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How not to get ripped off when upgrading your kitchen

Photo by Alamy/PA.

By Sam Wylie-Harris, PA

When it comes to project planning, a new kitchen scheme can be a tale of two halves – style and function.

As Jen Nash, senior design lead at Magnet puts it: “The kitchen can be one of the most complex rooms to re-design in the home, as it demands not only style, but inherent functionality.”

From selecting flooring and appliances to cabinetry and storage, she says the multitude of decisions that come with a kitchen renovation can be overwhelming.

“Many people think they need to undertake a whole new kitchen renovation for all these elements to tie together and transform the space,” says Nash. “But in reality, there are plenty of clever design tricks you can use to avoid the substantial cost of a renovation, whilst still rejuvenating.’’

But before you kick-start your kitchen makeover, every project needs a plan. “Whether you’re modifying an existing kitchen, designing a brand new layout or creating an extension, planning is the most important stage in the process,” stresses Ben Burbidge, MD, Kitchen Makers.

“Always tailor your concepts to your budget and leave contingency for unexpected issues,” says Burbridge. “It’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve – and how you can use the space most efficiently.”

“Any structural work, such as sky lights, changing entrances, moving pipes and rewiring, will add significant costs to the project,” he adds.

To put you on the front foot, here’s how to spend – not splurge – when planning your scheme.

Revitalise existing cabinetry

"With cabinetry being a large focal point of the kitchen, updating it is one of the easiest ways to transform your kitchen,” suggests Nash.

But if your budget doesn’t allow for new cabinetry, she says painting them yourself can be the more affordable alternative, providing the same effect.

“Sand down your existing cabinetry, apply a primer and then paint them the colour of your choice. Whether you opt for a dramatic black or pastel green, the change of hue will give the illusion of a completely new kitchen upgrade – without the big spend,” says Nash.

If you want even more of a change, she says you can also replace doors and drawer fronts with new materials and finishes.’’

Introduce floating shelves

If you have blank wall space, you don’t necessarily need to buy large pieces of furniture, such as dressers and cupboards, to fill it.

Instead, incorporating floating shelving into the space is an affordable way to not only add more storage to your kitchen, but also add a level of style and airiness to the space, says Nash.

“Providing the perfect opportunity to showcase personal flair and character in your kitchen – displaying pretty glassware, or your favourite mugs and cookbooks, can keep your kitchen feeling cosy.”

She says it’s worth putting some thought into what you will have on display, as these will contribute to the overall look and feel of your space. For example, avoid placing items like appliances or mismatched crockery on display, as this can make your kitchen feel cluttered.

Update your splashback

“Practicalities aside, splashbacks play a crucial role as a focal point in your kitchen design,” says Nash. “Simply updating them, therefore, is an easy way to add a splash of on-trend colour and transform the feel of the room.”

If the rest of your kitchen is fairly neutral, she suggests picking a patterned tile to add some flair. “As well as colour, you can introduce an additional finish or layer into your kitchen with your splashback, such as textured or hexagonal tiles.’’

Update hardware

Trade old or outdated hardware in for metallic finishes, such as brass and brushed gold, to give your kitchen a sleek and modern refresh, suggests Nash.

She says small changes and additions like this can go a long way in making your kitchen look and feel more luxurious, without spending over the odds.

“Whatever finish or material you opt for, ensure you keep it coherent throughout the kitchen – with all knobs and handles matching in material and shape,” advises Nash. “This will tie the whole space together with a sleek and contemporary aesthetic.’’

Burbidge agrees: “Finishing touches, such as the hardware for your cabinetry, have a significant impact on the look and feel of your kitchen. If you are on a limited budget, changing the handles is a cost-effective way to refresh your kitchen.”

Add under-cabinet lighting

Aside from its practical purposes, lighting in a kitchen is a key design feature that can really determine the overall feeling and mood of the space, notes Nash.

“But you don’t need to invest in extravagant lighting fixtures, or rewire your electricals to achieve your desired finish,’’ she adds.

From overhead spotlights running across kitchen worktops and dangling over an island, to rattan lamps, safely placed candles and under or in-cabinet LED lighting, Nash says there are lots of small and affordable lighting tricks that can go a long way in creating a warm and ambient atmosphere.

“The key is to dot them around the space to create dark and light zones, that draw you in and illuminate the surrounding features.’’


Another inexpensive way to refresh your kitchen is through your flooring.

“Hard flooring styles, such as vinyl and laminate, remain popular choices due to their durability and cost-effectiveness,” says Sam Way, hard flooring buyer at Carpetright.

“Not only are these solutions highly durable, they can also help to transform a space and make a design statement in the kitchen, without a large investment.”

Additionally, he says these styles are particularly easy to maintain, offering a visible level of cleanliness and satisfaction with a light sweep and mop.

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