Renovation Diaries

This Couple in Utah Spent $14,978 on Their Kitchen Renovation — Here’s Where Every Penny Went

updated Jun 14, 2021
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Laurel Harry and family in kitchen.
Credit: Lindsey Stewart

Did you see the dramatic kitchen transformation we just featured? The outdated ’90s kitchen got a whole new look for just under $15,000. Yes, that’s still a lot of money, but considering HomeAdviser reports that the average kitchen renovation costs up to $37,745, it feels like a bargain. See, Laurel Harry and her husband had their work cut out for them when they bought their 3,100-square-foot house six years ago. Luckily they’re pretty handy and the house had good bones, so the couple was able to save their pennies here and there. Let’s take a look at what had to be changed, where the couple saved, and how every dollar was spent.

Credit: Photo: Lindsey Stewart. Design: Kitchn
Credit: Photo courtesy of Laurel Harry

First, we should address the dark, knotty wood cabinets. They didn’t exactly have the fresh, bright whimsical look Laurel was going for. She did like the style of the cabinets, however, so she decided to keep them. Springing for a professional to refinish and paint them clocked in at $2,000, still a fraction of what replacing them would have cost. (While they typically like to do things themselves, she said, the cabinet job was one area they felt springing for a pro was well worth it.)

Credit: Lindsey Stewart

The layout of the kitchen, which opens up to the living room, was also great, so they were able to keep the footprint the same. They didn’t have to replace the existing island, either; instead they just topped it with a bigger butcher-block top. All these bonuses went a long way toward keeping costs in line. And Laurel’s husband’s amazing DIY skills also saved beaucoup bucks when they were able to customize enclosures for the fridge and range hood.

Not moving any plumbing along with opting for affordable engineered hardwood flooring also kept costs reasonable. All these savings added up, allowing them to splurge on Laurel’s dream appliances (a matte white set from GE’s Cafe line), a gorgeous quartz countertop, and that pro painting job for the cabinets.

When it was all said and done, the three-month job rang in at $14,978 — and the transformation looks like it cost far more than that. Here’s the detailed breakdown.

Credit: Kitchn

Laurel’s Kitchen Renovation Budget


  • Professional cabinet refinishing: $2,000



  • $0 (The only pros who were called in were the cabinet painters, but their fee is factored in under the Cabinets section above.)

Tile & Countertops

  • Marble backsplash: $400 
  • Quartz countertops: $2,500
  • Butcher block for island top: $500


  • Cabinet knobs: $50
  • Cabinet wallpaper: $53
  • Pantry door: $100
  • Light fixtures: $275
  • Faucet: $200
  • Flooring: $500 (of the $5,000 for the entire house)

Total Budget: $14,978

See Laurel’s Full Reno Diary