How Much Does A Whole House Renovation Really Cost?

Hi Everyone,

I find it difficult to believe we are now 8.5 months into this renovation. I was positive last May that by March, I’d be able to move back into my bedroom with at least 95% of the job complete.

It isn’t easy to put a percentage of what has been done and what is left; however, tomorrow, I will update the to-do list for Robert, my contractor.

 

This brings me to today’s topic: How Much Does a Whole House Renovation Cost?

 

A recent comment by Lori inspired it:

Laurel, I live less than an hour from Boston, and I’m a big fan of your work and have been following your site for several years. Your renovation is stunning. We are getting quotes for a project and are in disbelief over the cost, which has doubled in the last 2 years. Would you be willing to tell us the ballpark of how much this renovation you’re doing costs? If you’d rather not, that’s fine; it would be helpful to know. Thank you

 

It’s a reasonable question.

And here’s my answer.

None of your freaking business. ;]

No, I’m just kidding. Look, it’s not exactly classified information.

 

However, we need to get one thing clear based on something darling Sue said:

 

Sue explained in a comment to Lori, that I am likely privy to discounts/freebies in exchange for publicity. If only that were so!  Oh, I tried. I had a well-connected design-insider friend toot my horn for me. We also provided a media kit with website stats from Google Analytics. And what we were met with was, “Oh, we’re definitely interested,” followed by crickets.

 

However, except for the Zephyr Range hood, which I won in 2017 and they honored, absolutely nothing else has been gotten for free. Incidentally, the Zephyr range hood they gave me is the Maserati of range hoods. I will do another post about it. I can only say that I’ve heard it telling the whiny fridge to STFU already. At the lowest speed, the Zephyr Monsoon sounds like a gentle summer breeze.

 

As for discounts, only two companies have awarded me a generous discount.

 

 

 

Both companies gave me a superb experience and product. However, they were not free! Not even close. Even with the discounts, the products are expensive, but not the most expensive, in the case of the cabinetry. In fact, apples for apples, you’ll pay at least double, if not triple, if you go to a certain kitchen showroom in the South End of Boston that begins with a V.

The Mural Source – TWO YEARS AGO, promised me some wallpaper. I have an email from Paul Montgomery, the nicest southern gentleman ever, dated February 15, 2022. I would love to put one of their murals in my bedroom.  Walking in with the rounded bay, it is begging me for a panoramic mural. I think it’ll be so wonderful to see a peak of the design as one is walking down the short hall past the staircase.

The problem is deciding which one! I need to get some samples. I’m going to work on that this coming week.

 

Speaking of murals, there will be an update regarding the Fine and Dandy Murals soon.

 

Otherwise, my dear ones, for everything else, unless I can get it with a designer’s account, (like fabric, wallpaper, tile) I’m paying the same as you. I try to use my affiliate links whenever possible, but it’s like buying a high-end range and getting the lightbulb that goes inside for free.

For everything that’s labor-intensive, I am not getting any discount whatsoever, and I wouldn’t ask.

 

the door is installed!

 

In other news, the door is all moved, and for the first time, the downstairs feels connected with the upstairs and the rest of the building instead of connected with the alley. For earlier images of the door moving progress, please go here. 

(Please note: that I have plans to beef up the door to look far more grand.)

BTW, that thing leaning against the wall that looks like a giant skateboard is the new rounded bottom step, to be installed next week.

 

I adore that at the bottom of the stairs when I look up, I can see 95% of one of the big windows.

 

I can even see the John Hancock Building! It’s a fantastic and quite grand view.

 

wonderful new staircase

See what I mean?

 

Last night, as I had two loads of laundry to do, I went up and down the stairs numerous times, using my new door which is only steps from the laundry closet. Can you picture it? I was giggling to myself the entire time. Never in my life was doing the laundry so much fun!

 

Laurel, please stop reveling in your laundry and tell us how much you’re spending. How much does a renovation cost?

