How to update your kitchen without spending a fortune

Forget replacing cabinets and tearing up the floors – with a few small changes, you can make your kitchen feel like new

Story by: David Renwick
Architect Eva-Marie Prineas prioritised the owners modest renovation architecture, countertop, daylighting, floor, furniture, home, house, interior design, kitchen, product design, table, white
Architect Eva-Marie Prineas prioritised the owners modest renovation budget to create a quality architectural shell. The interior fit-out was then kept as simple and economical as possible.

The kitchen is often called the most important room in the home, and for good reason. It’s the gathering point for your household, where meals are prepared and where you entertain.

It’s no surprise, then, that most people like to renovate their kitchens before tackling other projects. According to Tracey MacKenzie from Builderscrack.co.nz, kitchens (along with bathrooms) were the most popular parts of the home for New Zealanders to renovate.


If you want to update your kitchen without spending a fortune – for example if you’re preparing to sell – we’ve put together a few affordable kitchen tips.

Install new handles

With new cabinetry one of the pricier kitchen changes, consider updating just the handles. Pick a modern style for your drawers and cupboards, and you’ll be surprised at the impact. You likely won’t even need to hire a tradie, too.

Or you can go completely handleless for a architecture, ceiling, daylighting, floor, home, house, interior design, interior designer, kitchen, product design, real estate, room, sink, tap, white
Or you can go completely handleless for a modern, minimal look

Hang up your pots and pans

Want to free up cupboards and drawers and create a unique feature for your kitchen? Install a hanging pot rack and hang up pots, pans and other commonly used pieces of crockery. A hanging pot rack also shows that you like to cook – even if you don’t.

Replace the cheaper appliances

Forget the fridge, dishwasher and oven for a moment. For another affordable update, replace your tired toaster, jug/kettle and food processor with newer units, ideally featuring a uniform colour scheme.

Consider metal, an image or a particularly bold ceiling, countertop, interior design, kitchen, room, brown, gray
Consider metal, an image or a particularly bold colour for splashbacks

Swap out the splashback

In many kitchens, the splashback simply blends into the wall behind the cooktop. However, when you actually choose a splashback that stands out, you can lift the look of your entire kitchen. Consider metal, an image or a particularly bold colour. We’ve got plenty of splashback design ideas and inspiration on trendsideas.com.

Replace your benchtop

This is getting a bit more expensive, but worth considering if your old benchtop is a real turn-off. There are specialist companies that will do this for you, and there are a number of affordable benchtops that look great, too.

Buy drawer inserts to create a more organised automotive design, automotive exterior, black
Buy drawer inserts to create a more organised look

Insert drawer organisers

Finding it impossible to locate cooking utensils right in the middle of preparing a large meal? First, get rid of things you never use, then transfer utensils you rarely use somewhere else. Finally, buy drawer inserts to create a more organised look.

Get rid of clutter

Packets and jars in the pantry and ingredients that are long past their use-by date – bin them. Same goes for gadgets you use once in a blue moon, and the bits of crockery from old crockery sets.

You’ll be amazed at just how much more space you’ll have, and how different the kitchen feels.Most kitchen projects are stressful undertakings, so view some of our other articles if you’re still feeling a little lost.

Dec 12, 2017
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