A plan to bring more light into this kitchen transformed it into a brighter, more open space with minimal change to the layout
Up to $8000 (not including joinery for back door)
What was wrong with your original kitchen?
Jamie Durrant: The cork tiles were old and swollen, the cabinetry and rangehood were outdated, and the kitchen was dark. There was only one pendant light hanging next to the oven.
How did you solve these problems?
The floor tiles were removed to reveal beautiful timber, which we polished. We added recessed lights. We also installed a frosted-glass door in the laundry for better flow to the backyard and to let the morning sun pour in. I designed, and hubby installed, a custom-made pantry where the back door used to be.
I chose white cabinetry, white bevelled subway tiles and stone quartz benchtops. This not only modernises the kitchen, but the white, glossy surfaces of the tiles and quartz reflect the light and enhance all the things we’ve done to bring more daylight into the kitchen.
What were your priorities?
We wanted to modernise the space, create better flow to the outside and make the kitchen a bright area in the house. Entertaining was important – we wanted to feel proud of the kitchen when friends and family came over. It should feel like an inviting space.
How did you achieve these goals?
By choosing a white colour palette for the tiles, benchtop and cabinetry, we were able to give the kitchen a fresh and timeless feel. Adding the floating wooden shelves created a touch of warmth against all the white, and complemented the lovely polished wooden floors. The light grey grout allowed the tiles to stand out, and was also a practical choice because white grout never stays white.
We took away the L-shaped bench and gave the kitchen a galley layout – this instantly created more space and makes the kitchen feel bigger without tearing down any walls. Taking away the outdated corner cabinets created enough bench space for me to set up my favourite hot drinks station.
How did you manage your costs?
Using the same footprint was crucial, otherwise we would’ve been tearing down walls and changing the layout of the whole house, since it’s such a small home. We also kept the original steel sink. Installing the custom kitchen ourselves was pretty straightforward and saved us a lot of money.
Polishing the wooden floor in the kitchen (we did the lounge, dining and hallway at the same time) was cheaper than retiling it. And we used Builderscrack to get quotes for small jobs – this saved us time spent calling around, plus tradies are competitive on there.
We also thought about what would save us money in the long run, even though it might cost more initially. That’s why we chose a stone quartz benchtop, as it will last a lot longer, is super practical and provides the modern look I wanted. We got multiple quotes for everything we bought and gauged how much we could negotiate prices with the suppliers.
Top tip: “You don’t need to splurge to have a beautiful kitchen. A lot of suppliers source their products from the same places, but mark their prices up quite differently. Do your research on the quality products you want and see what is out there – don’t assume that cost equals quality.”
What finishes did you choose and why?
A white scheme was a great way to achieve the lighter and brighter kitchen we wanted while adding a timeless feel. The stone quartz benchtops have a beautiful, reflective surface which adds to that fresh look. It also gives that touch of luxury the kitchen needed, since we cut back a lot on other areas. We chose silver handles to tie in with the light grey grout and further enhance the shiny surfaces.
Did you DIY or use tradies?
Both. Our kitchen cabinetry was made by Peter Hay but we got it in a factory sale, meaning we saved a lot of money since we had to install it ourselves. We happen to have a friend who is an electrician, which saved us a bit of money during the reno. For other jobs such as plumbing and tiling we used Builderscrack to bring in a few quotes and allow us to negotiate prices with local tradies.
What do you like best about your new kitchen?
The way there is purpose to every inch of the space. I put a lot of thought into every decision since we didn’t have much room to play with. The hot drinks station is my favourite spot. It was definitely worth moving the fridge to create dedicated bench space for making drinks, especially when we have guests.
Photography by: Claire Mossong.