Want to renovate your kitchen?

Everyone loves a good before and after – in fact, we are bombarded with them on TV, social media and every good house magazine! Interestingly, often the details of the how, why and logistics are overlooked in-lieu of some dramatic ‘wow’ photos. Before embarking on your own journey of a kitchen overhaul I encourage you to consider the following.

What is your motivation?

It’s important to understand your ‘why’.  We are all guilty of seeing a beautiful kitchen on Instagram and feeling kitchen envy boil up within us.

I have many clients approach me in need of a ‘bigger’ kitchen. I find that with a good majority of clients, the discussion about ‘why’ may resolve itself to not needing a larger footprint, but treating the pain points of the  current kitchen in regard to workable bench space, storage or clearer access; which sometimes, with thoughtful design, can all be achieved without the costly process of extensions.

What is your budget?

Every renovation project with a budget needs to understand the parameters in which they can work. This is key to a successful kitchen renovation. There are very few renovations (though we can dream) that do not have a budget of some degree.

Considered design will always try and minimize spend on items you cannot see – such as plumbing, electrical and structural change.  To design in such a way that you are not moving utilities unnecessarily is a great way to protect your bottom line.

It is also valuable to be flexible on your approach and finishes, compromise where you can so you can afford to spend where it is most valuable to you.

Who will do the work?

Are you prepared to get your hands dirty?  There are things you need trades for and things you may not – but please be sure you know the difference.  If you are willing to do some of the manual labour yourself, such as demolition of the existing kitchen, rubbish disposal and general clean up – it is all hours you are not paying someone else.

This is where a good relationship with your trades is key; to understand what they need done and have a clear view as to how and when you can do it.



My client’s original kitchen was in the centre of the house, it lacked natural light and had very few useable work surfaces.  The kitchen had an adjacent study via a common wall and open plan dining area.  The motivation and parameters for the new kitchen were very clear – light, workspace and storage; all within the existing walls. The adjacent unused study was clearly meant to become a beautiful butler’s pantry – meeting the storage need, however, access to this pantry-to-be from what was the existing position of the current kitchen involved substantial structural works and a good proportion of the budget!


            Existing Dining Area

 Existing Kitchen

Existing Study


So, we had to re-imagine the floorplan. We decided to swap locations of the dining and kitchen areas. The old dining room had ample light, underfloor access to enable movement of utilities and could readily accommodate the scale of the new kitchen. The narrow existing kitchen was ideal for a long dining table and ambience could be created with a pendant light. We had a plan!

With appropriate trades engaged and plans drawn up, works began. Assisting with labour where possible and by selling the original kitchen and dining room window we were able to save money and spend it on fixtures that would long be appreciated after the dust had settled.

The huge transformation can be credited to an increase in light and appropriate use of the available space. A beautiful highlight window as well as a splashback window, lighter surfaces, upgraded downlights and all paint, cabinetry and floor surfaces which are now lighter, warm and enticing.

We also made a few considered design choices in this kitchen. The placement of the overhead cupboards in the kitchen actually blocks the view of the neighbours back door and deck (and their view in as well!) creating a beautiful feeling of privacy and a green outlook into the garden.

Locating the fridge in the pantry creates an extension of the kitchen while keeping the food preparation area as decluttered as possible.


Study converted into a butler’s pantry
New kitchen with island bench

Newly created space for the dining room
                      New kitchen


All finishes and fixtures were chosen for a contemporary edge; while respecting the period features of the home. Extending the stool seating around the corner of the bench allows a more sociable construct when seated at the bench.

With careful planning, management and some renovation know-how; this was an extremely successful kitchen renovation. To be able to provide such a huge transformation within the parameters of the home and budget is the most rewarding project of all.


Thank you to our guest contributor, Melanie van Kuyk
Director & Interior Designer, Mave Design


Mel is the ideas and creative driver of the company. She began her career as a professional photographer. After 13 years of studio & freelance work, she stepped away from one creative industry to join another – weaving both creative loves together is a powerful combination for Interior Design.

After renovating many of their own homes with her husband Mel is not one to shy away from a challenge or learn new skills. She paints, plasters, tiles, grouts and loves to see her vision come to life – from hand-sketched scribbles (on anything she can get her hands on) to placing the last finishing flourish in a room, in their own homes or just about anywhere she visits… it’s safe to say her passion for renovation borders on obsession. A qualified Interior Designer & serial renovator; Mel brings a wealth of experience, creative flair and some cheekiness to every project.