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New kitchens can come with a substantial price tag. These industry professionals share their best tips on how to make a big difference, for the best value.

Kitchen renovation industry professionals

Rosanna Pappalardo
Principle Designer
RJP Design and Décor

Grant Hiscock
Interior Designer & Kitchen Designer

We asked them:

I want my kitchen to feel spacious and welcoming, where do I start?

Rosanna Pappalardo

A great starting point is looking at the areas of your kitchen you dislike or that need replacing; and what you could do to fix it.

The next step is to look at how much you can invest in your kitchen renovation — quality is important as this is a well-used space, so durability and reliability are a must-have.

Once the investment amount is identified, you can start looking at what needs to change versus what you want changed!

Two elements that cost next to nothing and will make your kitchen feel spacious and welcoming, are natural light and decluttering of benchtops and open shelves.

You can capture natural light from the clever use of glossy or reflective finishes; or by changing a window covering that’s smothering the light filtering from outside.

Next, look at adding various levels of artificial light to create “moods” — pendant lights to define a space, downlights to provide an all over task light or LED strip lighting to create ambience, interest or accent. The finishing touch would be adding something from nature — fresh fruit in a bowl or fresh soft scented flowers in a vessel!

Two elements that cost next to nothing and will make your kitchen feel spacious and welcoming, are natural light and decluttering of benchtops and open shelves.

Rosanna Pappalardo, RJP Design and Décor

Grant Hiscock

Before the planning, think about how you use your kitchen from day to day. Think about how you cook, how you buy and store your groceries, what appliances you need to store, and which ones are out on display. 

Then, look at where your kitchen will be. What is the light flow? What is the outlook? How does it fit within the rest of your home?

Now the layout. Try to create separate 'zones' that work both as independent areas and as a part of the whole kitchen. For example, the cleaning zone would include the sink, dishwasher, and cleaning chemicals but is close to the storage of plates, cutlery, and glassware. 

Also, try to avoid 'awkward' areas within your layout. Such as doors that open past the access point or in front of other often-used appliances. 

Finally, look at the lines of your kitchen. Where possible draw long straight lines. Line up your drawer fronts and doors, integrate your appliances, under mount your sinks, keep your splashback the same height, and ample space between benchtops. These lines will help to trick your eyes into thinking the room is larger.

How do I choose a colour scheme or materials that I know I'll still love in 10 years’ time?

Grant Hiscock

How you are going to use your new kitchen will greatly impact the colour scheme and the choice of materials you use. There are so many products on the market that are available.

Each one has its pros and cons. For example, you have a lot of different quartz benchtop brands, all very similar in construction and performance. However, none are warranted if used outside, even in a covered alfresco. The only options here are natural stone products or compact laminates.

A current trend is to use more than one colour where possible. This can be achieved by using two or more colours in the cabinetry, two different benchtops, feature overhead cabinetry and veined quartz or porcelain splashbacks.

The benefit of today's products is the choices in colours across all of them. The trick is in getting the balance right across the design of the kitchen and the surrounding rooms. Regardless of colours, knowing how your products will perform over time is just as important.

Sticking to a neutral or classic colour scheme will ensure that you’ll love your kitchen for many years to come

Rosanna Pappalardo, RJP Design and Décor

Rosanna Pappalardo

Classic and neutral is the simplest way to choosing a colour scheme that will stand the test of time, as a trend or your individual taste. The key, however, is adding an accent colour to create interest - it will give you a versatile change without the expense of having to replace the whole kitchen!

The accent colour can be a flavour of the moment or a current colour trend used in small amounts. It can be added in decorative items such as a fruit bowl, LED strip lighting, bar stools, pendant light shades, splashback, or even tapware!

As for materials, kitchens are places that experience the highest traffic, host a variety of activities and are a must-have in every home. It’s important that durable materials are used.

Sticking to a neutral or classic colour scheme will ensure that you’ll love your kitchen for many years to come; however, practicality is the most important factor in making the right decision.

White looks great, but will it be practical for a family’s floor and benchtops? Your love of the colour will most likely diminish over the years with constant maintenance and keeping it clean!

I really want these changes to increase the value of my home, but I want to be savvy. What can I do that will make a difference, but won't cost a fortune?

Rosanna Pappalardo

Kitchens sell homes, and bathrooms are not far behind. They are the costliest room to renovate, so being savvy when spending your money is important.

The look is the first and last impression on a buyer, so keeping it classic or neutral in colour will appeal to a broader market. If renovating, avoid gutting the kitchen and replacing it with a new one, unless it will resolve any functional issues or enhance the potential of the house.

Simple changes like respraying or replacing the door panels, drawer fronts and changing the benchtop can make a huge difference. Overlaying stone on an existing laminate benchtop is a great way to save money.

Or if you’re looking to replace the benchtop make sure to select a stone colour that is from a standard range.

Most standard ranges of products will have a classic, neutral colour choice. If changing the benchtop is not in the budget, then you can look at changing the door and drawer handles, tapware and sinks, drawer runners and hinges; and the splashback.

A simple white, glossy splashback can sometimes open up a kitchen without being too expensive. Ensure there is good lighting including: task lighting, general and accent lighting.

The one thing to remember is a good, savvy design doesn’t cost any more than a poor design.

Grant Hiscock, ARTIS PURA Design

Grant Hiscock

We all know that kitchens sell houses. It is the one room that you can truly say is the heart of the home. They are also one of the more expensive rooms to renovate, so getting the balance between a good and bad spend is very important.

The first question you should ask is how long you are planning to stay after the renovation is done? If you are 'doing the kitchen' to sell the home, your choices in materials and appliance layouts is going to be different to if you were planning to stay.

Selling a kitchen based on a new quartz benchtop, appliances, doors, drawer fronts and handles could lead to a positive outcome. However, in long term, it could also lead to a greater expenditure.

Ignoring the structure and foundation of your kitchen in favour of replacing decorative elements won’t detract from the value. However, it may not add any significant value either.

The one thing to remember is a good, savvy design doesn't cost any more than a poor design. I would strongly suggest speaking with a professional kitchen designer. They will listen to how you use the space, uncover your limitations, find out what you enjoy about the space and your budget.

With this information they can successfully deliver a new design that works for both you and your home, and ultimately add more value to your property.

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