Renovation Diaries

This Kitchen Renovation Cost $27,501 — Here’s Where Every Penny (and That Single Dollar!) Went

published Jul 20, 2021
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Andrea Surette's kitchen.
Credit: Jennifer Chase

Renovations, especially kitchen renovations, are infamous for spinning out of control when it comes to the budget. Washington, D.C.-based couple Andrea Surette and Jeremy Muenz managed the nearly impossible task of running their own kitchen reno … and coming in under budget. That’s impressive enough, but when you consider the fact that they’d never done anything like this before, and start to finish they completed a total tear-out renovation in four months’ time — while also working full-time jobs! — they’re basically miracle workers. Or, at least our renovation heroes. 

Their secret? They’re adventurous and not afraid of doing their own work. Even the really hard, really dirty, achy-knees kind of work. 

Credit: Andrea Surette

They carefully considered what part of the budget to spend on pros, bringing in help for electrical and plumbing, and installers for counters and flooring. An engineer drew up plans and a contractor removed load-bearing walls and added support beams (good call!). Other than that, this duo did almost everything else themselves, learning along the way, thanks to the trade school that is Google and YouTube. They did their own demo, hung drywall, painted the walls and cabinets, and tiled the backsplash themselves, all of which easily saved them at least another $10,000 in labor costs, Andrea says.  

Credit: Jennifer Chase

Andrea also chose carefully where to splurge — hello, waterfall 10-foot quartz island! — and where to scrimp (Black Friday lighting sale for the win!). She also took a gamble on a brand she didn’t know much about for their 36-inch range, and opted for IKEA cabinets.  

All together, they spent $27,501 of their $30,000 budget. Now that doesn’t include the cost of removing the load-bearing wall, which was part of the overall house renovation. That was another $2,500 for structural drawings and $13,000 for labor and materials. They also replaced floors throughout the house, so that’s not part of this breakdown. 

Let’s see how they did it!

Andrea’s Kitchen Renovation Budget


  • IKEA cabinet boxes + microwave: $2,174 (during their kitchen sale)
  • Semihandmade door fronts: $2,642
  • Benjamin Moore paint for cabinets: $300


Tiles & Counter

  • Countertop $5,615
  • Backsplash tile: $280


  • Plumber to move the water and gas lines: $1,600
  • Electrician to move the wiring in the kitchen, living room, and dining room: $3,200
  • Installation of cabinets: $3,480


Grand Total $27,501

See Andrea’s Full Reno Diary