Renovation Diaries

This 150-Square-Foot Kitchen in Chicago Got a DIY Renovation for Less than $16,000 — Here’s How Every Dollar Was Spent

published Oct 23, 2021
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Laurie Jones kitchen.
Credit: Petra Ford

Now that you’ve read all about the Jones family’s kitchen renovation, it’s time to get down to the most important part: the budget! While most homeowners take on renovations to improve the long-term quality of living within their homes, the Joneses, who live in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, are serial movers (they’ve lived in a total of 15 different homes as a family!). It’s a lifestyle choice dictated by husband Drew Jones’s job.

“We never know how long we’re going to live in a place,” says wife Laurie Jones, who designed the condo’s new 150-square-foot kitchen. While they can almost always justify a remodel, their semi-nomadic lifestyle means that Laurie and Drew aren’t keen on blowing their budget, like they might be inclined to do in a forever home. Let’s take a look at what they changed, where the couple saved, and how the budget was spent!

Credit: Laurie Jones

For this project, Laurie took into consideration the values of other condos in the building when she decided on her $20,000 budget for the new kitchen. It’s a figure that seems appropriate for Chicago, a major metropolitan city where the cost of living is 23 percent above the national average. (For reference, Houzz’s 2021 study of more than 75,000 renovation-inclined homeowners reports that approximately 26 percent of small-space remodels during the pandemic focused on the kitchen, and that the average budget for that kind of project was $12,000.)

Credit: Petra Ford

The biggest area where they saved was on the labor. Drew, being a gifted DIYer, and Laurie, a designer in her own right, tackled most of the handiwork themselves, save for the appliance installation. While replacing or refinishing floors can be a pricey pursuit, the Joneses opted to give the original wood planks and kitchen cabinets a little bit of spit and polish. Also, a big money-saver was the decor itself, including the objects displayed on the open shelves, the potted plants in the antique garden window, the pieces hung on a gallery wall, and the feathery juju hat above the built-in bench. Virtually all of the accessories were already part of the family collection long before this project was even a glint in Laurie’s eye.

Credit: Petra Ford

When it was all said and done, the four-month makeover rang in at $15,667 — that’s about $4,000 under Laurie’s original budget! Here’s the detailed breakdown.

Credit: Kitchn

Laurie’s Kitchen Renovation Budget



Backsplash & Counters


  • Installation work on appliances and quartz counter: $2,400 (everything else was Laurie and Drew!)


  • Paint: $300
  • Lighting: $150
  • Brick wall: $600
  • Brick saw: $189
  • Built-in bench: $150
  • Door mirror: $150
  • Miscellaneous: $675

Total Budget: $15,667

See Laurie’s Full Reno Diary