Shelter Kitchen Remodel Complete!

By Kate Riley October 1, 2012

Well, we’ve done it again!  We’ve remodeled another kitchen in partnership with our local COTS (Committee on the Shelterless) and as part of our ongoing Alma Project.  Together with an amazing team and some generous donations, we’re proud to showcase this incredible new kitchen we remodeled for a local emergency shelter.

white kitchen sink and rug centsational girl


A little backstory first.  On the same day we wrapped up the first Alma Project kitchen, Warren, our partner at COTS, told us about this second home that was also part of the transitional housing program, a five bedroom home that was to be used as an emergency shelter for single parents and their children, with move in dates in October.  Each family shares a bedroom so this home will work for both COTS and with Child Protective Services to keep families intact by taking them off the streets and giving them temporary housing until they find a more permanent solution. 

The home was in really bad shape and saddened us that it was in no condition for children or families, so we decided to adopt a second house this year.  Matt and I love this project so much, it fills us with great pride to be helping people in need by remodeling these spaces in our community.  For this home makeover, we again turned our attention to rounding up all the resources we could.  You’ve seen the hall bathroom and over the summer we’ve been working on both the great room and kitchen.  We’re so excited the kitchen remodel is finally done! 

This was the kitchen the day we toured it back in July, and it was in really horrible shape.  (I swear that plunger is not a prop, it was actually sitting there.) This space was really depressing, it was dark and dingy, the cabinets were broken, the old laminate countertops were chipped, the flooring was moldy and peeling up in places, it was an absolute mess.  

kitchen before


So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work, and over the course of three months, we pooled resources and asked some generous donors to contribute and we’re so amazed by their generosity.  A combination of DIY efforts pulled this off, but first I’m so excited to acknowledge our sponsors.

Again Home Depot came to our rescue and donated new flooring, cabinets, a sink and faucet, and new backsplash tile.  Wilsonart countertops donated the new laminate countertops, and Shades of Light donated a new light fixture.  With some local donations of appliances and some funds raised from our Alma Project, we were able to completely transform this kitchen in three months.

Here it is, all complete! 

shelter kitchen remodel after


I have to thank our local kitchen designer Christine from Home Depot who came to the house to take measurements and then sketched this kitchen plan so we could visualize the difference.  She’s always been a big supporter of this project and we love working with her!  Thank you Christine!

shelter kitchen cabinet plan


The kitchen was gutted down to the walls and the florescent lights removed.  The old flooring was removed, the walls repaired with new sheetrock, and the floors prepped for new laminate wood flooring. 

kitchen during


Four new recessed lights take the place of the old florescent lights.  I chose not to use a window treatment in this space, but instead to frame the window with glass mosaic tile that goes up to the ceiling.  I thought about open shelves next to the window, which would be lovely but would have impeded the opening of the cabinets to the left, so instead I chose a simple botanical print to balance the offset window.

wall of glass tile centsational girl 

Warren and I installed this backsplash by ourselves over two days, and there was one moment of panic in framing the window, when our grid was slightly off, but we resolved the issue quickly and the feature wall turned out perfectly – I’ll share that adventure in installing a glass tile backsplash around a window soon.

green blue backsplash tile centsational girl


I found this ceramic tile backsplash called ‘Misty Seaglass’ with shades of blue, green, and cream on clearance at Home Depot and snatched up every last piece at $4 a sheet.  It changes colors throughout the day, more colorful in bright light and subdued in indirect light.  It’s really stunning in person and was such a great deal!  We were able to tile the full wall and both sides of the kitchen for $300. 

blue green mosaic tile backsplash


Instead of a window treatment, we framed the window in simple trim and hung this beautiful glass Peridot pendant from Shades of Light over the sink. 

green glass pendant over sink


The countertops were another generous donation by the Wilsonart company, the finish is ‘Perla Piazza’ the same we used on the first Alma project kitchen.  I loved it so much I used it again!  The cream colored finish complements the cream pieces in the blue glass mosaic tile backsplash. 

wilsonart countertops


Some local supporters donated the dining sets and cookware, the rest I shopped for over the weekend at Bed, Bath & Beyond to prepare the kitchen with essentials from silverware and glassware, towels and utensils since families are moving in this week.   

dishes inside cabinets


Here’s a few more before and after shots!

Left side before:

left side before


left side of new kitchen

Right side before:

right side before


right side after


A huge huge thank you to all of our sponsors, including the Home Depot, Wilsonart, and Shades of Light for their generosity and philanthropic spirit in supporting this kitchen remodel.  Words cannot express our gratitude!!  I applaud these companies who support charitable projects like this! 

