kitchen renovation

Ultimate kitchen renovating guide 2021

Upgrading or renovating your kitchen this year? This is a must-read!

Taking on any reno project is a big task. However, in particular, a kitchen renovation is one project that you really can’t afford to get wrong. As the workhorse and social hub of the home, the kitchen is relied upon for most day-to-day activities. As such, it needs to be both inviting and as functional as possible. 

If you are thinking of upgrading or renovating your kitchen, look no further! This comprehensive guide provides a plethora of kitchen renovation planning and design tips, along with advice on how to manage your budget, how to live through a kitchen renovation, renovating your kitchen for profit, plus some excellent kitchen design ideas and inspiration to help you on your way.

Having a good understanding of all the aspects of kitchen renovation is essential. Here, we will help you make the right choices when renovating your kitchen.

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Greg Brave Photography

Sourcing kitchen design inspiration

Dreamspace always presents its readers with practical and inspirational content, from the trending kitchen designs to kitchen renovators’ styles. No doubt, you can get clever ideas for your project here.

However, nothing beats the power of a personalised mood board for your project!

This is important as all great projects start with a vision. Taking some time to research imagery and styles to create a mood board will be immensely helpful. This is a tool that you can refer to throughout your renovation to help you make decisions about which products and finishes will best suit your new kitchen’s style and design.

Save kitchen design ideas here.

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Greg Brave Photography

Creating a mood board for your kitchen renovation

For this, you need to focus on one thing: your vision. 

  • How do you want your kitchen to look and function?
  • How do you want to feel within the space?
  • What is the interior style that you want to embrace? 

The answers to these questions will help you choose inspirational photos that your designer will use as a guide to understanding your ideas, vision, and preferences.

When you sign in to the Dreamspace project dashboard, you’ll have access to your Dreamboard, where you can curate inspirational images for your kitchen project. No more cutting photos from magazines and gluing them on paper. No more downloading photos only to reupload them somewhere else. 

Sharing ideas is also easier here. Your chosen designer can view the images saved in your Dreamboard. With your kitchen design ideas immediately available to your designer, the collaboration will be a breeze!

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Beau Mitchell Photography

Kitchen renovation tips from the experts

Here at Dreamspace, we always get questions from homeowners who want to renovate their kitchen and those who want to design a new one. 

To help out, we would like to share the following 10 essential tips to help with ensuring a successful outcome for your project.

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Beau Mitchell Photography

1. Establishing a kitchen renovation project timeline

Homeowners always ask us how long it takes to renovate or build a new kitchen. The truth is, it can take around two to ten weeks or potentially more, depending on how much work is involved.

Many factors can affect the timeline of your kitchen project.

Understanding the factors at play will help you estimate the duration of your project. You will also know why it might take longer than expected. 

When planning your kitchen project, be mindful to:

  • Give yourself enough time. It’s crucial to establish a realistic timeline and include a buffer to avoid stress. Try not to panic and rush decision making.
  • Work with professional home design and construction experts. They already have a system in place, and they will present you with a realistic project timeline. 
  • Stay on track with the right project planning tools. Plan all the stages of your project carefully to keep on schedule and avoid making costly mistakes or overlooking small but valuable details. 

Dreamspace’s project dashboard provides you with everything you need to coordinate the planning, design and build of your dream kitchen.

kitchen renovation

Sign up and get a free design quote tailored for your project. 

Then, use the platform to schedule a call with our Project Consultants and initially discuss your kitchen project. After the call, our team will get back to you with a proposal based on your project.

Get matched with a PRO using our designer match technology. 

Dreamspace’s project dashboard gives you access to hundreds of carefully screened professionals and helps you choose the best suited PRO for your project. 

Streamline your communication.

Dreamspace’s project dashboard enables you to send direct and group messages with all the professionals you engage. It is designed to coordinate the entire team’s work in one interface. Of course, all communication is done via the app to record all vital information about your project. 

Keep your project files safe and organised. 

Dreamspace’s project dashboard lets you store and access the working drawings, plans, documents, reports, quotes, and invoices you have gathered throughout the process. These files are automatically uploaded and labelled for your convenience too.

Start planning for free here.

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Beau Mitchell Photography

2. Budget

It isn’t very pleasant to find out that your kitchen project is over budget after approving the design. It is one of those annoying ‘surprises’ that can crop up later if you aren’t adequately prepared. However, the great news is – this is avoidable (for the most part). 

Establish your budget from the onset and inform your designer about it. Dreamspace designers are proactive and follow the ‘design to budget’ approach. ‘Designing to a budget‘ instead of ‘budgeting the design’ ensures that you can build the kitchen as planned. In addition, this strategy saves you from costly rework and heartaches in the future. 

