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Function & Flow

We asked our expects for their top tips for breathing new life into a tired kitchen


When a total renovation or new build is not possible, the one room most homeowners would choose to overhaul is usually the kitchen, followed closely by the bathroom.

It makes sense, because these days the kitchen is no longer only the domain of the hard-working housewife. Roles are shared more equally in families and that means kitchens have evolved into the hub of the home, with many hands pitching in to prepare meals.

Modern kitchens usually accommodate casual eating and are part of an open-plan design that allows easy access to living areas.

Regardless of your budget, there’s plenty you can do to breathe new life into a tired kitchen.

We asked Home Base experts Town & Country Designs, Kitchen Capital WA and eKitchens for their top tips.

Plan ahead

“Write a list of goals, it helps to define your priorities before you do any planning, researching or designing,” Town & Country Designs’ Mel DeMelt says.

“From there you can decide what is achievable within the budget. You should also consider what items you are willing to compromise on.”

Mel says people who live in older homes should have a good think about whether there are any special items they could salvage.

“There is a big swing internationally to reclaiming and remodelling, especially items that have already stood the test of time, and these can sometimes be incorporated into a completely remodelled kitchen, so have a look at what you have and don’t discount the possibility of restoring some items.

“For example, you may already have beautiful hardwood timber flooring, or you may have a very old original cabinet that could be restored. These kind of things can add real character to a finished kitchen but you need to think carefully and do the job properly or else it could be a disaster.”

Choose the look

Choosing finishings and colours can be a real challenge for some people. Not everyone has the capacity to visualise what a finished space will look like and if you have trouble in this area, it is a good idea to get a 3D render drawn up.

Many kitchen companies will provide detailed plans before you have to make any decisions and this is one of the best parts about getting an expert on board to help.

Mel says people seem to prefer to work in kitchens that are light and bright. She says stone countertops are really durable and look stunning but incorporating different finishes can add interest and character.

She says the best advice is to choose finishes that speak to the heart. Choosing something because it is on trend will only result in the desire to renovate again in a few years time when another look is all the rage.

“If you choose things you love because they feel right and not because they’re in the latest magazine, you are more likely to be able to live with them for longer,” Mel advises.

Stick to the budget

Kitchen Capital WA’s Sue Jansen says new kitchens are a big investment.

“Your kitchen is not just another room in the house – it’s a meeting hub for the entire family, the place where you start every day and the place where you spend time relaxing and enjoying the joys of cooking amazing foods,” she says.

“The great news is that you can save a lot of money without sacrificing the quality of your redesign or the functionality of your new kitchen.”

The key lies in defining a clear budget from the start. Doing this will not only allow you to make sure you don’t overspend but it will also give you a bird’s eye view of the entire project, so that you know what to skimp on and what to splurge on.

“Keep this in mind, though: if you want to be absolutely certain you will stick to your budget, you have to be realistic about it – so study the market a bit and analyse the prices for the main products and services you’ll use,” Sue says.

“Although it might seem like just another costly addition to your financial plan, a kitchen designer can help you draw the basics of a realistic, feasible budget plan – and they can also help you save a lot of money by working with the right contractors and buying your new appliances from the right places.”

Light it up

If you want to guarantee a stand-out kitchen, pay special attention to lighting. Not just the ambient lighting but feature and natural lighting too.

“Keep in mind that while the amount of light that gets in your kitchen is crucial, the way the light is positioned is also very important,” Sue Jansen from Kitchen Capital WA says.

“Aside from natural lighting which should be more than plentiful, especially if you want to start your mornings well, you should add some sort of lighting over the kitchen island or the centre of the kitchen, near the stove, and near the sink.

“Remember to take into account your personal preferences and habits as well: where do you spend most time prepping the food? Is it on the kitchen island, is it on the table you use for eating, is it on a countertop? These are the spots you will use a lot, and you need good lighting there, so remember to include this in your plan.”

The range of practical, yet beautiful feature lighting available these days is endless. Check out pendant lighting by The Montauk Lighting Co. as a starting point.

Quick service

When both time and budget are an issue, fear not, there’s still a way to get the kitchen you’ve always dreamt of.

Adam Smith from eKitchens says with a little bit of know-how, it is possible to order a kitchen online from his website and have it ready in flat-pack form in about a week, or fully assembled in around two weeks, all at a fraction of the cost.

“We strive to deliver DIY custom cabinets at Perth’s lowest prices,” he says.

“Renovating or building isn’t as difficult as you may think and we are here to help you every step of the way. Ordering your cabinets online gives you the ability to customise your project in your own time without having to settle for set modular sizes and limited colour choices. Simply select the cabinet you would like, enter the dimensions and our website will instantly calculate the price.”

Alternatively, you can upload your plans and someone will contact you with a quote.

Top tips

  • Make sure there is enough storage and then add a bit more.
  • Plan, plan and then plan again. Have someone review your plans.
  • If you can afford it, hire an expert, they will probably end up saving you money.
  • If you are going down the DIY path, be meticulous with measurements. Check and double check.

To find out more, visit Town & Country Designs, Kitchen Capital WA and eKitchens or visit the showrooms at Home Base.