A huge thank you to our most recent round of Alma Project donors:  Stephanie Norris, Sue Townsend, Chelsie Bruggeman, Jane Hankins, Megan Booth, Nurfarhana Hamdan, and Erica Brown!  Thank you, your donations helped so much with this kitchen!

Here’s the budget breakdown for this emergency shelter kitchen remodel:

Budget Breakdown:

White stock cabinets, hinges, and toe kick: $3,064 (donated by Home Depot)

Oak flooring: $190 (donated by Home Depot)

Misty Seaglass backsplash tile: $302 (donated by Home Depot)

Stainless steel sink + faucet: $179 (donated by Home Depot)

‘Perla Piazza’ countertops – $1,000 (donated by WilsonArt)

Green peridot light fixture – $159 (donated by Shades of Light)

New recessed light fixtures + electrical wiring: $250  (purchased by COTS)

New hood – $170 (purchased by COTS)

Sheetrock wall + subfloor repair:  $175 (purchased by COTS)

Miscellaneous joint compound, grout, supplies: $200 (purchased by COTS)

Refrigerator: local donation

Dishwasher: local donation

Oven + microwave: reused from previous kitchen

Knobs and pulls from Home Depot: $110

Cloudstep floral floor mat:  Pier One, $69

White coffee maker, Target: $35

Frame + botanical print, Aaron Brothers: $45

Glassware, silverware, garbage can, utensils, towels, and other kitchen cooking essentials from Bed, Bath, & Beyond: $275

Cost for kitchen without donated materials (not including tax + free labor):  $6,223

Cost for kitchen with donated materials (not including tax + free labor):  $1,329

All of the cabinet and flooring installation was completed by Warren and his volunteer assistant Eddie, with Matt and I helping with installing the backsplash and hardware.  Warren handled all of the inspections.  The kitchen labor was all combined DIY efforts, saving us thousands since we spent zero in labor costs.  

We love this light and bright space that will serve the needs of homeless families in transition and we’re so proud of the result! 

To donate to the Alma Project, click on this button in the sidebar, thank you!

donate alma




  1. Wow!! The before and after is truly stunning – what a transformation! You’re so wonderful for spending the time, money, and energy on these projects. I’m sure the families who use them appreciate the effort. To come from a terrible situation into such a bright space will hopefully be inspiring to them and offer them comfort during their time in the home.

  2. Beautiful kitchen on such a small budget. They are very lucky to have someone as generous and talented as you working on these projects. I especially love the backsplash.

  3. This is absolutely stunning and such a wonderful cause. Kudos to you for making a difference in the world and sharing it with us. You did a wonderful job!

  4. Oh my gosh, this is beautiful! And only made more beautiful because of the purpose behind it. Wonderful work!

  5. Amazing! I can’t even believe the before and after are of the same space. Hats off to you and everyone who had a hand in it.

  6. Oh my goodness! this Alma Project remodel looks amazing!!! I saw the before picture and thought only magic could make that kitchen better. You’re so talented, especially rounding up all the donations and executing this vision. You’re seriously such a wonderful inspiration.

  7. Kate you are so awesome. Yet another great project. It’s gorgeous. Any family will be very happy to have such a wonderful home and know that it was made with love. You must be so proud when you are done and look at it and think “I made this happen”. xo

  8. Wow! This makeover is absolutely stunning. You have such a talent and a heart for people. I know the families will love it.

  9. I should probably pick my jaw up off the floor. I just kept scrolling back and forth between the before and afters! Such an amazing transformation, Kate! Good girl–again! :)

  10. who wouldn’t love this beautiful kitchen and your hearts should be full to the brim! Giving really IS better than receiving, isn’t it?! I love that your talent is complemented by your generous spirit.

  11. This is so lovely, and I love the “Misty Seaglass”…How proud I am of you daughter! Always~~Mom

  12. That is fantastic.. and thank you to all your generous sponsors.. especially Home Depot. It is so great that they are willing to give back to the community. You did a beautiful job, and I am so in awe of you for all your hard work. Beautiful

  13. You SHOULD be proud of this space! Honestly, this makes me want to support your sponsors–what wonderful, generous donations, and what a difference they made! I so appreciate your heart for this work, Kate. May we all be inspired to do similar work in our own communities!

  14. I have been following your blog for a couple of years now and have never commented – lurking in New Zealand :o) but this, like all your work is beautiful. Your community is lucky to have someone like you!

