Where Designers Would Spend and Save in a Kitchen

A kitchen renovation is the priciest of home renovation. What should be at the top of your makeover budget list? Where can you cut costs?

Spend On: Quality Appliances

Experts recommend allocating budget to energy-efficient appliances. They may not be cheaper to buy initially, but in the long term they cost less to run and will tend to be less expensive overall.

The numbers are out there on running costs, so it’s worth doing the research. Don’t just buy according to what an appliance costs and how it looks — you risk ‘buy cheap, buy twice. It pays to upgrade to energy-efficient appliances — they can save more than money in the long term.

For example getting an instant hot water dispenser. It’s not just a luxury, it’s energy-efficient … and has a safety handle that reduces the risk of burns.

Consider how your appliances affect the rest of the space. For example, a quiet dishwasher, especially in open-plan spaces where you can’t shut away the noise is something you may want to consider.

A cheap fridge will make more noise and cost more over its lifetime. You could have bought the more expensive machine and had the joy of a quiet kitchen.

A good vent hood is also key, especially in open-plan spaces. It keeps the kitchen from becoming smelly and greasy and reduces damage to the cabinets above.

Save By: Recycling and Reclaiming

Opting for reclaimed countertops — alone or paired with another material — can save money and be stylish, experts say.

Another way to reduce countertop costs is by buying stone slab remnants left over from larger jobs. These can be used for a smaller area such as an island top or bar.

To save money and conserve resources, you can install preowned cabinets.

Selling your existing kitchen is also great for the planet and saves on the cost of disposal. The money can also help toward the cost of a new kitchen. There are companies that specialize in this.

Spend On: Durable Materials

If you’re going for new products rather than reclaimed, pay extra for materials that are easy to maintain and will last a long time. Composite or solid stone countertops are a good choice, for example.

Purchasing remnants of granite and quartz countertops and using them to have something special made. It could be a dining table top, a console or a couple of coffee tables. 

Consider the longevity of cabinets as well. Purchasing a solid wood kitchen is a worthwhile investment. This means it will stand the test of time, it won’t tire or look out of date, and you won’t have to replace it in a few years’ time — the ultimate measure of sustainability.

With a solid wood kitchen, you can update as necessary. You can repaint to keep the cabinets looking fresh and even choose an entirely different color if you ever want a change. A good-quality solid wood kitchen should last over 30 years.

Save By: Calculating Carefully

To be able to spend more on quality materials, think about how you can save on things such as delivery charges. If you can, do your utility room at the same time as your kitchen from the same supplier. It will save money on delivery, installation and countertops.

Another way to save is to consider a backsplash in the same finish as your countertops. This will often work out to be much cheaper than other backsplash materials and it can be installed at the same time as the countertops, which also saves time and money.

Also, always go for wider cabinets over narrower for both kitchen and utility. Fewer wide cabinets are not only more useful, they’re cheaper per linear foot.

A knowledgeable kitchen designer will be able to guide you through the choices that suit your needs. They know the right questions to ask to ensure you buy only what you need and what you’ll use. Talking through the features and benefits of every appliance, fixture and fitting avoids overbuying.

Spend On: Good Design and Installation

A kitchen is a huge purchase, so don’t be scared to walk into a kitchen studio, even if it looks intimidating. It always pays to get a designer’s eye and input. They will consider how you and your family live and make the best use of the space to ensure the investment will bring maximum benefit.


Choosing A Kitchen Sink Size

In addition to choosing the best material, mounting type , number of bowls and bowl depth for your kitchen sink, you also have a range of sink size options. An extra-wide kitchen sink will obviously give you more space for food prep and cleanup, and you might prefer it over the confines of a smaller sink, but bigger sinks typically cost more and can take up valuable space in a small kitchen.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry. Here are tips to help you figure out the perfect sink size for your cooking and cleaning needs.

Size to Your Kitchen

It may seem obvious, but if your kitchen is on the smaller side, consider installing a smaller-width sink. An oversize, triple-bowl model would overwhelm a compact kitchen. A more modest-size, yet still deep, single-bowl apron-front sink is large enough to accommodate most kitchen tasks, but it isn’t a space hog. Countertop and base cabinet storage areas are likely to be at a premium in a smaller kitchen, so a smaller-width sink will improve overall function too.

Size to the Window Above It

Homeowners often install a kitchen sink beneath a window, preferably a window with a nice view. But some homeowners overlook how these two elements work together. That’s not to say your sink and window need to match widths exactly, but it can look odd to have a super-wide sink set below a skinny window and vice versa.

Size to Be a Focal Point

If you choose to go with an extra-wide sink, you’re going to have a difficult time disguising it. Therefore, take the opposite approach and make your wide sink a focal point. Repurpose an interesting salvaged sink or consider an unusual material, like copper.

