Building our dream kitchen: Part 2

When the borders between Victoria and Western Australia opened in late January, I made the most of the opportunity to head home and see family and friends. Booked a ticket and made the mad dash back to WA. Not only has it been wonderful to finally see my family and catch up with longtime friends, but I also had the opportunity to visit Lauren.

You might recall, we did an interview in late 2020 with Lauren who was renovating her family kitchen, as well as working and being mum to two young children. Yep, that’s a busy lady right there.
It was an absolute delight to be able sit in her newly renovated kitchen and chat over a cuppa about her building journey.

Thank you for having me over and sharing the rest of your renovation story with us.

You’re welcome. So nice to have you here and show you the end result.

When you were considering your renovation, was a timeline of how long you were going to be in the house factored? If so, what considerations impacted your ideas of what you wanted?

Yes, we knew this was to be our forever house. The main thing we wanted for the kitchen was it to cater for our family and entertaining. We’re very family orientated and have quite a large extended family, and as the gatherings are usually at our house, it had to be big enough for everyone! Last Christmas we had the extended family over which now is about 15 adults plus kids, so it was wonderful that we could fit everyone in. I love it!

I know this is not your first renovation but did you get a designer to provide concepts or did you already have a plan in mind?

We already had an idea of what we were after, but the cabinet maker we engagement drew up some options for us and he was also a great resource for ideas. He has a pretty distinct style and he’d done some projects which we really liked, so we were happy to go with him. Also it helped that he’s a friend!

What were some of the great ideas or tips your cabinet maker gave you?

When we thought about the renovation and what would stay and what would be removed, I’d initially said to leave some pantry doors. They were roughly two years old, and I thought we might as well just keep them as I didn’t really consider it that important. He encouraged us to consider removing everything as there was no point doing half as then it would look like a half-done renovation.

He also suggested electric cupboards throughout the kitchen. With little kids which means we often have a child in our arms while preparing food or multitasking the push to touch to open cupboards have been invaluable. I can be preparing food, have a little one in my arms and just push the cupboard with my knee to open it. They’re so good!

So his industry insights and expertise were invaluable?

Definitely, at the time when he made the suggestions, I thought I could probably live without new doors or electric cupboards. It’s only now that we’re living in the kitchen that I can see how right he really was. It’s the old, you “don’t know what you don’t know”.

You had a budget for your build. Did you stick to it and if not, why?

We did initially have a budget, but we soon realised that was probably not going to be achievable with the stone benchtop we really wanted in the kitchen. We researched other options and materials but we wanted the benches to be a statement piece and felt that other avenues weren’t going to meet our expectations. Also, with the electric cupboards, this was going to be an additional cost we hadn’t originally factored into the budget.

So, the wiggle room in your budget was for the ‘non-negotiables’?

Yes, and we probably didn’t quite understand how much it was going to cost, though through our cabinet maker we were able to source at competitive prices. We also hadn’t considered using stone as a splashback. We’d probably have gone with tempered glass, but when stone was discussed, it seemed like it fitted best in keeping with the theme. So overall we were probably over the budget by about $7K+.

Even though you were over budget, do you have any regrets about ensuring you got your non-negotiables?

Absolutely not. I think if we went with anything different we probably wouldn’t have been 100% happy with the end result and would have regretted cost-cutting. We love the stone benchtops, splashback and electric cupboards. It’s the statement piece we wanted.

Was there a scope of works in your renovation that needed approval?

Yes, to open up the space we had to remove a load-bearing wall. This scope of works was also a non-negotiable cause we needed the wall removed to open up our living and kitchen space to be more functional. As it was a building works that had a structural component, we got quotes and engaged specialists to ensure compliance and safety.

This isn’t your first kitchen renovation, so what has been the biggest challenge this time?

My husband works in the industry so to save costs, we’d planned for him to do some of the works and to complete the finishings or the last few items. As you can imagine, by the time he gets home from work he’s tired or time-poor as the kids want to spend time with him which is all understandable. It ends up becoming such a focus and a “still need to do this” scenario which just adds stress.

What would you suggest for people who are considering doing some of the renovation works themselves?

If you’re able then by all means do as it saves you money. Life can get busy, other priorities come along and it can add more stress, so if your budget can cater for it, definitely consider outsourcing the final finishes or the last 5% of the build. It’s so worth the money.

When you’re living in or using the kitchen, the last 5% of outstanding works can become a sticking point and reminder as you see what needs to be finished every day. You don’t want your beautiful project soured by focusing on what’s not been completed.

What tips would you give people who are thinking of doing their kitchen renovation which you’ve learnt along the way?

Don’t be scared to get prices early even if you’re not too sure of a timeline of when you want works to start. I’m honest and upfront with trades when getting quotes that I’m genuine that I want works, but not sure of my timeline. By doing this early, I can get a ball figure of costs and then if needed, how long it might take me to save for it. I’ve found over the years that by being transparent with my intentions, the tradesperson has honoured their quote, even up to a year later!

Remember while your kitchen is being renovated, you’ll need to make sure you plan how or where you’ll prepare food as you’ll be without one for that duration. Also be prepared that you might be without a functioning kitchen longer than you originally think, so plan for alternative options if that’s the case.

If you have little ones, think about getting your dishwasher connected somewhere else in the house. My husband had suggested connecting up our dishwasher during the renovation and I thought I wouldn’t really need it as I could use the laundry to washes the dishes. I hadn’t factored in that with 2 little ones (including a baby) I’m constantly doing dishes AND laundry, so for a period of time, it was a nightmare!

If you had to pick one feature about the new kitchen you loved the most, what would it be?

Hands down are the Caesarstone benchtops! We decided on Noble Grey, I just love them as they are such a stunning, functional and focal point of our kitchen. It’s a real WOW factor!

Congratulations Lauren on completing your renovation. Your kitchen looks absolutely amazing. You must be so happy.



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