 

What part of “None of your freaking business. ;]” did you not understand? Oh, wait. I said I was just kidding. My apologies.

Well, there are millions of factors. However, Lori lives in or near greater Boston. So, yes, renovating is going to be expensive.

 

Okay, I’m going to preface this with if I had gone with contractor #1 it would’ve been at least $200,000 more, which would’ve been way beyond my means. Since that’s the case, I would’ve ended up with a considerably pared-down version of what I have.

So, the biggest expense is your general contractor. But, contractors vary quite widely.

However, they’re not different from apples and oranges; no, it’s more like grapes and pineapples.

 

The most expensive contractors are design/build companies.

 

In other words, you get a team of professionals, including a designer, an architect, engineering services, project management, and then a GC and subs. It’s a brilliant idea: one-stop renovation shopping and a team that knows each other and works towards the same goal.

While you might need all of those people, you might do better if you do them ala carte because the company has a far higher overhead than a solopreneur GC.

In my case, I didn’t need a designer. I did need an architect, but they gave me a bit more than I needed. And, I also needed structural engineering services.

 

Another thing and I know you know this, but the more custom the work is, the more the price will go up.

 

And finally. Much of what I’m doing is for me, of course, but also for the blog. In fact, a big part of my motivation for moving to Boston and to a place that needed work was for new blog material.

Many of the elements I’m using, like secret doors, are areas I’ve written about. However, I wanted to explore them for all of us to learn more about.

 

So, let’s dive in to see how much a whole-house renovation costs.

 

These are all bottom-line prices unless otherwise specified.  My contractor is unusual in that he lumped together many of his fees, but they’re quite reasonable compared to many.

 

fully functioning kitchen

The kitchen as it looked several weeks ago

 

Kitchen:

This includes labor, cabinets, plumbing, electrical, and everything that has and will go into it, is about $145,000.

 

Primary Bathroom:

 

It will have custom built-ins and costs about $50,000, including vanity, faucet, shower door, plumbing, and electrical work.

 

The balance of the contractor’s fees is roughly $100,000.

This includes electrical, plumbing, HVAC work, door moving, stair building, rough and finish carpentry, floor and tile installation, etc.

 

  • The structural engineers and architects – $16,000
  • Painting and floor finishing with special finishes on some floors – $36,000
  • Doors/hardware 30k 

 The embrasure doors with the hardware are very expensive. Plus, every door is custom.
  • Antique Marble Fireplace Mantel with installation (incl. overseas shipping, customs, blah blah!) $12,000Regarding the railing, I am waiting for the new quote, which should come on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. The old quote was $7,500. I’m hoping this one won’t be more than 10k.
  • Tile, mouldings & wallpaper 10k
  • Light fixtures so far are about 5k, and that is with shopping open box sales

.

Parking – 10 months is $4,000

My contractor did not have line items for permitting, waste disposal, cleaning, and “profit and overhead.” Of course, the contractor is profiting from what he’s charging for services. However, contractor #1 had a line item for P and O of well over $50,000.

Okay, let’s add all of that up.

 

$428,000

 

So, let’s look quickly at where I could’ve cut back and what was absolutely necessary.

 

I should’ve been clear with the architect that I was set with my design and the parts I needed help with. So maybe I could’ve saved about 5k there.

For the kitchen, I could’ve left out many of the custom features in the kitchen. However, the rounded cabinet gives me so much joy! I could’ve done simpler drawers and left off the scribed bead. Nope. I am so happy with those choices. However, if one is doing custom cabinetry in Boston, I would say the least you’ll spend for a new custom kitchen is $100,000. While I splurged with the counters, my major appliances were under $7,000.

 

The bathroom’s major expenses are going for plumbing and custom building.

 

Of course, the new staircase and door moving were multiple five figures. From my standpoint, it was worth it because this place feels like a cohesive home now with a far safer way of going between floors. Plus, once the railing is up, I can have people over without them worrying about falling through the huge gaps.

