talking budget, links, and all the pictures

***This post contains affiliate links.  I make a small commission at no cost to you on items purchased.  

First things first.  I can’t believe…even still…that we have a cabin.  It was a lingering dream that I never thought would be possible with the lifestyle we were living.  I know it sounds crazy, but I can totally see God’s hand in all of this, and I pray that even with this cabin, we steward it well!

So the story behind it.  We had toyed with the idea of having a cabin, maybe going halfsy’s with another couple, even looked at a few years ago, but it never was right.  Then one day two years ago Ryan was fishing on one of his favorite fishing lakes and looks up and sees a for sale sign on this cabin with a lot that was to die for! 

He literally sent me a picture like this from the boat and I saw all the windows and died.

And then he sent me the realtor pic of the inside and I saw vaulted ceilings and open beams and said Babe! We’ve gotta just go look at it!  We had no clue the price but we knew we needed to see it:) Oh, and last thing, I forgot to mention that the lot for a lake cabin was insane.  It was huge and flat, right on the water.  I knew with small kids that that was one priority for me.  I didn’t want a steep bank to have to walk down to get to the beach.

So of course we fell in love with the place.  It needed a lot of work, but it also had sooo much to offer that we went from not even having a cabin in our minds to putting in an offer within a week!  And this is what I want you to hear from this as well, because we really did struggle with what people would think of us if we bought a cabin, if it was stewarding our money well, or it was just a selfish move.  We took the week and really prayed about the decision.  We were fortunate enough to have a house with a mortgage that was super small.  Remember when we bought our house we were a 1 income family and we only put into the house what we could pay for, not what the bank told us we could do.  We new we could finance the cabin by rolling it into our mortgage and creating a mortgage that was still smaller than most peoples house mortgage.  And I don’t say this to brag or gloat, but to say that there are sweet blessings that come from living within (or under) your means.  This was definitely one of them!  It was still a scary purchase because this cabins price tag was more than we owed on our house…but then we started weighing out the good from the bad , and this is how our thought process went.  1.)  We viewed this as an investment for the future.  Real estate is usually always an investment.  Especially knowing we could fix it up and add major value to it.  We realized that if we put some of our finances at this now, it could help serve as our retirement, but we could have years and years of memories with our kids.  We loved that idea!  We also knew that we could rent this little cabin out if we needed to help cover the mortgage, which was nice back up insurance.  And lastly, we had an amazing peace about it, both Ryan and I.  So we put our offer in $15,000 below asking price and it was amazingly accepted!

I mean, how could you let this lot go? The offer was accepted and we sat on it all winter itching to get our hands on it in the spring.  We knew that any improvements we were going to do on it were going to be paid in cash and so budget was at the top of our minds!  



Its no surprise that this kitchen has changed drastically, but it is a surprise that we actually moved the whole location of the kitchen.  When we were trying to plan out our new layout, we kept coming up short on space in the old kitchen..

It’s hard to tell, but this little tiny box kitchen is what we now turned into the bunk room, and youll see that in a blog post soon!  There was no way to fit all the appliances in this area and have enough room for everything else as well.  We were banging our heads on the wall trying to figure out a solution, when my sister actually mentioned moving it!  Since we were running all new plumbing and electrical anyway, we realized in a hurry that it would be by far the best solution!

We had this living room that was very large compared to the rest of the cabin, and on top of that we had a huge amount of dead space in front of the wood burning fireplace that sits just opposite of this picture, so we decided since most of our time at the lake would be spent either outside or in the kitchen, we took the largest area for the kitchen. 

Just a tiny change:)  Alright, down to the details.  Since we knew we wanted to pay for all the remodels in cash, we had to be super conscious of budget.  Ryan obviously saves us so much money by being able to do everything himself, I’m guessing over a 50% saving from hiring it out, but lets be real, everything still costs real dollars!  And the kitchen can usually eat a whole budget before you even start.   So we were absolutely beyond ecstatic when our neighbors told us that they had their old cabinets in their garage that they wanted to just get rid of!

