I've been into this hobby for, oh, the last 5-6 years or so. I'm pretty much at the endgame where I know what I like and how to get it.
I daily-drive a custom Melody96 build with Kailh BOX Navy switches, some DSA profile keycaps, and Durock stabilizers. I tapemodded the PCB and finished the project roughly this time last year. Total cost of ownership so far has been around 300 bucks, and learning a little bit of C to customize the QMK firmware to control the backlighting LEDs to show lock states on each end for Caps and Numlock. I used the QMK configurator online tool to make the base firmware with the keymap I wanted, though. I did all the soldering myself and you can tell because some of the keys are slightly crooked!!
Pardon the dirt. I didn't bother to clean it specifically for this thread and I'm past due to give everything an alcohol bath. As you might be able to tell, the source file was bigger but I cropped out the elements of my workspace I'm ashamed at the current condition of. And the more I look at this the more keys I notice are off-kilter! Augh! If only a company mass-produced 1800-layout keyboards in a switch variety I liked. I consider genuine Cherry switches to be cheap garbage -- clickjackets vs clickbars IS a holy war I'd fight in. On the superior clickbars' side of course.
I like this layout because it offers the desk-space savings of the TKL layout while still including a numpad. My retro setup's keyboard is of a similar layout, being a Cherry 1800-layout board with an integrated touchpad rescued and cleaned from a stint in a hospital. It uses (vintage!) Cherry MX Black switches, so it's definitely no Model M, but it also didn't cost nearly as much or take up nearly as much room.