 

Another place I could’ve saved money was to go with a less elaborate design downstairs.

 

However, even in its raw state, I can’t tell you how much I adore the lower garden level. Even though the new radiator hasn’t been installed, and it’s a bit cool and dank, the space itself is like a warm hug.

While I do have some areas that could’ve been done for less if the scope had been scaled back, I feel like I’ve gotten a good deal.

It would be possible, in Boston, to do what I’m doing and pay double for it.

 

In my case, the trade-off is that it’s taking longer to finish the job.

 

However, I’m taking delight in every new thing that’s accomplished. And I’m grateful for everything I have. I don’t take any of it for granted.

 

How Much Does a Whole House Renovation REALLY Cost?

Please Pin to Pinterest for Reference

 

So, yes. Professional renovating is very expensive. I guess this is why some folks attempt to do it themselves. That wouldn’t be for me. But, I’m pretty good at cracking the whip. hehe

It also helps to make a chocolate cake and give some to the guys.

xo,

 

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52 Responses

  1. I love it when I find blog posts on the before, during, and after of a house renovation. My husband and I love buying older homes and fixing them up and I can agree with everything you said about cost. Luckily since we have done it a couple of times, we are starting to see what we can do ourselves and what we need to pay professionals to do. One thing that has been a game-changer for us is while we gut out the house/rooms we are redoing. They come and get it when it’s full and return it empty. Saves so much time and a headache! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I enjoy reading all your posts Today’s was a very generous one. Thank you for sharing such specific details and thank you for lifting the veil of secrecy.

  3. Hi Laurel,

    Evelyn here, always enjoying your blog.I was on instagram tonight and seen a stair railing you might like. I am new to the instagram so here goes, it was on vivirdesign 3 days ago and it’s the 6th photo on the reef @laurahammettinteriors.I’m sure there’s an easier way but I have not discovered it yet!
    Cheers

  4. At first I had sticker shock over your number, but then I thought of how we have stretched all of our renovations out over the 30 years we have lived in this house, and we have easily spent much more on renovations than what we paid for our home. If I had to give any advice over what I have learned from all of these renovations, I would say: avoid moving plumbing if at all possible; add electrical outlets in all kinds of places; take pictures of what is in the wall before the wall is closed up (that has proved so helpful when we want to do more renovations or need repairs later — helps us know exactly where pipes or lines are); spend all the time you can before hand to make sure sure you think through your design choices since changing them after construction has started will be costly; don’t be afraid to dream big about what you want; plant sweet-smelling plants outside ground floor windows so when you open the windows you will get some joy from them; go over and over dimensions to make sure things are right — use blue painters tape on the floor to show where things will go and see what kind of room you will actually have after cabinets and things are in place, which is often a lot less than what the plans would lead you to think; have things you are responsible for buying ordered and in place so that you don’t hold construction up while everyone is waiting for appliances or lighting. One final note… all those beautiful lights that have metal sides? The only real light you get is what is directly underneath the fixture. An oops we made once. Thank you Laurel for all the beautify and thoughtfullness you bring to us.

  5. Maybe this topic has already been mentioned, but I didn’t see it in previous comments. Even though you’re not getting many direct discounts can’t you deduct some of your costs as a business expense? You are using the renovation as blog content and the blog is your business. You are too clever not to have explored this, so what did you discover?

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      Yes, indeed. That’s an excellent question. I asked my accountant some time ago. The problem is… It’s a slippery slope. I work at home. It’s the same with deducting a portion of my home as a work space. However, my laptop is 100% a deduction! So, the answer is, I’m not sure, but I’ll have that conversation again when it comes tax time.

  6. As Christine said, “relationship we have with our contractor(s). ” is really very important. We are now renovating our two bathrooms and we are lucky to have same contractor who built our house in 1997. He even was able to find the original building plans (we had them also, but he found his copy before we could find ours) His young son, who was 8 years old and came to original job site in 1997 with a plastic hammer is in with his dad and primarily does renovations for the “& son” company. We will be paying about $100K for the renovation but Christine is right, you cannot always put a price tag on subjective considerations. Being able to tap into the subs our GC uses (in our case only this morning ) for other work, like our hot water heater which is not working properly today, and not a part of our reno contracts.