Size to Your Budget

This might also be obvious, but it’s all too easy to fall in love with a huge, gorgeous, apron-front sink only to find that it’s priced well above what your budget will allow.

Installing all top-of-the-line materials, fixtures and appliances in a kitchen doesn’t make sense for everyone, so it’s helpful to strategize on where you’re going to spend money and where you can save.

It might be better to splurge on the countertops or kitchen floor rather than the sink. After all, you can get a perfectly good 20-inch-wide stainless steel undermount sink for less than $200.

Size Based on Your Needs

If you’re an avid cook who prefers hand-washing dishes to running the dishwasher, a large divided-bowl sink with an integrated drainboard is a great option. The wider sink allows multiple people to work at the sink without getting in each other’s way, and that built-in drainboard makes the business of draining and air drying dishes less of a wet mess.

This size sink will require an extra-wide sink cabinet and will take up quite a bit of space, so it’s best for a generous-size kitchen.

If you need a hand with prepping meals or cleaning up, consider installing two single-bowl sinks instead of one extra-large sink. A configuration like this allows two cooks to work together, and because these sinks are set apart, traffic jams are less likely.

If you have the space and budget for it, a three-sink setup is nice for a multicook household that does a lot of entertaining. The separate sinks allow several people to work in the kitchen simultaneously. None of the sinks needs to be exceptionally large. One main sink can handle bigger tasks and the others can be sized much smaller. Of course, this configuration has the potential to be costly due to the duplicate plumbing fixtures and installation fees.

Consider Fun-Size Sinks

Linear sinks are difficult to wash dishes in but, they work just fine for fetching a glass of water or dumping out abandoned drinks when the party’s over. You can also fill one with ice and stash cold drinks in it, a nice alternative to keeping an unsightly cooler in the kitchen or having guests rummage through your refrigerator for a cold one. And it doesn’t take up much space on the countertop.


A Wood Countertop Will Upgrade Your Kitchen

If you’re looking for a high-impact and relatively easy upgrade for your kitchen, you may want to consider updating your kitchen countertops. Classic wooden countertops are a great choice for kitchens. Not only do they add warmth to the space, but wooden counters look timeless and are often more cost-effective than other countertop materials, such as stone or engineered surfaces. If you’re thinking about switching to wood, it’s worth seeking out sustainable sources.

Here are four key things to think about when choosing, installing and maintaining new wooden work surfaces in your kitchen.

Consider Colour

When it comes to choosing a wood type for your countertop, colour is a key consideration. If you assumed that the blonde tones of white oak, golden hues of pine or rich browns of tropical hardwoods were the only options, you’ll be surprised to learn that there’s quite a range of colours, and finishes. 

Cool tones add a modern industrial look to a kitchen and pair it with sleek cabinets and your kitchen will feel edgy and utterly sharp. If you’re eager for a cosy, warm feel, opt for rich redness or the intense darkness of brown hardwood surfaces.

Match the Style With Your Space

In addition to the many colours of wood, there are plenty of countertop styles to choose from to complement the design of your kitchen. For example, if you like a modern country feel, showcase a rustic edge. Alternatively, if a streamlined contemporary look is more your style, straight edges will convey that sleek vibe.

There’s also the construction of the countertops to consider. You could save on cost and go for a standard butt-joint style, which combines two pieces with finger joints, or you could upgrade this look with a top made from full-length lamellas with side lamination and no joints. With wide wood planks joined just along the long edges, you get a harmonious look for your counter. Or you could opt for a butcher block style with an upward-facing end grain that features a chessboard-like pattern. This type of surface is more durable than a lengthwise wood top.

Add Complementary Elements

Want to create a showstopping kitchen island? Consider extending the wood surfaces on either end to create a waterfall effect. Use thinner panels of wood for different elements such as ends, shelving and even windowsills to create a cohesive look.

Instead of adding wall units, for example, consider installing open shelves on either side of the range hood in the same wood as your countertops. You’ll create a sense of space, as well as the perfect display spot for houseplants, glassware and ceramics. Conversely, if you have a kitchen wall cabinet or an island with open shelves, consider lining the shelves with thin panels of wood for a balanced effect.

Ensure That They Last

Acacia is known for its robust, hard-wearing qualities, making it a solid choice for kitchen countertops. It’s also often touted as a sustainable wood. To ensure that the wood you’re purchasing is indeed grown and harvested sustainably, look for wood with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, which means it comes from a sustainable plantation.

To be extra sure your wooden surfaces retain their good looks for longer, use a conditioning oil, such as Hardwax Oil, to provide long-lasting protection and enhance the beauty of the grain.

Bonus: Hardwax Oil is certified climate- and carbon-neutral and is tested and approved for contact with food. Plus, with zero VOC (volatile organic compounds), its nontoxic properties make it safe to use the surfaces as soon as they’ve dried.

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