Renovation Diaries

This Dramatic Kitchen Renovation Looks Way More Expensive than It Really Was — Here’s How the Homeowners Smartly Spent Their $12,000 Budget

published Aug 17, 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.
Post Image
Credit: Petra Ford

A lot of us would say that the toughest part of a kitchen renovation is sticking to a budget. Jennifer Maxcy, however, says that having a budget makes things more fun: She’d actually prefer to have that limitation! Having parameters helps guide her decisions, and lets her really run with her love for all things thrift and vintage. It also forces her to be creative — not that she needs any help with that! 

When she and her husband bought a rough (and we mean rough!) 1958 post-and-beam ranch outside of Los Angeles, she only had about $12,000 to work with for the kitchen. Her work was definitely cut out for her. She rose to the challenge and then some, rescuing a buried (yes, buried in the backyard) work bench to re-purpose as an island, putting her handy husband to work building custom cabinetry to surround the fridge and washer/dryer, and finding what may be the most clever backsplash idea we’ve ever seen (she used inexpensive basement pole wrap).

Credit: Photo: Petra Ford, Jennifer Maxcy. Design: Kitchn

Thanks to Jennifer’s resourcefulness and by doing a lot of the work themselves, the couple was able to complete the entire kitchen for about $12,050. Adding in some gifted items takes the actual total up a bit to $14,900 (still a very impressive accomplishment when you consider what they walked into).

Here’s where every penny went.

Credit: Kitchn

Jennifer’s Kitchen Renovation Budget


  • Kitchen cabinets: $3,500 (a mix of some DIY, a Craigslist pantry, and
  • Island: Free (it was a workbench free in the yard they added a shelf to and painted)


  • Appliances: $3,000 (the stove came with house; the fridge, washer, and dryer were purchased)

Tiles & Counter

  • Countertop: $2,000 (includes installation)


  • NA


  • Light fixtures: $350 (Chairish and
  • Flooring: $1,500 (for the kitchen’s share of the open concept)
  • Paint, trim, and miscellaneous: $1,700

Grand Total: $12,050*

* The total ticks up to $14,900 if you add in the gifted items, which include the sink and faucet (worth about $2,400 and gifted from BLANCO) and the hardware (worth about $450 and gifted by DuVerre).

See Jennifer’s Full Reno Diary