Kitchen renovation doesn’t always mean blowing your reno budget.
I created a series episode about Kitchen Renovation with a renovating for profit approach in order for you to get the maximum value of your kitchen project for minimum costs. I’ll also share how you can map out your kitchen goals, your designs, what shapes of kitchens you can use, and some advice about kitchen styles.
Listen to Episode 122: Kitchen Renovation Part One
Podcast: Download (Duration 29:14 — 27MB)
Kitchen Renovating for Profit | Planning Your Kitchen Reno
- [00:01:22] Create a maximum-value kitchen for minimum cost
- [00:02:07] The kitchen is the new heart of the home
- [00:03:16] An island kitchen bench has become a more upmarket trend
- [00:04:20] Homes and kitchens are expressions of who you are
- [00:05:26] Maximise the ‘hangout value’ of the kitchen
- [00:06:16] Open up the wall(s) between your kitchen and main living space
- [00:07:42] We always need to balance the kitchen renovation budget against the design
- [00:09:01] Cooking in the home kitchen is coming back into fashion
- [00:09:42] Consider the most common shapes and layout of a kitchen
- [00:10:52] Keep your kitchen walkways generous
- [00:11:49] The most important things you need to put in the kitchen
- [00:13:35] Priorities for kitchen appliances
- [00:14:51] Why the kitchen is the hub of activity in a home
- [00:16:07] Designing the cooktop and separate oven configuration
- [00:17:25] Allow air to circulate through the vents of the rangehood
- [00:18:10] 3 different styling categories for your kitchen
- [00:19:17] Kitchen designs to channel nature
- [00:19:45] The new trend of aspiring home chefs
- [00:19:17] Renovating your Character Kitchen
- [00:21:52] The ‘Hamptons on holidays’ kitchen design
- [00:22:22] The popular porcelain butler’s sink (and where to save $)
- [00:23:16] Choosing the right kitchen colours
- [00:23:24] You need to have some imagination if you’re going to put a white kitchen in
- [00:25:43] The value of getting some professional help to design your kitchen
- [00:26:12] Consider a ‘Renovator’s Concept Session’
- [00:27:06] Thanks for a lovely podcast review!
- [00:27:48] Update: the Arncliffe renovation project is on the market!
Arncliffe Project. More photos in the show notes.
How To Plan Your Kitchen Renovation To Stay On Budget and to Get the Wow!
Bernadette Janson shares her wealth of experience in how to achieve a successful kitchen renovation. Discover the best way to prepare and plan your kitchen renovation to ensure success.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of how to plan your kitchen renovation, let’s quickly reflect on the evolution of the kitchen’s role in the home.
The Changing Role of the Kitchen in the Home
According to Australian demographer Bernard Salt, in the mid 19th century when visitors came to the home, particularly suitors, they were ushered into the front living room. No visitors ventured into the kitchen! That was a sacred ground-private space. Now our guests walk right through the house. They walk past the bedrooms and hence we’ve developed this phenomenon that he refers to as “pillowfication”. We style our bedrooms because they’re seen as guests walk past the bedrooms to the kitchen.
The Island Bench – Ideal for 2020’s Kitchens
When guests arrive at the kitchen they mill around the island bench. As a result, the island bench has become more upmarket. It’s now marble or a similar luxurious stone with high-tech European tapware. That’s how you showcase prosperity in modern Australia.
Key Principles for Your Kitchen Renovation Plan
In this article, you can get to know the key principles to follow when you plan a kitchen renovation if you want to be a savvy renovator.
1. Stake The Kitchen’s Claim As The Heart Of The Home
Kitchens sell homes. When you plan a kitchen renovation, keep in mind to create a kitchen that will add significant value to your property.
You want everyone to love your beautiful home because, as renovators, our homes are an expression of who we are. That validation is really important for our level of satisfaction. This is important when we come to sell as well.
Reinforce the status of the kitchen as the heart of the home and entertainment central. You need to create the look of prosperity.
