On Instagram, Danielle Donohue shares bargain shopping tips, clever DIYs, and a crisp white-and-wood aesthetic. Her 40k followers know she can craft expensive-looking spaces on a budget, which is exactly what she did in the renovation of her California kitchen.
When Donohue moved into the El Dorado Hills home, the open kitchen featured clunky, Shaker-style IKEA cupboards and a charcoal gray concrete countertop. “There were a lot of glass-face cabinets and pull-down, garage-like metal doors with shelves inside,” she describes. “It was nice, but it just wasn’t me. I wanted to make it really white, light, airy, and bright. I wanted to make it a big statement piece.”
But Donohue didn’t have the funds to gut the kitchen and start from scratch. Instead, she found brilliant ways to update what she had, from installing new doors on her old cabinet boxes to changing the color of the counters. She also incorporated affordable-yet-chic fixtures and decor, achieving a luxury look for less. Here’s how she pulled it off.
To create a breezy, spacious vibe, Donohue ripped out nearly all the upper cabinets and replaced them with Shelfology curved floating shelves that she can style with ceramics. She saved money by maintaining the existing lower cabinet boxes and swapping in Semihandmade Impression Tahoe fronts. “I kept being drawn toward the really natural organic wood,” she explains.
For the island, Donohue went with Supermatte White Slab doors. “I didn’t want all white because I normally do all white, but I didn’t want to do all Tahoe because I felt like it would be a little too heavy,” she reasons. The two-tone mix adds depth to the neutral kitchen, especially with the contrast of minimal, matte black hardware from Amazon.
Refinishing the Counters
Since Donohue couldn’t afford new stone countertops, she used Leggari Products epoxy to transform the dark concrete into dreamy matte white surfaces. She also cut costs by skipping a real plaster hood in favor of the faux version, which was made using drywall, coarse sand, sheetrock mud, and Roman clay. “That’s just my personality,” she says of her problem-solving acumen. “I’m always like, ‘This is what I want. This is our budget. How can I make it happen?’”
Donohue paired the brightened counters and textured hood with a snow white zellige backsplash from Riad Tile. She arranged the imperfect clay tiles in a stacked pattern with Mapei avalanche grout in between. “I almost didn’t even grout them because it had that organic look without it,” she admits. “But I’m so glad I did fill in a little bit of the chips. I love it.”
Snagging Cheap Treasures
Matte white and bronze Cafe Appliances were an obvious choice for Donohue. She bought a new dishwasher, but managed to source the refrigerator secondhand for a relatively-low price. “I had it in our last house and I loved it, but we had to sell it with the house, so I was determined to get another one,” she recalls. “I found it on Facebook Marketplace. It was a total score.”
Donohue also got great deals on black bar stools from Marshalls,, decorative branches from Safeway, sculptural pendants from Amazon, and bowls from the Anthropologie’s clearance rack. “You can create a luxurious feel without having to totally break your budget,” she insists. “It’s always been my passion to find ways to design affordably and look for deals. Almost everything in this house is either from the outlet or Home Goods.” But you would never know.
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