Budget Breakdown: A Creative Couple Rehab a Vermont Cabin For $18K

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By Melissa Dalton
Enterprising couple Jenny McClary and Allie Leepson give their snug Vermont cabin a DIY makeover, which is now available to rent.

In 2017, Jenny McClary and Allie Leepson, a couple based in New York City, bought a small cabin in Vermont on a whim. They had been looking for property in Joshua Tree, but after being outbid several times, a short trip to Wardsboro in the southern part of the state led them to this 1982 gem.

$2,100
Fireplace
$3,250
Carpeting
$3,350
Engineered Hardwood
$1,800
Washer & Dryer
$600
Plumbing
$1,700
Electrical Work
$150
Hardware
$1,450
Interior Lighting
$300
Exterior Lighting
$590
Tech


Grand Total: $18,290

More Budget Breakdowns: See a neglected garage turned into a backyard hangout for $13K

Although the home had been sitting on the market for a year, the couple recognized good bones when they saw them. The interiors just needed a few small tweaks to give it a more modern look. "Our goal was to turn this traditional Vermont ski cabin into a well-designed space that’s more than just a place to take your snow boots off in," the couple say.

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The 1,089-square-foot cabin sits on 1.5 acres of land.

The 1,089-square-foot cabin sits on 1.5 acres of land.

Before: When the couple bought the cabin, its good bones were apparent, and they knew they'd just need to make small tweaks to freshen it up.

Before: When the couple bought the cabin, its good bones were apparent, and they knew they'd just need to make small tweaks to freshen it up.

Before: Purple walls, fluffy carpeting, and a boring chandelier would have to go, but the pine paneling stayed.

Before: Purple walls, fluffy carpeting, and a boring chandelier would have to go, but the pine paneling stayed.

After purchase, the couple spent 4.5 months replacing flooring, swapping out hardware, painting, and wiring new lights in order to achieve a more streamlined style that's still cozy. Most importantly, they left the predominant knotty pine paneling in place, and not just because it was in good condition. 

"It gives the home that rustic, Vermont charm," say the couple, who run a creative studio called The 1909. "We love the way it picks up light in the late afternoon. We also think it makes our cabin smell amazing." 

The couple also installed a smart ductless heater and AC system through a promotion at their power company, Green Mountain Power. "It took our electric bills down from $700 to $100 a month, and now we can control everything through our phones," they say. "This was at absolutely no cost to us." 

A big draw when McClary and Leepson bought the cabin was the huge windows in the main living area.

A big draw when McClary and Leepson bought the cabin was the huge windows in the main living area.

The focal point of the revamped living room is the new old fireplace, which is a vintage copper Preway. "It’s from a midcentury vintage marketplace in Long Beach, California, called Urban Americana. They have an amazing selection always and we can count on them being in great condition," the couple tell Dwell. "It’s the pinnacle of the home."

The focal point of the revamped living room is the new old fireplace, which is a vintage copper Preway. "It’s from a midcentury vintage marketplace in Long Beach, California, called Urban Americana. They have an amazing selection always and we can count on them being in great condition," the couple tell Dwell. "It’s the pinnacle of the home."

They replaced the dated carpeting on the main floor with engineered hardwood and left the unfinished stone flooring in the kitchen in place. The kitchen also got new hardware and lighting.

They replaced the dated carpeting on the main floor with engineered hardwood and left the unfinished stone flooring in the kitchen in place. The kitchen also got new hardware and lighting.

The dining area now has a table from All Modern, chairs from Poly & Bark, and a sleek chandelier from West Elm.

The dining area now has a table from All Modern, chairs from Poly & Bark, and a sleek chandelier from West Elm.

The cabin has three bedrooms. The main bedroom was brightened up with a new coat of white paint and is furnished with Schoolhouse Electric sconces, the Nelson Bubble Lamp from Design Within Reach, and linens from CB2.

The cabin has three bedrooms. The main bedroom was brightened up with a new coat of white paint and is furnished with Schoolhouse Electric sconces, the Nelson Bubble Lamp from Design Within Reach, and linens from CB2.

New carpeting in the bunk room.

New carpeting in the bunk room.

The wrap-around deck is a fantastic summer destination, outfitted in finds from Amazon and Target.

The wrap-around deck is a fantastic summer destination, outfitted in finds from Amazon and Target.

The three-bed, two-bath Modern Vermont Cabin is available to rent on Airbnb and is on Instagram as @vermontcabin.

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