We call it the “wow”. Your tools are clever design, materials and effective use of light.
2. Improve The ‘Hangout Value’ of the Kitchen with Smart Renovating
In line with Bernard’s Salt’s observations of the kitchen and the island bench being the meeting area of modern homes, make sure you create as much space as possible to work with. I call it ‘hangout value’. If it is at all possible, open this room up.
It is the first thing we look at when we plan a kitchen renovation. Can we open the kitchen up to adjacent living areas? Eat-in kitchens are no longer cool. We really want to be able to facilitate the entertainer’s kitchen where the guests are not cut off from the cook. Instead they’re milling around the island while the meal is being prepared.
Plan for More Space with a Kitchen Renovation
If you have the opportunity to open up a wall between your kitchen and your living space, it would be rare that you couldn’t justify the cost. It has such a big impact on the overall value of the home.
Of course, if you are taking out load-bearing walls, then you will need to get your engineer to do drawings and specifications. You may also need council approval or at least a Complying Development Certificate (CDC).
No More Breakfast Bars!
A lot of eighties kitchens have a high breakfast bar. It obstructs the line of site from the kitchen to the remainder of the room. Get rid of it. You want all your benches to be a standard height, (900mm off the floor) to create a sense of openness and space.
No to Custom Bench Heights!
Please don’t customise the bench heights to accommodate the tall or the short. Your appliances will not line up and it will mess with the lines in the kitchen.
3. Visualise how Your Kitchen will look, feel, and function
Whenever I think about how I will plan a kitchen renovation, I always begin with the end in mind.
How are you going to present the property when it goes to market? Or if it’s not going to market, how are going to present the kitchen in a way to look its best, and how will you style it?
These ideas help to inform decisions you make about the layout and materials you use in the kitchen.
For instance, our last renovation in Arncliffe, Sydney was cheap and cheerful – but I had a high resale figure I wanted to hit.
Design Life and Personality into the Kitchen
The existing kitchen was soulless. It had a peninsular layout which looked like it was no man’s land. I didn’t have the budget for a waterfall bench and I was working with existing cabinetry.
I had the cabinet maker add a panel at the end of the peninsula, the full 900mm width of the benchtop so it looked like it was anchored down.
I then added a dramatic LED pendant light, and I am firmly convinced those minor tweaks played a big part in achieving the record sale price.
Carefully Plan How the Kitchen will Function
- Is the dishwasher close to the crockery cabinet
- Will the rangehood drown out the dinner conversation?
- If I have a load of washing-up on while I am cooking dinner is it easy to get to the laundry
4. Connect Your Kitchen with the Outdoors
In our 2020’s lifestyles the line between indoors and outdoors has often become blurred. So it’s highly desirable if you can create flow from the kitchen, dining and living areas out to a deck.
Outdoor entertaining is no longer a luxury in Australian homes, it is a necessity, and is highly desirable if you can link the outdoors with the kitchen.
Multifold doors and windows between inside and out are a definite winner.
Bring the Outdoors In for More Light
A transparent glass splashback is a lovely way of bringing the outdoors in. The jury is out on whether it’s a cleaning issue according to various facebook group debates. If this is an option for your kitchen it is worth considering because it has a definite wow factor.
Having multifold doors and windows between inside and out is also really attractive, especially if this works for your market.
5. Choose The Best Kitchen Layout Available To You
When you plan your kitchen renovation you always need to balance the budget against the design. Make sure that you get the best value for money, and still get a really beautiful outcome. The shape of the kitchen is important both aesthetically and functionally.
Straight Kitchens are Cost Effective
If you’re on a really tight budget the most cost-effective shape is a straight kitchen. It’s one long run of cabinets and benchtops so there is minimal cabinetry and benchtop. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest to work in.
