A cramped kitchen gets a Scandinavian inspired makeover

An unfunctional u-shaped kitchen gets a streamlined new layout with Scandinavian style. We get the design details on this budget kitchen makeover


A cramped kitchen gets a Scandinavian inspired makeover

Who lives here?
Emma Bolwell, 31 (business development manager), and Chris Chamberlain, 33 (software developer), plus Ziggy the Lab and Tilly the cat.

Who designed the kitchen?
James Daniels, Mood Designs.

Renovation details 

The project
The renovation of a small, old kitchen called for functional design and savvy use of space.

What issues did you want to fix with your new kitchen design?
Emma: The frustrations of working in a u-shaped layout with mismatched kitchen cupboards. Over 70 years, some old cupboards had been kept and new ones had been slotted in around them.

What tradespeople did you use?
The builder, electrician and plumber were all organised through Mood Designs. They work with them regularly which made it nice and easy for us.


Design process 

Could you talk us through the design and build?
James: The style we were trying to achieve was modern Scandinavian with birch plywood. We requested Pinterest images from the client then did an onsite consultation and formed the layout of the kitchen. Emma wanted a mix of white and birch plywood so we played around with 3D drawings on the computer, changing the colours to achieve the right balance. We then turned the designs into construction drawings and built the cabinets in our Onehunga, Auckland, workshop.

Style inspiration?
Emma: Scandinavian-inspired with simple, clean lines and contrasts of white and wood. We wanted to change the small space from a u-shape to a galley kitchen so everything had to fit that format. We wanted a more functional layout that was better suited to entertaining and also to get rid of the hideous purple cabinets and black benchtop.


Dream result 

How does the new kitchen work for you?
Emma: Perfectly! Everything is in easy reach and it’s so much easier for entertaining. Having a large sink has also been helpful for hiding dishes when you’re working in a small kitchen.

What’s your favourite feature of the new space?
Connecting the kitchen and dining space via the large breakfast bar. It works as a second table for barbecues and parties.

Any major disasters during the reno process?
No disasters, but the house was built in the 1940s from rimu so the walls and ceilings aren’t exactly straight. It was a challenge when installing the floor-to-ceiling cupboards.


Timeline and budget 

How long did the process take?
From the initial meeting to the kitchen being finished was about three to four months. We were without a functioning kitchen for about three weeks.

What did you save on?
We’d had to buy a new fridge and dishwasher the year before so that helped with the overall cost. We decided to keep the tiling simple, just white subway tiles.

What did you splurge on?
The engineered-stone waterfall benchtop. It feels like it connects the different elements in the small space so it was definitely the right decision.

Total: $20,00-$25,000

Words by: Fiona Ralph. Photography by: Jackie Meiring.

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