• Deb Reardon

Before you start your kitchen renovation

Updated: Apr 6

Updating your kitchen is one of the biggest renovation investments you will make, so it’s important that you get it right!

It takes many years to build up the knowledge required to make the smart decisions for your next renovation. Just as you trust your Builder, or Architect you need to find a KItchen designer that you trust. It takes many years to gather the experience and knowledge to be a good Kitchen designer, make sure you put your trust in the person that can demonstrate a wide and practical knowledge of Kitchen design, fittings & materials available.

As opposed to maybe someone who promises the world & can draw a pretty picture, we have all seen the amazing kitchen design, that after installation, a customer finds that there's nowhere to store the food, or the oven door hits the dishwasher door or worse!

A knowledgeable kitchen designer can get you the result you desire within your budget & make sure your kitchen is a dream to work in and spend time creating your family memories.

Our kitchen designers share their advice outlining the essential things to consider before you kick-start your kitchen renovation all for free. We share everything we know, because we want your renovation to be an amazing success!

Consider throwing the kitchen Triangle out the window

The kitchen triangle is an essential planning tool, but modern kitchens don’t necessarily need to be strictly confined to this format. The Kitchen triangle is at the front of mind of every designer. Having everything within reaching distance means storing food , and cooking is efficient as possible.

Basically, a good design is where all your appliances are in an area where they can all be reached efficiently The position of your Appliances needs careful consideration & along with their size & specs.

The Dishwasher should open freely, not impede the walkways and make for an easy unloading into your crockery & knife and fork drawer all while being in a good proximity to your sink for rinsing & loading.

So ask yourself the following about your appliances:

Is access good? Can I stand in front of my appliance without feel squashed against anything?

Will the doors open freely, even if somebody is trying to get past?

Is a walkway impeded or blocked when I open my appliance?

Is it safe to carry hot items from appliances i.e. ovens/microwaves to the sink bench if there are small children around?

Am I able to take only a few short steps to my major appliances?

The concept behind the kitchen work triangle is that primary tasks are carried out within a triangular space between the cook top, sink and refrigerator for efficiency.

But stepping outside of the triangle and customising your layout to suit, is perfectly fine if functionality of the appliances and how you want to use your kitchen is not compromised.

Entertainers as an example may want a second dishwasher in their butler’s pantry or larger families might like to introduce a second sink or an extra oven.

Maybe having your fridge further away from your working triangle suits the way you want to use your kitchen space. The Triangle is a great start but you needn't be confined to it if it doesn't work for you.

Think instead about how you wish to use the space, write a list of the functional things you would like your kitchen to do for you and discuss how you want the kitchen to relate to other areas in the house with your kitchen Designer to customise an efficient layout for your home.

Read more on the kitchen triangle on our Kitchen planning page.

Benchtop space: These things will affect your benchtop space.

Appliances that take up a large portion of your kitchen will reduce your benchtop space.

Large sink(s), large appliances, large benchtop appliances.

The larger the sink(s) the less bench space, sometimes it's better to compromise on size of the sink to get a few 100mm more benchtop if your space is tight.

A large oven or Fridge freezer will soon eat up your kitchen, if space is limited.

Large appliances need to be placed with enough clearances to have good access and function.

Benchtop appliances are best housed either below the bench or on the wall above.

Aim for a clear bench space in your design.

Plan your appliances with your Designer, so you can weigh up the advantages and disadvantages before you make your purchase.

Most kitchen companies can arrange commercial pricing for appliances for you, so there's no advantage in buying in a hurry on sale.

What will be your benchtop surface?

Kitchen renovators are lucky to now have a wide variety of benchtop options available to them when considering surfaces. From timbers and stone to acrylics, laminates, and glass – your kitchen palette can be as organic, industrial, or warm as you would like.

Surfaces play a big role in the visual design and also the functionality of your kitchen space. Gloss surfaces can reflect light and noise while laminate surfaces can soften your kitchen space.

Engineered stone benchtops are by far the most common choice, due to being the most enduring, their availability and pricing.

(If you're renovating for resale choose an engineered stone benchtop for maximum impact and value).

How do the surfaces you are interested in work with the rest of your home?

Are you intending on upgrading the bathrooms and laundry in the future, it’s a good idea to keep the surfaces uniform or at least on the same palette throughout your home? Consider compromise on the benchtop that fits your budget and can be taken throughout the home for a very sleek and elegant look for your home.

See our page on benchtops for more information.

Appliances will suit your space, cooking style and budget

Modern appliances are as clever as it gets – from steaming and humidity controls to self-cleaning products. There is an appliance for pretty much anything these days!