  7. Laurel, that’s funny about the Tesla”s. I’m glad you agree that it seems really high. That’s why I was curious about your renovation so that I could gain some perspective. We are not doing this project at those prices. If anyone knows a more reasonable contractor, I would appreciate the help. We are close to Wrentham MA. I love all of your rolodexes Laurel. They are invaluable.

  8. I love how you have included the subjective value of your renovation choices. This is so much of what home design is all about- creating an environment and atmosphere that feels a certain way: creating a home that somebody loves. And I think that when we are going through the process of renovation, how we feel is also important, and that is largely determined by the relationship we have with our contractor(s). We cannot necessarily put a price on these things, and if we did, it is worth the expense if one can afford it. I love it every time I read that you love some new piece of your home ♥️

  9. Thank you so much for your posts. The characteristics of our property, and therefore the nature of the projects here, are completely different, but I love the traditional oriented of the work you’re doing there. I get to live vicariously with you through such a finely historically attuned reno and to learn so much about the way you so skillfully transform your beautiful ideas into reality. It’s so enjoyable and educational, and it allows me to experience something completely outside my own current box. I love it all; you are so talented. Thank you .

  10. Laurel; your transparency about the costs of your renovation is greatly appreciated. As for the rounded cabinet in the kitchen; some things are cheap at twice the price and I’d that about this beautiful cabinet. It elevates absolutely everything else.

  11. Thanks for all of the info Laurel. A huge CAUTION regarding being your own GC (as some posts mentioned): If any other subcontractors get hurt, or cause any kind of liability then YOU, AS THE GC, may be held liable (depending on your state’s laws. Also, your homeowners insurance won’t cover this, as you were acting as a GC. All, in all, it is not worth it. Yes, I’m an attorney (in NY).

  12. Laurel, thank you so much for sharing this information based on my question. I appreciate your generosity. Our home is 5000 sq ft and the project we are looking at is simply making our existing garage into a family room and adding on a 24×24 2 car basic new garage. We thought $275k was too high.

  13. Not surprised at the reno costs … but things are what they are today…
    the view up the staircase is priceless … was this a pleasant surprise for you…?
    Your design ideas are exciting – and it’s wonderful to see it all happen.
    Thank you for sharing your fascinating journey…

    1. Hi Sandra,

      Yes, it was a surprise in that I never considered the view from downstairs. With the spiral, (another thing to hate about it) the stairs were mostly in the way of any possible view.

  14. Part 2 of my earlier comment: the cautionary tale! I did my homework before hiring a GC. I hired a well-regarded, family-owned business that’s been around for decades and they do most of their work for very wealthy, very demanding clients who give them great reviews, which seemed like a good sign that they knew what they were doing (I may be demanding, but I am definitely the bottom of the financial food chain for this contractor’s typical clientele). I got references and they were glowing. AAAANNNNND…then I learned the hard way that none of this means you can trust that they know what they’re doing when it comes to your specific needs. 1. The owner who came and specced the project turned around and assigned it to a project manager so incompetent that he must be blackmailing them in order to stay employed. 2. When I asked for soapstone — which I had researched exhaustively for three years before starting the kitchen project — they acted like they install it every day and twice on Sunday — and with the kind of track record they have, I thought I could take them at their word. Only after they screwed up the fabrication, and I called them on it, did I discover that neither they, the project manager, nor their sub-contracted fabricator had ever, even once, worked with soapstone (soapstone slabs ship “polished” to a high, hard grit to protect the soft stone from scratches; it’s supposed to be sanded down to a grit of 80-120 before fabrication. These jokers failed to do so, and then kept proving their mistake by insisting as a defense that “this is how the slab came, we didn’t do anything to it.”). The project manager let it slip that they had never worked with soapstone before, and then got in trouble for doing so. And then they tried to gaslight me into thinking it was “supposed to be that way” and continue still to drag their feet on remediating the problem. If they had been honest about the fact that they had never worked with soapstone, I probably still would have hired them — but I would have known to make sure the soapstone got done right.

