Secrets of a Budget Kitchen Renovation

Have you been putting off making over one of the most important rooms in your house?  Our Renovations Guru, Cherie Barber, provides her expert tips to help you reno the kitchen without breaking the bank. 

If you’ve been putting off renovating one of the most important rooms in your house because the job seems too daunting, or you simply can’t face the inconvenience of having your kitchen out of action for weeks, here are some shortcuts you may not have considered.

They could be great ideas for investment properties, where you really don’t want to forfeit weeks of rental income through lengthy renovations or spend more than you have to. Or if you’re on a tight budget with your own kitchen renovation, these are some of the creative ways to stretch your dollar further. It all starts with working with what you’ve got.

Revamp, Remodel, Refresh!

If your kitchen is basically in sound structural shape, with no rotting carcasses (your cupboards, that is), cracked tiles or absurdly dated appliances, then one trip to your local hardware store and a few days’ work could be all you need for a completely modern look. It’s what I call a “cosmetic refresh” and I’ve transformed several kitchens this way for under $1000, using the fantastic range of resurfacing products now on the market. They are highly durable and ideal for kitchens that simply need a new lease of life.

Your kitchen tiles, benchtops, appliances and cupboard fronts are all simply resurfaced or painted in fresh, modern colours, using products specially formulated for the task.  

On your shopping list are:

• White Knight Tile Paint (just choose the colour that suits)
• White Knight Laminate Paint (for the cupboards) – tintable to almost any colour
• White Knight Tile & Laminate Primer (for the undercoating of tiles and cupboards)
• Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations (a resurfacing kit for your benchtop, in a range of “stone lookalike” shades)
• Rust-Oleum Stainless Steel (a paint with real stainless steel pigments to revamp old kitchen appliances)
• Rust-Oleum Epoxy Appliance Paint (for powder-coated appliances, like a fridge, dishwasher or enamel-coated stove, that may have chipped or faded and simply need a shiny, new look)

All these products come with detailed instructions on how to apply them and a proficient DIYer or handyman should have no problems transforming your kitchen within a week, allowing for drying times between coats. Just like a coat of paint can dramatically change a house, a cosmetic refresh like this delivers an amazing result for little cost.

You can watch my video on how to transform a benchtop with the Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations kit.

Try a Fancy New Façade

If your kitchen cabinets are solid, then why not build on what you have? It’s what renovators do all the time. Getting new kitchen cabinets made up from scratch could be an unnecessary expense if the carcasses of your kitchen are basically sturdy and you are happy with the existing kitchen layout.

To check their condition, have a good rattle of all the drawers to see runners are intact, then have a careful inspection inside the cupboards to make sure the basic framework is still sound. If that all checks out, then you can get by with simply updating the cupboard and drawer fronts only. This will save you a bundle compared with getting entirely new cabinets made up and installed, yet you’ll have the look of a brand new kitchen. No one will know the old bones lurk behind the new façade.

In most cases you can re-use the hinges already there and if you’re lucky, and all your cabinets are standard, off-the-shelf sizes, you may be able to simply order the new cupboard and drawer fronts online. Just be careful to correctly specify which are left and right opening. Worst case scenario is you have a cabinetmaker custom-make the new fronts to size.

You’ll probably want to update the splashback and benchtop at the same time. There are plenty of companies that can supply and install these for you, or if you opt for a tiled splashback, just choose your tiles and get a professional tiler in.

You can easily spend a fortune on a brand new kitchen, but the question to ask yourself is: do I need to? It’s certainly worth sizing up what you already have, working out what you want, and then evaluating if you can achieve the result you’re after with one of these clever, cost-saving shortcuts.

There are spaces still available for Cherie's final 3-day Sydney workshop for 2014 (December 11, 12 & 13). Find out more at

Want more? We thought you might like this video.

Like this artice? Subscribe to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered striaght to your inbox.

By registering you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Privacy Notice


Sign Out

Join the Conversation

Please note, LifeStyle cannot respond to all comments posted in our comments feed. If you have a comment or query you would like LifeStyle to respond to, please use our feedback form.

Please login to comment
Posted by McCallReport
When it's time to renovate your kitchen, there a lot of things that go into it that you wouldn't normally think about. When husband and I redid our kitchen I wish we would have rented a roll off dumpster so we could have had a place to put all the old materials. It's those kinds of things that people don't write on tip sites for the project.
Posted by Joshua227Report
Thanks for the information. Kitchen remodeling is really great, and having a professional contractor in remodeling your kitchen would be a bit expensive but worth it's worth it.