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How To Modernise Your Kitchen Without A Full-Scale Renovation

By Laura Anderson

Nothing feels more satisfying than spending time in a beautifully renovated kitchen.

“It’s important that the kitchen is not only functional but looks great,” says designer Nickolas Gurtler. “It sets the tone for the entire house. If the kitchen looks dated, the rest of the house will too.”

Luckily, a big-budget renovation isn’t the only solution if your space isn’t quite up to scratch.

We asked industry experts for their insider tips and tricks for creating a modern and inspiring kitchen without breaking the bank.

A fresh coat of paint

With the average kitchen renovation costing around $20,000, quick inexpensive fixes make for an attractive solution.

“We developed the Dulux Renovation Range for this very reason,” says Dulux brand manager Romy Nayagam. “It is the perfect weekend DIY and can cost less than $400.”

The water-based paint range is designed to transform any surface in the home, from tired cabinetry and old benchtops to outdated tiling, quickly and efficiently.

“Just a couple of coats makes old surfaces look fresh and new,” he says. “Before painting, ensure surfaces are squeaky clean so the paint can be applied directly – without primer most of the time! The end result is a stylish durable finish that stands up to daily wear-and-tear, making it perfect for a busy modern kitchen.”

For a clean minimal feel, consider teaming Dulux Vivid White™ and Domino, or paint cupboard doors in Dulux Grey Reflection and benchtops in Dulux White on White™.

“Both look timeless yet modern,” he says. “If you are after colour, be inspired by the Dulux Colour Forecast 2020, or add potted greenery or an appliance like a brightly coloured toaster. It’s an easy inexpensive way to reflect your style while effortlessly complementing a neutral colour palette.”

Michelle Hart from Bask Interiors suggests teaming updated surfaces and cabinetry with on-trend hardware for a slick contemporary finish.

“New handles are a good way to finish off updated kitchen cabinetry, and luckily there are lots of options that won’t break the budget.”

Know the trends

This year, natural earthy textures in the form of timber, ceramics, rattan and glass are popular and an inexpensive look to adopt.

Wooden wall panelling, timber shutters, and handcrafted objects are all simple ways to reflect this trend. Or add open shelving, sourcing timber planks that are easily attached to a wall.

Display an interesting mix of vintage glassware, ceramics, recipe books and potted greenery. These can be an impactful kitchen update for little cost.

Also trending is a considered mesh of the classic and modern, like an old sink or stovetop teamed with a contemporary light pendant, sleek new blind or cool kitchen stools. It’s a perfectly easy solution for an old-fashioned kitchen, says Gurtler.

“If you live in an older home, be discerning. If there’s something outdated that is still beautiful, like a very old oven, give it new life by surrounding it with contemporary finishes and fixtures.”

Swapping out old tapware for new is also an easy upstyle.

“This year, graphite and pewter tapware is the ‘new copper’,” says Gurtler. “Darker grey metallic finishes recall historical plumbing finishes but with a contemporary twist and are the definition of understated glamour. Update your kitchen mixer in one of these finishes. It’s a little piece of jewellery for the kitchen and one you will use more than any other fixture. “

Savvy storage

Regardless of room size, there never seems to be enough storage. The secret, says Hart, is to consider every nook and cranny as potential storage space.

“Perhaps those narrow vertical spaces next to the fridge are big enough for built-in wine storage. Or maybe you can fit narrow depth cupboards under the island bench for storing items like vases.”

Consider the tops of your cabinets as a place to stow wire storage bins, or add free-standing shelves for holding everything from crockery and pantry items to everyday appliances.

A rustic metal rail sourced secondhand or from a hardware store with oversized hooks is a perfectly stylish way to hang pots, pans and cutlery. Better still, suspend it from a wall or above and create more floor, drawer and bench space instantly.

Cutting clutter helps create order, spaciousness and a clean and elegant aesthetic.

“Integrate or hide appliances wherever possible without compromising productivity. It provides a less commercial feel and allows more bench space for preparing food,” says Gurtler.

Updated lighting

Swapping out existing pendant lights provides instant sophistication.

“Look for practical lighting that is also in line with your style of home and furnishings,” suggests Bask.

“For example, large round glass orbs are perfect for a Hamptons home, large rattan pendants are a good fit for a beach house, and simple wooden or natural ceramic pendants are just right for a Scandinavian-style kitchen.”

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