7 steps to designing the dream kitchen you've always wanted

8 August 2019
It’s the heart of the home and the room that can draw the most attention in a real estate listing, so it’s easy to understand why your kitchen renovation should be carefully considered.
A galley-style kitchen in front of a feature window.
This galley-style kitchen is flooded with light. Source: Beyond Time (Shutterstock)

From functionality to design aesthetic, there a number of different factors to contemplate.

What are the key things to consider when designing your dream kitchen?

Plans for your kitchen redesign should give thought to the space and layout of the room, your preferred design style and visual appeal, durability of fixtures and finishes, choice of appliances, and functional storage solutions.

A layering of tones and textures creates a peaceful ambiance.
A layering of tones and textures can create a peaceful ambiance in a kitchen. Source: Lekstock 3D (Shutterstock)

1. Budget

As with any renovation project, it’s important to work out how much you want to spend and how you will fund the work. Options could include paying cash, refinancing your home loan or applying for a new construction or personal loan.

The average value of an Australian kitchen renovation last year was about $26,000, the latest Housing Industry Association Kitchens and Bathrooms survey found. Most kitchens renovations cost between $16,000 and $30,000, the report states. It’s also a good idea to consider talking to a real estate agent or a property valuer if you are considering doing a major overhaul, to guard against overcapitalisation. That is, spending more on the renovation than you would likely be able to recoup if you had to sell the house.

A super-compact kitchen.
This kitchen is on a tiny footprint but its design has managed to pack in all the essentials. Source: Michaela Klenkova (Shutterstock)

2. Space and layout

First and foremost, it is important to think about the space you are working with. For some, an open plan U-shaped kitchen with an island breakfast bar is the perfect solution. While for others, a single-wall or gallery kitchen might be the optimal choice to make the best use of the space. One thing to consider when determining the desired layout for your space is the flow and functionality of the room. Ensure there is enough continuous benchtop space for comfortable food preparation, plenty of floor space to accommodate multiple cooks, and well thought out placement of appliances.

A classic-style kitchen.
A classic-style kitchen is brought to life through the use of practical and decorative items. Image: 2M Media (Shutterstock)

3. Design style

Choosing a design style for your kitchen is a very personal choice, but something to take into account is how it will tie in with the style of the rest of the house. For example, a modern farmhouse kitchen with a deep porcelain sink might be a popular style choice, but it might not be the best fit for an ultra-chic inner-city apartment. Other popular decor choices include a contemporary style with minimalist design elements, Shaker style featuring distinctive recessed-panelled cabinetry, and industrial style with stainless steel benchtops and open shelving.

Jewel tones are making a kitchen splash.
Jewel-toned kitchens are making a splash. Source: adpePhoto

4. Colour palette

Your kitchen’s colour palette should ultimately be reflective of the design style you choose. It is common to see kitchens with a fairly neutral or monochromatic colour scheme, which is a particularly safe choice from a resale perspective. However, there has been an increase in the popularity of jewel-toned kitchens, such as emerald green and sapphire blue.

Green makes a subtle statement in this kitchen.
A toned-down green complements the classic look of this kitchen. Source: Arhideaphoto (Shutterstock)

For a more sophisticated touch, choices could include navy blue, hunter green and deep plum. And if you’re not ready to go all out, think about choosing a colour for the lower cabinets and leaving the upper cupboards a bright white or other complementary neutral shade.

Benchtops have to be made of study stuff.
Manufactured stone products are a popular choice for benchtops, for the material’s durability. Source: Photographee.eu (Shutterstock)

5. Fixtures and finishes

There can be a lot weighing on the materials you choose to use in your kitchen, with a particular emphasis on benchtops. Kitchen benches are a very prominent visual feature, and in addition to this, they will likely come into contact with an endless amount of food and liquid, as well as cooking equipment in a range of different colours and temperatures. For this reason, it is important to choose your benchtops for not only their aesthetic appeal, but for their durability. Marble, for example, is a strikingly beautiful material for kitchen benchtops, but it may  require much more considered use and upkeep as it is softer and more porous than other options such as manufactured stone and laminate.

Layers of texture spice up this kitchen.
A bold choice of splashback tile elevates this kitchen. Source: Jafara (Shutterstock)

Then there’s the splashback, a hard surface applied a wall, usually adjacent to the sink or stovetop. Material options for a splashback could include coloured glass, a sheet of stainless steel or decorative tiles. Tapware can also make a big impression, and there are many styles on the market from which to choose, from shiny stainless steel to brushed metals and coloured metals such as black or rose gold. Whatever it is that you select, ensure you consider the durability of the material as well as the ease of cleaning and upkeep.

Geometric tiles add life to this otherwise plain kitchen.
Appliances can complement the colour scheme. Source: Lekstock 3D (Shutterstock)

6. Appliances

With such a vast range of appliances on the market, you really are spoilt for choice when fitting out your new kitchen. The basics include a fridge, cooktop (with an overhead rangehood/extraction fan and light), oven and microwave. More luxurious options include a double oven, wine fridge and  built-in coffee machine.

Do your due diligence and make decisions based on the elements most important to you – whether they be budget, quality and energy efficiency. It’s also important to ensure that they are the right size to fit into their corresponding space in your kitchen cabinetry. While you should ideally look to buy appliances that will last for years to come, they tend to be the easier items to upgrade in a kitchen. That’s because they are often standard sizes and can often be pulled out of existing cabinetry and replaced without expensive alterations.

A neutral coloured kitchen will be less likely to go out of style.
Streamlining the cupboards by hiding door furniture enhances an illusion of space. Source: Beyond Time (Shutterstock)

7. Storage solutions

Storage is a vitally important consideration in any kitchen’s design. Something that is too often overlooked in the design of a kitchen is the practicality of the storage options. The pantry will be the most frequented cupboard in the kitchen, and so in turn should be prioritised when planning. For those with the luxury of space, a walk-in pantry or butler’s pantry might be a desirable option, but there are plenty of space-saving alternatives that can function just as well, such as vertical, pull-out pantry units, under-bench drawers or tall, stand-alone cupboards with shelving.

Taking the time to carefully consider each aspect of a kitchen remodel will allow you to design one that fits your needs – both aesthetically and practically – as well as your budget. You might be surprised how enjoyable the process can be, and how rewarding it is to relish the final product.

What are the options to finance a new kitchen?

Before you dive into the work, thinking about the most suitable way to pay for your renovation is an essential step.

Depending on your situation, your options could include:

  • Paying out of your own pocket: You could consider using your savings if you have enough reserves;
  • Home loan: If this job is big enough, or you are doing a range of jobs at the same time, one choice you may consider is refinancing or restructuring your home loan, or adding a “line of credit”. For example, depending on your lender, you may be able to add a redraw facility to your existing loan (although it’s wise to keep in mind that some fees could apply to any loan changes and there could be redraw limits). Or, you could add an offset account, which could help reduce the interest paid on your loan while still allowing access to your money (although it’s wise to keep in mind there could be some fees involved here, too, and higher interest rates could apply to these types of loans).

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  • Personal loan: Depending on your personal circumstances and the cost of the job, you may consider using a personal loan to fund the work. This could be a secured loan, or an unsecured loan. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that interest rates are generally higher for personal loans than for home loans, and it’s a good idea to read the lender’s terms and conditions first.

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Cover image: Image: Photographee.eu (Shutterstock)


Georgia Brown is a freelance journalist, copywriter and content creator. She has been writing about real estate for over four years and has a personal interest in residential property and interiors.