  15. Absoulutely fantastic! I love the backsplash. It must be the best housing for the homeless in the country!

  16. Kate,
    I am always so touched by the work you do. The only problem I see with this endeavor is that the people may never want to leave! :o)

  17. The after is absolutely AMAZING!!!! I love that backsplash, I’m pretty sure I would marry it if I could. I also love how it covers the entire wall.

  18. Looks fantstic Kate! You and your whole team did a great job! Even through the photographs you can feel the love and happiness in this kitchen…just what everyone deserves to feel when they are at home!

  19. This is so lovely but what is even more lovely is the way you lend your talents to such a wonderful cause. it is so heartwarming to see a blogger is out for someone other than herself. thank you for being an inspiration!

  20. Incredible transformation to say the least! As a single parent, I know too well the fears of ending up homeless (though I never have, thank God). The blessing of this house to these families will run deeper than you can even imagine. Thank you for being part of such an amazing organization!

  21. I am once again so impressed and feel so inspired by your work. This is what it is all about… Creating Homes with a capital H so that whatever your situation is, you can come Home to that place where you feel safe, where it is warm, cozy and you feel in harmony.
    A place where you can come to rest and re-energize.

    Gorgeously done!!!!

  22. Awesome remodel! Great job getting those sponsors. It amazes me how much businesses and people want to help when it’s such a good cause. Congratulations on a job well done! Thanks, Angela

  23. What a terrific space! Y’all did a beautiful job and kudos to all the donors for this very worthwhile cause!

  24. That tile is a complete wow factor. It’s beautiful, Kate! Bless all of the people and companies that made this possible. This is really where it’s at: using your resources and talents to bless the lives of others.

  25. All of you such valuable, wonderful work and you do it so beautifully too. The world is a better place for it.

  26. So beautiful and uplifting! A wonderful gift to families in need. Tell your sponsors their generosity is noticed and appreciated.

  27. Great makeover, the tile is stunning. These kind of efforts are the best kind helping people in need! That’s what good design is for.

  28. I’m in awe of your generosity of spirit and your commitment to helping those less fortunate than ourselves. You have done an amazing transformation on this project, and it looks incredible. You all rock! Hx

  29. incredible!!!! i just love the tiled walls! i bet the people who will be staying there will be soooo grateful for such a gorgeous and restful kitchen!

  30. Amazing job!!! LOVE the tiled walls – I’m hoping our home depots here in Canada carry that tile!!! Your generosity is so heartwarming!!

  31. This is so inspiring and absolutely wonderful that you are able to assist these families in their greatest time of need.

  32. Amazing transformation! It’s wonderful that so many people have such big hearts for others.

  33. What a lovely gift to such an important cause. The kitchen is just beautiful.
    Can you share what you used to hang the picture on the tile backsplash? Did you drill through the tile?

    • Hi Barb, we didn’t drill into the tile to hang the picture, but we did tap two thin nails into the grout line for the two hangers on the back of the frame, that worked perfectly and didn’t chip the tile, just made two tiny holes in the grout.

  34. Wow! This is amazing! Your generosity is so heartwarming :) What a beautiful transformation. The backsplash is beautiful! Soft and elegant. Great post!

  35. It was SOoo grungy beforehand, hey? What a glorious transformation! Good job, guys!


  36. Lovely, yet again. Families should feel good about themselves using such a beautiful kitchen.

  37. One word-gorgeous!! Our kitchen is on the list for a remodel-it’s got 90’s cabinets. ;) I prefer a light and airy feel in a kitchen and I love that tile-it’s giving me some ideas. Fabulous job, Kate and everyone who participated in this remodel. These families that will use this new kitchen will do so with pride and will feel good about their surroundings even if it isn’t their own home, it’s a great place to make meals.

  38. Kate, if you guys ever need satin nickel knobs for one of these projects, let me know. I bought enough to replace all of ours (a TON)… then changed my mind and went with ORB. I probably have close to 100. I’d be happy to ship them to you.

  39. I can’t wait for the tutorial – I am thinking of doing this in my own kitchen!!

  40. This kitchen is so serene…something that I think is essential for people in such difficult situations. Someone else had commented that the beauty of it is very uplifting. What an awesome way to minister on so many levels to people in such desperate need. Keep up th good work!

    • Hi Victoria, yes that was our thought too, in fact every time I walk in when I stop by each day I am uplifted too, and what we’ve always thought is that it will uplift the families who live there too.
      Thank you to everyone for the sweet comments, we really love this project so much – it’s our favorite thing we do each year!

