Get to it, with our ultimate cheat sheet.

January 22, 2019

Renovating a kitchen is never cheap. We know. But before you empty your bank account overhauling your outdated kitchen, consider giving it a facelift using some of our fave easy updates. An abbreviated kitchen renovation would probably cost about one-tenth of the price of a new kitchen; plus you could add oversized statement light pendants for added impact. The result will be not only life-enhancing but life changing.

Get to it, with our ultimate cheat sheet!


We find that when you incorporate similar colours and textures from adjoining rooms into the kitchen, it immediately makes the kitchen feel more stylish. A strong, sophisticated colour palette and modern hardware can breathe new life into world-weary cabinetry. You can try anything from dark-blue glossy paint to expensive-looking ecrus to transform a drab and dated wood kitchen while also reinventing old tile floors with concrete-look laminate for added impact. Plus, new door handles. It can be an extremely cost-efficient fix.


In most kitchens, the cabinets make the biggest statement. However, it’s easy to change that message by changing the doors which is surprisingly economical and sensible as these are the parts that show the most signs of wear. For cabinet fronts made of a material that can’t be painted or stained, consider resurfacing or ‘refacing’, which involves keeping the existing cabinet framework and replacing all the doors, drawer fronts and side panels with new ones. Instead of ripping out the old cabinets and installing new ones, just exchange the cabinet fronts that might have discoloured and chipped over the years for new doors. You can also add rollout shelves and a new rangehood. Then paint the walls a great charcoal grey, to add depth and contrast, and get some fab pendants over the island, which will transform the whole tone of the kitchen.


If your cabinets are too far gone to resurface, open shelving will reduce the cost of upper cabinets. Removing upper kitchen cabinets and adding open shelving is an easy, stylish, and chic way to display your china, glasses, and will force you to stay organized. Plus you will conjure more bench space and open the room. You are only paying for the piece of wood to make the shelf and the bracket to hold it up, not an entire cabinet carcass, which is a lot more in material and labour. It also eliminates the need for hardware, which can add up. Another way to reduce the cost of cabinetry is to use particleboard where no one will see it.

A lot of people think they have to have all-plywood kitchen cabinetry, and you don’t. While it’s a good idea to have plywood under the sink, try using particleboard to build the upper and perimeter cabinet boxes. This will cut the cabinet cost significantly. Then two long skinny shelves are where you can display your most-used everyday items, like plates, bowls, herbs, chopping boards and glasses, mixed in with some small artwork. It will probably become one of your favourite parts of the kitchen — functional and beautiful.

Open shelves often work much better than wall cabinets – keeping the space feeling open.


A kitchen is a functional room but the addition of a fab lighting fixture elevates the space into something more interesting, and memorable without taking up any valuable space. It’s an easy update.


Working with a good tradesperson is a smart way to save money as a great installer can make IKEA look like a million dollars plus they often have their own little black book of contacts that will save you dollars. Get three quotes for trades, but remember you get what you pay for, so make sure you feel comfortable with the people you are dealing with. A bad installer can make even the best cabinetry look terrible. They will only cost you more money in the long run, as you will more than likely have to get everything they did badly re-done. There is always another plumber, electrician, carpenter to be found.


Laminate benchtops can be a third of the cost of a stone benchtop and still boast heat and scratch resistance, plus they come in a range of fabulous finishes that often mimic a stone look. You can also save on benchtops by splurging on a wood or stone island to blend with the laminate bench in the rest of the kitchen.

Buying remnants, such as a marble slab for your benchtop, instead of an entire slab of quartz or stone from a stone fabricator also cuts your costs significantly.


Create vertical interest with a splashback all the way up to the ceiling that will totally open up the room, and bounce light around the kitchen. Since the splasback is at eye level, it’s high-impact kitchen real estate. The price between ordinary and a special tile won’t typically break the bank for such a small area—and the cost of labour is the same. Try spending a little more on backsplash to create a bespoke kitchen.


One of the best tweaks for the kitchen that will up the ante both functionally and aesthetically is changing the kitchen faucet. Many now have built-in soap dispensers, pull-out or pull-down capabilities and even options where you can increase the strength of the water pressure with the push of a button. Not only do they do their job very well, some look like sculptures with finishes that really update your space dramatically.

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