20 Award-Winning Bungalow Projects Under $5,000

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With nominations due soon (October 27th!) for the 16th Annual Driehaus Foundation Bungalow Awards, we thought it would be fun to showcase 20 past award winners whose projects cost less than $5,000. We often say that projects both large and small are welcome to be nominated for the Chicago bungalow preservation and rehab awards, but here you'll get an idea of what that really means.


The Small Project category of the Driehaus Bungalow Awards is for nominations of projects that cost $5,000 or less, so you will see many past Small Project winners here. But, you'll also notice projects from other categories because any nominated project can be of any budget!


From whole kitchen renovations to DIY radiator covers, here are 20 award-winning Chicago bungalow projects that cost $5,000 or much less:


1. Maureen & Eamon Reilly, Winner in Interior Rehabilitation, 2016

The Reillys spent just $2,500 to renovate their kitchen. They replaced an 8-foot radiator with a smaller one bought at a scrap yard, installed new cabinets and counters from IKEA, opened up the pantry by removing its doors, and gave the room a fresh coat of paint. View more photos here.

Companies Used: Cityview Plumbing, Williamson Heating & Cooling Services Inc., IKEA


2. Lynn Brannigan, Winner in Small Project, 2016

The Brannigans' completely transformed their kitchen while staying under a $5,000 budget. They expanded their kitchen by knocking down a wall separating it from an adjacent, unused bedroom. Instead of removing the radiator that was set in the middle of the removed wall, they built an island around it! To give the cabinets a fresh look, they trimmed and re-hinged the cabinet doors to be flush with the frames, and painted them a new color. View more photos here.

Companies Used: Capitol Renovation & Construction, Inc.


3. Joshua Cruz, Winner in Small Project, 2019

By doing most of the work himself, this bungalow owner was able to keep the renovation of his main floor bathroom under $4,000. The original floors, sink, and tub were kept. The original tile walls were unfortunately too damaged to be saved, but after demolishing the walls, the plumbing was finally able to be updated. The new historically-appropriate bead board wainscoting for the walls was created by Joshua himself. View more photos here.

Companies Used: Garitty Plumbing, Ace Sandblast Co., Service Express Heating

& Air Conditioning, Electro Bond Refinishing


4. Troy & DeLisa Bryant, Winner in Exterior Rehabilitation, 2018

The front porch and entrance of the Bryants' new home had been covered in aluminum paneling and jalousie glass by previous owners. After receiving bids from contractors for upwards of $10,000 to do the renovation, Troy completed the work himself for just $1,300 in materials and tools. For this small budget, they achieved a huge impact! View more photos here.


5. Rosita Jefferson & Anthony McDonald, Honorable Mention in Small Project, 2018

Wanting to turn an empty finished basement into a place for relaxing, Rosita and Anthony built a custom bar for their bungalow over three weekends, spending under $300 in materials. View more photos here.


6. Tracy Cimba, Honorable Mention in Small Project, 2017

With the help of a family friend, the Cimbas devised a creative and economical solution for adding more storage in their small bungalow kitchen. They removed the upper and lower panels of their attic access door, replaced them with touch latch doors, and added shelving to create a pantry. And, the door is still functional! View more photos here.


7. Andrea & David Keirn, Winner in Small Project, 2018

The Keirns set out to make their pantry a usable space. Doing the work themselves and spending less than $500 on supplies, they replaced the unstable and uneven shelving, removed the several layers of broken linoleum flooring, retiled with historically-inspired hexagon tiles, cleaned up the built-in drawers, and repainted the walls and ceiling. View more photos here.


8. Tracie Thompson, Honorable Mention in Interior Restoration, 2019

This homeowner patched and repaired her original plaster walls, and stripped and refinished the wood trim, including the original picture rail—a historic detail that is often overlooked! Because she did all the work (and research!) herself, she only had to pay for the cost of tools and materials, which totaled to about $475. View more photos here.


9. Phillip Williams, Winner in Small Project, 2015

Wanting to restore his bungalow's original woodwork while staying within budget, this homeowner attended our wood refinishing seminars, took lots of notes, and set out to complete the work himself. Using the proper health and safety precautions, he stripped old paint off doors and trim, lightly sanded the wood, and applied a clear finish to let the historic old-growth wood shine. Aside from the cost of supplies, this project cost practically nothing! View more photos here.


