The kitchen has well and truly become the heart of the Australian home over the past few decades and a major selling point.
In fact, a realestate.com.au survey found 26 per cent of Aussies would prioritise kitchen renovations over any other kind of renovation.
However Melissa Urquhart, senior manager at State Custodians Home Loans, says careful planning is needed when updating this important room.
“A kitchen is often the central point where you and your visitors spend a lot of time,” she says.
“To install an entirely new kitchen can be costly, so being careful not to overcapitalise is crucial. You really want the value of the property to increase by at least what you have spent so that it is a worthwhile exercise. Not achieving this is a major mistake.”
Melissa adds that it can cost more to fix a renovation disaster than to pay a qualified builder to get it right in the first place. “You want to make the most of your time and money,” she says. “So taking on something that is beyond your capability may cost over double if you have to bring in an expert to redo it.”
Whether you’re updating a kitchen for your own purposes, or for a house sale, try and avoid costly mistakes. Here are our tips, along with suggestions from senior buyer/stylist Stina Eriksson from leading online homewares store Zanui.
1. Don’t go overboard with colour
Whilst you may love the look of all-yellow cabinets, ask yourself whether you’d be happy looking at them day after day. “Personally I’d go for neutral colours in a kitchen, and a style that is more “safe” and timeless,” says Stina. “You can always change around colourful accessories or an artwork, but it’s not as easy to change cabinets once they’re in, and re-painting can be a hassle.” If you do want to add a splash of colour, Stina suggests going for an interesting splashback. “There are lots of different tiles or coloured glass out there,” she says. “Or you could even embrace pattern and put up wallpaper covered with glass to protect it, for a stronger impact.”
2. Don’t install a sink or stovetop in an island
The island has become the focal point in the modern kitchen and often doubles as a make-shift eating area and place for guests to gather around. So do you really want people standing around your sink, staring at piles of dirty dishes, or being splattered by your cooking? If possible it’s a better option to reserve this area purely for preparation, accessories and eating.
3. Don’t use untested benchtop surfaces
It’s a good idea to take home a sample of a benchtop surface and test it before you commit further. See how it reacts when you spill oil, red wine and lemon juice on it. Some benchtops, such as certain stone varieties, do stain. Could you live with that?
4. Don’t have too many open shelves
Sure, open shelving can look beautiful. But only if it’s stocked somewhat artistically with lots of pretty things that you don’t move around much. If you’ve got a rag-tag assortment of chipped crockery, mismatched mugs and worn out pots that are constantly in circulation, then all your stuff is probably better off hidden. A good compromise is to just have one open shelf displaying your most prized items such as eye-catching crockery.
5. Don’t forget about electrical outlets
Got a cabinet full of kitchen gadgets and only one electrical outlet? If so, make sure your new kitchen has multiple outlets, especially as many people nowadays also tend to charge things like their phone in the kitchen as well.
6. Don’t use too much of the same material
Too much of a good thing, is well … a bad thing. A kitchen full of stainless steel appliances plus a steel sink and steel benchtop could end up looking like a morgue. Similarly, there’s a lot of marble-finish accessories currently out there to complement the myriad of marble countertops. One or two items will look cool, but anymore than that and you’re heading into mausoleum territory. “It’s also good to have a bit of contrast, so if you have a wooden benchtop, a marble accessory will look chic, and vice versa,” says Stina.
7. Don’t minimise benchtop space either side of your stove
It’s never a good idea to build full-height cabinets on either side of your stove/oven, or to have one side of the stove flush against a wall. For safety reasons you need to be able to quickly move a pot to a benchtop surface on either side.
8. Don’t make things unfunctional
If you’ve got a dishwasher that’s miles away from the sink, a fridge that opens the wrong way, or two cabinets that can’t open at the same time, then you’ve stuffed up. Envisage the functionality of the space first with 3D imaging, or paper templates.
Good luck with your renovation! At the end of the day if you love it that’s all that counts!