    There were a couple of other big mistakes I’m still tangling with them on, and legion other, smaller iniquities for which I had to be the one to come up with imperfect solutions — but I chalk those off to the fact that never does everything go to plan. All of which is to say: even if you’re working with the best in the biz, always, always verify and re-verify that they’re doing things the way they’re supposed to.

    1. Hi RMCD,

      Gaslight is a good word. Attitude is 99% of it. I think, no matter what, things will go wrong. They certainly did when I was taking clients. It was very stressful, but I always made good on defects and mistakes, no matter whose fault it was. But sometimes, things just happened through no fault of anyone. However, your last sentence is the best advice, ever.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this! I love watching videos and reading about home renovations but no one ever shares the cost. This is fascinating information and I appreciate you divulging it. It’s going to be spectacular when it’s completed.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing with us–your reno is so beautiful! 2 years ago we did a small kitchen reno (appox. 10’x11″). We were able to use the Crown Select line from Crownpoint so it was more semi-custom but still gorgeous. Total cost including all appliances, new sink/faucet, etc. was about $45k. Thought this might help some of your readers.

  17. This post will be very helpful for someone planning a reno that hasn’t done so beforehand. Thank you for sharing the expense side of a renovation. And a gorgeous renovation at that! You don’t know this, but you were our guiding light for our kitchen renovation six years ago. That one DeVOL kitchen you had posted captured our hearts. Let me know if you’d like me to share photos. You’ll recognize your influence immediately!!!

    One item I didn’t see included in your costs was the cost of moving out and renting the “closet” for the amount of time you did. I know there were also a few nights at a hotel in Boston, but I recall your posting that was nominal given there wasn’t much demand for hotel rooms in the middle of the winter in Boston.

    Thank you again for this important information sharing and guidance. Sincerely, A HUGE Fan of yours

  18. Swooning over the kitchen, and that staircase is SOO fabulous! FWIW, the rounded cabinet is worth it functionally as well as aesthetically: given your tight space, it makes a huge difference for ease of movement around it.

    Chiming in with a few data points from my own recent kitchen reno, in case it helps anyone else. I live in suburban Chicago and just paid around $140,000 — but that was with contractor quotes from November 2021, and appliances I ordered in December. I rushed to get prices locked down before year-end coming out of the pandemic, because I knew that prices had gone up and would continue to do so.

    This was for about 240 sq feet, with some wonky asymmetries and other idiosyncrasies creating a few challenges. We didn’t gut completely: we stripped the room to a bare box, but left the hardwood flooring, existing wallboard, and ceiling — then patched back in as needed with the wallboard/ceiling and painted it all. I did put a big chunk of my budget into high-end appliances, because I love to cook and I cook hard. Cabinets were largely semi-custom, maple, totally flat panel inset. I did one wall of floor-to-ceiling pantry cabs, “unkitchening” around the rest of the perimeter (lower cabs, no uppers), and a huge island with all drawers on one side and open shelves for cookbooks on the other, and a small prep sink in one corner. No seating at the island — the 240 sq feet includes space for a table and chairs, which is how I like it. I did not go hog-wild on cabinet or drawer inserts, but did a few that made sense to me. Countertops are soapstone (grrr…see below…) around perimeter and end-grain maple butcherblock on the island. I did not go fancy on the sink or faucets, I spent MONTHS sourcing my own lighting and got it all on spectacular sales, and while I didn’t scrimp on cabinet hardware, I did get a good price for what I liked by listening to the saleswoman’s suggestions, and going through my contractor, with whom she had a relationship. Aside from appliances and countertops, the only other huge splurge I made — and the only unplanned one/only overage on line budget — was the countertop to ceiling tile. Laurel, you just HAD to make me aware of handmade tile! (Two words: Pratt and Larson. OMG, it’s beautiful. But exponentially more expensive, both to purchase and install.)

