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  • 10 ways to Save: Kitchen Renovations

10 ways to Save: Kitchen Renovations

WORDS Stephanie Matheson IMAGES Eve Wilson

Kitchens are one of the two most commonly renovated rooms in the home (the other one being bathrooms) and typically have a significant proportion of a renovation budget allocated to them. Costs can add up quickly, so keep these handy hints in mind when planning your kitchen renovation.


  1. Keep plumbing points in their current location, so you don’t sink hard cash into your – erm, sink! One of the biggest cost drivers when it comes to kitchen renovations, is moving plumbing points around. In other words, changing the location of your sink. Work around its current location as the starting point for your kitchen floorplan and work flow.

  2. To avoid the cost for electrical work, or keeping it to a minimum, try to keep your current power points and electrical sockets where they are, or move them only minimally. It all depends on your house and the state of your kitchen, of course, but if your walls and wiring are in good condition, you can save thousands of dollars by avoiding rewiring and regibing.

  3. Work with the basic layout of your kitchen and reuse windows and doors where possible. Replacing windows and doors with like-for-like options keeps the costs low, as you will not have to rebuild your walls. Where double-glazing is required, you might well be able to keep your existing joinery and simply have the new panes inserted. Where more light or an access point to the outdoors is required, French doors may be a more cost-effective option than full opening stacker doors.

  4. Reuse your appliances wherever possible. You can always replace them at a later date, and distribute your expenses over a longer period. Most appliances can work in beautifully with a new kitchen design and if need be, can also be hidden by a new cabinet door. Keeping appliances in the same location will also save you money.

  5. If your cabinets are still in good nick, this can be a real cost-saver. Keep the units and simply replace the cabinet doors. You could even consider getting your old cabinet doors repainted or resurfaced. A change in cabinet colour can transform your kitchen in amazing ways, and it really doesn’t have to cost a great deal. Apart from repainting and adding new veneer, affordable choices include kitchen cabinet films and foils. These types of adhesive vinyl films come in block colours or with different patterns and designs. When it comes to buying new kitchen cabinets, the most affordable option is to choose standard, ready-to-build cabinets. Basic cabinets are a lot more cost-effective than complicated pull-out pantries.

  6. Lighting is crucial in any work space, no less so in your kitchen environment. Ensure you have sufficient task lighting. With LEDs becoming more affordable all the time, it’s easy to install recessed lights that provide enough light at a very low cost. LED is also used in and under cabinets and, if you have some budget to spare, can be installed as strip lighting behind cabinets or under kickboards to create atmospheric lighting. Consider foregoing pendant lights if you are trying to save money and stick to a tight budget.

  7. More often than not, homeowners who are looking to renovate their kitchen are also looking to install new flooring in their kitchen and possibly other areas, too. Tiles are a common and very durable option, but if you are working towards a tight budget it pays to take a closer look at vinyl and linoleum floors. Luxury vinyl in particular can be a great choice, as it is cost-effective and very durable. This material has evolved and improved massively over the last few years and comes in tiles that reflect the look or wood, ceramic tiles or stone tiles. If you like the look and feel of wooden floors, consider bamboo as a very economical, environmentally-friendly and hardwearing option.

  8. Benchtops don’t have to be made of granite or marble to be hardwearing. In fact, both of these materials are not stain resistant and need to be resealed regularly. By far the most common and cost-effective material used in New Zealand is high-pressure laminate, often referred to as Formica (but that is just one of many different brands/providers). Laminate is non-porous, stain resistant and easy to maintain. It comes in a large range of colours and styles, including with square and slightly rounded edges. Stainless steel is another good option, as is the more expensive engineered stone. If you have a little bit of budget to space, you could consider a solid surface benchtop. It’s custom-made out of a solid plastic block, without visible joins, creating seamless work surfaces and splashbacks. The option of having integrated grooved drainage to sink areas gives your kitchen a sleek and clean look.

  9. Use splashbacks and tiles only where they are really needed. Covering the whole wall with a glass splashback or wall tiles is costly. You can still achieve a stunning look by covering only the area behind the hot plates or stovetop, where the wall really does need to be protected from dirt and grease. For maximum visual impact, choose a bright colour, or to keep things neutral opt for a timeless grey or beige. Painting the rest of your kitchen is an economical option, however it pays to invest in quality paint that is designed especially for that purpose and can easily be cleaned and wiped with a damp cloth.

  10. If you want to include an island in your kitchen design, consider keeping it simple without sink and electrical sockets to keep the costs down. A straightforward style with plain drawers or cupboard doors will stand the test of time. Alternatively, look for a completely different piece of furniture to take centre stage in your kitchen, say an antique table or solid, gnarly slab of wood. When you repurpose items ensure you install them to be at the same height as your kitchen counter.

At the end of the day, a Renovation is going to be costly... If you need advice, or any inspiration with how to minimise costs but still achieve style and functionality, click here to get in touch: New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom.

  • Post author
    Renovate Magazine