ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson
Basic doesn’t mean boring and when it comes to kitchens you can do a lot for a little. With a bit of clever planning you can revamp your kitchen on a small budget. A basic kitchen renovation in Australia is likely to cost in the region of $20,000 - $30,000. Our simple tips below will help you keep your costs in check. Read on to find out what you can get for your money, or view our mid range kitchen renovation or top end kitchen renovation estimates if you are looking for something more.
Can I change the layout of my kitchen?
Moving the location of your sink or stove, in other words the positioning of plumbing points and electrical sockets, is a major cost-contributing factor. Exactly how much extra money would be needed depends on the size, location and layout of your kitchen. In any case, if you are able to stick to the original floor plan and structure of your kitchen, you will be able to minimise your renovation costs. The same goes for existing doors and windows. You should plan in up to $20,000 to do a basic makeover of your kitchen, keeping everything where it is, or up to $30,000 if you are keen to include a few extras.
While the layout of your kitchen is likely to remain somewhat similar, you can make a big impact with your choice of colour and accessories. Splashbacks and wall paint are affordable ways to inject a pop of your favourite colour. Smaller accessories such as bar stools, wall clocks and fruit bowls are also great options to add colourful highlights. If you opt for an eclectic kitchen style you could create space for displaying brightly coloured vessels, or include open shelves that show off your crockery. Other kitchen styles include the rather clutter-free modern-contemporary style and the rustic look that incorporates a lot of natural wood and ‘stressed’ or vintage cabinets. Depending on the era of your existing kitchen you could also opt for a ‘50s or 60s retro’ kitchen that embraces some of this period’s features.
Should I buy new kitchen appliances?
Obviously, you’ll be able to save a huge amount of money if you stay with your existing appliances. Consider which appliances still work (and are likely to work for several years to come) and which may need replacing. You might be able to focus on one or two new key items. If you do have to put in new appliances, you can opt for plain models that will do the job and match your kitchen style. Make sure you go for energy star rated products that will help you save money over their lifespan. Building your appliances into the kitchen and covering them with cabinetry usually requires more expensive, custom-made cabinetry.
What type of countertops and splashbacks suit my budget?
Laminate remains the most common and most economical material for benchtop surfaces in Australian kitchens. It has developed a lot in recent years with a host of colours and styles available. It’s practical, durable and with prices starting from around $170 per square metre it really is budget-friendly. Bamboo or stainless steel benchtops are interesting, but are slightly more expensive alternatives (each starting from around $300 per square metre). Bamboo tops add a warm wooden tone to your kitchen. Stainless steel on the other hand creates a more sleek and modern look. It’s long been used in commercial kitchens, as it’s hygienic and easy to clean. If your budget stretches a little bit further, you could consider laminated timber (from around $450 per square metre).
When it comes to splashbacks, ceramic tiles work well and won’t break the bank. You could opt for a neutral, plain style or choose different colours or patterns. If money is really tight or you want to use more expensive materials such as mosaics or glass, consider covering just the area immediately above and next to the cooktop. You could also install a longer but lower strip of splashback material. Paint the rest of the wall in a good quality, antibacterial paint specifically design for kitchens.
What cabinetry options do I have?
Using standard cabinets throughout is the way to go on a smaller budget. These days there is a great choice of styles available. Even better, consider replacing cabinet doors only, and keeping any structurally sound cabinets you already have. Adding new doorknobs or handles is a small detail that can ‘upcycle’ your cabinets significantly. You can also repaint or resurface existing cabinets. In some cases cabinet doors can remain in place and be spray coated, but more often than not you will have to dismantle the kitchen cabinets and then install the cabinets again. Depending on the changes you are making to your kitchen and the state of the cabinets, it may actually be more efficient and cost-effective to replace all the kitchen cabinetry with standard cabinets. Many companies offer flat pack kitchen sets that are good value for money and easy to install.
What lighting can I have with a basic budget?
Lighting is a really important component in any kitchen and that includes both natural and artificial lighting. You will need to work with the windows and doors you already have, so you won’t be able to change the amount of natural light that enters your kitchen. However, you can upgrade your light fixtures to ensure your task lighting is sufficient. Keep it simple and functional. Modern recessed lights are an easy way to illuminate the whole kitchen. You could consider using dimmable lights so you can set the scene when entertaining. Halogen lights work well, however, LEDs are becoming more popular and affordable. If you are keen to include a pendant light now or some time in the future, make sure you discuss this with your builder and get the necessary electrical wiring in place.
What flooring options do I have?
Linoleum and luxury vinyl are two inexpensive flooring options for your kitchen. Both are hardwearing, easy to clean and resilient to water damage. Linoleum is a natural product that is anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic. Luxury vinyl has a high-quality finish and is available in the form of tiles or wood-looking planks. The material absorbs sound better than ceramic tiles and is warmer underfoot.
If you’re able to spend a little bit of extra money on your flooring you could consider ceramic tiles or bamboo flooring. Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource and a more affordable alternative to traditional hardwood floors.
If you have a slightly bigger budget to work with, why not read our mid-range kitchen renovations and high-end kitchen renovations.
If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your kitchen renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.