Kitchen

7 budget flatpack kitchens and how to style the look

A lower-cost flatpack kitchen can still look chic with clever styling. The cabinetry in each of these looks is under $5000, showing you can achieve high-end results on a humble budget

sophisticated

1. Softly sophisticated 

Classic Shaker-style doors in dusty hues are a nice alternative to white but still look timeless and work beautifully with shades of grey. Selecting white doors that can be painted in an elegant colour elevates this style. It helps to think of door handles and tapware as your kitchen’s jewellery, so why not introduce a bit of bling for a luxe effect? Finish the look off with a wooden benchtop and Scandi-inspired furniture to create a warm, welcoming kitchen.

Get the look

  • Look for flatpack cabinetry featuring panelled facings (also called wainscoting), which give a framed appearance to doors and drawers. The panelling adds character to plain cabinetry, so it’s ideal for homes from an older era.
  • Brass accents complement this look perfectly because of the warm tones and heritage feel. Choose cup pull handles and a gooseneck mixer with crossheads for a contemporary yet classic look.
  • A classic feature tile on the floor in earthy colours creates a welcoming focal point and is a nod to heritage kitchens.
  • The introduction of timber is key to this look. Light oak is the ideal choice for the benchtop and dining furniture as it adds warmth while still looking light and fresh.

Planting Tip: You can paint over smooth surfaces like melamine using Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer, then apply your chosen Resene topcoats. Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer is designed to stick to very smooth surfaces and provide something for the topcoats to grip onto. Ask your Resene retailer for more details.

monochrome

2. Modern monochrome 

Raw finishes reign in this design, from the ebonised timber-look cabinetry to the white marble. The style of a kitchen is important, but function should always come first – that means good storage and plenty of it. Matching brass accents increase the glam factor and create a cohesive look.

Get the look

  • Matte black wood-grain cabinetry forms the base of this look. Opt for a handleless design so you can add statement handles.
  • Flatpack cabinetry works best when combined with higher-end fittings. Oversized brass knobs from Auhaus Architecture make this IKEA cabinetry look more expensive than it actually is.
  • Up the glam factor with a marble or marble-look splashback. Choose one with a dark grain so there’s a tie-in with the dark cabinetry.
  • Patterned black and white floor tiles stop the space from looking too static.
  • Add an accent colour to a monochrome scheme – in this case teal is the star.

Planting tip: If you can, arrange your flatpack cupboards so they reach as close to the ceiling as possible to make the space look larger – just make sure you can reach them easily.

copper

3. Clean copper

White cupboards get a grungy makeover with a copper-coloured splashback. It adds an earthiness as well as texture and is a more masculine alternative to a traditional white-tile treatment. Unexpected accessories really make a statement in this bold design.

Get the look

  • Standard white cabinetry is widely available, well-priced and great for use in the kitchen.
  • Pairing plain cabinetry with a simple white counter means you can have fun with fixtures and accessories.
  • Look for wooden handles to warm up the look. Splashback tiles in tones of terracotta, rich brown and warm metallics will work well for this look. Accessories in inky blue give a modern edge.

Planting tip: Most people opt for a kitchen island when designing their dream kitchen, but this adds significant cost. Think about whether you really need one or if a low-cost table will do the trick.

bold

4. Bold and dramatic 

If you have a fondness for the dark side, this look could be for you. However, the all-black kitchen is a bold statement and requires a very considered approach to design. Black cupboards look best in matte finishes for a sleek, modern look that’s also practical. Integrated appliance options are limited in flatpack kitchens, so this is a good opportunity to use statement appliances like the pictured Smeg fridge as a design feature.

Get the look

  • Matte black handleless cabinetry creates a streamlined look. Add a black or dark grey stone benchtop.
  • Break up the black with pale floors, walls and ceilings to avoid a claustrophobic effect.
  • Add some reflective elements to the darkness – a mirrored splashback, copper accessories, a warm table light and some bright greenery will lift this look from gothic to glam.

Planting tips: Flatpack is code for DIY so remember there will be building. Putting together the cabinets is easy; it’s the installation that usually requires moderate carpentry skills. Find a tradie if you need some help.

coolCork

5. Cool cork

Cork is back in a big way and is a hard-wearing, practical choice for flooring, as well as a soft, warm look in lighting and accessories. And for a humble material, it can make a statement. Cork mixes well with other materials so try using it alongside timber benchtops and furniture, leather detailing and gleaming white tiles to create a feast of texture. Clean, linear cabinetry will offset the warmth and curviness of this Scandinavian style, and hints of greenery unify the look.

Get the look

  • This adventurous style is all about mixing materials and here three are used to great effect − cork, wood and stainless steel.
  • Bold charcoal, wood-look cabinetry is warmed up with plenty of timber tones, which are repeated in the dining table and chairs.
  • Instead of subway tiles, look into 100x100mm tiles arranged in a ‘running bond’ pattern. Grey grout links to the charcoal cabinetry.
  • More is more in this kitchen look. Don’t hide your good cookware away – display it on your benchtop to bring you joy every day.

Planting tips: There are many parts to a flatpack kitchen so make a detailed checklist to keep track of everything. Read the instructions, watch how-to videos on the manufacturer’s website, and get going!

mintCondition

6. Mint condition 

A band of coloured cabinetry sets the tone for this space, with the cool mint hue echoed in the artwork and accessories. Everything else is kept light and fresh to create a stylish kitchen with a retro coastal vibe.

Get the look

  • Plain white base cabinetry has been painted in Porter’s Paints ‘Agave’ which transforms the entire room.
  • White laminate benchtops such as this one are practical if you’re on a really tight budget. A marble subway tile splashback creates a more luxe effect without breaking the bank.
  • Elevate the look with brass handles, pendant, tapware and accessories.

Planting tips: When building cabinets, a good trick is to draw up a floorplan with your cabinets marked ‘A’, ‘B’, etc. Then tape pieces of paper marked with each letter to the appropriate cabinet, drawer and door parts.

trueLove

7. Scandinavian chic

This look embodies ‘Scandinavian farmhouse’, featuring a simple palette of warm whites, pale wood and greenery. White panelling is repeated on cabinetry and the walls to bring a modern, rustic feel, and the round dining table and spindleback chairs add a homely charm. Pale blue accessories and fresh green plants provide subtle splashes of colour for a modern touch.

Get the look

  • White panelled cabinetry looks modern but also adds texture to prevent a cold, clinical feel. When looking for flatpack cabinetry, searching ‘country profile’ can help.
  • Use dark grey or black grout to give classic subway tiles a modern update.
  • Open shelving means you can create visual impact with simple styling. Group your favourite ceramics, objects and plants together to personalise the space.
  • Leather door pulls have been added to the standard white cabinetry to lend a more designer look. Changing out the door handles would be the perfect tweak if you wanted to give this style a new look in future.
  • Splash out on an Aga oven for the ultimate in farmhouse fashion.

Planting tips:  There’s a trend towards more drawers, rather than cupboards, under benchtops for storing pots and dinnerware. It’s a grab-and-go design philosophy that will save you from the back-breaking search for items. When designing your kitchen, ensure there’s enough space to pull out drawers and walk around them.

Best places for flatpacks 

Words by: Elle Lovelock. Styling by: Sarah Ellison & Kerrie-Ann Jones. Photography by: Brett Stevens/bauersyndication.com.au.

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