Design for value: 7 top tips for your kitchen renovation

The kitchen is where your family spends most of their time connecting, and it’s essential to create a space that’s functional, beautiful and fits your lifestyle – without killing your budget.

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Kitchen renovations can be costly, which is why they’re often one of the last places people tend to renovate (second only to the bathroom!). But, with the right know-how and a little planning, it’s easy to get great value for your money and still create a stunning impact.

Firstly, to get the most bang for your buck you can focus on three main areas:

Benchtops. Benchtops are one of the easiest ways to identify which era your house was built in, and they’re also the fastest way to make your kitchen look spectacularly modern. There are multiple materials to choose from depending on your budget, and while you can expect to pay hundreds if not at least $1000 dollars for a new benchtop, it’s almost certainly necessary for a kitchen renovation.

Cabinets. If the layout of your kitchen is staying the same, you might be able to keep the carcass of your cabinets and simply replace the doors, which is a much cheaper option. But, if your cabinets are moving, or are too old or small, you’ll need to have the entire unit custom-made from scratch. Your builder will be able to measure and order the cabinets for you. New cabinets give a kitchen an immediate facelift and are one of the pillars of great value, even if you’re getting them custom-made.

Handles and tapware. Even if you were planning the most minor renovation, it would almost certainly start with new handles and tapware. Inexpensive and easy to install yourself, updating the fittings in a kitchen can take it from tired to glam pretty instantly.

What if you need a bigger kitchen makeover?

Lockdowns taught us that our homes can become anything, including a fitness centre. If you don’t have room in your home or garage for gym gear, you can build a simple studio space kitted with a sound system, equipment and even an ensuite for post-workout showers

Figure out your budget

It’s not the most exciting part of the renovation, but it’s the bottom line that every decision will be made from. It’s easy for budgets to blow up once you start choosing high-end benchtops, tiles, pendant lights and so on. If you’re firm on what you’re willing to spend, it’ll help you determine what you can ‘splash out on’ and where you can choose a cheaper material or fitting to accommodate the budget.

Figure out your must-haves

Do you need more storage or bench space? Do you need better lighting or a wall to be removed to let in more natural light? Do you need to upgrade your appliances? Make a list of your priorities, and do some online searching to find examples of what you’re looking for. The list of essentials will help you make decisions that are firm on the must-haves, and where there’s some wiggle room on the nice-to-haves if the budget is getting tight.

Plan your renovation.

At this point, you’ll probably want to bring in a professional. You might have plenty of ideas about what you want, but someone who designs and creates kitchens daily can have some brilliant insights and ideas about the functionality of the space and the overall aesthetic. A designer can also help you choose the right materials, finishes, and colours to create a cohesive and visually pleasing space. Sometimes choosing finishes and colours can be the most challenging part of the entire renovation.

Choose the finishes.

Choosing tiles, cabinetry colour, the finish of your benchtop and even the handles – and how they match the rest of your home – can be the most challenging part of the renovation. A professional can be a wealth of advice, especially if they have a showroom or designers on their team who can help you bring the design together cohesively.

You’ll find there are a variety of options for every part of the kitchen, which means you can choose based on personal preference and budget. For instance, you might choose to spend a little more on the benchtop and save on the cabinetry by refacing them rather than replacing them completely.

Pick your appliances.

We usually find that people upgrading their kitchen want or need at least one or two new appliances. Your fridge might be fine, for example, but you’re keen on a new oven and stove top to match the new kitchen (especially if you’d like to switch to a different style of cooktop or install an oversized oven). You might want to opt for more energy-efficient appliances that will save money on power over time. Your builder may be able to offer suggestions on good brands, and internet searches are always a good way to find options in your budget, read reviews and have them delivered right to your door.

Think about lighting.

You can have a lot of fun with lighting in a kitchen. There are two types of lighting to plan for: task lighting, which very specifically points towards work areas like benches and stovetops, and ambient lighting which illuminates the whole space. Task lighting might include directional downlights or recessed lighting under the cabinets. Ambient lighting is more fun and can include stylish hanging pendant lights or even wall sconces.

Choose tiles, paint and splashback

Finally, you’ll need to decide on the wall finishes. There are so many options for tiles and splashbacks, from coloured glass to windows to pressed tin. It’s a great way to bring dynamics and texture to the space and really make it personal. If you’re pulling out lower cabinets, you may also need to think about new flooring

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