I do notice a lot of apartments, go for the straight kitchen, presumably to save cost. I guess it’s justified with the thinking that people who buy apartments tend not to be cooks. I’d like to argue the point because cooking is really coming back thanks to Covid and the rise of the Home Chef.
The straight kitchen can also have a couple of different modifications to make it much more user-friendly.
A Galley Kitchen Offers a Versatile Design
The galley kitchen is two straight kitchens directly opposite one another. This can be a very practical option.
Add an Island Bench to a Straight Kitchen
This is where you add an island bench to a straight kitchen if you have the space. This is my favorite kitchen shape. One, because when you’re looking at the kitchen front on, you’ve got a really nice tableau with the island bench in front and the backdrop of cabinetry and appliances framed behind it.
In most situations, you have to work with the existing layout and you may not have a lot of options for moving the kitchen, though you may be surprised how some creative thinking and design can make a big difference.
U-Shaped and L-Shaped Kitchens
Two other common shapes for kitchens are the U shape and the L shape. I tend to think that if you can’t make an impact with an island bench or something similar, use your lighting and the textures in your materials to create impact.
6. Respect The Kitchen’s Work Triangle
The lack of an effective work triangle is what makes a straight kitchen uncomfortable to work in. Ideally you should have a minimum number of steps between your fridge, your cooktop, and your sink. This forms the triangle. So you’re only a couple of steps away from each of those elements of the kitchen, making it much easier to work in.
7. Keep Your Kitchen Walkways Generous
This minimises a cluttered feel and doesn’t impede circulation, allowing people to move around the kitchen comfortably. Try and minimise the corners you have in the kitchen. We all hate those corner cupboards, and they actually diminish the usefulness of the storage.
8. A Pantry Is Now Almost a Non-Negotiable
It is ideal if you can fit a pantry into the kitchen. This can be as simple as a double cupboard where you put some drawers inside. If you’re on a really tight budget, you don’t even need to worry about the drawers.
For substantial storage, a pantry makes a big difference. And a butler’s pantry is the epitome of kitchen sophistication. If you can manage that, then you’re really rocking with your kitchen.
9. Don’t Let Your Kitchen Appliances Sink Your Budget!
When you’re thinking about reconfiguring the kitchen, you’ll need to consider where all those appliances go. And for the sink and the dishwasher, you’re going to need drainage and hot and cold water. In an apartment this can sometimes be problematic, though there’s usually a workaround.
Knowing where your appliances are going to go (including benchtop appliances) really determines how your kitchen is going to flow.
Plan for at Least a Double Sink
For the sink you definitely will want more than a single sink. It’s a minimum requirement. Check the podcast episode where I spoke to Mimi, one of the Caroma kitchen and bathroom designers about what people want. Mimi, reports double sinks are really popular.
Very rarely does a kitchen renovator go for a single sink. So make sure that it’s one and a quarter, one and a half, or even a full double sink.
The kitchen is the hub of activity in a home. It’s where a lot of work happens. You want to make sure no matter what budget you’re on, that the kitchen is going to deliver an outcome that’s acceptable for the end-user of that property.
Don’t forget the microwave!
You also want to think about where the microwave goes. It’s a mistake not to include a provision for a microwave. And if I’m really stuck for putting it somewhere often, I’ll put it in the pantry. Make sure there is a power point that is not too high because that can be dangerous. Under the bench, is also another acceptable option.
Match Appliance Brands to the Look and Feel of the Kitchen
If you’re going for a luxury kitchen, obviously the brand of your appliances is going to be very important. I always like to buy good brands, and brands that have been tried and tested. If you’re going more high-end then ideally you would choose a good European brand, preferably a 900mm wide cooktop and range and oven.
Plan an Effective Cooktop and Oven Configuration
Think about the best combination for design and convenience. Do you want to go for the cooktop and oven configuration? Or do you want to go for an actual freestanding cooker? I personally prefer the look of a cooktop and oven. I think it’s a lot cleaner because you don’t have legs and you won’t be letting dust and grime get under it.
