For those of us who like to cook, we dream of the perfect epicurean kitchen. Premium oak cabinetry, thick granite countertops and the latest appliances and gadgetry. Renovating your kitchen is super exciting, but it can also get overwhelming, as the cost and decisions seem to mount up endlessly. We’ve got 7 steps to planning your dream kitchen to create a fresh and functional space the family will enjoy.
When planning your dream kitchen, start by allowing yourself to indulge in a feeding frenzy of kitchen showrooms, Pinterest, Instagram and magazines to get an idea of the look and feel you want to achieve in your kitchen. Do you like the country charm of hardwood oak or are you all about the sleek urban style?
A lot of designers and renovators like to use a vision board (also known as mood board) to work out the look and feel they want to create. A vision board allows you to see how all the elements you love will look together — oak with granite, marble against stainless-steel, and so forth. You could go old school with a corkboard to pin up cutouts from magazines, colour and material ideas, etc. or you could do it digitally with online boards such as Pinterest and Instagram. There are also free online tools such as Canva. By locking in the look you love from the get-go, you’ll avoid expensive ‘tweaks’ later.
Are you a single, a couple or a whole clan? Your kitchen renovation needs to meet your lifestyle requirements. Zoning for chopping, prepping, cooking, cleaning, etc. is great for families with kids or grandkids who love to help cook. An island bench allows for a great open-plan design with a social dynamic that’s ideal for entertaining, and always factor in ample storage. You want to create a fully functional space the whole family can use with ease.
Some people like the convenience of having their laundry in or very close to the kitchen, or even in butler’s pantry, so consider this too in your lifestyle requirements to ensure you have enough space for your units, a clothes hamper and an area to fold. If you’re sensitive to sound, you may also need to take into account soundproofing your laundry space as the kitchen is the hub of the home.
While it would be lovely to have a blank cheque to install all the latest bells and whistles when renovating the kitchen, the reality is that for most of us, we need to be mindful of expenses. From flooring to fixtures, cabinetry to countertops, work out what’s important to you and draw up a realistic budget to work within. You’ll also need to decide if you’re going to install new appliances or keep your old ones. According to Hipages, it costs $15,000 to $100,000 to renovate your kitchen, plus $3000 to $100,000 for appliances.
For structural changes, you’ll also need to consider permit costs. Of course, what you choose to update will be an important part of planning your dream kitchen. You can consider cost-cutting solution, such as leaving the original flooring, painting your cabinetry instead of replacing it and updating knobs. Allow a buffer of 10–20% in your kitchen renovation account for unexpected costs.
Ideally, you’ll be able to install your new kitchen within the existing space, in which case, take careful measurements (in millimetres) before you order any workbenches, cabinetry or basins. But if you plan to change the layout and the architecture needs to be modified, you’ll need to budget in hiring professional tradies (see cost breakdown above). A kitchen designer or architect and builder may need to be employed for structural changes and you need to check which permits will be required. If you’re using professional tradies, always check that they’re licensed and insured in case there’s an accident or damage to your home.
The most popular kitchen layouts in contemporary Australian homes are the island kitchen, the U-shaped kitchen, the L-shaped kitchen, the straight-line kitchen, the galley kitchen and the peninsula kitchen. Research them all to find the best fit for you and your family.
An element you may notice they have in common is that they employ the ‘golden triangle’ theory, which states that the kitchen’s three main work areas — sink, fridge, stovetop — form a (you guessed it) triangle. All sides should be between 1.2 and 2.7 metres away and no traffic should travel through the centre of the triangle.
On average, kitchens are updated every 10 years, which is not only unnecessarily expensive, but also contributes to a lot of landfill. You could go green by investing in quality materials that are slow to date, such as timber and stone. If you’re updating your appliances, opt for high-quality, energy-efficient options that will last longer and be more eco-friendly.
Of course, all of these considerations need to be weighed up within your budgetary constraints. For your benchtops, laminate is the cheapest, followed by timber, composite stone, concrete and natural stone. Do a little research to decide what works best for you. For instance, marble (a natural stone) is very luxurious, but it’s also very expensive and high-maintenance as it’s porous. Granite is stronger and also stunning.
Decide if you need a single or double basin, and there’s a surprisingly vast choice of tapware to choose from — from contemporary to farmhouse, matte-black to brass.
Realistically, you want to give yourself at least several weeks to research, plan and design. You’ll need to check out materials and, if you plan to use tradies, get quotes. And ordering customised cabinetry can take up to six weeks. There can also be delays in getting permits approved, as well as a cost involved. Do your research to ensure you get the timing right.
Now that you’ve finished planning your dream kitchen, you’re all set to order and install! For a simple fitout, if you’re handy with the DIY, you may be happy to install islands and hang cabinetry yourself. If not, there are plenty of online trade services, such as Hipages or Airtaskers, ready to give you a free online quote to do the heavy lifting and installation for you.
Of course, if you’re doing a full structural kitchen renovation, your builder will do the heavy lifting and your plumber and electrician will install and connect your services.