas and trash can could be stored underneath. It looked more customized like that than just placing a gas range in that spot.

Those white little subway tile-like (30x30cm) cost just P23/pc and the black granite tiles were about P150/pc (tiles were from Floor Center.) For this particular project, we spent no more than P8,000 including the tiles adhesive, grout, plywood for the extended countertop, paint and labor.

I really wish I could take better photos because these kitchens look way better in actual. Hehehe!

If you have similar kitchen and are dying to give it a fresh look, go ahead! P10,000 would go a long way. You can paint the cabinet yourself and just ask the help of someone reliable to do the tiling. Lucky you if you have a handy husband!

15 Comments on How To Update a Condo’s Kitchen on a Budget

  1. avatar
    January 5, 2015 at 10:02 am (3 years ago)

    Hi may I know the brand and the exact name of the paint you used for the kitchen cabinet? Thank you!

    • avatar
      January 5, 2015 at 10:04 am (3 years ago)

      Especially the white one. Thanks again!

  2. avatar
    February 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm (3 years ago)

    These cabinets shown here are really cool. I‘m thinking about a home renovation soon. I wish to replace my kitchen sink and backsplash. Already got a few ideas from surfing the net. My cabinets are from Ridgeway Design centre of Mississauga.

  3. avatar
    Ianna @ Termite Control
    March 25, 2015 at 11:05 am (3 years ago)

    I love that you change the color of the hanging cabinets, it allows light to the room. Great renovation, with simple changes it looks more beautiful.

  4. avatar
    January 7, 2016 at 2:52 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Michelle!

    I saw your blog on the Condo Project at Royal Palm. My unit is located there and is scheduled for turnover in a couple of months. I was wondering if you are free and can accommodate me. I would like to get my kitchen and dining area refurbished. Please let me know. Thank you.

  5. avatar
    February 23, 2016 at 9:34 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Michelle! This is very helpful to me as i need a new look for my cabinets as well. If you could please specify the brand and details of the paint you used, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks in advance! 😊

  6. avatar
    Micah Suarez
    June 13, 2016 at 5:59 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi ! Thank you for your informative article. I’d like to ask your opinions on BGC? Thanks ! 🙂

  7. avatar
    June 24, 2016 at 6:20 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Michelle,
    You are so full of talent and ideas thank you for sharing. I would like to get in touch with you we have a condo at Rosewood Pointe.

  8. avatar
    Glenn Rose Advincula
    February 13, 2017 at 9:21 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Michelle, I was wondering how you had the granite extended and cut to accommodate a cooktop? Thanks

  9. avatar
    Aida Lee
    March 23, 2017 at 12:58 pm (11 months ago)

    I would like to renovate and redesign my condo

    • avatar
      CT Design and Construction
      March 31, 2017 at 10:56 am (11 months ago)

      Hi Aida,

      We can help you to renovate and redesign your condo
      you may email us at

  10. avatar
    North East Factory Direct
    March 27, 2017 at 8:50 am (11 months ago)

    nice post! Kitchen design is the most desirable activities by any home-owner. The information you have shared is very informative.

  11. avatar
    Furniture Store Denver
    March 27, 2017 at 8:52 am (11 months ago)

    Very Nice post and it gives a very good explanation,you have really set out the fundamental concepts of good kitchen style.thanks for sharing

  12. avatar
    Maria Smith
    October 27, 2017 at 1:47 pm (4 months ago)

    Nice post. Thank you for sharing with us.

  13. avatar
    December 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm (2 months ago)


    How much do you charge on redecorating a condo unit?


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