Create Clean Lines of Design for Kitchen Cabinets
I like things to line up. So in the kitchen, all the top cabinets are lined up with the bottom cabinets. Cabinet makers don’t necessarily do that unless you follow up. Make sure that they do the same with the range hood and the cooktop.
Get the Range Hood Details Correct
If you are having a recirculating range hood installed, it won’t be ducted outside. I have very rarely seen this done properly, so you need to make sure it is installed well. The person to install the range hood is the joiner. The electrician puts the power point in, and the joiner installs the range hood. Make sure this is done correctly because with a recirculating range hood, they have vents at the front.
The doors need to be cut shorter to allow air to circulate through the vents. And there is usually an optional trim to go on the front to cover the vents so they’re not seen, but still allows circulation.
Check our quick video on this so you can see how it works.
10. More Budget-Saving Kitchen Design Features
If you are restricted by your budget you can also plan some open shelving. This can be a very nice display and decorative look. It also enables you to have considerably more storage without the cost of fully resolved cupboards.
Which Kitchen Styles are Best for a Home Renovation in 2021?
Choosing your kitchen style is an important decision for your home renovation. In 2021 kitchen styles fall into three main categories.
A. Kitchen Designs to Channel Nature
Let your kitchen reflect the natural environment with colours and materials, including creative use of natural timber. Colours such as forest green, so the lush forest feel is reflected in the kitchen can work well or the muted grays and whites of a Scandinavian landscape.
Even a murky Billabong look, or a dark black kitchen can work with Nature theme. Of course, natural stone if you’ve got the budget for it can be a really lovely addition to your kitchen.
A look we really like is the island bench appearing like a stone monolith, so they’re actually clad on three sides with stone to echo a lot of nature’s drama.
Expand on the nature theme for the kitchen with natural kitchen accessories, plants, natural colours and textures.
B. Aspiring Shifts Kitchens
The Aspiring Shifts kitchen is designed for high-spec appliances.
Definitely consider a butler’s pantry which may even have the dishwasher in the butler’s pantry to allow for lots of work to happen in this exclusive space rather than messing up the kitchen. This leaves the kitchen free for entertaining.
Since COVID, the home kitchens has now become a restaurant. There’s lots of in-home entertaining happening with home cooking, baking and traditional kitchen crafts and recipes. Barista coffee coming out of our kitchen is now commonplace. At the Jansen home, we certainly love the aroma and flavours of our fresh ground espresso and morning cafe latte!
Lots of high-tech equipment including steam ovens, multiple ovens with plate warming, boiling, and chilled water dispensers are features of the Aspiring Kitchen.
Add extra features like pot-filling taps – a tap with an extendable arm over the cooktop to allow you to fill your soup pot without actually lifting it off the stove – a very handy idea for the home chef.
Lighting with high CRI value, makes things look more real, the colours more vibrant. So your veggies look brighter with high CRI lighting. A company that we use is called Brightgreen Lights and they do a really good quality light.
C. The Character Kitchen
These kitchens include:
- Hamptons Kitchens
- Retro Kitchens
- Industrial Kitchens
- Cottage Kitchens
The Cottage kitchen is making a big comeback – just like your granny’s kitchen.
Choose Your Distinct Kitchen Style Carefully For 2021 And Beyond
If you’re choosing a kitchen with a distinct style, you need to make sure it’s consistent with your target market for your renovated property. This is an important design and planning objective because if you’re spending a lot of money on a kitchen, you want to make sure that you are not polarising your market.
Hamptons on Holidays: Popular Hamptons Kitchen Styles in Australia
In Australia for the Hamptons Kitchen style, we tend to go for a slightly more casual version. I call it ‘Hamptons on Holidays’.
A more casual style impacts the cabinet profile you go for. Personally, when we’ve done Hamptons, we’ve used a simple Shaker style. I don’t like it to look too ornate and the colour palettes are usually greys and whites and navy blues, and sometimes some oatmeal as well.