    May I add a few thoughts — and a HUGE cautionary tale — about design-and-builds vs. GCs? I second that D&Bs are MUCH more expensive. Eye-wateringly so, when I lined up the estimates. And I would have gotten less for the money. But…as you note…the real trade-off is time. Using a GC, I had to put in enormous amounts of time researching, sourcing, and managing my project manager (who was not the owner). The other benefit, for me, was not being limited by what the D&B showrooms offered. I wanted what I wanted, and little if any of it was what you’d see on Pinterest or in the design mags — which meant I wasn’t seeing it in the showrooms either. (Can I put in a plug for Blueprint Lighting? It’s a very specific aesthetic, but if it works for one’s vision, it’s so fabulous — and every year around Thanksgiving they have a FABULOUS storewide sale. I got my kitchen chandelier at 30% off and sconces at half off — which was the difference between being able to get them at all.) Again, though, the flipside is time. I had my own clear vision, I love doing research and I love the hunt of finding just the right thing, at a price I can stomach, so I didn’t mind the time it took. Other people hate it, and might benefit from the guidance and convenience of the D&B. Just be prepared to pay for it!

    I’m going to post the cautionary tale separately, because this has gotten long. But it’s where the above “grrrr” on the soapstone comes in. Meanwhile, congratulations on the stunning work so far! Can’t wait to see it when it’s all done!

  19. I have to add this is our third total home remodel with us as GCs. We didn’t need an architect or designer since the custom cabinets were laid out by a CKBD. No permits needed in Scottsdale since we were remodeling and replacing not making structural changes. The only permit required was the propane line for our wolf stove. Since we’re in a HOA we had Pella send drawing to HOA for approval it was a one day rubber stamp. Not having to get permits really sped up process vs when we did total gut in Seattle. There the plumbing electrical structural all required permitting adds about a month to the process there.

  20. Laurel…I want to say that it is very kind of you to share the numbers. The kitchen with the cremone bolts is to die for. I’d like to update my kitchen just to use that hardware! Of course, it’s not my money but from what you have described and the pics so far….I feel like you are getting value for the money spent. Plus you definitely needed contractors with the expertise to make your vision come to life. I hope you will be over the moon delighted with the results!

  21. We acted as the GC and hired all the tradespeople. We spent about what you did for our 2400 sf home. By being the GC saved 30 percent. Our biggest expense was new super insulated windows throughout the house. We used Pella top of line all the windows were custom $90k. Custom cabinetry in kitchens and 2..5 baths$80k. Appliances we got subzero wolf Miele custom high exhaust hood, installed propane $40k.
    . New heat pumps Trane top of line $40k. So with all the floors replaced tile plumbing fixtures requiring electrical panels and landscaping we spent $500k. We live in Scottsdale and tradespeople are super busy not as high priced as Boston.

  22. Laurel, thanks so much for sharing what this renovation costs. It really isn’t any of our business but I appreciate it all the same (lol) because I can free myself from the illusion (lie) that everything I like is attainable because it isn’t and in that I am reminded to be thankful for what I do have and can afford. Thanks for taking us along on your journey. Your home is already beautiful and will be absolutely gorgeous when it’s done.

  23. Laurel, thanks for the info – I’ve been wondering (yes, just nosy) about your costs too but would never have guessed almost half a million!!!! Isn’t it crazy that a million is sort of like $1000 or so from our youth (swag)! I bought my lot and built my new home in 2018/2019 and just about every day I am reminded of how lucky I was to get a low interest rate and get it done before costs got ridiculous. Yes, I now have much more equity than I ever expected at this point but it wouldn’t do me any good if I sold – I’d already downsized and certainly couldn’t replace what I have and have any dollars left over.

