Budget Breakdown: A Stunning Apartment Revamp Mixes High and Low For Under $100K

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By Lucy Wang
Efrat Weinreb combines high-end pieces with low-cost scores to transform a tired apartment in Tel Aviv with a budget of $100,000.

Architect Efrat Weinreb and her husband were strapped for cash after buying their first home in Tel Aviv, yet the couple were confident they could still give their dated apartment a chic, modern makeover without breaking a strict budget of $100,000 USD.

$7,200
Demolition
$2,300
Construction
$8,300
Plumbing
$7,200
Electrical
$5,200
Plastering & Painting
$13,000
Flooring & Tiling
$3,700
Quartz Counters
$4,500
Kitchen Cabinets
$75
Cabinet Handles
$6,500
Bathroom Fixtures
$3,400
Lighting Fixtures
$12,900
Windows
$13,000
Carpentry
$3,000
Radiators
$2,200
Air Conditioning
$1,500
Appliances
$5,000
Furniture

Grand Total: $98,975

Before: the living room was originally fitted with screen doors and a tiny outdoor terrace.

Efrat Weinreb
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Fitted with a new black-framed window unit, the new, light-filled living room features a sofa and coffee table from Beitili.

Fitted with a new black-framed window unit, the new, light-filled living room features a sofa and coffee table from Beitili.

Achieving the apartment of their dreams, however, would be no easy task. Their two-bedroom, 974-square-foot unit required a complete overhaul that not only meant costly demolition and new plumbing, but also home decor shopping.

"I tried to decide what are the pieces that are going to give the 'wow' factor—in my case the fishbone tiling of the entire apartment and the glass-walled study room," says Efrat. "Those were the corner stones I started with, and built everything around that."

"I tried to decide what are the pieces that are going to give the 'wow' factor—in my case the fishbone tiling of the entire apartment and the glass-walled study room," says Efrat. "Those were the corner stones I started with, and built everything around that."

This custom-built timber storage unit serves as a counterpoint to the glass-walled study and injects a sense of honey-hued warmth to a mostly monochromatic palette.

This custom-built timber storage unit serves as a counterpoint to the glass-walled study and injects a sense of honey-hued warmth to a mostly monochromatic palette.

Fortunately, Efrat, founder of WE Architects, drew on her professional experience and online shopping savviness to keep their budget in check. Turning to sites like Ali Express and IKEA, she saved up to $6,500.

Before: the dated kitchen had been enclosed by walls and felt very dark, even in daytime.

Before: the dated kitchen had been enclosed by walls and felt very dark, even in daytime.

Walls were torn down to create a bright, open kitchen.

Walls were torn down to create a bright, open kitchen.

The kitchen countertops are quartz, and the cabinets are Formica.

The kitchen countertops are quartz, and the cabinets are Formica.

"When we started window shopping for the renovation we realized that the look I wanted did not match the budget we had, so I started thinking about ways to cut down the expenses," says Efrat.

Before: the original study also suffered from lack of access to natural light. Replacing the radiators also proved a challenge. "They work on hot water pipes vertically connected through the building, and the actual relocating of the radiator was challenging," says Efrat.

Before: the original study also suffered from lack of access to natural light. Replacing the radiators also proved a challenge. "They work on hot water pipes vertically connected through the building, and the actual relocating of the radiator was challenging," says Efrat.

"We needed a place to station the computer, and have one-on-one meetings with clients," explains Efrat of the new study. "However. I didn’t want to make the public space feel dark and small (by subtracting a chunk of it for a designated room). Another constraint was to have acoustic isolation, and the glass-walled room was the perfect solution for all of the above—it made the main living space feel more spacious since it enables light to pass through, yet separated it from the main living space acoustically and effectively."

"We needed a place to station the computer, and have one-on-one meetings with clients," explains Efrat of the new study. "However. I didn’t want to make the public space feel dark and small (by subtracting a chunk of it for a designated room). Another constraint was to have acoustic isolation, and the glass-walled room was the perfect solution for all of the above—it made the main living space feel more spacious since it enables light to pass through, yet separated it from the main living space acoustically and effectively."

The glass-walled study is Efrat's favorite room in her home.

The glass-walled study is Efrat's favorite room in her home.

Efrat purchased the discounted items only after getting the approval of her contractor and meticulously checking reviews for quality and durability. "I was delighted with how much money I managed to save and, almost a year later, everything is still working perfectly," she says.

The dining table is the Bonaldo Tracks table, while the dining bench is from IKEA. The window seat provides additional seating.

The dining table is the Bonaldo Tracks table, while the dining bench is from IKEA. The window seat provides additional seating.

Strategic shopping left room in the couple’s budget for designer pieces. "I have a $4,000 dining table with a $40 IKEA bench next to it," she says. "I love mixing high-end pieces with low-cost items."

The kitchen overlooks views of the outdoors and the study.

The kitchen overlooks views of the outdoors and the study.

Also critical to the redesign was the removal of walls to create a more open and airy layout. In particular, the new kitchen and glass-walled study help inject much-needed natural light into the formerly dim apartment.

Before: the master bathroom felt small  and dark.

Before: the master bathroom felt small and dark.

Sliiflk cabinetry was used in the updated master bath. The wall and floor tiles were sourced from a local hardware store; the floor and tile work was one of the most expensive parts of the project.

Sliiflk cabinetry was used in the updated master bath. The wall and floor tiles were sourced from a local hardware store; the floor and tile work was one of the most expensive parts of the project.

"When you have a limited budget, you need to prioritize what essentials you will spend the majority of the budget on, and then what items you’ll choose from the lower-end range," notes Efrat. "You need to have everything in balance."

Before: the master bedroom was only illuminated by a single ceiling light and a window.

Before: the master bedroom was only illuminated by a single ceiling light and a window.

Porcelain fishbone tiles continue throughout the home, including in the bedrooms. The updated master bedroom features new built-in wall storage and a bed frame designed by architect Dana Oberzon.

Porcelain fishbone tiles continue throughout the home, including in the bedrooms. The updated master bedroom features new built-in wall storage and a bed frame designed by architect Dana Oberzon.

The second bedroom has been converted into a nursery. 

The second bedroom has been converted into a nursery. 

Before: the former, claustrophobic half-bath.

Before: the former, claustrophobic half-bath.

Lined with black porcelain tiles and complementary black fixtures, the half-bath was given a bright white refresh that instantly makes the tiny room feel more spacious.

Lined with black porcelain tiles and complementary black fixtures, the half-bath was given a bright white refresh that instantly makes the tiny room feel more spacious.

This wooden peg board for the bathroom was Efrat's favorite purchase, which she says was inexpensive yet chic.

This wooden peg board for the bathroom was Efrat's favorite purchase, which she says was inexpensive yet chic.

The original floor plan of Efrat Weinreb's apartment.

The original floor plan of Efrat Weinreb's apartment.

The renovated floor plan of Efrat Weinreb's apartment.

The renovated floor plan of Efrat Weinreb's apartment.

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: WE Architects (@we__architects

General Contractor: Tomer Dvir 

Cabinetry Design/ Installation: Herods Kitchens