You can also cut costs and save money on your kitchen project when you cleverly substitute an expensive item with an affordable option. For example:

  • There are beautiful porcelain slabs or reconstituted stone that give the effect of natural marble benchtops (that are also more hardwearing). 
  • Cabinets with plain profile doors are more affordable than ornate shaker cabinets, and selecting upper and lower cabinets without hardware creates a clean, seamless look and saves money. 
  • If you are on a tight budget, painting your kitchen cabinets, tiles, benchtops, grout or floors, instead of replacing them provides significant cost savings. Cutting costs here will leave you with money to upgrade appliances, tapware, light fittings, and more items that can make all the difference to your kitchen’s overall look and feel. (i.e. the Dulux renovation range is perfect for refreshing your kitchen and is also an excellent option for those renovating to sell.) 

It is highly recommended to canvass the costs of the building materials that you plan to use and pinpoint where you can splurge and save. 

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Beau Mitchell Photography

Here at Dreamspace, we help our customers start with a realistic budget in mind. The platform gives you access to an industry-accurate build cost calculator to ensure your kitchen gets built within your budget.

It is your tool to check the feasibility of your kitchen project before construction. It is easier to make the necessary adjustments after knowing the final estimated costs.

kitchen renovation

3. Function 

It is paramount to design your kitchen based on how you plan to use it on a daily basis. The kitchen is the most hardworking space at home. You want the design to be logical and practical and meet the needs of your family. Create a workflow that helps you seamlessly move around the kitchen. When you need a guide, refer to this blog about the kitchen work triangle.

kitchen renovation

4. Space availability

Of course, you need to take the space available into consideration. It is crucial to work with a designer who knows how to best work with the space you have. With proper design, using a large open-plan kitchen space wouldn’t feel like you’re having to walk a mile to move around it. Similarly a small kitchen wouldn’t feel cramped with a clever design. 

An experienced kitchen designer knows the standard dimensions of a kitchen by heart. These measurements ensure that you have enough space to move around the kitchen without bumping into something or someone, even when the doors of the cabinets are open.

5. Layout

Deciding on a kitchen layout is another crucial part of the planning process. A majority of people renovating and building a new kitchen seek advice from a professional designer to get this right. 

There are six popular types of kitchen layouts that you should know about. Take some time to familiarise yourself with these so you can choose the right one for your space and your needs:

  • One-wall 
  • Galley 
  • L-shaped 
  • U-shaped
  • Peninsula
  • Kitchen with an island

When planning your kitchen layout, it is important to think about foot traffic or the flow of an individual entering, leaving, and moving around the kitchen. Pushing for a layout without studying it first is a mistake you wouldn’t want to make. Reworking a wrong layout is one of the most expensive construction mistakes to fix.

kitchen renovation

In most budget renovations, the homeowner gets to keep the original layout. However, to improve the flow and features of the new kitchen, many designers recommend demolishing a few internal walls to make way for the new layout. 

A job like this is not an easy feat. You need to double check if the wall in question is load bearing or not. If yes, then your designer should get inputs from a structural engineer. 

Here at Dreamspace, you can easily connect your designer with a structural engineer within our platform. There is no need to go out there again and source these professionals on your own. The platform enables these design and construction professionals to work together like a well-oiled machine.  

kitchen renovation

6. Storage and trash

Most renovations happen in pursuit of more storage space. To achieve this goal, consider these two major upgrades: 

  • Build more physical cabinets or install taller or bigger ones
  • Maximise the space inside the cupboards and drawers using pull-out larders, rolling shelves, hooks, cutlery trays, racks, and kidney bean shaped lazy susans for corner cabinets

Having enough storage space will free up bench space, leaving you with more room for food prep and cooking. 

The placement of your trash bin is also an important factor that is often overlooked when planning your new kitchen space. You don’t want it to be an eyesore that spoils the overall look, right? 

Recently, designers are hiding the kitchen trash can in one of the lower cabinets or drawers. Pull-out trash bins work for any kitchen and are a practical feature to include in your new kitchen.

kitchen renovation
Image credit: YDL Stone

7. Benchtop 

Choosing the right benchtop material is another important decision that you should make. In Australia, the most commonly used kitchen benchtop materials are: 

  • Natural stone (e.g. granite and marble slabs)
  • Quartz or engineered stone (i.e. Caesarstone) 
  • Solid surface (i.e. Corian)
  • Polished concrete
  • Butcher block or timber benchtop
  • Laminate (i.e. Laminex)
  • Stainless steel
  • Porcelain slabs

Each benchtop material has its pros and cons and considerable price differences. Choose the one that: 

  • suits your kitchen design 
  • helps you achieve an aesthetic that fits your style
  • provides additional functionality (e.g. stainless steel has natural antibacterial properties; granite is as tough as they come, )
  • is durable; and
  • falls within your budget
kitchen renovation
Image credit: AC Stone

