Renovation Diaries

This Apartment Kitchen Got a Major Makeover for $2,100 — Here’s How the Creative Renters Stretched Every Dollar

published Apr 23, 2022
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Christine Han's kitchen
Credit: Christine Han

When food blogger Christine Han and her partner moved into their Brooklyn apartment in the summer of 2021, they knew they had a big renovation project ahead of them.

Credit: Christine Han

Luckily, they were more than willing to tackle the work — especially the kitchen, which was a mishmash of furniture, inefficient appliances, and odd backsplash tiles. Before they began, Christine convinced her partner that they could revamp the space for less than $2,000. To add more of a challenge, they also had a time limit: Her partner’s sister would be visiting from South Korea at the end of August, and they didn’t want her to walk into an apartment that was also a construction zone!

Credit: Christine Han

How did they do a full renovation on such a little budget? The couple decided early on that they would do all of the work themselves, which would free up their money for supplies, materials, and appliances. By watching a number of YouTube videos, Christine was able to learn amateur plumbing skills and even installed her own gas stove (although the landlord came to inspect it for safety). 

Credit: Christine Han

Smart shopping was another way they were able to save. Christine was lucky to find a used KitchenAid oven in good condition on Facebook Marketplace for just $900. She found the perfect sink (in just the right size) there, too. In fact, while it took some intense research, Christine became a Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace expert by the end of the renovation.

Credit: Christine Han

Of course, there were a few key lessons she learned along the way. Her biggest piece of advice: Really look at ratings and reviews before you purchase an appliance. (Look up the brand and model on other sites to see what people are saying.) “If it breaks down, I don’t want to pay someone for maintenance costs, so I looked at reviews to make sure people loved the appliance,” she says.

Credit: Christine Han

She also recommends setting up alerts and notifications for any pieces you’re on the hunt for, so that you get first dibs on new items. Plus, Christine makes it a practice to always negotiate, hoping to meet somewhere in the middle — or even lower!

Read more about how the couple decided to redo their backsplash with a custom design:

This Super Cool Backsplash Came Together for Just $137

The couple also saved money by using as much of the existing kitchen as possible, with some alterations and fixes. For example, they kept the cabinets (with just one additional piece they bought at The Home Depot), but repainted them a pretty green for a fresh look. They sanded and oiled the wood countertops and added food-grade butcher block oil to make them look clean and new. And Christine and her partner also kept the matching sconces from the previous tenants. Even the floating shelf above the backsplash has been repurposed.

Credit: Christine Han

In the end, the resourceful couple was able to create an unrecognizable, yet gorgeous kitchen for roughly $2,000, going just a bit over their original budget plan. The best part? Thanks to plenty of creativity, Christine and her partner gained some rather impressive and cost-cutting DIY renovation skills. Take a look at how they did it!

Credit: Christine Han

Christine’s Renovation Budget

Cabinets

Appliances

  • KitchenAid oven from Facebook Marketplace: $1,100 (including delivery costs)

Tile & Counters

Labor

$0 (Christine and her partner did ALL of the labor themselves, including plumbing!)

Other

Total Budget: $2,116

See Christine’s Full Reno Diary