Total time: Six weeks (one month in 2020, two weeks in 2023)
The kitchen in Nancy Mocsiran’s new house in Cleveland was original and around 65 years old when Mocsiran and her husband bought the home in 2020. “The cabinets smelled,” she says. “It was horrible.”
Mocsiran, a librarian, and her husband, Joe Mocsiran, a retired police officer, embarked on the renovation mostly without professional help. “We just figured we needed to do it as inexpensively as we could,” she says. “My husband is the king of finding YouTube videos.”
They started demolition soon after buying the house, renting a dumpster to take the debris away. One professional they did hire was a plumber. He installed a new sink and disposal for them, updated the pipes, and ran a gas line into the kitchen. Still, Mocsiran says, the couple saved on the plumbing expense by hiring someone who does the work as a side gig rather than as a full-time job. The couple also saved by keeping the kitchen’s existing layout.
Mocsiran found heavily discounted cabinets at a nearby outlet, which was stocked with custom cabinet returns and sets from hardware store displays. Although they were a great deal, the 24 individual cabinets didn’t quite match. Some were gray, and some were natural wood.
The couple’s biggest splurge was for the countertops. They replaced the original Formica with marble-look quartz. Other big-ticket items included a new Frigidaire refrigerator, stove and dishwasher.
After the first phase of work, Mocsiran says the space still “looked unfinished.” So, this year, the couple’s daughter Hollie Zander helped her parents put on the final touches. Zander runs a popular Instagram account dedicated to vintage homes, so through a brand-partnership, she was able to score roughly $2,000 of free wood flooring to use in her parents’ kitchen. Beyond that, she and her parents painted the mismatched cabinets a warm white, and installed a glass-tile backsplash and new hardware, both of which they bought from Amazon.
“It looks so much more lived in,” Zander says. “It really does look like it could have been original to the house, which is what we were really going for.”
Ceiling fan and light: $300
Countertops, plus new sink and faucet: $4,500
Flooring: Free (but would have added about $2,000 to the total)