The Butler’s Sink – and How to Save on Kitchen Detail
In the Hamptons kitchen the porcelain Butler’s sink, which I think a lot of us really love really does make a very good design statement. Anytime I’ve done a Butler’s sink in a project, I’ve always used the IKEA Butler sink, which costs about $400. Whereas if you do that in any other brand of Butler’s sink, you’ll be paying probably closer to $1,200 or $1,500. So this is a great way of keeping your budget in check.
Choose Kitchen Colours Carefully
When choosing your kitchen colours, it is wise to be quite careful. If you get too bold with your colours, you can polarise your audience.
I have noticed dark green has become very popular. Personally I’m not really in love with it, so I would think long and hard about buying a property that had a dark green kitchen. Making the decision will depend very much on your market.
Sticking to neutral colours such as a soft gray often works well. We’re doing black in our current kitchen and that’s exciting too.
By far, the most popular kitchen colour is still white
You need to have some imagination if you’re going to be putting a white kitchen in – to make sure that you get the ‘wow’. You need to have some element of surprise. The days of putting the cheap and nasty white kitchen in have long gone, you want to try and make it memorable.
Accessorising a Kitchen with White Detailing
We have sometimes added a wow by using timber paneling. In the last two projects, I’ve used white slatted paneling, which we really love and is quite cost-effective.
And curves are another way to have your kitchen stand out. A curved Island bench is a really nice touch. And the other great thing about curves is that they help with the circulation – they make it easier to move around the kitchen because you don’t have sharp corners.
Metal Colours in Your Kitchen and Home
Your kitchen colours… in metals. Polished brass, bronze and brushed nickel is very popular at the moment for tapware, but as I’ve mentioned in other articles and podcast episodes any metal that you choose is like a gateway drug! Be careful.
Once you’ve chosen your taps, you really need to take the design style right through to the door hardware, and cabinetry as well. This can significantly impact your budget so think about this in advance. If you are holding a home for the longer-term to live in, I would be careful putting in metals which are too ‘on-trend’ because they will have a limited life.
Some of us are old enough to have seen the gold-plated tap era, and now it’s coming around again. One great thing about tapware and door hardware now is it doesn’t tarnish. If you have polished brass, then you can expect it to stay looking the way it is on day one, which is a big plus.
I tend to avoid handles altogether because, even when we’re doing a Hampton style, the handles break up the kitchen style too much. I prefer a more streamlined look. Of course it depends on the style you’re going for.
Get Professional Help When You Need it for your Kitchen Plan
Now in order to design and plan your kitchen, I personally think if you’re spending more than $5,000 on a kitchen you should have some professional help to design it. If you’re not really super confident producing a good outcome, getting professional help will make a big difference to the final edit.
I’ve been renovating for 30 years and still, there are times when I don’t feel confident about designing my own kitchen. I sometimes just can’t get it to work the best way it might.
Fortunately, we have a very cost-effective way of getting the high-end design on an absolute shoestring budget. David Jansen has a service called the Renovator Concept session. I think the price is going up, but I think it’s still less than $500 and he will help you map out the concept of your design, not just for your kitchen, but for the home as well. This enables you to get high-end designs and stick within your budget. David certainly has plenty of experience. He’s worked on projects like Barangaroo house, Bay Boatshed, lots of high-end projects as well as numerous kitchen and home renos. Follow up for more about the Renovator Concept Session.
Thank you Jenna Bradwell for your lovely five-star review
Amazing insights, and advice.
Bernadette is an inspiration, warm, open, and a fountain of wisdom and advice. I’ve learned so much about everything from renovating to selling, to creating an independent future from this podcast. I look forward to every episode.
Thanks so much, Jenna! Jenna has now become one of the members of our community. She’s just recently sold her first renovated project. She is a very upwardly mobile, young woman now looking for a second project, and I’m really excited to see where renovating takes her.