What Our Sunroom Makeover Really Cost

November 13, 2019

I personally love when bloggers share the real numbers and timelines behind their renovations as it gives me a ballpark idea for tackling similar projects. We’ll always share what a project cost.

The sunroom renovation wasn’t intended to be a total gut job. Our timeline was six weeks (which we did!) and our initial budget was $4,000 (which we didn’t do!). We budgeted for professional installation of the skylights, but we were planning to do all the other work ourselves, including framing out and drywalling the new built-ins, running new electric, reworking the AC, planking the ceiling and new trim around the windows and doors. My dad came down for a week and I took the time off work so we could get it done. The budget was also meant to include some furnishings/decor though we were always going to try to use what we had first. But, as projects sometimes go, the drywall was so damaged from the previous wallpaper and we were worried about mold after seeing some black spots on the ceiling we decided to gut the room completely. Oh, we also found termites…yay homeownership!

What We Did

Here’s a punch list of all the projects we completed

  • Demoed drop ceiling, removed carpet (planned)
  • Demoed all drywall (unplanned)
  • Replaced insulation (unplanned)
  • Installed skylights (planned)
  • Sprayed for termites (unplanned)
  • Painted mold blocking primer on exterior walls behind the insulation (unplanned)
  • Framed and drywalled new built-ins and soffit for AC (planned)
  • Added/moved electrical (planned)
  • Reworked AC (planned)
  • Replaced molded piece of subfloor (planned)
  • Drywalled ceiling and entire room (unplanned – originally we were going to plank the ceiling)
  • Finished all drywall (sort of planned, but not for the whole room and ceiling)
  • Installed built-ins and open shelves (planned)
  • Painted floor (planned – we’ll get to why in a moment)
  • Installed wallpaper (planned)
  • New trim on windows and doors (planned)
  • Painted everything (planned)
  • Furnished and decorated (planned!)
building out the soffit to house AC and makes the built-ins even heights


There were several obstacles we knew going into this project and a few we discovered along the way. The most obvious one is “why didn’t you install floors??” Ah yes. The floor situation at Mildred House. It’s terrible. There are three different gross floors in the main part of the house. See the faux parquet laminate peeking through from the living room? There’s also seriously gross faux tile linoleum in the kitchen, and in the sunroom and hallway it’s just subfloor. Not to mention the disgusting carpet that’s still in the formal living room/dining room (that will become our master suite). So why aren’t we remedying this floor problem right away? Or better yet, why didn’t we tackle it before we moved all of our stuff in?! Because we’re moving walls. And you can’t do floors before moving walls or you’ve wasted that time and money and effort. And we are not in the business of wasting money. The pantry hole and back wall of the kitchen will be removed eventually in the kitchen renovation, so until then we deal with the horrible mismatched floors. Zach didn’t even want to paint the floors in here, but I was totally right. It was worth it. Are they great? No. Are they a little too white? Yes. Are they already dirty? Yep. Are they still better than mismatched subfloor? YES! I had planned to paint a fun MCM pattern on the floors but ran out of time and now we’re changing up the rug situation so it doesn’t make sense to put in the effort.

Related to the flooring obstacle, we knew we couldn’t install baseboards either and that we had to account for the future flooring when planning the height of the built-ins and trim. We also knew that the AC was a major consideration. The original drop ceiling existed because an AC pipe ran from the divider between the two rooms all the way to the other side of the room by the sliding doors. We wanted to make sure the room was still properly cooled/heated, but keeping the drop ceiling was not an option I was willing to consider. So we came up with the very fortuitous idea of installing these built-ins I’ve been obsessed with for years (inspired by this Brooklyn Brownstone) and extending the soffit to bring the AC vents almost 3′ closer to the middle of the room.

The obstacles we didn’t expect: termites, mold, the time and money added by replacing all drywall and insulation, IKEA discontinuing my shelf brackets three weeks after I bought them, the window trim reducing wall space so that curtain rods won’t fit, the wall sconce arriving without a mounting plate, can light covers apparently not being universal, how hard it is to work at night in a room with very little light. Okay, that paragraph was mostly a rant. Thanks for bearing with me.

built-ins of my dreams!

The Cost

Okay enough already let’s get to the money! We went over our $4,000 budget, but not by as much as we expected with all those obstacles. We did compromise by buying almost nothing for the space as far as furniture and decor. Oh one more thing: we live in Atlanta “inside the perimeter” to give you a ballpark of prices in our area. Let’s get to the numbers!

  • Demo: $0 (done by us)
  • Truck rental: $100 (borrowed a friend’s, but filled her tank and gave her a small thank-you gift)
  • Debris disposal: $80
  • Skylights: $557.98
  • Skylight installation: $1,240
  • Drywall + supplies: $268.12
  • Drywall installation: $0 (done by us)
  • Drywall lift rental: $39
  • Drywall finishing (by professionals, includes supplies): $920
  • Insulation: $254.16
  • Insulation installation: $0 (done by us)
  • Framing wood + supplies: $99.57
  • Termite spray: $80
  • AC ducting supplies: $110.21
  • MDF for window/door trim: $90.07
  • Trim installation (hired a professional): $125
  • Miscellaneous project supplies (sawhorses, recessed lights, safety glasses, tools, etc): $635.06
  • Built-in cabinets (30×15 IKEA with Haggeby doors & two shelves): $186
  • Wallpaper: $180 (I got a discount that brought it to $140 a roll; we ordered two rolls and returned one, but the return cost us $40 so I’m adding that cost)
  • IKEA floating shelves & brackets (4): $80
  • Primer & paint: $50 (used 1 gallon and 1 quart of wall color; white paint and primer were leftover from other projects)
  • Plants/planters: $76.80
  • Beads & cording for wall hanging: $46.78 (plenty leftover – had the stain and paint on hand)
  • Instax tray: $37.27
  • Bar tray: $30.99
  • Black basket: $24 (IKEA but I can’t find it online)
  • Faux sheepskin: $15
  • Double head swing arm wall sconce (not pictured yet): $125

I think that’s pretty close to everything. All the other furniture, decor and supplies we had on hand. Technically we stole the living room couch which now needs to be replaced, but that’ll be part of the living room’s budget :). GRAND TOTAL: $5,481.01

So yes, we did go almost $1,500 over budget, but if you take out those unexpected expenses (debris disposal, most of the drywall expenses, drywall finishing, insulation, termite spray) we would have been under budget at $3,907.85. Renovations never go as planned so in the grand scheme of things, it could have been a lot worse. In the end, we got an incredible room we’re so happy to spend time in so it was all worth it!

I mean, we turned this ^ into that v