The Smart Renovator's Kitchen Renovation Guide

Refresh has completed hundreds of kitchen renovations in New Zealand, so we know the ins and outs of what makes a successful kitchen renovation. We've distilled all of this information down for you in this Guide to Kitchen Renovations, and packed it with resources so you can get clued up on what you need to know before you begin.

Wood accent kitchen

How long does a kitchen renovation take?

Kitchen renovation timeframes can vary in duration depending on the scope of work, updating the minor elements could take a week, but if you are looking to change the layout or knock down walls, expect the project to take a bit longer.
Once working drawings are agreed, it usually takes around six weeks for the cabinets to be built and benchtops cut for installation. We generally allow 2 to 4 weeks for the build, including the demolition of the old kitchen and installation of the new, but if you need it faster, let us know at the briefing stage and we will look for time-saving solutions.
types kitchen layouts and configurations diagram

Why are you renovating your kitchen?

The first step to deciding what type of kitchen you want to create is figuring out what your purpose of renovating is. Is your kitchen too small, too cramped, outdated or does it lack flow? You need to know exactly what it is that you want before you can achieve it.
To give an example, If you spend a lot of time preparing food, you want to prioritise benchtop space, good quality appliances, and the function and workflow of the kitchen. Think about creating a triangle between the sink, stove, and fridge.
Learn more about planning your kitchen layout
Or, if you love entertaining guests or are looking to make dinner-time a social gathering for your family, focus on creating an open layout with a detached kitchen island to break the barrier between the kitchen and lounge and make the area feel more connected and spacious.
kitchen triangle diagram

Prioritise your “Wants” and “Needs” Back to top

Unless you have an unlimited budget, chances are that you won't be able to get all the extras that year heart desires. Use what was established in the previous section about "why" you want to renovate your kitchen and prioritise the aspects that will have the most impact for your situation. Click the link below for a list of common kitchen features and divide them into 2 buckets - Wants and Needs. This will make things much easier for you as you get into budgeting.
Pre-compiled list of kitchen aspects and elements here Kitchen Planning Checklist

Renovating to sell?

If you are renovating the kitchen in order to re-sell your home for a higher price, modern and basic will be your best choice because you just don’t know who will be viewing the kitchen and what type of style to appeal to. So try to keep it simple. There are some little known low investment, high return renovations that will wow potential buyers and increase your chances of getting a great offer. We've included these in the link below.
Learn more about renovating for profit How To Renovate Your Kitchen For Profit

What style of kitchen is best?

Now comes the fun part. You probably already have an idea in your head of the style of kitchen that you want. In order to be able to communicate these to your Renovation Specialist, try to collect and save images of kitchens that you see and like. It would be wise to also try to envision the existing space post-renovation. Make sure that it ties in with the existing decor of your home. We've included some good resources for finding your dream kitchen below.
4 distinct styles of kitchen decor themes
- Top 4 Kitchen Styles to choose from - This article will give you a rough outline of 4 distinctly different kitchen styles that can be personalised to your personal taste
- Check out Pinterest to find endless pictures of aspirational kitchens - Start with the Refresh Renovations Pinterest where you will find some of the kitchens we have created for our customers.
- Check out Renovate Magazine - A magazine dedicated to NZ home renovations

Figure out your budget

Figure out how much you want to spend because this will more or less determine what can be achieved. An important rule that we always advise our clients is to of always make sure you dedicate 10-20% of your budget for unexpected costs. This simple step would have saved so many renovators who got stuck in and found unexpected issues that had to be dealt with. Don't become one of them.
There are a number of ways to finance your kitchen renovation project find out all about them in our recent post: How to Finance your Renovation
One of the options you might want to look at is Peer-to-peer lending platform Harmoney for help with financing your renovation.
In the next section, you will find an outline of what you can expect to achieve with 3 different budgets

Basic Kitchen Renovation Cost

basic kitchen makeover
A basic kitchen renovation is likely to cost anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000. See what you can expect to achieve in each aspect below or see the full cost estimate for Basic Kitchen Renovations.
You will have to mostly stick to the original layout, but the biggest impact can be made with your choice of colour and accessories. splashbacks, wall paint, barstools, fruit bowls,  and other small accessories will make a big overall difference to look feel of the kitchen.
We recommend you stick laminate surfaces as they are the most economical, and practical and offer endless colours and styles to look for. In terms of splashbacks, look for ceramic tiles as a versatile, durable and low-cost option.
If your cabinets are in good shape, you can save yourself some budget by replacing just the doors, or even just repainting the existing doors. Replace with modern handles and you will have a kitchen that looks radically different.
You can save a lot of your budget by keeping your existing appliances, if you absolutely must replace something, go for a standard model that matches your kitchen style.

Mid Range Kitchen Renovation

mid range kitchen renovation
A mid-range kitchen renovation is likely to cost anywhere from $35,000 - $50,000. See what you can expect to achieve in each aspect below or see the full cost estimate for Mid Range Kitchen Renovations
Changing the position of things in your kitchen means that the plumbing and wiring will need to be redone. Taking this into account, a total kitchen makeover with engineered stone tops, a kitchen island, new appliances, soft-close drawers, splashback and flooring is likely to start from around $40,000 onwards.
Engineered or quartz stone is an ideal countertop for your kitchen. Starting from around $700 per square metre and made from crushed stone, it is more affordable than natural stone while still offering its natural beauty.  The thickness of the stone will greatly impact the price. Glass is a fantastic splashback material
The difference in price mainly depends on the material and finish. Melteca and melamine are two common and affordable materials that are widely used in New Zealand kitchens. Other options include vacuum formed vinyl, where the material is vacuumed onto the face of the door and drawers, a paint finish that is generally more expensive than the previous materials.