8. Kitchen Lighting

Lighting plays an important role in the overall look and feel of your kitchen. For your kitchen project, remember these expert lighting tips: 

  • Light up the bench space under the upper cabinets. You don’t want the area for food prep to be a dark dingy corner. Choose the flush-in built under cabinet lights so there’s no visible light fixture sticking down.
  • Hang pendant lights at the correct height. Around 86 centimetres over an island or breakfast bar is enough to directly illuminate the area.
  • Plan a layered lighting design: ambient, task, and accent lighting to ensure comfort.
  • Let in natural light. Install a skylight (when possible).
  • Install a chandelier nearby to make a statement. This is ideal for many open-plan spaces.
  • Choose LED lighting to save money on electricity. High-quality LED bulbs consume less power and have a life span of more than 13 years.
  • Mind the temperature of the lights you use. There are LED light bulbs that emit warm (yellow, orangey) and cool light (bluish). There are tri-colour bulbs too which offer three settings: warm white light, cool white light, and daylight.
Image credit: Remy Jansons' Photography

9. Utilities: power, gas, water, plumbing

Before renovating or installing a new kitchen, you must determine the utilities you will need and decide where to place them. Our best practices include:

  • Check your gas line, plumbing, water pipes, and electrical lines before any work begins. 
  • Reroute electrical wirings (when necessary)
  • Reroute plumbing (when necessary)
  • Reroute gas pipes (when necessary)
  • Install sockets with USB ports for charging mobile devices.
  • Add extra power points, ideally on your kitchen island where the majority of food prep is done. Consider sockets on the island’s end panels or pop-up sockets that rise from the benchtop. 

The kitchen island often houses the sink, range hood, or several appliances. If you are designing a kitchen with an island, rethink your utilities and make the necessary changes.

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Smartstone

10. Flooring material

Most kitchen upgrades involve the installation of a new floor. When choosing a new floor for your kitchen, choose a material that is: 

  • Durable
  • Non-slip 
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to clean and always looking clean (even when it’s not)

Here are a few great kitchen floor options to consider: 

  • Hardwood; maintained regularly to maintain water-resistance
  • Laminates; high-quality and waterproof variants
  • Tiles; either ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, as long as installed, grouted, and sealed properly
  • Vinyl; either planks or tiles
  • Concrete; both polished and stained

The kitchen is an area with heavy foot traffic. Choose a comfortable underfoot flooring that also helps you achieve the look you want. Install it properly and be sure to take care of your kitchen flooring so it lasts for years. 

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Caesarstone

More kitchen renovation planning tips

Kitchen renovations are not an easy feat. It’s quite normal  to feel overwhelmed because there are so many decisions to make and so much to organise. A lot of things can potentially go wrong ⸺ often unexpected and out of your control. 

To help you survive a kitchen renovation, here are some things to remember that will help make the process easier and more enjoyable: 

  1. Build a good team.

It is a challenge to take on a kitchen renovation project alone. Build a team of design and construction professionals who specialise in building or renovating kitchens.

We understand how hard it is to get all of these professionals and make sure they work together. With Dreamspace, you can access Australia’s largest network of home renovation and design professionals. Our platform also allows you to coordinate the work of these professionals, helping you manage all the services you need for your kitchen renovation.

kitchen renovation
Image credit: Tiento Tiles
  1. Don’t live through it.

Consider moving out of the house and renting a place during construction. Builders work faster this way. In case moving out for a while is not an option, we have some tips to help you live on-site during the construction of your new kitchen.

  1. Be mindful of your budget.

If you are renovating to sell, conduct a mid-range kitchen renovation. This has the biggest ROI that’s up to 60-80%.

kitchen renovation
  1. Make well considered design decisions.

Your design choices must be practical, ergonomic, and aesthetically pleasing. There are so many material options in the market. For sure you will find the one that is perfect for your new kitchen with the assistance of a design pro. 

  1. Quality is key.

Invest in high-quality kitchen cabinets, benchtop materials, flooring, and tapware from reputable suppliers. These are the parts of the kitchen that you use everyday. These need to survive daily use for the next decade. Splurge on the important things, skimp on the others. Avoid making this common kitchen renovation mistake.

kitchen renovation


A successful kitchen design has a thoughtful layout, good ergonomics, durable finishes, and high quality products from reputable brands. To get there, proper planning and work coordination is the key. 

We hope these new kitchen design and renovation tips can help you and get you thinking about your upcoming kitchen project. How are you going to start? How are you going to manage your build? 

Check out Dreamspace’s project dashboard. Absolutely everything you need is here – from collecting inspiration, onboarding design and construction professionals, getting quotes for the services you need, and monitoring the progress of your project. It’s so easy!

Sign up and start planning your kitchen project.

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