  41. Kate,
    I have enjoyed your blog for a long time now, and am always in awe at the beautiful projects and spaces you make. Whenever I read one of these posts you do with the Alma project though, it brings me to tears. You generosity for others is so heartwarming, I am sure the families you touch are so grateful for your service. Thanks for being such an amazing example to us, and reminding us all the opportunities there are to help others. Like Kelley, I also have some satin nickel pulls that I bought when we built our house last year-we ended up going with other ones, and I couldn’t return these. I would love to have you use them if you could. Let me know, and I would be honored to send them to you.Thanks again for great design, and an even greater heart.=)

    • Thank you Kelley and Mona, I will certainly keep you in mind if we need more knobs in the future, thank you!

  42. Beautiful! Congratulations to your entire team and fabulous donors and blessings to all those who will be living there!

  43. That is a wonderful transformation. Thank you to you and all of the other individuals and companies that participated. I can’t help but think what a wonderful country we live in when I see these types of ‘community’ projects. Great job, everyone!

  44. WOW! What an Amazing Kitchen Makeover. May God continue to bless and prosper you to continue reaching out to help others in need.

  45. I love that you use your gifts and resources for doing something so worthwhile. What a lovely space for someone who needs shelter from a storm.

  46. I LOVE Alma Project updates. It keeps me coming back. It just makes me smile and goodness knows it will do the same for the home dwellers.

  47. Kate are amazing and a true inspiration. A lot of home decor/DIY bloggers out there use their connections with their sponsors to get perks for their own homes – I really admire that you use your connections to help others. I hope others follow in your footsteps!!

  48. You are amazing. That kitchen looks fabulous! Love the floor mat. Your work will hopefully lift up the hearts of those in need. WELL DONE!!

  49. I wish you, all the people who helped you, and that will be helped by you, many blessings! The kitchen is beautiful!!!! Such a labor of love and care. It’s so uplifting and inspiring to see this gorgeous space. I know it will be a refuge for the families who use it. Thank you for all the good you’re doing – you are one amazing woman!!!

  50. Beautiful! The tile back splash is gorgeous. You are an asset to your community. Thanks to you and your fellow workers. Also thanks to your sponsors for helping to make someone’s life a bit brighter!

  51. The tile is stunning, the only thing keeping me from running to all of my local Home Depots is I don’t own my current living space.

    You are doing such great work! The kitchen is fabulous.

  52. Wow! It game out great, and I’m sure the families will appreciate all of your hard work and a kitchen that is not only functional but is also beautiful!

  53. OMG, I can’t believe its the same space!!! you are truly a miracle worker, and this project shows not only that you’ve got a lot of talent, but a lot of love as well!!!! The tile made the biggest impact, just gorgeous, great job as always Kate!

  54. Amazing transformation! The backsplash goes perfectly with the coutertop and I love those bowls! Everything is WOW! It’s probably best you skipped the open shelves as it’s hard to get everyone on board with the tidy thing in shared spaces. One question, how many people use that fridge? I noticed there were two in the before, and having rented shared spaces before, I know refrigerator space can be a point of contention. These Alma projects are some of my favourite posts. You’re very generous with your time. CTD

    • Hi Teresa, there is a second large refrigerator in the garage which is a few steps away, so the families will be sharing both.

  55. It looks so beautiful. You all did such a great job. Thanks for sharing. And, thanks for giving!

  56. Blown away! What an incredible transformation! Who knows the extent of the impact this change in environment will have on those who use it. You have a real gift for this! May God continue to bless the work you’re doing!

  57. I’m always impressed with what you and the “team” come up with to improve the Alma homes. Great job – again!

  58. This is beautiful! I love it so much that I got that the same tile today on clearance for $1.43/sheet and I also bought the rug!!

  59. Your work is amazing… and such a gift… i came across your site while trying to find just one sheet of misty sea glass. You see, I work for Home Depot and we have a customer that needs just one half sheet to finish his project. My manager has me looking up store after store… i finshed California… and Nevada. At one point I thought we were getting a one from a HD in NY… but they broke it. So i was wondering…. do you have one tile left by any chance. I know its a long shot… but stranger things happen! Thanks, Alice

    • Hi Alice, I might have a few sheets left, I’ll have to check at the house, how much do you need?

  60. We just need one sheet for the customer to finish his project. I have called all over CA and had no luck. If you had one to spare you will make a customer extremely happy! Let me know, and thanks so much responding!

  61. Your kitchen is stunning! I have seen very few kitchens that look good with white cabinets and white appliances yours hands down looks amazing!

  62. I have the same backsplash tile and bought it for $1.48 a sheet. I love it!!!! What color grout did you use. I am ready to grout and cant decide! Thank you!!!

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