Planning out a DIY Kitchen Facelift with Photoshop

Planning a kitchen remodel is tricky business. I’m not calling ours a “remodel,” per se, rather instead just a “facelift.” Anyway, before diving in, I wanted to make sure we were about to blow our budget on what we actually wanted.

What our kitchen looked like *before* we started hacking it apart

The right answer for this, of course, is to use SketchUp to make a mockup of the kitchen with all the planned changes – complete with textures and colors – and imagine yourself in the room. Right?

Well… this is embarrassing, as a mechanical engineer… but what if you kind of suck at 3D modeling? Before we moved into the house, I spent more hours than I’d care to admit in SketchUp trying to model the kitchen, and usually I ended up with walls that disappeared when I clicked the wrong thing or elements that maddeningly would never align properly. It was an exercise in futility. And frustration.

Photoshop to the Rescue!

So, what’s a girl to do? Enter Photoshop. Photoshop and Illustrator are my jam. This is a little bit hack-job, but it worked for me. And now that we’ve actually done the work in the kitchen, I have to say – pretty accurate! Here’s what I did.

Step 1

Take a photo of the view(s) in question. For us, this was easy, because we were only focusing on one (particularly bad) wall in our kitchen:

This was, um, after we’d taken down the cabinets, awful tile backsplash, and soffits.

Step 2

Bring that baby into Photoshop! I adjusted the brightness/contrast of the base image just so the rest of the colors would make sense – highly recommend doing the same. I already had my wall color picked out as well as images of all the fixtures/tiles I wanted to try, so get all that ready. Pro tip – to get a hex value for your paint color(s) go here if you’re using a Farrow and Ball color (or any UK paint brand, it looks like), or here if you’re using anything else. The latter link does have Farrow and Ball, but it’s incomplete.

Step 3

Make a clipping mask to block off all the old junk and give yourself a clean workspace. For me, this meant masking the back wall all the way down to the countertop and up to the ceiling, but leaving important things like the window intact. Here’s what this left me with:

Really, that’s the hard part – from here on out, it’s adding and tweaking things!

Step 4

Start adding layers – I started with my paint color:

and added in my pretty tiles in a row at the bottom of the wall:

I did mess around with sizing & perspective to get them to look OK. They’re not perfect, but that’s fortunately not what I was going for!

Step 5

Keep adding elements! Next up for me, I added in the subway tiles. Yes, this would have been a crazy task if I’d done them each individually – instead, I found a subway tile texture on Google image search and copied/scaled/perspective-ized it so its proportions made sense.

I also created a few more masks so I could toggle layers to see what the kitchen would look like with tiles going up partway, almost all the way, and all the way up the wall. I settled on this:

Step 6

Add all the rest of the extras – shelves, lighting, hood, etc… I also filled in the awkward ceiling and wall patches:

The floating shelves (tutorial on the way!) were very approximate, to put it nicely. I guessed at the perspective and made shapes/colors that would at least give me a sense for what the spacing & number should be. I was able to rule out 3 shelves from this mockup, for example. Using the window measurements as a known quantity, I was able to get pretty realistic scale on everything else.


Like I mentioned before, the “Photoshop method” of creating home mockups is really not intended to be a perfect preview of what your space will look like. It ended up, though, helping me with a couple things. One, it confirmed that I liked the color scheme and that everything fit together. Two, it helped me decide on how to configure the subway tiles and shelves. Could I have done this in SketchUp?  Theoretically, absolutely. In fact, that would be a much, MUCH more flexible way to do things. But – work with what you have. SketchUp skills, I have none. (Yet.)

I’m sure there are other ways to create mockups of a space, but this is what worked for me!



  1. Thanks, Kelsey! It’s all about using what you know… I wouldn’t know where to start trying to figure things out in PowerPoint!!

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