ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson 

Open-plan living is a real classic. Many renovators want to open up their living areas and create a combined living/dining/kitchen space. Removing walls can be more complicated and cost-intensive than you may think, especially if load-bearing walls are involved.

But the result often worth the effort. Where you cut a large opening into a wall or remove a wall altogether, your architectural designer or engineer will most likely need to include costly steel beams. Make sure you speak to your renovation builder about this to understand the cost implications.

If you are trying to stick to a tight budget you could consider creating an opening in the wall rather than removing the whole wall, which would require extra work to repair ceilings and floors. Large doorways may be able to be securely built with reinforced wooden beams, which are more affordable than steel beams. Alternatively, consider a window or ‘servery’ style opening that will leave the wall and all the electrical wiring, as well as flooring, in place.

Building a computer space or study/office area into the kitchen has become a popular option with more or less everyone in the household using computers and other electronic devices frequently. It’s as easy as reserving a space at the kitchen island, with a drawer or cupboard for storage and power points for charging, or adding an extra-long benchtop. If done properly it can include a dedicated office cupboard or storeroom, seamlessly integrated into the kitchen style and flow. It’s a great option for smaller houses and helps you avoid the need for a separate study, or frees up a room otherwise used as a study.

A working area in the kitchen

As a trend that’s here to stay, indoor-outdoor flow is many a renovator’s dream. Large openings for stacking or sliding doors often face the same problems as removing a wall, as they typically have to be engineered with steel beams. Large glass panes are heavy and an expensive part of the renovation themselves. To save money when renovating your kitchen, it’s best to keep doors and windows in their current location and replace like for like. If you do want to go bigger and bolder, consider other options, including large format windows with louvres. While wide opening stacker doors are of course a real showstopper, on a smaller budget, French doors or ranch sliders might do the trick. Stacking windows rather than full ceiling-to-floor doors also create a great ambience and let you open up your kitchen to the great outdoors. The kitchen bench and windowsill could then double as a breakfast or dinner bar.

While galley and L-shaped kitchens can save money, open spaces with a kitchen island have long since become a popular feature and add a real centre point to many kitchen and living spaces. Kitchen islands can double as a workbench, breakfast bar or homework space. But they can also come with a hefty price tag.

To keep costs low, opt for a plain, understated design with no sinks or power points. Engineered stone tops are a very popular choice for kitchen benchtops, as they are hardwearing, easy to maintain and look the part. If you want to keep costs low, you could consider choosing a different material for the kitchen island, for example, a wooden slab. Simple cupboard doors can finish this off without fuss, but if you have some budget to spare, a set of large soft-closing drawers will do nicely.

When it comes to cabinetry, there is something on the market to suit every purse. From standard flat-packed cabinets through to custom-made solid wood cabinets. It all comes down to your renovation budget and personal preference. Keeping cabinets that are still in good nick and sprucing them up with a new coat of paint and new door handles is a trendy option. Generally, using refurbished shelving and cabinetry can be a big money-saver, along with installing reused appliances. The latter usually fit or slot in without problems, and you could consider hiding older models behind cabinet doors. One item to look out for though is the stovetop, and it might be worth investing in a new one, as a fitting and lasting hole will have to be cut into the new benchtop.

An L-shaped kitchen with timber cupboard

Keeping the use of kitchen cabinets to a minimum and using open shelving will help keep costs down and achieve a unique, eclectic kitchen design. Display interesting heirlooms alongside your everyday kitchen utensils. Everyday items, such as plates and cups, are ideal candidates for open shelves, as their frequent use means that no dust will collect. Open shelving is a great way to save money on your kitchen renovation. Choose from a host of store bought, standard shelves or get creative and build your own.

As an up-and-coming kitchen style (especially in the US), transitional kitchens blend old and new style elements. There’s a huge spectrum of kitchens that mix traditional elements with modern touches, but all of them should lead to a warm and welcoming space. Some ideas include mixing wooden cabinets with concrete floors, or adding stainless steel elements. This combination looks the part and can also be kind to your wallet, as stainless steel benchtops for example, are very cost-effective. You can experiment with texture here, using interesting tile surfaces and rough stone surfaces. Again, this can be a money-saver as it doesn’t take expensive materials to create visual interest. You can mix and match natural and man-made, high end and basic materials at will – and with a bit of thoughtful planning, this allows you to achieve a stunning look on a shoestring budget.

Overall, getting the most kitchen for your dollar comes down to choosing your materials wisely. Consider going with standard options for the majority of your products and splurging on a few key items or accessories.

Thinking of also renovating your kitchen? Read, "Kitchen planning checklist".

 

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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