Brownstone Boys: Thinking of Renovating in 2021? Here’s What It Will Cost You

A new year comes with long renovation wishlists. Photo by Miki Takashima

Editor’s note: Welcome to the 89th installment of Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary about renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at

It’s hard to believe it’s been about a year since we all carved office spaces out of our living rooms and bedrooms. We spent more time in our kitchens than possibly ever before, cooking, baking and realizing it’s not the most ideal space. And then with all the extra time at home, we dreamed up ways our homes can be improved. Is 2021 the year to renovate? One of the biggest unknowns required to answer that question is how much it will cost.

brownstone boys photo by Miki Takashima

A functional kitchen is usually at the top of people’s renovation wishlist

Let’s jump in and explore the costs of some of the most popular renovations to fix some of the issues that might be driving you crazy right now. Obviously costs will vary depending on the size of your space, finishes you chose, and scope of the work, but we thought it might be helpful to have a basic understanding of what it costs to renovate a room. We provide a range. The lower end of the range is for inexpensive finishes, but not necessarily the absolute cheapest thing. You might not want that. The upper end of the range is for high-end finishes, but not necessarily the most expensive luxury items you can buy. (The sky’s the limit on that.)

Who doesn’t want a beautiful — or at least a functional — kitchen? It might be one of the most popular rooms to renovate. It also might be one of the most expensive. It often involves removing a wall and opening up the space. Even if not, cabinets, counters and appliances are all expensive items. Fortunately, it is also where you get most of the bang for your buck! An updated kitchen can dramatically increase your enjoyment of your home and its value when you sell. Prices can vary dramatically as you can see depending on materials. This is for a typical kitchen with about 10 cabinets. If your kitchen is smaller you can adjust down. Estimates do not include filing or architect fees or moving plumbing.

Cabinets: $7,000-$30,000 (Ikea to custom)
Counters: $3,000-$8,000 (simple quartz to natural stone)
Appliances: $8,000-$12,000
Faucet and sink: $1,500
Backsplash tile: $1,000
Lighting: $1,000
Hardware: $500
Construction, labor and installation: $10,000-$15,000

Total: $22,000-$68,000

brownstone boys photo by Miki Takashima

It’s important bathrooms are spa-like and serene in today’s world

A beautiful and calming bathroom is one of the best ways to get your day started right and unwind at night. Making sure it sets the mood right can make a big difference in getting started in the morning and concluding peacefully in the evening. It’s usually the most plumbing heavy room in the house. So depending on how much you want to reconfigure, a renovation can be costly. (As above, estimates do not include architect fees, filing, or moving the location of the bathroom.)

Plumbing fixtures: $2,000-$5,000
Double vanity: $1,500-$5,000
Tub: $1,000-$3,000
Tile: $600-$2,000
Lighting: $750-$1,200
Hardware: $300
Construction, labor and installation: $9,000-$12,000

Total: $15,000-$28,000

brownstone boys photo by Miki Takashima

Everyone needs their own personal space within their home. Home offices are going to be a major part of renovation in 2021

Home office
We said the kitchen is often at the top of the renovation list, but might the home office have climbed up to the top as well? After a year of working from home at the dining table or on the couch you might be ready to commit. WFH doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

Built-ins: $5,000-$15,000
Desk: $250-$2,500
Lighting: $300
Total: $5,550-$17,300

brownstone boys photo by Miki Takashima

A fun project to tackle as a DIY is a backyard makeover

If you have had a nice outdoor space for the past year, you are probably really thankful for it. If you don’t have one, you probably never wanted anything more. If you have outdoor space that isn’t in shape to use, that situation might be most painful of all. A deck or backyard makeover can give you a much needed option to get outside starting this spring. Here in Brooklyn a deck usually needs to be made of non-combustible material like steel, concrete, and tile to conform to code. As for the backyard, most people have a beautiful image in mind, with hardscaping, soft scaping, planters, and new lighting. Some of these may require hiring some help. Our estimate below includes hiring outside help for hardscaping and lighting.

Steel deck: $20,000-25,000
Backyard makeover: $8,000-$25,000 (and up)

We know this is a quick overview, and we’re excited to break down the reno cost and process for each room in upcoming blog posts. Let us know if you have any suggestions for projects that we missed. Happy renovating in 2021!

[Photos by Miki Takashima]

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