You can save a lot of your budget by keeping your existing appliance, if you absolutely must replace something, go for a standard model that matches your kitchen style.

High End Kitchen Renovation

high end kitchen remodel
A mid-range kitchen renovation is likely to cost anywhere from $50,000 - $100,000. See what you can expect to achieve in each aspect below or see the full cost estimate for High-End Kitchen Renovations
Position the fridge near the sink so you can take out fruit and vegetables and wash them close by. The workbench should be next to the sink, with your stove and oven either next to or opposite. Consider deeper than usual workbenches and extra large sinks. Waste disposal is essential to a good, working kitchen. consider planning in seating for guests so they can sit and watch while you prepare a meal. A centre island might be the ideal space for this. It can double as a breakfast bar or homework space for your children. If you prefer to do your entertaining in the dining room, the island might be able to house your sink and workbench allowing you to face out to the dining area while working.
Natural stone is a popular choice, particularly granite and marble. With its variations in tone and pattern, stone adds a bit of drama and natural beauty to your kitchen. Glass surfaces can create a real centerpiece as they can be fully personalised with different designs, finishes and textures. You can select different colours and can even have images or text transferred to the glass.
For a modern look, concrete is one of the most stylish and versatile countertop materials.
Cupboards that go all the way to the ceiling are not only super practical but also create a stylish, sleek look. Soft-close drawers with clever inserts and storage aids will get your cabinets organised. The absolute winner when it comes to kitchen storage is a walk-in pantry with open shelves, cabinets, drawers and enough bench space to store some of your appliances

The stovetop and oven are the stars in the kitchen. Be it a five or six hob gas stovetop or an extra large induction cooktop, the choice is yours when it comes to form and functionality. Add a luxury range hood to the mix to set the design tone for the rest of your kitchen. A set of built-in wall ovens is ideal to complement your cooking ensemble. They add visual appeal to your kitchen. Finally, a double-door stainless steel fridge with integrated or a separate wine fridge will keep your food and drinks chilled while a set of double-drawer dishwashers can take care of the dirty work.

Do I need Council approval for a new kitchen?

This isn’t usually necessary unless major building work or demolition is required. However, we recommend checking with your local renovation specialist to be sure.

Starting your kitchen renovation

After figuring out what type of kitchen you want to create and how much you’re willing to spend to create it, you need to decide whether you will do the work yourself or hire someone to do it. Renovating a kitchen to a high standard takes some experience and know-how, and chances are, if you have the experience. then you’re probably not reading this article, so for the rest of us who are not experienced on DIY home renovation, will need to hire someone to do the work. This leaves you with 2 options:

Hiring a builder

builders planning day of work
We love builders, we work with them every day to create hundreds of renovations projects for our clients in New Zealand and abroad. The problem is that the actual building work is only one of the many aspects that contribute to a successful renovation. Builders are great at building, but  you also need someone on your team to do the other stuff that isn’t so obvious.
- helping you come up with the right design to achieve your Needs and as many Wants as possible
- creating a thorough costing of the job, making sure everyone is informed and sticking to it, to avoid budget blowouts
- providing you with a range of options for materials and appliances
- managing the workflow of trades to minimise time wasted from incoordination
- keeping you updated on the progress
- helping you to make decisions suitable to your budget
A builder will usually be too busy building to give this level of support, and most homeowners don’t have the time to become kitchen specialists just to make sure they don’t botch their renovation.

Hiring a renovations specialist

If you want the easiest and often the most affordable option, go with a renovation specialist.
Our surveys show that 2 of the biggest concerns for renovators are unexpected costs and personal lack of knowledge. Having a renovation specialist on your team guiding you through the process eliminates both of those concerns because you will always know how your budget is being spent, and you’ll have someone with plenty of experience in renovations helping you to make the right decision.
As a company that specializes in residential renovations, our internationally recognised process was created to take the stress out of renovations by giving you having a project manager that is responsible for the logistics, administrative, and management aspects of the renovation, taking the stress off you, the homeowner.
Read more about the survey where we uncovered the biggest fears of budding renovators
Once you've found the right contractor, how do you communicate your vision?
Once you’ve chosen the right professional, be upfront with them about your budget and how you imagine the end result. Don’t Compromise on your “needs” so that you can afford your “wants” and make sure that the specialist fully understands your vision for your new kitchen and budget.

Common issues that renovators run into and how to avoid them

If you are currently renovating with Refresh, you can skip this step as your Project Manager will make sure that these common mistakes are avoided.
1. Making aisles too tight - People have to be able to pass each other  keep isles over 1.1m wide
2. Prioritising form over function - consider the size and direction of cabinets, doors and appliances. You should be able to walk past an open kitchen or fridge door.
3. Supersized islands if your space is large, don’t supersize your island. More than 3 m long is too hard to walk around, and more than 1.2m deep, won’t allow you to reach the middle.
4. Island in a small kitchen - if your space is small, kitchen island may not be your best option. Opt for a peninsula instead.
5. Not enough storage - Avoid a cluttered kitchen and plan what how much storage you will need ahead of time.
6. Choosing the wrong builder - builders are not all the same, make sure to ask to see previous projects and testimonials. Here are ours: Projects, Testimonials
So there you have it. The Essential Guide to Kitchen Renovations. If you have questions about topics that are not covered in this guide, you may be able to find the answer on one of the many links throughout the article for more in-depth information, or you can  Contact us for a free 1-hour consultation.

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