  24. Are you kidding, that rounded kitchen cabinet gives *M?e* so much joy and I don’t even live there, I just see it in photos!

  25. Thanks for honest numbers. Shows from HGTV have not helped anyone ever get a realistic picture of remodeling a house. They are a total joke and insult the intelligence. But they did make people thinking was easy…and that might be their biggest crime.
    My husband and I are also doing almost everything ourselves. We can’t find people here where we live to do the work. And the few that still work in the trade are over the top expensive.
    Thank God for YouTube tutorials…and a triple garage turned into a workshop. But it’s hard and the emotional toll of it, and the constant decisions, can get me down occasionally. I just wish it would be finished at one point!

  26. I can’t wait for the finishing touches but it is beautiful already. Not sure if I missed it but when viewers are reviewing your numbers they also need to keep in mind they would need to include the cost of hiring someone with a skill set similar to yours to achieve the desired outcome. So many little (and big) details in just a kitchen or bathroom reno takes it from OK to perfect.

  27. Laurel, I have been wondering the same thing re: your budget vs actual expense. But was too polite to ask. Are you over? And you are so correct regarding the cost of services if you live in Boston or in its suburbs – even as far out as we are in Westborough. However, the value you are putting into your home plus with the recent rise in property values – it all should pay off should you decide to sell. Especially where you are in Boston. But, I am guessing that that is not a primary reason for your reno. I admire your work, have learned a lot – and cannot wait for the next update.

  28. Never underestimate the value of a chocolate cake, or any such offering, to your workers. I worked 40 plus years as an alterations seamstress and it was greatly appreciated when someone brought simple love gifts.
    My sister made brownies for any worker( cable guy, plumber, etc) that came to he home. If they were nice, they got them!

  29. I enjoy your renovation updates with my morning coffee : ) I especially LOVE LOVE LOVE your new kitchen. One question, have you considered leaving some of the brick around your new door exposed?

  30. I have been following you for many years. Your style is my dream. But in life I live in the Midwest
    so have to scale back to fit local designs that resell. We retired and downsized to a home that was in so much need. We have spent the last 4 years through the pandemic adding 2000 sqft to the house and slowly remodeling the old portion. I feel your pain with every issue and also the joy when things are what is desired. It speaks of life itself to swerve and adjust to what is thrown at us. But it is so worth it in the end. Can’t wait to see you relax in the beautiful finished home.

  31. I love everything you’ve done. And the light coming down the stairs is the best reward. I just can’t get over the prices. In fact, as you’ve mentioned they are all over the place. I’m getting estimates between $44000 and $85,000 (without appliances) for my kitchen update in the Chicago area. What’s making it harder to process is that I can’t reconcile the numbers, even taking into consideration contractors overhead and profit. When I look at the line items, they estimate $260 per linear foot of quartz and $1500 per linear foot of cabinet. I’m not getting anything fancy, just recessed panels with applied molding and plywood boxes, not many drawers. Lighting stays the same. I also know installing 13 cabinets costs maybe $2500; demo $500; painting and drywall a couple thousand.

  32. The rounded kitchen cabinet was totally worth it. It’s beautiful. When I renovated my kitchen and replaced the typical small window over the sink with a large window with casement windows on the sides. I exclaimed that it made me so happy I could stop right there, which made my contractor look at me with fright.

  33. Everything is relative. What’s affordable to some is not to others. At the end of the day you are making decisions about your money in regard to your renovation that are doable for you.
    I’m just lucky I get to come along on the ride & live vicariously through you.
    Having gone through my own experience I understand the joy that comes from having a home that you love. Things I spent my money on may not have been things that others would. But I’m happy.
    You stated you did laundry at home. Did I miss a post about a washer & dryer being installed? And are you living in your home now? Or still at the noisy hotel? I’m confused.

