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  • Writer's pictureJames Treble

Kitchen Renovation?

As every home or apartment renovation differs in needs, looks and budget, I want to share with you some general directions that you can use as a useful guide, as well as sharing with you the journey AND end results of one of my own clients renovations, which included a kitchen transformation.

When you're undertaking a renovation, there is one room that delivers greater satisfaction than any other: the kitchen. It will of course give any home an immediate lift in its value, adding contemporary new good looks, and possibly greater functionality, but renovating a kitchen could also be about updating with better quality appliances, adding additional storage solutions, improved ergonomics as well as updating the quality of the finishes. So, where do you start?

deciding the layout is the very first step of a kitchen renovation


When renovating, there is plumbing already in place, and this means, the changes to the kitchen layout may be limited especially if your home is on a concrete slab OR you are in a block of apartments. So, firstly, consider where the sink should sit and build the rest of the kitchen around it. Note: while water pipes can be taken almost everywhere, it is the drainage OR waste, that in most cases cannot be moved. If your home is on bearers and joists, you may have more freedom to consider a different layout, by accessing underneath without breaking the bank.

2. LAYOUT The most used 'working stations' in a kitchen are the sink, the fridge and the stove. To create a functional space these three items should not sit next to each other, but be easily accessible to each other. In large kitchens the temptation may be to spread out, which can result in lots of walking between 'stations' while preparing a meal. Keeping the main working stations close will simplify kitchen activities. Note: Place the fridge in an easily accessible location, as it is often used separately from meals preparation.


Ideally between 'working stations' you should allow clear working surfaces where you can chop, stir and blend while 'cooking up a storm', and of course space to serve the meal. Note: A good guide is to ensure no bench space is narrower than 300mm, but 500mm or wider will look good and provide practical and efficient space.


The more the better, as we all know very well, but with often only a limited floor-plan base cabinets may not be adequate, so adding as much cabinetry as possible by going up, will help avoiding overfilling the room and making it feel closed-in. Note: Higher Kitchen cabinetry is a great way of both achieving more storage and adding a sense of height to the room.

5. THE LOOKS Looking at various magazine images we can all go gaga when seeing those impossibly streamlined and clutter-free kitchens. In fact, everyone wishes for a kitchen that feels on-trend and full of all the latest comforts and gadgets. But many striking trends can pass faster than they came and may leave us with an ultramodern whilst dated looking kitchen. To help avoid this, whatever your taste, I encourage you to opt for natural tones and tactile finishes instead of sci-fi sterile materials. Note: to achieve warm but contemporary looks add contrast by playing with timber grains against stone surfaces.

6. BUDGET How much you decide to invest in a kitchen will heavily affect the results but, while never going for cheap, a kitchen renovation can be affordable, as the effective ways to save money, while still satisfying your end goal, are many. Ultimately, every home and therefore kitchen renovation is unique and I always suggest discussing your plans and goals with an experienced Designer as it will give you the personalised answers you need, and ensure you make the most of your space and budget. Note: Styling details like lighting, stools and of course décor items are a great way to add the WOW factor to a budget-conscious kitchen renovation.

black detail to contrast and add strength to the looks

Positioned in a well located townhouse for a very hip and cool client of mine who likes to cook and entertain, the intention for this Clovelly kitchen renovation was about achieving a stylish eat-in kitchen in a pretty limited space. We wanted to obtain a long lasting look which felt contemporary and warm at the same time. Wanting to also open up the room, and working with a builder, we removed a wall allowing the kitchen to be incorporated into the open plan living space, already making the space feel larger and more suitable to the client's lifestyle. This obtained an eat in kitchen, functional to cook, whilst also looking stylish to make it a nice space to eat in & entertain as well.

I selected a combination of finishes to make the space look edgy but also easy to maintain, and this started from the floor with stunning Silver Travertine (which runs right through the whole townhouse and continues outside, making the whole home feel larger. For the cabinetry I selected Laminex Natural Oak timber veneer, which adds both warmth and texture, and contrasted these with satin Polyurethane cabinets in Dulux Domino for a little drama. The mirror splash back is an effective way to add a sense of space, and to achieve edgy looks we added contrasting white Caesarstone bench-top with black accents such as the very cool SMEG fridge, Electrolux appliances, (including an under bench oven & an additional combi microwave/oven). Finally, black sink and tap ware. To set it all off the client requested a "statement light fitting" so I included a striking Antler chandelier from Zanui, to really add a conversation starter to his next dinner party.

It doesn't always happen that the digital image (see above) and the real thing, look so seamless! But with such a good client, who trusted me and the design process, the combination of great finishes and functional kitchen layout transformed a small conventional townhouse into a good looking & highly functional space, resulting in a very happy client! What do you think?

Clovelly Kitchen Renovation Designer James Treble


  1. Pinpoint where the sink will be, (here I managed to use the existing location).

  2. Create a layout with 'working stations' in easy reach from each other ( removing a wall created the opportunity for dramatic change!)

  3. Allow for plenty of free bench-space to work from ( even here where its tight, its still very functional)

  4. Add storage wherever possible without overcrowding the room

  5. Opt for contemporary looks which feature organic materials

  6. Stick to your budget, but always allow for quality where you can.

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has three decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to properties through effective design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.


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