Kitchen Makeover: I Renovated my Kitchen for Less than $10,000!

By Maude Gauthier | Published on 11 Jun 2024

I recently bought a new house: a lovely 1960s bungalow. It was quite outdated and over the past month, I’ve renovated the kitchen. It dated back to the year of construction, and a weird smell permeated the cupboards. Yikes! People around me told me I’d have to pay at least $20,000 to redo the floor, cabinets and countertop. I challenged myself to do it for $10,000. Today, I’ve succeeded!



Each stage required me to make important choices. Where do I put my money? For example, I was able to afford a quartz countertop because I saved a lot on labor. I know this element will help to sell the house eventually, so when I move again (in a few years), I’m hopeful it will help me to get a good price.

Making the Right Choices

Initially, I asked a few contractors for quotes. Two of them came to assess the work at my place, and only one sent me his quote. I really felt that my kitchen wasn’t lucrative enough for them, or that I was going to get screwed by some shady clauses in the contract. For example, the quote I received was vague about the work to be done and included a rate of $140 per hour for any overtime. For $10,000, I had the lowest-quality ceramic, a laminate or ceramic countertop and the most basic cabinets on the market.

Since I wasn’t satisfied, I decided to do everything myself. I took the time to shop around and order the ceramic tiles for the floor, as well as the cabinets and countertop. The time between the choice of materials and the beginning of the actual renovation was around three weeks. I was able to choose cabinets with a little more style, from Ikea, which is still affordable. My old kitchen didn’t have a pantry. I now have one, as well as large drawers for storing pots and pans. Among other cost-cutting choices, I left the electrical and plumbing systems untouched. The kitchen layout remains unchanged. Moving sockets or the sink would definitely have increased the bill!

My Invoices

2 examples of kitchen renovation invoices

The most expensive part was the purchase of the cabinets. If you can keep the same cabinets and only change the cabinet doors, you’ll save a lot! In my case, the cabinet dimensions weren’t standard, so it was impossible to find doors of the same size. Also, my sink was rusty, so I had to change it, but using the same sink would be economical.

  • Ikea cabinets: $4,307
  • Sink and faucet: $650
  • Ceramic floor: $472
  • Plywood: $103
  • Quartz countertop: $2,579

On top of that, I made countless trips to Rona because we were always missing something! Screws, cement, baseboards, etc. The total is around $500, but I must admit that in the whirlwind of renovations, I must have lost a few bills, so it’s a rough estimate. I’m also waiting for my order for the backsplash, which will add $279 to the total. In the end, I’ll have spent about $9,000 to buy everything. (I’m not calculating the hours invested in the project!)

The Steps

Fortunately, I found help from my family and a retired man (an acquaintance) with construction experience. You should also know that my kitchen is small, measuring 10 and a half feet (3.2 meters) by just under 8 feet (2.4 meters). A bigger kitchen means more cabinets, longer countertops, etc., and therefore more expenses. Here’s how we did it.

From the destruction to the (rather long) wait for the counter, some steps went very smoothly, while others surprised me by their delay or difficulty.

Day 1 – Destruction!

Quick and easy, this stage went off without a hitch. I could have had the unpleasant surprise of walls ripped out or in poor condition, which would have meant the cost of redoing them. But I was lucky!

Day 2 and 3 – Flooring

Before laying the tiles, plywood had to be added to reinforce and level the floor. This stage took me by surprise, as the plywood had to be screwed down… we must have used almost 800 screws! The next day, we mixed the cement and laid the ceramic tiles. We had to wait before grouting because of the drying time and the scheduled countertop measurements. We had to quickly install the cabinets the next day so that everything was ready for measuring, otherwise the delivery of the counter would have been delayed.

Day 4 and 5 – Cupboards

With Ikea, everything comes in small parts! It took me about a week to assemble the cabinets in my basement. On the day they were installed, it took us half a day to fix the first bar to the wall at the right level and install the pantry. When everything was done, measurements were taken for the countertop and we entered a waiting period.

2 and a Half Weeks – Waiting and Counter Installation

Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to repair the walls with cement. The man who was helping us came to do the grouting and repair part of the ceiling. I then pulled the joints. When the counter was delivered, it took less than an hour. Thirty-six hours later, we connected the plumbing.

Impact on Property Value

Royal LePage once conducted a survey to estimate the impact of kitchen renovations. According to them, it would increase the price of a property by 20%! A $500,000 house could sell for $600,000, or a $250,000 property for $300,000. In my case, this 20% represents much more than what I paid (including the time invested).

It’s a renovation I knew I had to do and I chose to do it as soon as I bought my house, so I could enjoy my new kitchen. Renovating the kitchen just before selling seemed less relevant to me, given the state of my original kitchen. The 20% increase, however, refers to an up-to-date kitchen at the time of sale. But I think my kitchen will still be in very acceptable condition in a few years’ time.

Financing Options

A small renovation budget helps avoid big debts. In my case, I paid with credit cards, which I repaid immediately after receiving my statements. The only downside is my credit utilization ratio, which was well over 30% for a few weeks, had a slight impact on my credit score. If you choose this method of payment, you may want to consider a low interest rate credit card. With the risk of cost overruns, you can never be too careful!

For credit card payments to go smoothly, you need to have most of the money set aside. That way, you don’t have to carry a debt and pay interest. If you don’t have the savings, there are other options. Using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is often a good solution. Current interest rates are just over 7% per year, and you can pay the interest only. For example, on a $20,000 loan, we’re talking about payments of about $120 a month. You’ll still have to pay back the $20,000 eventually, but that can wait until you sell the house! If you don’t have access to a HELOC, you may want to consider a personal line of credit. It works in the same way, but its rate is likely to be higher.

Personal loans are another option. Unlike a line of credit, it comes with a fixed term and fixed amounts to be repaid each month. This is an acceptable choice if you can’t get a line of credit or if you prefer fixed payments to better manage your budget.

Maude Gauthier is a journalist for Hardbacon. Since completing her Ph.D. in communications at University of Montreal, she has been writing about finance, insurance and credit cards for companies like Fonds FMOQ and Code F. As a responsible user of credit cards, she can spend hours reading the fine print to fully understand their benefits. Because of their simplicity, she developed a preference for cash back cards. After suffering steep increases with her former insurer, she can now proudly say that she saved hundreds of dollars by shopping around for her auto and home insurance. In her free time, she reads novels and enjoys streaming popular shows (and possibly less popular shows, like animal documentaries).