And amazingly we had the exact amount of cabinets we neededed minus the corner lazy susan.  I call that a God wink:)  The cabinets were cream when we got them, so I painted them my favorite Simply White by Benjamin Moore and added new hardware.  I had found hardware for 80% off from rejuvenation but of course it’s since gone out of stock.  But I have found this option to be similar. 

Another great budget saver was being able to use the appliances that were there.  They actually were newer appliance, and I’m grateful they were white.  The only appliance I bought was this cute little microwave that I didn’t mind sitting out on the counters.  

And while we are talking counters, that was another budget friendly option.  We went with a birch butcher block from Menards and they ended up only costing us $300.  I stained them with Minwax’s Special Walnut and used the Ikea butcher block oil to condition them.  I have to oil them about once a month and theyve been holding up great!

And now we need to talk about this gorgeous sink.  Sinkology reached out at the perfect time and offered us this sink for a collaboration.  I know I would have never been able to talk Ryan into an apron sink in the cabin:)  But, I will say that this is one of the most reasonable prices I’ve seen on a gorgeous farmhouse sink.  We actually were given the all in one complete sink set that you can find here.  


We also chose a super budget friendly option for upper cabinets and went with one single shelf that we made out of a pine 2×12 board from menards and brackets from Cascade Iron Co.  I added these fun modern sconces and these black dishes and bowls it gave it such a fun and modern twist. I loved these canisters to have out on the counter for baking necessities, aka pancakes for breakfast:) 

This kitchen table was a freebie from my sister-in-law.  It came out of their basement and I fell in love with the patina.  I had to cut it down by a foot and then sealed the top with a polycrilic so no paint would chip off, but I love a bit of old with the modern twists.  I added this set of 4 chairs that were under $100 and a fun basket pendant from Pottery Barn Teen that is no longer available, but this one is super similar.  We also ended up replacing the kitchen window, along with 4 other windows.  To keep costs down we bought stock windows from Menards at about $100/piece.  

I added the same grids I had gotten from new panes from my house to give them more of a custom feel and to also make all of the windows (old and new) blend together.  Alright, so lets do the before and after again.







Lets add a few more fun pics shall we?  

I’m also going to add hat we took off all of the pine tongue and groove so that we could insulate behind it since there was no insulation in any part of the cabin before.  When Ryan put it back up he hung it horizontal instead of vertical because it was easier to nail that way and he didn’t need to add backer boards.  I did love the look of the vertical tongue and groove, made it a little more modern, but I added in some more modern twists since the horizontal backing is more traditional.  

Also, when painting knotty pine it can be tricky because of the knots bleeding through.  I researched as much as possible and came upon the conclusion to cover the knots with an oil based primer.  I covered the knots by hand 2 coats, so I would take a paint brush and just cover the knots so basically the cabin looked polka dotted.  It really didn’t take as long as you’d think and I’m so glad I did it.  Then after the two coats of paint on just the knots, we took our paint sprayer and sprayed all of the pine with a coat of oil based primer.  This is the kind we used! Then after the primer was dry we sprayed it all with our favorite color, Benjamin Moores simply white.  I always have it color matched to my favorite Menards paint, Pittsburgh Paramount, and it’s about 1/4 of the cost!  We bought both the primer and the paint in a 5 gallon bucket and invested about $225 into painting the cabin white.  For sure the best bang for our buck!

So lets break down the kitchen budget.  

Cabinets = free

Lazy Susan cabinet = trade for boat storage

Countertops = $350

Hardware = $30

Open Shelving = $150

Sink =  Collab

Lighting = $300

Chairs = $100 

Plumbing = $300

Paint and Primer (for whole cabin) = $250

New Window = $100

Total = $1580!

Under $1600 for a whole new kitchen!  I know that we had luck on our side with free cabinets and a sink collaboration, but I do want to show you that even if you had to buy stock cabinets or find a kitchen set on craigslist, it is so easy to achieve a higher end look on a major budget!  Open shelves are a great way to cut costs and not sacrifice style, and so is butcher block counter tops! Just a few of the tips I’ve learned!  


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest


  1. Great style!! I love the new bright look of the cabin, and it feels very welcoming. I have been making some changes over the past few years to my home and I have a lot of the same style.

