Our kitchens can be a joy to occupy and use, or a hellish and frustrating daily annoyance – and everything in between.
We expect a lot from them! They need to be really functional. We need to be in them and still feel connected to our family. Open plan living means they need to look great (because they’re usually on display) and be easy and quick to clean up. And they need to handle everything from a speedy and chaotic brekkie routine, to a quiet chat and wine with a girlfriend, to a punishing toddler or several, to afternoon homework and dinner prep, to an excited party crowd.
If you’re like most families, you need every dollar to stretch as far as it can. Whether you’re doing a small cosmetic reno, or creating the brand new one you’ve always dreamed of, here are five proven ways to get bang for buck in your kitchen makeover or new build.
1. Know your dimensions
So much of a kitchen’s functionality depends on the dimensions you use to arrange it overall. So here are some critical dimensions to help you:
- Benches are generally 900mm high, and minimum 600mm deep.
- Overhead cupboards sit 600 – 700mm above the bench and are 300mm deep.
- Check the requirements of any rangehood you use for its recommended setout.
- In a galley kitchen, 1200mm between benchtop and island bench is ideal.
2. Work Within the Standards
Working with standard material and product dimensions makes sourcing and fabrication easier and faster, and is a great for stretching your budget.
Generally I recommend working in multiples of 300mm … so 600mm, 900mm, 1,200mm as sizes for cupboards.
If you’re squeezing your kitchen into an oddly sized space, then use standard sizes for most of your kitchen, and make up the leftover space with a custom sized, individual unit or cupboard – rather than making every cupboard a non-standard size.
This will give you flexibility in how you source the components of your kitchen – which leads me to my next recommendation.
3. Consider Alternative Delivery Methods
DIY may not be for everyone, but there’s certainly ways a build a kitchen that can save you big dollars without seeing you get out a screwdriver.
If you think about all the components that go into a kitchen … the assembly of cupboards, the installation of appliances, putting the benchtops on, installing splashbacks, the electrical and plumbing work, and building work required to rectify or create the space that the kitchen is in … there are lots of opportunities to save money in how you source the labour or materials for those components.
One trick we have used is to buy flatpack cupboards, and assemble and install them ourselves. We then have paid various tradespeople to install the rest of the components required to finish off the kitchen. We’ve coordinated and managed their work directly. That step alone saved us thousands.
4. Focus on Function and Durability
Honestly, there are SO many options, gorgeous materials, funky gadgets and clever storage solutions we can spend oodles on when it comes to our kitchens. It is difficult to not be seduced.
Instead, choose materials and items for their durability. Kitchens take a lot of punishment. If choosing a ‘trend’ item, then select it where it can be replaced easily in the future. A neutral base colour scheme can be made unique through a special tap or a feature tile, which can then be changed later when trends and your taste do.
5. Shop The Sales
You can save LOTS of money by taking your time to source what you need, stockpiling, and being flexible about your choices. End of line and discontinued items, such as tiles and appliances, can save big bucks. You can even buy entire kitchens from displays being disassembled, or at places like Home Shows. Watch online auctions, but make sure you are happy with the warranties being provided, and that your selections still meet Australian Standards.
Kitchens can be a big investment in any renovation or new build. They play an important role in helping our homes feel great overall, and be simple and enjoyable places to live. Use these five ways to stretch your budget, and make your kitchen be that functional, liveable space you dream of.