10. Josh & Alicia Wiechert, Honorable Mention in Small Project, 2019

This bungalow's original fireplace and built-in shelves had been removed by previous owners. The Wiecherts wanted to return the living room to its original luster and add a focal point to the room. So for just $300 in materials, the family built a new faux fireplace with historically-inspired bookshelves over the course of just one weekend! View more photos here.


11. Keith Paddy & Cassandra Kaczocha, Honorable Mention in Small Project, 2018

Keith and Cassandra's new bungalow was missing its fireplace, so they sought to add one back and build ample shelving for all their books. They started by having an electrician run wiring for the lights and electric fireplace insert. In just four weeks, and within a $750 budget, they designed and built the custom unit with stock cabinets and oak wood boards. View more photos here.

Electrician Used: Peter Ozyp


12. Kevin Connolly, Honorable Mention in Small Project, 2015

While remodeling his basement, this homeowner came across a used fireplace unit and decided to give the basement some charm, as well as an added heat source to work in combination with existing baseboard radiators. With the help of a contractor, he built a modern slate and granite fireplace unit, with bookshelves, to resemble the home's exterior limestone details and interior wood finishes. View more photos here.


13. Anthony Thomas & Gary Wesorick, Honorable Mention in Small Project, 2014

Designed and built by the homeowners themselves, this historically-inspired radiator cover doubles as a cozy bench—a clever and inexpensive solution to awkwardly placed radiators! View more photos here.


14. Janet & Daniel McMahon, Winner in Green Project, 2017

Even after extending their downspouts and installing a rain garden, the McMahon's bungalow (in the East Side neighborhood, one of the most susceptible to floods) still experienced basement flooding issues. But now, they've found a solution. They installed a catch basin at the lowest point (next to the sidewalk and downspout) with a pipe that leads 8 feet into the yard to a dry well, which is perforated, sits on a stone bed, and allows water to percolate into the ground far away from the house. They completed the project by themselves in one day, and only paid for the cost of supplies! View more photos here.


15. Jan & Jodie Gudell, Honorable Mention in Green Project, 2018

For just about $650, the Gudells were able to prevent basement flooding, foundation settling, and sewer problems at their home. They installed an underground drywell in the backyard, disconnected their downspouts from the sewer drains, and redirected them to the new drywell. View more photos here.


16. Jolanta & Kurt Kupferer, Honorable Mention in Interior Restoration, 2018

The Kupferers knew they had original 1920s hexagon tile floors under the peeling old linoleum in their main floor bathroom. For only $66 in supplies, they uncovered the original floor, removed the adhesive, patched gaps with cement filler, and cleaned the historic tile. View more photos here.


17. Mike & Amy Adler, Honorable Mention in Window Restoration, 2018

From the outside of their new home, the Adlers could see an original art glass window, but it was covered by a wall in the living room. They contacted an art glass expert from our Trusted Referrals directory, uncovered and restored the beautiful window, cleaned up the original storm window that remained, and built out a window frame on the interior for about $2,000. View more photos here.

Companies Used: Mulligan Stained Glass


18. Nancy Jane Lauren & Frank Pokorny, Winner in Window Restoration, 2019

After having to make repairs from an egg flying through the upper part of their arched windows one Halloween, these homeowners decided to add a protective layer. Not able to find storm windows to match the unique shape of these curved upper windows, they hired a carpenter to custom build some. For just $3,000, Vito Pascolla created 5 custom storm windows to protect the historic art glass from the elements... and eggs! View more photos here.

Companies Used: Pascolla Carpentry


19. Kristin & Dustin Mazanowski, Honorable Mention in Small Project, 2016

The Mazanowskis dining room included an original built-in buffet that wasn't in great shape. They removed it, had it repaired and restored to its former glory, and placed it back on a different wall in the dining room, where it remains a focal point. View more photos here.

Companies Used: Devontry Fine Woodworking


20. Frank Glapa, Winner in Small Project, 2014

Local artisan and bungalow owner, Frank Glapa, restored his bungalow's original "marquee" entrance overhang. As a metalworker, he was able to save money by doing all the work himself: shoring up the sagging marquee with new chains, building a new framework to replace the old wood framework, adding new sheet metal and soldering all parts, and stripping the old paint around the stained glass. View more photos here.

Companies Used: Lakefront Sheet Metal Supply



Oftentimes, it's the least expensive home improvement projects that are most inspiring! We hope the creativity, hard work, and resourcefulness of these homeowners gave you ideas for your own home.


If you have completed home improvement projects on your own certified Chicago bungalow within the past 5 years, nominate them for this year's Driehaus Bungalow Awards at: www.chicagobungalow.org/driehaus-awards

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