  2. I am new to your page but love all of your ideas and cost saving tricks. Have you painted kitchen cupboards in the past? How does the paint hold up and what do you recommend sealing them with? I have a friend who recently had her cupboards painted with Benjamin Moore paint and they have already chipped in a few high use places. It makes me scared to paint mine but they desperately need a major facelift.

    1. I have painted cabinets but don’t seal them because I like to change the color too often:) But yes, they will chip in high use places and I touch mine up once a year:”)

  3. Hi Allie!
    I am so inspired by your work and style! Thank you so much for taking the time to share all the goodness. I am planning to paint the inside of my home white as it is basic country blues and golds now. Can you recommend a clean white for walls and trim?
    Thanks and blessings,

  4. Everything is stunning! What are your thoughts on butcher block counter tops in an everyday kitchen? I love the look and price, but am concerned about upkeep! Thank you for your inspiration!

    1. Well we oil ours once a month and they are holding up great. So if your okay with taking 10 minutes ones a month to move eveyrthing off and oil them then I’d say go for it!

  5. I love the countertops! I’ve been contemplating doing butcher block in my kitchen. What do you think about it? Would they hold up to daily use?

  6. It looks great. Question – have you thought about taking down the curtains? With blinds, they seem unnecessary and block the view?

  7. You do such amazing work! I’m always inspired when I see any project you’ve worked on. I just love your sense of style and how you pull it all together. Thanks for sharing this great information. Makes me want to start a project!

    1. The curtains are from IKEA and are called the ritva. They are $30 for 2 panels, and the blinds I found on closeout at lowes for $15/piece, a huge score!

  8. The transformation is almost unreal!! You’re style is absolutely gorgeous and you’re a girl after my own heart about finding great deals and turning something not so amazing into the perfect piece (or perfect piece on a budget 😊) Keep it up! It’s so inspiring!

  9. This is SO me! Thank you for sharing. And I absolutely LOVE all the “God winks” I’m gonna have to borrow that because he does it for me all the time. In fact I just shared the way we got our home on our brand new blog. It’s kinda the same! God is so good!!! My mama always tells me I’m His favorite 😉 (of course she means we all are) And thank you so much for the detail on painting your pine!! The whole time I was reading I was hoping you would go there! My kitchen is all pine and I want to paint it so bad. Super low ceilings. But I know it’s going to be a huge job. But the tip about the knots is fabulous! All in all what a tremendous blessing!! ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Oh God winks are the best! And if you have your eyes open they happen all the time:) You will be amazed how painting your pine will open up your kitchen!!

  10. Absolutely stunning! This is a crazy transformation filled with great taste and so much heart. To see your designs and process is amazing, it’s so inspiring and helps me believe I can tackle my projects too! But to also hear your thoughts and reasonings behind this endeavor shows so much wisdom and sweet love for family and frugality. So in love with this project!

  11. This is absolutely beautiful-you are very talented! I am always in awe of people who have such amazing vision and are able to picture the after in their mind- I unfortunately can never get past the before. You created a wonderful home for your family to enjoy in the upcoming years – the both of you should be extremely proud at such an accomplishment!

    1. Oh thank you so much! My mom used to think we were crazy because she had a hard time seeing past befores as well. Now she knows and trusts us:)

  12. I love decorating...

    A lovely calming result. You have beautiful taste. And I agree with your sister about having an open mind regarding layout. Don’t be tied to the “before” configuration. A cottage/cabin is such a family asset especially when your own children are young. What fond memories they will have of times spent lakeside. We’ve been fortunate to live in different countries and to travel extensively but my fondest vacation memories? Childhood holidays at the lake in British Columbia in a not so fancy cabin. It’s been 50 years since then! This cabin is absolutely a very valuable investment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts


I’m so glad you’re here! I am a stay-at-home mom who had a desire to make our family’s house into a home on a very small budget. I have a passion to inspire and equip you to do the same for your home.

Check out DIY tutorials, my favorite finds for budget friendly decor and daily life at our 110+ year modern farmhouse. Stay awhile, enjoy and subscribe to join a community of sweet friends loving life.