Fridges that are giant computers to dishwashers with sophisticated advance functionality.

Perhaps you love cooking and would like the responsiveness of a gas oven or time poor families might want a self-cleaning oven and induction technology to immediately heat and cook food.

A homeowner with a vision for a sustainable home might want appliances that use eco-settings.

There is no rule when it comes to appliances, so we recommend researching and tailor your appliances around your lifestyle and your kitchen design coupled how you want to use the kitchen.

If you want that 900mm wide fridge freezer, consider what may need to be sacrificed to get the space for it. You may end up with huge storage in your fridge freezer but reduced benchtop space or a smaller pantry.

The average kitchen renovator allows 20% of their budget for appliances but for a home cook or a homeowner committed to complete sustainability, you could be interested in investing more.

Clever with storage

Even the smallest kitchens can get clever with storage! Look for solutions that will allow for more storage but will also mean you can easily find and access items around your kitchen.

Websites like Hafele (link below) have some amazing ideas. Feel free to browse this link, but keep in mind some items in this brochure, are not available in NZ.

Speak with your designer and they can help you get something similar if required.


Vertical storage, appliance nooks, pantry drawers, decorative open shelving solutions are all great ways to squeeze every bit of space out of your kitchen!

Don’t forget the lighting

Lighting design is an important component of a kitchen renovation, but many homeowners don’t get this right. Avoid hotspots and shadows in your lighting plan by carefully considering the placement of your lightening.

Ambient lighting will provide overall illumination for your kitchen, radiating a comfortable level of brightness.

Task lighting will help you perform specific tasks such as food preparing and is often used over kitchen and laundry workspaces.

Accent lighting can be used to create visual interest in your room. Perhaps you wish to draw the eye to your splashback, artwork, or the height of your kitchen ceiling.

Its best to match strip lighting colour with that of your rangehood. If your rangehood is new, check the colour of the lighting and match with your downlights or strip lighting.

Consider how you will use lighting in your space and consult with a professional to ensure your lighting plan is right for the size and height of your area.

Make sure you talk flooring early

Believe it or not, flooring is often an afterthought for many kitchen renovators. Flooring can have a big impact on your kitchen renovation budget so start thinking about this at the planning stage to avoid a budget blowout.

Flooring is something that must be decided on very early on in the kitchen design phase as certain flooring choices affect the way the kitchen is designed & installed and can make the installation process take longer with multiple visits juggling tradespeople. Talk to your Design team about what flooring your thinking of having early on, so it can be factored into the design.

Your old kitchen

If your existing kitchen is on tiles or a dated floor, you will need to look at updating the flooring as part of your kitchen renovation. Again, the look of the kitchen must be consistent with the remainder of your home so that could indeed mean re-flooring more than the one area in your home.

There are a range of flooring options available to homeowners these days so be sure to look at an option that can withstand the test of time and the foot traffic your kitchen will inevitably attract.

What's your budget?

The biggest mistake people make when planning their kitchen is not being realistic about their budget.

Kitchen cabinetry & Benchtops





Plumbing are the main items to be budgeted for.

Depending on the size of your renovation, you should aim to spend between 5-10% of your property value and this should cover any unexpected a contingency for events such as trade delays or issues with flooring or walls behind the old kitchen that may need repairs, prior to kitchen and flooring installation.

Remember that your trades, appliances, flooring, lighting, cabinets and fittings all need to work within your budget so plan ahead or speak with a professional kitchen designer to work out an estimate for each, so you can better plan & be confident that there won't be a budget blow out.

Yep there's going to be mess!

Again your kitchen team can help minimise the mess and inconvenience of multiple trades under foot.

Plan for how the week of the install will impact upon your family and start working on a contingency. Think about rubbish removal, covering flooring and furniture and how you will prepare meals, lunches and washing up while your space is out of action. If you have a plan, your home won’t be thrown into disarray come build week and that means less stress for all involved.

Ideally your Kitchen team will manage your project to minimise the inconveniences.

Do you Trust your Designer

The most successful renovations are where the Customer & Designer have a connection, built around trust.

You must pick a kitchen team that you can be frank with & you trust. Then your job is to work alongside them. Once you've made your decision on who, then go all in with your budget, hopes and wants.

A good kitchen Designer will guide you through all the choices & decisions and take the worry out of the equation and make sure you get the best value for your hard earned dollar. They have the knowledge, manufacturing team and contacts to take care of all the steps to ensure a smooth transition from the old to the new!

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