Where Designers Would Spend and Save in a Kitchen
Our experts suggest where to splash out and where to lower the budget when redesigning your kitchen
Professional advice from: Diane Berry of Diane Berry Kitchens; Clinton Patey of The Kitchen Partners; Zoe Holland of Sustainable Kitchens
More in this series: Where Designers Would Spend and Save in a Living Room
Our experts recommend allocating budget to energy-efficient appliances. They may not be cheaper to buy initially, but, in the long term, they cost less to run and will tend to work out less expensive in the end.
“The numbers are out there on running costs, so it’s worth doing the research,” Diane Berry says. “Don’t just buy according to what an appliance costs and how it looks – you risk ‘buy cheap, buy twice’.”
Appliance ratings have recently been updated to reflect new changes and innovations in the industry, Zoe Holland says. “So it pays to upgrade to energy-efficient appliances – they can save more than money in the long term.”
Clinton Patey recommends a boiling-water tap. “It’s not just a luxury,” he says, “it’s energy-efficient, cuts back on worktop clutter [no need for a kettle] and has a safety handle that reduces the risk of burns.”
“A cheap fridge will make more noise, and cost more over its lifetime,” Diane agrees. “You could have bought the more expensive machine and had the joy of a quiet kitchen.”
A good extractor is also key, especially in open-plan spaces. “It keeps the kitchen from becoming smelly and greasy and reduces damage to the cabinets above,” Clinton says.
Tempted to revamp your kitchen? Find reviewed kitchen designers in your area and see photos of previous projects.
Opting for reclaimed worktops – alone or paired with another material – can save money and look good, say our experts.
“We’ve reused old school lab benches made from iroko wood complete with graffiti and gum and given them some TLC for a new lease of life,” Zoe says. “Whether paired with other wood worktops or with stone or quartz, this could save a bit of money on your kitchen renovation.”
Selling an existing kitchen is also great for the planet and saves on the cost of disposal. “The money can also help towards the cost of a new kitchen,” Diane says. “There are companies that specialise in this.”
If you’re going for new products rather than reclaimed, our experts recommend paying extra for materials that are easy to maintain and will last a long time. Composite or solid stone worktops are a good choice, for example.
Watch out for offcuts of granite and quartz worktops that would otherwise get thrown away, Diane suggests. She recommends using them to have something special made. “It could be a dining table top, a console or a couple of coffee tables. You may pay a little extra for polishing on top, but look what you get,” she says. “Even if you don’t need them for your own kitchen, sell them – it will save on landfill.”
“With a solid wood kitchen, you can update as necessary,” she continues. “You can repaint to keep the cabinets looking fresh and even choose an entirely different colour if you ever want a change. A good-quality solid wood kitchen should last over 30 years.”
In order to spend more on quality materials, think about how you can save on things such as delivery charges. “If you can, do your utility room at the same time as your kitchen from the same supplier,” Clinton says. “It will save money on delivery, installation and worktops.”
Another way to save here is to consider splashbacks in the same finish as your worktops. “This will often work out much cheaper than buying glass, and it can be fitted at the same time as the worktops, which also saves time and money,” Clinton says.
“Also, always go for wider cabinets over narrower for both kitchen and utility,” he adds. “Fewer wide cabinets are not only more useful, they’re cheaper per linear metre.”
A knowledgeable kitchen designer will be able to guide you through the choices that suit your needs. “We know the right questions to ask to ensure you buy only what you need and what you’ll use,” Diane says. “Talking through the features and benefits of every appliance, fixture and fitting avoids over-buying.”
A kitchen is a huge purchase, so don’t be scared to walk into a kitchen studio, even if it looks intimidating, Diane suggests.
Zoe agrees. “It always pays to get a designer’s eye and input. They will consider how you and your family live and make the best use of the space to ensure the investment will bring maximum benefit.”
Where did you spend more in your kitchen redesign? And how did you save? Share your tips and experiences in the Comments.