How to

Expert advice: Kitchen refresh

Our resident interiors expert solves a kitchen quandary


Dear Alex,

I’ve recently bought a new home and the kitchen is really basic and in need of a makeover. What are some key updates I can apply without re-mortgaging the home to pay for it (i.e. budget-friendly)? At the moment it has a lot of colourful wooden cabinetry, a laminate benchtop and lino floors! Should I plug for new appliances, or am I better off replacing the bench and flooring? Some advice would be much appreciated. My style is cool contemporary with a splash of colour.

Pamela, Hamilton

Step by step
Be your own designer and plan out your ultimate kitchen. This way you will know your end result and you can work to that in stages.

Get in the zone
Define your kitchen functions, requirements and design elements. Wall oven or gas hob? Double or single sink? Work out how you use your kitchen in an everyday capacity and who uses the space. Does it need to have a place to eat as well as a family space to do homework or hang out with friends?

Easy update
Using paint to give new life to wooden joinery is a very effective way to update a kitchen’s look. Choose a hardwearing paint that provides a super tough, acrylic finish with the added benefit of containing anti-bacterial and anti-mould technology – perfect for a kitchen environment! Use the same colour to paint everything (cupboards, trims, joinery), which will take the focus away from the form and replace it with the colour. The colour could be an easy-to-work-with bright white or try being a bit more adventurous and choose a shade you love. Get inspiration from magazines and online mood boards.

Cover up
Hide the lino floor with a rug or mat. There are some pretty cost-effective mats on the market that could be used to help define floor areas such as under a kitchen table or underfoot at the sink.

Go for seconds
If you don’t like your laminate bench then look at replacing it with a secondhand option from Trade Me as plenty of people sell kitchens online! Something more modern will help to update the wooden cabinets and add instant style. New stainless steel can be expensive but is hardwearing and will tick your contemporary style. Be clear about your ‘look’. Find images that talk to you and clearly define your style. This will help when you come to specify products like tiles, flooring, whiteware and paint colours. There will seem like limitless options to choose from so you want to be very clear on your design direction as well asyour budget.

Think ahead
Invest in good whiteware and appliances that will be daily use items. These can always be incorporated into
a new kitchen down the track but will be a quick and easy way to give your
old kitchen a fresh feel.

More for less
Don’t be afraid to dream big but find budget alternatives to these dreams that don’t cost the earth.

Words by: Alex Fulton