How much does a kitchen renovation cost?!?!?!?!

by Stacey on Wed Apr 29, 2020

Kevin and I are nearly finished with our kitchen renovation. When we were looking for a house, we had a strong feeling that renovating a kitchen would be in our future. Simply put, the homes with nicer kitchens in our desired area were completely (as in at least a hundred thousand) out of our price range. Our need to stay within a budget is one of the main reasons we wanted our house.

Despite the other prospective owners (and Kevin) freaking out over the dark and dated kitchen, I could envision it complete. And it didn't have to break the bank. Which is tough to do, because kitchen renovations are expensive!

Run a search on how much a kitchen renovation costs online and you will get estimates from the low to high tens of thousands. Point-in-fact: I just finished reading an article from my favorite home-design magazine on a "cost-effective" kitchen reno. They didn't replace the cabinets or the floors, and kept all the appliances. But the items tallied on the list (which no doubt were not all-inclusive) still came in at $19,787! And they tried to pass it off as smart spending!

Simply put, there was no way we had nearly that much extra cash lying around after closing costs and a down payment. So we knew we were going to have to get creative and be smart.

After a hefty bit of research, we figured out that kitchen cabinets, countertops and flooring would be the biggest expenses involved in renovating a kitchen. Also on the expensive list: changing the layout in any way that involves moving cabinets or plumbing. So while we looked for a house, we scrutinized flooring, layouts, cabinets, countertops and overall feel to determine what we could work with and what was over our head.

A lot of the homes we looked at had layouts that we wouldn't be able to work with on our budget. They would look great if we had a crew that could come in and replace cabinets/counters/floors and/or blow out a wall in a week, but we didn't have that time, money, or any connections in the construction world. 

Here's what we chose instead:

What's that? You can't see anything? Don't adjust your screen. That's our kitchen. Or it was. We will post details about what we did and how, but first, I'll go over the budget, and why we bought this house despite because of the kitchen.

First up, that peninsula had to go. It was so tall that I could barely see over it - granted I'm only five feet tall, but I should at least be able to see the dough I'm rolling out. Without the peninsula, the layout of the kitchen is perfect. And I was pretty sure we could rip that thing down ourselves. Cost: Free.

Kitchen left to right:

Keep turning right:

The sink was under a window, with a dishwasher next to the sink. The stove had food prep space on both sides and a good-sized refrigerator within arm's reach. The layout satisfies the triangle work pattern that most good kitchens rely on, without having to change a thing. The dead space in the middle looked awkward at first, but after a quick set of measurements when the real estate agent wasn't looking, we figured it was large enough to fit a 3.3 x 5 foot island. That would give us more cabinetry and work space at a fraction of the cost of redesigning a layout. Cost: $1,100.

Even better, the kitchen had an area for a breakfast nook! Since I was little, I've wanted a breakfast nook just like my grandmother had in her house. Complete with wallpaper behind it. When we saw that nook potential in the far right corner, I was 100% sold. Cost: $1,700.

The hard-wood flooring was old and soooo dirty.

See the area where the rug had been in front of the sink? The perfect rectangle of semi-clean wood? And just try walking on that floor without shoes - our socks had black soles within minutes. But it was wood. And it looked like it could be refinished. Salvageable flooring? Check. Cost to refinish the entire bottom level: $2,400.

Now for the countertops. Here's where things got a bit tricky. The home buying process went so fast, and we had so much to analyze and absorb, that when we got home after the inspection (aka the last time we would see the house in person until we moved in), we had NO IDEA what color the granite was. Kevin was convinced it was green, I thought it was brown. The bad lighting and dark cabinets didn't help matters. We zoomed in on the online photos of that kitchen for hours, all to no avail.

Eventually, we just figured we would have to hope that whatever color we painted the cabinets would be basic enough to match whatever the countertops were. Because while having a lot of counter space is ideal, having a lot of it in the wrong style/color is not. Fingers crossed, because we had to pick the cabinet paint color weeks before moving in. Ha! No big deal. Cost: $0.

Finally, the cabinets were in great shape. They weren't shaker cabinets, but I'm not one for trends anyways. Give me something that has stood the test of time for 50 years and I'm satisfied that it will last another 50. They open, they close, they hold items, done. Cost of professional cabinet painting: $2,800.

Add another $130 for island pendant lighting, about $200 on paint and $500 for a statement wall, and that's our kitchen remodel. All told, our costs ran about $7,230 for the kitchen, not including paint. And when you see what we did for that $7,230... well, just wait and see.