Renovation Diaries

This Retro Kitchen Got a Floor-to-Ceiling Renovation for $16,000 — Here’s How Every Dollar Was Spent

published Nov 27, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Erin Burke kitchen
Credit: Liz Daly

Now that you’ve read all about Erin Burke’s DIY kitchen remodel, let’s take a look at how the couple spent their money. Erin and her husband, Nick Wildman, knew they had their work cut out for them when they purchased a 1950s home with an outdated kitchen in the seafaring town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, back in 2014. They carefully planned a budget and were somehow able to redo the whole kitchen for just over $16,000. Let’s take a look at what they changed, where the couple saved, and how the budget was spent!

It all started by crunching the numbers. “I think having a realistic budget and accepting that was a good first step,” Erin says. They planned on spending between $12,000 to $16,000, and they did just that. Note: This whole project is made even more amazing by the fact that they ended up having to relocate their stove and clean an unexpected squirrel’s nest out of the previous owner’s vent hood right at the start of the project. 

Credit: Erin Burke

Despite the initial setbacks, they also were able to keep the renovation price low by creating a clear vision for what they wanted the space to look like and taking on the majority of the labor themselves. Nick did the demolition and floors, which saved them a lot of money from the get-go. They also found workarounds and ways to make inexpensive items look pricier. For example, they added antique-inspired hardware to their new IKEA cabinets and IKEA corbels that were less than $10 to their DIY pine-board floating shelves. Then even constructed their vent hood from scratch out of plywood!

Credit: Liz Daly

They chose less expensive items when they knew the end result would be the same. For instance, their white subway tile was a total steal from Lowe’s, but if it had been pricier, would anyone have noticed? They also picked their splurge areas carefully, which included Silestone countertops and an Italian-made stove. Erin also loves shopping at thrift shops and vintage stores, so she picked up plenty of decor and saved a few pennies that way. Plus, they found their kitchen island on Craigslist. 

What’s totally impressive is that the couple didn’t start this project with a ton of renovation know-how or handy friends and family, but they figured out how to do the major projects on their own.

In total, they spent a little more than $16,000 to change up every single area of their kitchen. Here’s the detailed breakdown.

Credit: Kitchn

Erin’s Kitchen Renovation Budget



Tile & Counters


  • Electrical work and finishing the floors: $1,800 (Erin and Nick did all of the rest themselves!)


Total Budget: $16,616

See Erin’s Full Reno Diary

Credit: Kitchn