Renovation Diaries

This Kitchen Got a Down-to-the-Studs Gut Renovation for Less than $18,000 — Here’s How Every Dollar Was Spent

published Sep 21, 2021
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Jenny Albertini's kitchen.
Credit: Jennifer Chase

Professional organizer Jenny Albertini and her husband, Jason Hughes, had a very specific vision for the dated 1920s bungalow they bought in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2019. They also had a specific budget to stick to, and although this was a Major Renovation — we’re talking demo down to the studs and updating mechanicals and systems as well as the fun and pretty stuff — they managed to complete the job for less than $18,000.

Considering that kitchen renovations can easily run into many tens of thousands (or more!) this is no small feat. How did they do it? Especially given that they ran into delays on every front including a contractor who bailed, a global pandemic, and a failed inspection?

Credit: Jennifer Chase

Well, they went into the project with a very clear vision, and defined goals, and they stuck with that. Jason did the demolition, saving a big chunk. They also made smart choices, using lower-cost materials that still looked elegant (like floor tiles from Lowe’s). Affordable IKEA cabinets were dressed up with Semihandmade door fronts and really jazzed up with Rejuvenation hardware. And they matched the blue of the base cabinets to a wall in the dining room to create a cohesive, elevated look. Plus, when you spend less than 200 bucks on your sink (thanks, Wayfair!) you can spring for a nicer faucet

Credit: Jenny Albertini

The couple also managed to avoid the kind of budget creep that tends to happen by making reasonable picks for the items where lots of people can get in trouble. You can get perfectly nice appliances without splurging on status brands, and that’s just what they did. Set against the clean, minimalist kitchen with its luxurious, deep blue pops of color, the appliances sing, without costing an arm and a leg. 

This kitchen is a beautiful example of how you don’t have to throw tons of money at a renovation if you’re thoughtful about each decision and make your design picks with a cohesive style in mind. Impressive work, Jenny and Jason!

Now, let’s see where they spent their money.

Credit: Kitchn

Jenny’s Kitchen Renovation Budget


  • IKEA boxes: $2,618.18
  • Semihandmade cabinet doors: $6,329.85


Tile & Counters

  • Tile: $240.87
  • Grout: $49.04
  • Countertop: $2,430


  • *While the couple did hire a contractor, that was technically to put the guts back into the entire house (Jason did all of the demo and the couple went in after the contractor to finish up the rest of the big stuff), so they don’t count that fee towards the total. When pressed, they did the math to calculate the percentage of the total contractor bill based on the square footage of the kitchen. That number came to $14,510 


Grand Total: $17,886.78

See Jenny’s Full Reno Diary