    1. Hi Mary,

      There is a building laundry closet down the common hall. So, it’s about 15 feet from new door. It was closer to my old door, but I had to go through a door with two locks on it. I went to a hotel room for two nights only, last month. It wasn’t worth it, in this case. And having to pack up and get organized only made me more exhausted. So, unless there’s something super noxious going on, (like massive amounts of lead dust in the air) I’ll stay put.

  34. Thanks for sharing your numbers, Laurel! I’m an hour from Boston and in the middle of a whole home renovation too. We’re over a year into it (!) and I may actually be getting countertops in March!

    We got very lucky with a local custom cabinet maker who does gorgeous work for only slightly more than a big box store. Our GC is also great but in demand; thus the delays. Still waiting for flooring, tile, some light fixtures…

  35. I love your posts. We are planning some renovations in our house, and I have always wanted to find a place to use a secret door. You mention in today’s post that many of the elements you’re using, like secret doors, are areas you’ve written about, and I did read your fascinating article from 2020 about 18 Secret Doors. I don’t remember anything more recent on the secret doors you’re using in your renovation. Can you please let me know where you wrote about that? Thank you so much!

  36. Oh Laurel,
    I’m not sure how you’re enduring this without pulling some hair out. We’ve been here since August but work didn’t begin until November. Nobody works straight through as they have other ongoing jobs at the same time. So now it’s late February and we’re still waiting to hear about the countertops. We’re only doing two rooms and it’s still a logistical nightmare.
    Love seeing your photos and updated pictures of progress.
    ps Scrolled down because I must revisit old posts…CANNOT find a large enough Outdoor pendant light for the porch. According to my guesstimate it should be at least 18” wide.
    There are soo many hideous light fixtures out there, dying from images

  37. I think people are very naive about what things cost. Everything has gone up on the past 4 year. Labor, transportation, fuel and lumber. Lumber has increased dramatically which drives almost all home renovations. Much of our plywood comes from the Baltic states and we know what’s going on over there. Sheetrock has doubled. If you can’t DIY some of your projects yourself then you’re going to pay. I love your new space. It’s so amazing. Thank you for being upfront about your costs.

  38. Thank you for sharing your costs-it’s kind of like sharing your weight!
    I think the costs are reflective of the location, the materials, the quality, and availability. ( prices have dramatically increased since Covid )
    And it’s lovely and it’s yours!
    I can’t wait for the fun part-painting and decorating! Enjoy!

  39. Thanks for the info on expenses, knowledge is power. We built a year ago and had many issues with the contractor. Many still outstanding and I am losing hope that they will get rectified.That would be my BIG piece of advice, at the first sign, run. We thought we were hiring a team and it ended up all of his excellent members of the team left the company or were let go. We had too much money invested with them to pull out but it was a very difficult time for us.This was supposed to be our dream home and the lot is beautiful. I feel like I did a disservice to the land/home by hiring the wrong person. We never received any apology, the money was always paid on time, the company/team still shrugging their shoulders blaming the other trades.
    I love what you have done, it’s beautiful!!! and I so enjoy your blog.

  40. Thank you Laurel for this, looks like what I would expect in an old home, in Boston, with your high bar for classic design and quality. Can’t wait to see final magnificent project. Love everything so far, except the unbelievable amount of time it takes.

  41. It really is like catchups with a faraway industrious and visionary friend opening your emails. What a home you are making too! Inspired you took this on partly for material. Ive moved ti split my life between Dublin city and a Bofin, a tiny Connemara island, 2 yesrs ago for similar reasons. I gotta get sharing about it!!! Yes, all round inspired, Lauren. Thanks! And love every secobd there! I loved that you love the laundry doir and the view of the great window up the stairs:). That’s what it’s all about, the little beauties!

  42. Love your work, and reading your blog and updates is like chatting with a friend! I am forced to DIY most of my work as we are “house poor”, but just as you say, a job well done feels like a warm hug. A good feeling every time you nail something. We’re about 5 years into our very slow diy renovations between full time jobs and other calamities, and I have found so many good ideas and principles laid out in your work!! Thank you!!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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